There are so many incredible benefits of Pilates and daily movement. Pilates releases stress tension in both your body and mind. It teaches you control, precision and balance. It increases strength, flexibility, posture and awareness of the mind and body.
Pilates is one of the most transformative practices that you can do for your body and helps you to create sustainable and lasting change. In relation to self-care, Pilates allows you to take time for yourself on your mat to be present with the movement and devote time to improving your mental and physical health.
Breathing is such an important practice as it helps calm the nervous system and brings a sense of presence into the body. In my classes, we focus on the breath and movement. Everything we do begins with breath first and then the activation. This is an important practice not just on the mat but off the mat. During the day I aim for at least three mindful moments where I stop and just take three deep breaths. This may not happen every day but whenever I find myself at a red light, on the computer, cooking or listening to something, I try to remember to breathe, feel my body and take some mindful breaths.
Stretching is one of the most nourishing things you can do for your body. In day-to-day life we tend to hold onto so much tension within our bodies, whether that be, sitting at a desk, holding children, carrying groceries or just holding onto stress, it affects our body and muscles. It’s so important to take the time to schedule a long stretch class per week. This isn’t always an easy class to choose as sometimes stretching can feel uncomfortable, but the benefits are so incredible. Keeping your body mobile helps support the joints and muscles, it improves your overall physical performance, increases blood flow to your muscles, helps improve posture and evens out your body. This really helps to release tension and will prevent injury or back pain. We often forget to take time for ourselves to stretch our bodies and let go of tension, yet it is so important to make time to stretch, to help relieve stress and calm the mind.
During my classes, I focus a lot on technique, posture and balance. These three practices stem from strength and connection of the core. It’s important to work on your strength so you can train your muscles to sit in the correct alignment not just on the mat but off the mat too. We tend to develop habits based on our day-to-day lives; when we get tired our shoulders might start to roll forward, we might stand and favour one side of the body which can lead to an unbalanced posture. Strength work assists with evening out the body and tuning into what your habits are, so you can be mindful on and off the mat to correct the body and your posture.
Above all, it is so important to create time with yourself, to check in and see how you are feeling, what your body needs and what it is doing to serve you. Pilates isn’t about getting the ‘perfect body’ it’s about enjoying your time on the mat. Keeping the body connection, discovering how your body works and being mindful throughout the day about how your body is positioned. And what habits you’ve picked up and how to correct your posture. The body is such an incredible tool and to learn about it and love what it does for you on a day-to-day basis is something I want all my students to experience.
Listening to your Body
The most important thing I try to teach, is how to listen to your body. Every ‘body’ is different, and every day is different. There is really not one answer for everyone. The weeks I have more energy I go for a more intense class and the days I need to feel more grounded, I choose a restorative class. Overall, I move my body every day and I recommend my students to take at least three Pilates classes per week, as a minimum, to take that time for themselves on the mat.
Jacqui Kingswell is a certified Pilates instructor and meditation coach. She is the Co-Founder of the online fitness and wellness platform, The Pilates Class. Jacqui created the platform to transform the traditional approach to online fitness programs. Her emphasis on creating an online space and community where everyone, from stay-at-home moms to business professionals, feel like they have the support and flexibility to incorporate health and fitness into their lifestyle, has created a tight-knit community of TPC members and followers. thepilatesclass.com