By Keion Moradi Means
At the end of each year, I, like many others, find myself in contemplation. I use this culminating state-of-mind to reflect on milestones, to think back on family trips and adventures with friends, and to set goals for the approaching new year.
My end to 2021 was a little different, however, in that I found myself ruminating solely on Pilates and how it has wholly influenced my life. You might think, of course Pilates has impacted your life – you’re a teacher. True, but there’s more to that story, and this year I want to share some of it with you.
Pilates is so much more than body conditioning to me. This method can be that for you, too … and here’s a little secret: it doesn’t require a teacher’s journey to get there.
My Pilates Origin Story at a Glance
I discovered the method in the early aughts, sometime after the trademark lawsuit, which resulted in the name Pilates entering public domain. The lawsuit was an historic industry landmark event about which I have mixed feelings. The name was thrust into the public eye, which led to plenty of opportunities for offshoots, appropriations, and misinterpretations. On the other hand, the exposure made it possible for me and many others to discover it. And, Pilates entered the mainstream, alright. It slid right into the spotlight and hit the mark on multiple fitness industry buzzwords of the time: low-impact, core-strengthening, tone up without the bulk, etc.
My choice to try Pilates was a mixture of post-rehab necessity and wanting to keep looking so amazingly hot (jokes). It was part practical, part poetic. Somewhere along the line—I don’t remember exactly when—I noticed additional benefits, which you might consider part of the mind-body connection. I once counted these as supplemental benefits, but now they are top-of-mind.
The Pilates mind-body effect is in a class all its own. It’s distinct from any other movement or mindfulness practice I’ve ever encountered, which makes it worth a deeper dive to help you better understand the possibilities. Let’s start with focus.
My Pilates Body – My Pilates Mind
Picture the mind as an unruly beast that wanders wherever and whenever and answers to no one — especially (not) you. Believe me, the brain needs conditioning just as much as the body. Now, about modern-day man and the way we handle stress. I routinely hear pushback from clients about not wanting to have to come in after a hectic day, or before the anticipation of a long day, and think about their Pilates practice. As the argument goes: I spend all day doing X. I don’t want to have to come in and do Y. I get the preference for a mind-numbing activity as an escape from the stresses of the day, but Pilates isn’t it. People find ways to decompress in different ways and the choice is yours to make, but it’s important to understand that you can’t experience the benefits of the Pilates mind (or many of the physical benefits, really) by checking out. It’s as simple as that.
The practice of Pilates is just that – a practice. It involves focusing on simple tasks that are easy to understand, but difficult to execute. Like anything worth learning, you have to do the work. Like meditation, Pilates isn’t a drain on your body or your brain. It actually feels pretty restorative. It’s my breath of fresh air. A chance to pause everything else and focus on returning to myself, to health – to life.