There are many ways that Pilates benefits the body. It is well documented that PIlates builds core strength, improves breathing and enhances posture. And as I wrote recently, it is also an excellent conditioning program for other types of athletic pursuits. In my own life, I have been able to maintain a strong and robust training program into my sixties due to my Pilates practice. It has changed my body and health for the better as well as those that I teach and train.
But can Pilates benefit the mind? Can Pilates improve our mental conditioning in areas like self awareness, confidence and concentration? Yes it can and does! To guide my students in building these attributes, at Lee Pilates Method I begin with clear and concise instruction and cueing.
This is crucial to help them build the focus required to master many movements. Starting with breathwork they relax and connect to their body, preparing the brain and mind for the precision of movement that is to come. We then set goals together for the session. With clear instruction and the mental focus this generates, we achieve those goals.
1. Pilates Increases self awareness
One of the foundational attributes that Pilates provides the mind is enhanced self awareness. As my clients strengthen their mental clarity and focus in their Pilates sessions, my clients build more understanding of who they are. This occurs, for example, from the positive awareness they develop of themselves when working through a challenging exercise. Initially they may be resistant because the movement is hard, or they “don’t do it well.” But as they persevere and improve, the recognition of overcoming a challenge builds self esteem.
Another insight occurs when they are fatigued and/or stressed. They must employ the discipline of being kinder and more patient with themselves, work more slowly and relax more to gain the benefits of that day’s session.
These have been difficult lessons for some to learn (myself included) and a revelation to others. And for other clients, the consistency of showing up for their sessions and putting themselves first for a few hours a week has begun a more involved practice of self care. The mindfulness achieved through the application of clarity and focus in Pilates is powerful. I’ve watched the self awareness it creates exude into many areas of my clients’ lives. And mine as well.
2. Pilates boosts your confidence
Increased confidence is another positive attribute developed in Pilates. Confidence is built through the attainment of goals. The result of mastering a series of challenging exercises in Pilates is an example. Sometimes we may experience success in a way that feels like a lot of luck was involved. Mostly however, success is built by applying our attention, intention, grit and perseverance continuously to an objective.
These skills are also needed to be strong and powerful in Pilates. As important as the physical strength that is gained, the continual practice of a well designed Pilates program builds confidence. This is because it enhances mental discipline, fortitude and resilience. Pilates is not easy. To master many movements requires hard work, mental focus and consistency of effort. All very important and needed mental skills to achieve a desired dream and live well.
Deepok Chopra believes the confidence developed through such clarity of effort and purpose enables one to know one’s own heart and accept oneself without illusion. Bobb Biehl, an executive strategist and corporate mentor, says that without getting to clarity and the confidence it generates, you cannot lead or motivate others or communicate well. You will also not grow. I’ve spent years in the movement and wellness industry. I’ve been a person committed to self growth to build my confidence.
Of all the methods and strategies I’ve discovered and adopted, Pilates is at the top of my tool box. The mind-body awareness, stress relief, deep core strength and breath control gained through Pilates cannot be achieved without great clarity of mind, singular focus and confidence. The accomplishments and gains permeate into every area of life.
3. Pilates improves concentration
Concentration is one of the Eight Pilates Movement Principles because it requires us to move with precision and accuracy. Breath, another movement principle, oxygenates the brain and calms the nervous system. The improved concentration gained from these Pilates principles helps to clarify the mind. Clarity of mind strengthens focus. Strong focus enhances the drive and discipline needed to achieve the goals we are passionate about.
In Pilates, the precision of movement needed to perform each exercise well is extremely important. One client told me recently that our work together in Pilates has encouraged her to improve many other aspects of her life. For her it included her diet, her parenting and her marriage. Many of my other students have shared that their focus and concentration improves and their passion for the work is enhanced. They stay more committed and excited about this investment of their time, energy and finances.
Get started with Pilates Now
Would you like to improve your self awareness, confidence, and concentration through Pilates? Book a private session with me at my Austin-based studio. If you’d like to enjoy Pilates Mat from the comfort of your home, check out my online Pilates classes here. You can learn more here about my teaching method and philosophy.