The principles of Pilates have been around since the 1920s. Instructors and enthusiasts have utilized these principles around the world to improve posture and flexibility, increase muscular strength and tone, and help lose weight.
But through years of research, it has been found that Pilates can also tremendously impact one’s mental and emotional health positively. The benefits it has on the mind are as effective as its benefits to one’s physical well-being.
Below is a list of some potential benefits Pilates can offer for one’s mental and emotional well-being.
Relaxation and Stress Management
According to Elizabeth Scott, a wellness instructor, exercise is a powerful tool that helps reduce our body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increases our happy hormones such as endorphins. Pilates is undeniably a form of exercise that does have the ability to assist an individual in coping with stress and anxiety. It also improves mood and develops resilience.
Finding Mindfulness In Movement By Using One’s Breath
Breathing patterns are one of the principles taught in Pilates and Yoga, forms of mindfulness techniques that effectively calm the mind and the body. It is one of the eight key components of Pilates. The breathing patterns are particularly specific for improving one’s circulation, proper distribution of oxygen to the muscles and other parts of the body, and removal of toxins from the body.
“Changing the way you breathe will lower stress levels in minutes. Deep breathing can lower your blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels,” says Belisa Vranich, PsyD.
“Shallow breathing sends a message to your brain to be alert, whereas when you do deep belly breathing, it changes that message towards a less anxious state,” says Robert Oppenheimer, LCSW.
It is the goal of Pilates to focus on one’s breathing and forget the stresses of the day, to free the mind of the worries about chores, money, and just about anything. It aims to help one concentrate on the present, feel his breathing connect with his body, and his body and mind working at the moment.
Enhancing Brain Function and Memory
In some routine exercises, like getting on a treadmill or stationary bicycle, only the body is at work but not necessarily the brain. Pilates, on the other hand, requires one to actively engage the body as well as the mind to reap its optimal benefits. Learning a new pattern encourages the brain to work and connect with the body to master the pattern. In Pilates, the mind is constantly at work.
Additionally, because exercise normalizes blood circulation to the brain, it should help one to think more clearly, and one who exercises will attest to this. The reason for this is that the size of the hippocampus increases, which is responsible for one’s memory. Furthermore, it helps protect one’s brain against disease and injury.
It Can Treat Anxiety And Depression
A report done in 2015 as requested by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists explained the significance of exercise in coping and managing mental health illnesses such as depression. According to the report, an exercise is a tool that must be regularly included in a depressed person’s treatment plan. This statement suggests that Pilates is more than capable of assisting a mentally ill person towards his recovery from anxiety and depression.Pilates, based on its principles, helps treat mental health conditions by increasing the positive hormones (serotonin and endorphins), establishing new relationships and opportunities to socialize, getting rid of stress, boosting self-confidence, and forming positive thoughts to replace the negative ones.
“The reason for this is that exercises which focus on calm, slow, and intentional movement and breathing help deactivate the fight-or-flight response which is commonly experienced during anxious reactions,” says Farrah Hauke, PsyD.
Many Pilates students and instructors agree that the practice produces such a huge difference in their mental well-being. When they work on their posture and balance, it gives them a mental boost and revitalizes their inner selves. Every Pilates class makes them more focused, connected and strengthened. It is an overall body and mind workout not only for this holiday season but all year round.