People often overlook the impact of the mind-body connection and mental clarity that Pilates reformer classes build. While Pilates offers excellent strength-building and mobility-increasing fitness practice, the mind-body connection empowers you to influence your body awareness, impact your posture, increase your balance, and more.
Mindful movement may sound abstract and difficult to grasp, but we break down the relationship Pilates has with uniting your mind and body so that you can make the most of your Pilates reformer classes in Orange County. Building your mind-body connection through Pilates ensures that you build the strength, balance, and mobility necessary to impact your daily life for the better.
What Is the Mind-Body Connection?
Working out on a Pilates reformer already offers an intense full-body strength and stability workout, but you can boost those benefits further by practicing mind-body connection—moving while being mindful about how you make those movements. The mental clarity you bring to each movement empowers you to have a more impactful, powerful workout.
The mind-body connection isn’t a new way of thinking or meditation…like I used to think! Being mindful of your movements is something you do anytime you’re trying to develop a new skill. In fact, you have been mindful of your movements since you were an infant. Trying to roll, grasp items, walk, and more, as a baby and toddler you used your mind-body connection to test boundaries, outcomes, and their limits while developing and practicing new skills.
This mindset doesn’t stop in early childhood. Whether you’re learning skills in sports, how to drive a car, or performing skills on the job, you utilize a mind-body connection, thinking through each movement and what outcome it produces. To boost your conscious-movement connection further, taking Pilates reformer classes makes a specific effort to increase your mental focus and body awareness. If the instructor is telling you to perform a certain movement, your mind has to send the signal to your body part to carry it out. This is very good for our minds! It forces us to leave the outside world and focus on ourselves. For me, at the beginning of my Pilates practice, this was addicting. I hadn’t spent time focused on myself in years!
Think of your mind-body connection as another muscle that needs strengthening. Because the best way to strengthen muscles is by exercising, you can visualize the positive results of working to strengthen your mind-body connection. Many people start their first Pilates reformer class and realize quickly how much focus they need for their workout.
Athletes who compete in and train for specific sports come to the gym or competitions with plenty of mental preparation and focus, but they don’t come by it automatically. Everyone, from a seasoned athlete to a beginner taking a Pilates reformer class for the first time, needs to consistently practice this focused mentality. Each Pilates reformer class in Orange County offers an all-in-one package of building physical and mental strength and focus, and the more you practice, the more you can tune in to the connection between your mind and body.
The more you practice your mind-body connection, the stronger it will become, and you’re not alone in that journey. Instructors offer cues to walk you through the mental aspects of Pilates so that you can gain the mental focus you need.
Why Do I Need the Mind-Body Connection?
Maybe after seeing how you need to be mentally sharp to get the most out of Pilates reformer classes you feel apprehensive about trying it or your chances of being successful with it. However, Pilates is not an exclusive workout. Regardless of age, fitness experience, and ability, anyone can get a great workout with Pilates reformer classes.
Especially when you use the resistance of a Pilates reformer, Pilates gives you an exciting workout because it combines intensive mind-body focus with a full-body workout—a workout that meets you where you are mentally and physically.
The mind-body connection offers many benefits for everyone, from the beginner to the well-trained athlete:
- Increased body awareness: As you focus on the instructor’s cues and process the information, you get better and better at understanding your body position, alignment, and posture. This body awareness has benefits in both Pilates and everyday life. The better you get at reading your body awareness, the better you can detect and correct when you’re out of alignment or using bad posture.
As you increase body awareness, you’ll see changes in your posture, balance, and stability, making everyday tasks simpler and easier. As the connection between your mind and body awareness grows, you’ll notice more automation in your movements, including when you correct your posture or alignment, all resulting from the practice you put into thinking and focusing on your movement while taking Pilates reformer classes.
- Increased mental sharpness: Science has shown us that when you repeat an action while learning a new skill, you activate neurons that create a neural pathway commonly referred to as muscle memory. This accounts for the more automated movements as you gain better body awareness. This mental sharpness clears your mind for learning new skills and destresses your overall mental health.
In addition, the more you learn new skills in your Pilates reformer classes, the more you exercise your brain. The great thing about challenging yourself mentally in Pilates is that you increase your cognitive ability as well, no matter what age you are. Our brains are constantly working and ready to learn new skills, and the more you exercise them, the sharper you’ll be mentally.
- Increased positive focus: If moving easier on a daily basis and increasing mental sharpness isn’t enough, consider how practicing the mind-body connection in Pilates reformer classes can make you more positive throughout the day. Whenever you need to change something, it starts with your mindset. You can’t change anything unless you want to make the change.
Increasing your mind-body connection increases your mindfulness both in and outside of your Pilates practice. Just like body awareness, mindfulness can become more automatic. You begin to think more deliberately rather than just react. As you strengthen your mindfulness, you will find it easier to ignore the white noise that distracts you and discourages you so that you deliberately focus on positive messaging that strengthens you from the inside out.
- Reduced stress: Most people carry stress in their necks, shoulders, and back, but Pilates reformer classes can counteract these physical symptoms. Your deliberate focus on how you move, carry your body, align your spine, and adjust your posture can all help alleviate stress-related movements and postures.
As you feel yourself slump, your neck crane forward, or your shoulders tense up, you can use your increased body awareness to not only help you make adjustments but also to release unconscious tensions that result in bad posture and alignment. Because Pilates reformer classes help you become more efficient with your movements and learn how to use your muscles properly, you can minimize the physical symptoms of stress.
The mind-body connection goes hand in hand with the practice of Pilates. The more you challenge your body in Pilates reformer classes, the more you need to turn up your mental focus. As you increase your deep concentration, you also increase the benefits of a strong mind-body connection, benefits that can be felt daily, not just while practicing Pilates.