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Mind Your Body -- Pilates for Your Brain

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Pilates works wonders for the body but also the mind! Joseph Pilates' six principles -- centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow -- all force us to use our brain power when mastering each exercise. The mind/body connection is so pronounced in the Pilates method that it is imperative a student uses imagery and his or her concentration to make sure they are initiating the moves from the right place.

Every exercise done in the Pilates method comes from the powerhouse or deep core. Our powerhouse consists of our transverse abdominals, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominals, pelvic floor, erector spinae and multifidus -- think all of the muscles in between the buttocks and the shoulders. When we move our legs and arms, they are extensions of the powerhouse.

You can lie on your back and mindlessly circle your leg around in the air, or you can connect to your deep core muscles. Imagine you are balancing a glass of water on your lower abdominals and envision your leg drawing a very precise circle. Your leg is fluid but your core is strong and you can't spill the glass of water. This takes total concentration and control in one region (the core) but a letting go and lengthening and fluidity in another region (the leg that is circling).

So many of my students talk about how Pilates makes such a difference in their mental state. The fact that we are also working on posture and moving from our center gives us a mental boost and lifts our confidence. When we feel more centered and in control physically, we feel more focused and stimulated mentally.

I personally feel more concentrated, connected and strong after every Pilates class I teach and/or take. Pilates is a wonderful workout for the holiday season, as well. Pilates can be done anywhere, anytime, and it will help you focus in on your body and let the stress of your holiday chores melt away.

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