“The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.” – Joseph Pilates
Pilates is a form of exercise that has been growing in popularity for the last 70 years ever since Joseph Pilates wrote his book Return to Life through Contrology in 1945. Pilates is the practice of controlled movements which build strength and improve flexibility throughout the entire body.
Pilates called his method of physical training “contrology” since he believed the conscious mind has the most power in controlling the muscles of the body. In this sense, Pilates is referring to deliberate concentration, as opposed to automatic movements of your body by your subconscious mind.
In his first book, Your Health, published in 1934, Pilates introduced his philosophy behind exercise with the “balance of body and mind” concept. To achieve proper balance of the body and mind neither should be considered more important than the other, but rather the body and mind are equally important to achieve health. “Man should develop his physical condition simultaneously with the development of his mind,” Pilates said.
Pilates believed that deep mental awareness of your breathing, working your core, controlling your movements, fluidity of motion, precision of exercises and being mentally present during your workout were essential to physical health. Exercise without mental concentration, he thought, was literally a waste of time.
With your mind engaged in your workout, Joseph Pilates was convinced that “Contrology correspondingly reawakens thousands and thousands of dormant brain cells, thus activating new areas and stimulating further the functioning of the mind.”
While Pilates may not have had a scientific study to backup his theory, recent research has revealed that concentration does help improve brain function, and regular exercise also has proven benefits for the brain.
As a result, regular Pilates sessions can offer 2 benefits for the price of 1 – a workout not only for your body but also for your mind. No daydreaming allowed. To do Pilates properly, you will be intensely focused on the task at hand – and that is a good thing! – T.Y.
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