You’ve probably heard the phrase “mind-body connection” used before—during a meditation session, in yoga, or during Pilates. But has anyone stopped to really explain what the phrase means and how you can achieve it? We’re going to talk about exactly that today.
What is a Mind Body Connection?
When you use your thoughts to positively influence the movements of your body, you’re engaging in a mind-body connection. During Pilates, your mind must receive and process instruction, then transform that instruction into a particular movement.
Pilates offers the unique experience of allowing the mind to focus on a particular part of the body as you work through a movement. As you focus on bringing your breath and movement into alignment, you’ll find you often obtain a sense of calm, much like you would during meditation. This can lead to a decrease in anxiety and an increase in relaxation.
How Can I Improve my Mind Body Connection?
As Joseph Pilates once said, “Pilates is a complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.”
The mind-body connection is very much like a muscle of the body—it can be exercised and strengthened. But how?
1. Arrive Early for Practice
Yes, it’s a small thing…but getting to class early allows you time to quiet your mind, prepare your breath and get into the right headspace for a mind-body-focused practice.
2. Celebrate Internal Awareness
One of the great gifts of Pilates is improved body awareness—understanding how your body is taking up space in the world. Few other practices make you aware of your ribcage placement in relationship to your hip bones or the alignment of your spine in relationship to your shoulders. Developing an awareness of and control over internal body shifts goes a long way in improving your mind-body connection.
3. Make Intentional Movement the Goal
As you work through a session, listen carefully to instruction then turn your focus internally, paying careful attention to each part of the body involved in the movement. Again, much like a muscle, the more you practice connecting the mind and the body, the easier and more natural it becomes.
4. Maximize Body Efficiency
Another gift of Pilates is training multiple muscle groups at one time with slow and continuous movement. As you improve your mind-body connection, you’ll be better able to move those muscles more efficiently as you use your mind to perfect your technique and form.
Whether you are hoping to improve your Pilates practice, develop a deeper connection between the movements of your body and the thoughts of your mind, or want to improve the meditation of your heart, I encourage to practice stretching your mind-body connection. You just might be surprised to find both your mind and your body feeling healthier as a result.