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Harnessing the Power of the Mind-Body Connection 0 Comments

Woman meditating

The mind-body connection means that you can learn to use your thoughts to positively influence some of your body’s physical responses, thereby decreasing stress.  During Pilates you must listen to and process with your mind the instructions and cues given and then facilitate those into body movement.  This connection is a mindful experience and a skill that has been proven to be extremely beneficial to all; male or female, at any age and at any fitness level.

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to be able to move gracefully during physical activity?  Like a dancer perhaps. You may have thought “How do they do that?”  The answer: years of practice.   

Mind-body connection is a skill, and it’s one we can all learn.  Think of it like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. It is also a “use it or lose it” skill.  If you stop exercising you lose much of the strength you gained.  Developing mind-body connection and continuing to harness that awareness is crucial as we age.  How many times have you heard of an older person who fell and broke their hip or ankle?

When we are acutely aware of our position in space, we become more agile; achieve greater balance and overall stability.  While doing Pilates you are exercising that “muscle” and honing in on the skill of connecting.  Research shows that achieving mind-body connection is not only good for us physically, but also gives us mental clarity and helps relieve stress.  Who can’t use a dose of mental clarity and to get rid of some stress from the busy lives we all lead?  I encourage my clients to “leave it at the door”, meaning let their minds get quiet, breathe and listen to my voice, allow their minds to control their bodies and find their “ah-ha” moments.

Mindful Exercise

Time to WorkoutWe all need physical activity to be healthy. People who exercise regularly and make physical activity part of their daily routine, feel better mentally, physically, they also improve their health, and increase their chances of staying fit and independent as they age.

How much physical activity is necessary to receive these health benefits?

In accordance with national guidelines, adults should try to accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes (in at least 10-minute segments) of moderate (brisk) physical activity most or all days of the week. If weight loss and/or maintenance is a goal, increase workout time to 45-60 minutes. Activities such as walking, housework, yard work, gardening, job activities, sports and recreation, and structured exercise count toward the total.

But if you want to significantly increase your aerobic conditioning and/or your strength, you should also consider:

Aerobic exercise: (brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, dancing, etc), 3-5 times/week, for 20-60 minutes at a comfortably challenging intensity.  Try out cycling classes; a fierce calorie burn combined with aerobic conditioning.

Strength training: (free weights, weight machines, resistance training). Pilates Reformer , elastic bands, and calisthenics: sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, etc), 2-3 times/week, 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

long beach yogaMind/body-oriented options: Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates

These recommendations provide the flexibility to encourage you to develop a relationship with physical activity that fits comfortably into your lifestyle and meets your personal needs. We know how important your schedule is and we partner with Mind Body in order to make it easy to sign up for our classes.

Exercise is not just a physical regime, but an opportunity to gain self-awareness and enhance spiritual growth. In ancient traditions, physical activity had a focus that was more spiritual than physical. Its purpose was to cultivate the mind and spirit while rejuvenating the body. In a similar fashion, today we view exercise as an opportunity to learn more about oneself.

STOTT Pilates is coined as INTELLIGENT EXERCISE due to its scientific foundations, but I always like to think of it as “I must use my intelligence (my mind) to master the repertoire”.  For instance, during the “hundreds” exercise I must use my mind to process the cueing from the instructor, control my breathing, relax my shoulders, pump my arms, maintain my neutral pelvis, draw in my abs, flex up off the carriage, send energy out through my toes and extend my legs out at the diagonal. These are not automatic responses when I am told to do “hundreds” in a class.  Rather, my mind must connect with my body to execute all of those things in a fluid controlled movement.

Pilates is not mindless exercise, nor is indoor cycling, both depend on mind-body connection and mind-body awareness.  You would be surprised at how quickly a class passes when your mind gets quiet, when you leave everything at the door for an hour of mind-body connection.  By listening to your body, you can adjust your exercise practice to enhance emotional, spiritual and physical health.

This also makes the exercise more interesting and helps with sticking it to it in the long run. Instead of exercising because you “have to,” you do it because you want to; it becomes part of who you are. This approach is exercise for the whole person and can bring true “health” rather than just “fitness.”  It is here, at Five Starr Pilates & Fitness that many develop the love of Pilates because they get a great workout, quiet their minds from their busy lives and learn to achieve greater mind-body awareness.  For many, this translates into the euphoria of what is equivalent to “new love”.  

At Five Starr Pilates & Fitness we encourage you to develop a love relationship with exercise that will benefit your mind, your body and your soul.  View our Special Offers on Pilates Reformer classes.

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Starr Bunch

About Starr Bunch

Starr is the founder and owner of Five Starr Pilates and Fitness. She attended Southern Utah University and is educated in the Stott Pilates Reformer, Advanced Reformer and ISP courses, plus Keiser cycling. She has been teaching since 2012. Her personality and down to earth approach helps clients feel at ease and welcome no matter what their fitness level.

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