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pilates and mindfulness


When does movement become mindful?

Hopefully all the time within a Pilates class. As you concentrate on the principles of each exercise the mind is focused fully on what you are doing:

When you slow things down though and pay full attention to the movements, your breath and sensations, then the whole thing takes on a meditative quality. This experience can be physically and mentally relaxing, especially if done at the end of a class. Your body has worked hard and now you get to literally melt into the movements and release all tension, to stretch and notice each moment and each sensation as it occurs. To take awareness to your body and breath is exceeding beneficial and relieves stress and anxiety. This is a favourite part of the classes and I love teaching the mindful movements.

Short Mindful Movement Exercise To Do At Home.

You will need a mat, thin cushion for under the head and mobile phone on silent.

Lying on your back with knees bent and arms down by the side on your body. You can do this with your eyes closed or with a soft focus a few feet in front of you.

Firstly, start by noticing the parts of your body that are touching the mat, starting with the back of the head and working down to the soles of your feet. As you move your attention down your body, breath into each area and as you breath out, feel any tension in the area release. You can imagine that the body is just melting into warm wax, especially the shoulders and lower back. Take your time, giving yourself permission to experience these few minutes without negative feelings.

Now move your attention to the front of the body and as you breath in and out, let each area release and relax, finally feeling your face let go of any tightening around the jaw and forehead. Notice how your breathing creates movement in the belly, the chest and nostrils. The out breath is a fantastic tool for releasing tension. As you breath out let go of any holding.

Now keeping your sacrum on the floor all the time, circle the pelvis around like a clock from 12 to 3 to 6 to 9 and then to 12 again, breathing in as you start and breathing out nice and long as you complete the circle. Then taking the clock in the anti-clockwise direction, breathing in and then out as you move. Do 10 repetitions or more if you want.

As you do this allow your knees to move and the feet to stay completely relaxed.

Let your shoulders stay melting into the mat and your face absolutely rested.

Notice how this movement actually makes small changes throughout the whole body and become aware of all sensations.

Check if you are rushing or forcing and let it be a gentle unhurried release for the whole back and pelvis. Can you let the flow of the breath be the guidance of the movements?

When you come to the end of the 10 repetitions, just stop and focus onto the lower back and pelvis. Can you feel anything different? Does the area feel more relaxed, stretched, lighter, released? You can now focus your breath into this area of the body letting the whole pelvis and back be held in your attention.

Finish off by putting your attention on your breathing in and out of the body for the whole of five breaths, before gently turning on your side, opening your eyes and sitting up.

Just adding something short and simple like this to your day can make big changes. Mindfulness is about paying attention to the moment as it is happening, without judgement. Every time you do that you are changing the neural pathways in the brain..... but that is another blog post altogether.

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