“ Breathing is the first act of life, and the last. Above all, learn to breath correctly.” -Joseph Pilates
One of the most fundamental concepts in pilates is breath, which is why it is a natural and effective way to change how we feel physiologically. Pilates alternate between big, deep belly breaths and pulling the abdominals in during movements. The result is a balance between relaxing the belly (a big destressor) and strengthening the core, which helps with a myriad of ailments. Most importantly, pilates help you become aware of your breath. Many of us, especially postpartum, hold in our bellies and hold in our breath unconsciously, leading to tight and weak abdominals – not to mention a sensation of stress that can be mitigated by pausing and taking a few deep breaths. Breathing coordinated with movement, connects you to your body, helps you to concentrate (which is nice after weeks of sleep deprivation) and delivers oxygen to every cell in your body.
Aches and Pains
Hurting physically can make us feel older than we are. It robs us of free movement and drains our energy, so we feel physically stressed. There are so many reasons why we experience aches and pains, but some of the top contenders are low core strength and stiffness from not moving enough. Low core strength makes your low back vulnerable to carrying excessive strain. Most new moms experience at least a bit of back pain from weak abdominals while carrying children, car seats, etc. around. The deep abdominals are strong and high endurance muscles and they can actually help your other muscles do less work over the course of the day if used properly. You have to learn how to use them though and learn to coordinate initiating movements with your core, all something a certified pilates instructor can help you with.
Going Inside Yourself
Pilates can be done with your eyes closed. This is a great way to tune out the world and really focus on your body, the sensations of moving and how you feel physically and mentally. This can be like a mini-vacation for your brain. Moms are so focused on everyone else’s needs that we lose sight of our own, even basic needs like eating, sleeping and managing stress. Use breath and awareness of your movements in pilates to dive deep into the moment. It is yours and it is now. There is nothing like the present moment.
Imagine going up a flight of stairs with a 30 lb pack in your bag. It’s going to feel like a mountain. With balanced and strong muscles, everyday tasks are going to feel weightless. The first thing many women experience after practising pilates regularly is a “bounce” to their step. They literally feel lighter as their muscles are better able to handle the weight of their own bodies. Pilates focus often times on an eccentric contraction, which means your muscles are lengthening as they are strengthening and through research this has shown to develop stronger and longer muscles.
Check out your local pilates studio for a beginner class series and really put these fundamental concepts to work for you and your wellness!