If you didn’t already know, Pilates is not only a physical workout, it’s a mental workout as well. Imagine you’re lying down on the reformer with your feet in the long straps, legs together overhead towards the ceiling, with feet flexed back. Now the instructor tells you to lower your legs towards the foot bar and then lift them back towards the ceiling. If you’re just physically going through this practice, this movement can seem quite simple and maybe even easy. Now, let’s look at the mind. First, you’re thinking about exhaling on the way down and inhaling on the way up. Second, you’re thinking about pulling up through your quads to keep your legs straight without locking your knees back. Third, you’re thinking about pulling your belly button back into your spine and keeping your lower back on the reformer as you lower down and keeping your tail bone on the reformer as you bring your legs back towards the ceiling. And on top of all this, you’re making sure that your shoulders are rolled back and pulled away from your ears. Now, this simple exercise isn’t as simple as it was at the beginning. So when you’re going in to take a Pilates class, here are a few tips to get yourself into a Pilates state of mind.
1. On your way to class, start thinking about your goals for class that day.
Do you want to push through one more rep? Do you want to try lowering your legs a little closer to the foot bar when your feet are in the straps? Even if your goal, is just to make it through class, commit to it. Mentally preparing for class and setting some intentions can you help you begin to engage your mind as well as make your practice more specific.
2. Get to class early.
Allow yourself time to pick your favorite reformer (you know you have one), grab any necessary equipment, and sit down to stretch and clear your mind from the rest of the day. Make your Pilates class a time where you just focus on you.
3. Finally, start tuning into your breath.
Notice if you’re taking shallow breaths and begin deepening them for your practice. By focusing on your breathing, it allows you to clear your mind even further; it’s an active way to keep other thoughts from the day from creeping in. If those thoughts do come in, merely observe them and let them pass through.
By taking a few minutes to get yourself into a Pilates mindset before class, you may be able to take more notice of what your body is doing during class and therefore, give yourself a better practice. Don’t just bring your physical body to class, bring your mind.
About the Author: McKenna McVicker is originally from Seattle, but has made her home down in California while pursuing her MBA at Chapman University. When she’s not taking a Pilates class, working or studying, she loves spending her time at Disneyland.