I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase – “use it or lose it.” As you can see, this fellow pictured here is definitely NOT using good posture. A couple weeks ago I posted about it being National Correct Posture month on Facebook. Pilates is known to help you create a better posture – and by that, I’m sure most people think right away of certain exercises you’ve learned – or simply try to ‘straighten up.’
As a mind/body method Pilates also reaps one of the greatest benefits of regular practice – a greater body awareness. So, having the senses more finely tuned to your alignment – or misalignment and then adjusting to correct. Realizing that you are not using the fullness of breath that you have the ability to take, and then deepening your inhale and exhale to get back. Feeling unnecessary tension you’re holding in the jaw, neck or around the eyes and then consciously letting it go.
So, when your mind is preoccupied and under stress and you find yourself balled into that bad posture mode, hopefully you listen to your body and take a moment to get up and walk around. You do a number of movement patterns and stretches that you’ve learned from class. So the question is, when you do those exercises – is your brain exercising too? Sure, the movements themselves help release stress. Think for a moment though about the unconscious messages that might be drifting through your head. Are you thinking “ooooooh my shoulders are ALWAYS soo tight” – even while you try to make them loose?
Try doing one of the exercises while thinking of a specific memory that you find ultimately relaxing or reviving. Pick a memory of a favorite place – what were the smells? What was the temperature? Was the sun warming your skin? Could you hear a waterfall? Use that imagery to affect the quality of your movement. Do you notice a difference?
The brain is both consciously and unconsciously gathering data all the time. Here is an opportunity to Use it or lose it! Mind and body working together toward a goal. The imagery from memory or creatively designed by your own imagination is a powerful tool for achieving greater success with movement and again in turn with body awareness. That synchronous relationship is always there to explore, even with the simplest of changes you are trying to make with your shoulder, your neck, your posture.
Remember, exercises are only part of the equation. Joseph Pilates intended his method as “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.”