So the reason why I love Pilates is because it has improved how my body works day to day. If you’ve read my previous blog you will know that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis at a young age and so sometimes regular tasks were, and still are a bit difficult. But if I use the principles of Pilates throughout my daily life it makes a huge difference. And like I’ve said before I think the best kind of exercise is the one that fits into your life easily and has a purpose. Here are a few of the ways I try to incorporate Pilates into my day:
Improving your posture is one of the key benefits of Pilates. You focus a lot on posture throughout the sessions but once the hour is up it can be easy to go back to hunching over your laptop or slouching to one side as you wait for the bus. Remember that a neutral spine is estimated to be 30% stronger than a flexed (hunched over) spine and that means you are much less likely to injure yourself if you remember to try and keep your alignment in neutral. If you haven’t been to a Pilates class yet you are probably wonder what neutral spine is, to cut a long story short it is when your body is lined up properly and everything is in line the way it should be (more to come on this in another post soon). So as you go about your day try to stop occasionally and check your posture. Are you hunching over, sticking out your bum a bit or leaning to one side? If you are try to stand or sit up tall with your hips, knees and feet in a nice line and imagine you are being pulled a few inches taller from the top of your head. You should feel lengthened and it takes the extra pressure of your joints so hopefully you’ll feel a bit less achy at the end of the day.
Engage my muscles
So for me it is mainly my abdominal muscles. Particularly if I have a back ache and I engage my deep abdominal muscles it is just as good as putting on a back brace…and that is me speaking from experience. Pilates is great as it strengthens your body so that you have your own supportive ‘corset’ to stabilise and strengthen your trunk. A good piece of advice that my mum gave me a long time ago was to make it a habit. She told me to engage my core every time I did the washing up…well I have a dishwasher now but instead I do this every morning when I’m brushing my teeth. It’s a useful way to multitask and to make healthy living a part of your daily life. Whether it’s engaging your core as you do the washing up or stabilising your hips as you are twisting to reach for something, taking the Pilates principles out of your class and into real life can be hugely beneficial.
PS: engaging your core is also good if you are about to have your photo taken, are wearing a tight top or have just eaten a big dinner!
We all get stressed or a bit rushed at some point, whether it’s from another gruelling commute on the tube, tight deadlines or a baby that won’t nap (yes that’s me!). Throughout Pilates you are encouraged to breathe deeply and to direct your breath around your body, not just to your stomach. There is no easier way to stop stress in its tracks than to pause and take a deep breath. Next time you feel stressed try taking a really deep breath in, for as long as you can and then as you breathe out imagine you are breathing away all your stress. Repeat this a few times and chances are you might feel a little calmer. And yes, breathing out your stress may sound a bit cheesy but stress is a killer and does nasty things to your body so it’s defiantly worth a try.
So I am very guilty of not giving things the right amount of focus. I like to excuse it as multitasking but since training as a Pilates instructor I am coming to realise the importance of focus, not just in my exercise but in everything that I do. Too many times have I banged my toe or dropped something because I am not really paying any attention to how I am moving my body. In a Pilates class you focus on the precision of your movements and this is something that will help you to prevent injuries in your daily life and any other exercise you do.
So there are a few of the ways that I try to incorporate the Pilates principles in my daily life. Have a think about how you can use the things that you learn in your Pilates session to help improve how your body works in your day to day tasks and let me know what you think.