I have been taking Pilates once a week (give or take) for more than 12 years with a wonderful, highly trained instructor. Because I am a blogger who loves to focus on money saving ideas, you may be wondering why I would pay to work with an instructor. I do so and will continue to as long as God sees fit, because of the tremendous positive impact that Pilates has made on my life.
**Before we go any further, I need to make it clear that I am not a doctor or any other health professional. I am relaying my individual experience with Pilates and my observations. I make no promises or suggestions regarding your or other people’s results. This post is informational only and not medical advice. Always consult with your doctor about your individual situation before beginning exercise.**
Prior to starting Pilates, I was having quite a bit of trouble with my knees swelling. All the years of playing two “stop and go” sports had taken their toll. Through Pilates I was able to strengthen my muscles around my knee along with restore my flexibility to the point where for the past decade I have had little trouble with the swelling. I was finally able to do what the orthopedic doctors and physical therapists indicated I needed to do in my case, which was strengthen all my muscles around my knee.
Here are 5 Mental and Physical Benefits of Pilates That I Have Experienced Over the Years
1. Pilates exercises are great for balanced strengthening of muscles, especially the core muscles. The core muscles are those abdominal and back/pelvic muscles that reside at the center of the body (Balanced Body®). It is truly amazing how you use those core muscles all the time in everyday living without realizing it. I continue to be amazed at how much stronger my core and other areas are than before I started Pilates.
2. Speaking of discoveries, Pilates can make you much more aware of the way that your body is functioning. Now, I recognize quickly when my back muscles, calf muscles, and neck muscles are getting tight and need a good stretch. I am much more focused on my posture and the way I walk, as well.
3. Pilates puts you in touch with the ways that stress affects your body. By being more aware of how your body is functioning, it becomes very apparent which parts of you are affected by stress.
I have learned that I can tell when I am getting stressed because my neck muscles tightened up and I keep my left hand in a gripped position. Now that I recognize my body’s reactions to stress. I can make adjustments to keep on a more even keel.
4. Pilates has taught me that though hectic, go, go, go living may be the norm today, our body’s truly need downtime each day to continue operating properly. My instructor and I sometimes start our Pilates sessions by simply lying on our backs on our mats. We lie still and concentrate on breathing in and out slowly.
When I first starting doing this, it was often very hard to keep my mind from racing and thinking of the things that I needed to do next. Over time, it has gotten easier to quiet my mind and become more relaxed. I can even do it sometimes at work when things are hectic by just sitting up in my chair and slowly breathing in and out. No one is the wiser as to what I am up to and it only takes a few minutes.
5. Pilates has helped me grow my ability to be patient. It took a while for my muscles to get in shape and my overall posture to improve once I started Pilates. I learned that building physical strength and mental awareness takes time and requires continuing effort. This awareness of the need for patience has translated into other areas of my life, as well, and has greatly helped calm my Type A Personalityness.
If you are considering trying out Pilates, consult your physician first. Only if okay with your physician, then I would suggest you find a trained Pilates teacher to get you started. Ask for their credentials and references.
Proper technique is really important in Pilates and it generally takes one on one support for a while to master this. If you simply cannot do one on one instruction, consider a small group class. Finally, if that does not work, then look into online or DVD instruction and proceed slowly.
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