Pilates for Mental Health

Life is hard. Life during a global pandemic is practically impossible. This is a modern day Twilight zone — an unreality I’d rather not experience … but alas, here I am … and so are you.

I am thankful for shelter, food, health and the wellbeing of my loved ones. But this situation. This thing I’ve termed as merely a “situation” hangs in the haze because I’m at a loss for words. 

We’ve spent the last several weeks in a dismantled social system. Safer-at-home in isolation peppered with economic uncertainty. We community-oriented beings aren’t well-equipped for physical distancing. We’ve been reduced to social media and video conferencing – which I’m still learning to accept but am incredibly thankful for these days! 

Of course, for the sake of public health, sheltering in place is necessary – but let’s not forget mental health. Here’s how you can use exercise, and particularly Pilates, to lift yourself up and support a healthy body, mind and spirit.  

Exercise Elevates Your Mood

Joseph Pilates said, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Science behind the claim: physical activity produces a chemical reaction in your brain, creating the release of endorphins. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the euphoric “runner’s high” or the “post-workout glow.” It’s the effect of these stress-reducing and pain-relieving neurotransmitters. Exercise also stimulates the release of important mood-boosting hormones, including serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. 

Research backed by the American Psychological Association (APA) points to both short- and long-term mental health benefits. When adopted as part of a comprehensive therapeutic approach, exercise can help increase remission rates for mild to moderate depression, as well as, help reduce anxiety sensitivity and regulate the fight-or-flight response to stress. 

Pilates and Functional Joy

It’s about mobility. It’s about balance. It’s about reducing aches and pains and being able to reach up to grab that glass from your overhead cupboard without throwing out your back or tweaking your shoulder. From a purely functional standpoint, Pilates corrects, restores and reeducates your body to move in a healthy, sustainable way. You’re more lithe and lively with Pilates and you can bet it has a direct effect on your happiness and quality of life. 

The Pilates Mind Body Connection

Herein lies one of my favorite reasons for doing Pilates. Another favorite Joe quote of mine: “It is the mind itself which shapes the body.” Working deep into this practice requires concentration, connection and control. You have to focus fully, which is why you won’t find traditional studios blasting their favorite Spotify playlists and screaming movement cues at clients. But you will sweat, have fun and work hard.

Contrology is a powerful practice. I hope you continue to find joy in exploring this incredible method.