A Wise Old Owl
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?
If you think of Pilates as exercise for your physical core, you are correct, but there are reasons to think these popular workouts might do some good for your mental core, as well.
For those who are new, Pilates is a fitness program intended to build strength and flexibility, using carefully controlled, precise movements first developed by Joseph Pilates nearly a century ago. The exercises can be performed on mats or specialized equipment, including the Reformer, a contraption that looks like a narrow bed equipped with springs, pulleys and a sliding base. Pilates first caught on with professional dancers but now is taught in gyms and studios for the masses.
Joseph Pilates aspired to the idea of attaining complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. While just a few studies have looked at the mental benefits of Pilates, researchers say there are several ways it might be good for your brain and your state of mind.
1. It promotes focus and mindfulness-
It is difficult to practice Pilates with a wandering mind. In Pilates, your instructor will ask you to move one vertebra at a time, for example, and that requires attention and focus. Students are taught to notice sensations produced by each movement and to coordinate their movements and breathing. When movement, breath and attention all are in sync, that can create a meditative state.
2. Pilates could strengthen your brain-
Pilates is a form of strength training, and that kind of exercise, though less studied than aerobic exercise, has been associated with positive brain changes in some research.
For example, a study of 155 women, published in 2015 in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, found that those who engaged in strength training twice a week for a year saw improvements in executive functioning and memory that lasted for at least one additional year. They also saw less brain atrophy, as measured on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, than women who engaged in balance and toning exercises. Brain shrinkage has been linked to problems with memory and thinking skills.
3. It could improve your posture, but also your attitude.
One goal of Pilates is to improve posture by strengthening core muscles, including those in the abdomen and back, and by making students more aware of body alignment as they move through their exercises and their daily routines.
Better posture can produce physical benefits, such as less back and shoulder pain, but it also can provide a powerful mental boost, some studies suggest.
4. It is a chance to learn new things-
If you are new to Pilates, your brain will reap the benefits of learning new patterns of movement. Any time you are learning something new that requires sustained effort, you are changing your brain.
With the help of a good instructor, you should be able to keep building and modifying and changing your routine over time, benefiting body and brain. You may think you’ve mastered a move, and then your instructor will say, ‘Now let’s do it upside down and backward.’ ”
5. You may find you sleep better-
It has generally been proven that any kind of physical activity helps with regular sleep, but Pilates may be especially good for slumber. Those who practice Pilates report better sleep than those who do not. Pilates may engage the body and brain in ways that help clear our head noise to let us lie down and sleep.
The modern world is full of distractions, stresses and chaos. Each one of us is looking for a personal state of peace and tranquility that would help us make sense of everything that is going on in our lives. When searching for that inner balance we usually consider popular self-improvement techniques like meditation, simplifying, affirmations etc. but we rarely consider any form of exercise as a viable tool to help us balance our lives.
Joseph Pilates was one Wise Old Owl when he said
“A body free from nervous tension and fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well-balanced mind, fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.”