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Pilates, Pilates, Pilates… All Day Long

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Pilates, Pilates, Pilates… All Day Long

By Selena DeLeon

Sunday, February 10, 2019

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Pilates isn’t just a bunch of exercises; it’s a movement system that transforms how the body moves in daily life. Once you learn the basic Pilates movement patterns, paying attention to the source of each movement pattern, and, most importantly, discover how to correct the errors that follow us into our daily lives, you begin to explore a new world of awareness of your muscles and range of movement.

Pilates will have you going beyond a technique that you follow in a class into correcting all of your movement.

I find myself performing mindful body adjustments all day long. I sit in the car, pull my head up and back, and line it up with the back of my shoulders. I turn to look behind me to reverse, the twist comes from my ‘centre’ behind my navel. I visualise the line of congruency, moving my spine upwards and feeling long, with my ribs, chest and shoulders following the direction of my vision. An image of a corkscrew comes to mind and the force originates from deep within.

Lifting a bag out of the car, I slide my shoulder down into my back, opening the collar bones and widening across my chest and upper back, mindfully assisting the weight with muscles in the upper back, thereby saving my shoulder from the load.

The examples come in a million different forms, but the awareness originates from the one source — movement awareness.

While I could write for hours about the synergy involving all systems in the body and how one good (or bad) movement affects the whole, it can be summed up with the importance of moving your focal point first into the breathing then into the tension in the body, and from there you start to gain access to this newly found skill to generate movement from the core, lessening load on the joints, and being smart about how you are bending, lifting, sitting and lying down. It is great to be dedicated to a regular Pilates practice, strengthening and aligning while building your body’s proprioceptive abilities to correct its patterns, but what happens when you unconsciously go into daily living and start to “fling your body around”? All good intentions come undone. Combining a practice with an awareness yields the best return.

 

ALL DAY LONG…

Pelvic floor activation is another awareness practice that can be practised all day. Feeling like you are stopping your urine mid-stream during an exhalation can be the best prevention for incontinence and other problems, such as weak or overstretched muscles which can lead to pelvic organ prolapses. Breathing deeply into the belly activates the pelvic floor and strengthens it, so don’ t be afraid to puff out that gut when you are standing up in a line.

Foot alignment is another useful anywhere/anytime active movement practice. Picking up a towel with the bottom of your foot, picking things up with the toes helps to separate the movement of the toes — which can cause bunions and crows feet — and builds muscles in the feet that help to regenerate fallen arches, and balances unhealthy weight placement inherited from weak or overly tight ligaments in the foot. Moving the toes inwards, outwards, separating the toes, drawing up the arches, and inchworming toes forward and back stretches the toes and are all useful, simple parts of rebuilding the muscular tone and shape of the feet. Restoring alignment from the bottom up, I must begin with awareness and practice.

I stand at the sink, am I pushing my pelvis forward into the countertop? How am I balancing my weight over my feet? Are my toes relaxed?

Starting with a grounded Pilates practice you have an opportunity right throughout the day to keep that buzz going. I start my day with a mantra announcing to my body to maintain those connections to my core during all movement. I bring my thought into a different dimension to create better results for my body each day. Some of these mantras include: All Day Long, All Day strong, pull yourSelf UP, or simply pull UP out of it. (This one can apply to many conditions, metaphorically speaking). I move the thought, I move the body, I create an intention.

For better movement strategies, contact Core Fitness Studios and join a movement workshop — where you can assess your postural defects and come up with a plan to stay connected well into your golden years, with Pilates. In this workshop you will experience how you can create functional movements that use all of your axes and planes. The Pilates reformer is a linear machine with straight lines as the carriage moves forwards and backwards in a single plane; however, the body moves in multiple planes and around several axes at the same time. Discover the way the body moves in three dimensions and discover a new dimension of mindful movement.

 

Selena DeLeon has been a personal and group fitness trainer for 16 years. She has a Pilates studio in Kingston called Core Fitness, where she helps people to move and live better. Its website is www.corefitja.com

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