Movement and exercise are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and each person has specific needs. Not every workout will work for everyone, but there are some fundamental exercises that are beneficial for most people. Today we are featuring a guest post from Adrianne at Thousandfold Lotus, showing How Pilates Can Support Your Healthy Lifestyle.
Pilates is an incredible workout, and far more difficult than many give it credit for. It focuses on full body movement, in a gentle yet challenging way, and helps you maintain balance. It is one of my personal favorite workouts, actually, the one I look forward to most throughout the week. Perfect for those needing low impact, in the process of healing, or as a supplement to your current routine.
Photo by: Patrick Hendry
Guest Post: How Pilates Can Support Your Healthy Lifestyle
Body Movement is Essential for a Healthy Lifestyle
Mind-body exercise, in combination with healthy eating, is truly the recipe for wellness.
There’s no question that body movement and exercise are pillars to a healthy lifestyle. The number of exercise modalities to choose from can be a bit overwhelming and are ultimately individual to each person. However, after 10 years in the fitness industry, I’ve continued to return to Pilates as the ultimate exercise. I have observed optimal results, felt by best, and found the best balance between strength and flexibility through Pilates. I also see the transformation in my students.
I’ll tell you a few reasons why Pilates supports my healthy lifestyle, and then elaborate on Pilates as a practice and how you can get started.
Connect the Mind to the Body
Pilates is considered a mind-body exercise because it requires a specific focus on the breath and on muscle engagement. Anytime we stop and focus on our breathing or turn inward to focus on what our body is doing, our heart rate slows and our mind chatter begins to subside. This is a form of meditation.
After being a “gym rat” for years, I always had a bit more swelling in my body than seemed logical based on my fitness regimen. Centered my mind was a real “ah-ha” moment for me. I was no longer stress eating and had a healthier appetite when my mind was in a still place. It was the missing “peace” of my wellness puzzle.
Balance Strength & Flexibility
Another reason I find myself content with Pilates as my primary exercise source is that my body feels so good. In a world of “go hard or go home,” I would exercise myself to exhaustion. My fascial tissue is naturally tight and my body felt terrible all of the time when I was lifting heavy weights. I was always nursing an injury or mending my body. For being such a healthy person, it just didn’t feel right.
Once I backed off the crazy fitness and transition to primarily practicing Pilates my body started to feel amazing. It turns out you don’t have to kill yourself to see results! I was addressing my tight fascial tissue with the lengthening exercises and also gaining strength.
What else happened? I actually lost weight. After my former killer workouts, I was ravenous and ended up always consuming more calories than I truly burned. Not to mention, I usually needed a nap later. When doing Pilates, I didn’t feel starved after my workouts and could better manage my calorie input vs output.
What is Pilates?
Joseph Pilates created Pilates, as we know it, in the 1930’s. His equipment design and exercise repertoire remain almost the same as it did back then. The repertoire can be performed on a mat or on specific pieces of equipment that are present in a Pilates studio. All of the exercises begin with the core as the “powerhouse,” while limbs move dynamically to develop strength and length.
As we discussed, Pilates is classified as a mind-body exercise. Mind-body exercises require the mind to turn off outside chatter (such as your to-do list) and focus inward on the breath and muscles you are engaging.
Once the mind is focused, you can focus on engaging specific muscles, sometimes without visible movement. These connections ensure proper engagement to strengthen the muscles.
Examples of initial mind-body connections and foundations that students learn when taking Pilates include:
- Proper breathing
- Connecting all 4 layers of the abdominals
- Engaging the pelvic floor
- Engaging the muscles around the scapula (shoulder blade)
- Proper neck alignment
Benefits of Pilates
Proper mind-body connections during the exercises ensure that the body is working at it’s optimal level biomechanically. The purpose of Pilates is quality over quantity, so the execution of the exercises is extremely important.
The benefits of learning and applying the foundations include:
- Stronger diaphragm
- More oxygen for uptake
- Pelvic and Lumbar Stabilization
- Stronger core
- Minimized back pain
- Stronger pelvic floor
- Reduced shoulder injury
- Reduced neck tension
Incorporating Pilates into your exercise routine will ensure you develop an even better understanding of firing the proper muscles. The result will be more efficient exercise whether you’re doing Pilates exercises or applying your Pilates foundations to classic fitness exercises.
When practicing Pilates regularly, you will develop longer leaner muscles. Think a dancer body type versus a weight lifter. Pilates achieves this through mobility by lengthening and toning the muscles.
The Best way to Get Started
Taking an introductory session at a studio to learn the Pilates Principles is a great place to start. Or, you can take a foundations course. Once you have an understanding of these foundations, you can apply them to Pilates full body movements.
A good option is to find Pilates studios close to you or discover online classes that teach beginner sessions.
Learn More About the Author
Adrianne Flinn is the creator of thousandfoldlotus.com, an online platform that helps women incorporate intelligent exercise into their busy lives. Thousandfold Lotus is an online space that has educational blog posts, video workouts, and free courses! Adrianne has been teaching Pilates and body movement for the past 10 years and loves educating clients full time in a studio space. For information on her certifications and educational background visit her “about” page: http://www.thousandfoldlotus.com/about
Interested in more healthy living resources? Check out our Health Fix page.
Join the Our Food Fix Family
Subscribe to our list to receive FREE recipes, healthing living resources, and planning and efficiency tips.