So many people have come to Pilates for a better body, and some even talk about its benefits for the mind, but is it really that effective? As a qualified Pilates instructor and someone who struggles with mental illness, I am here to share with you my personal experiences and the science behind this Pilates cure.
The Stressful Life
One among many beauties of the progressive modern world we’re living in is the opportunity to continuously grow and prosper. Yet, I find it also the reason for so much pressure weighing on us. Surely you all have heard about no pain no gain, about work hard and harder, about women succeed. And while I have nothing against putting lots of effort into what you do, I cannot help but wonder – How much is enough?
Life had gotten the best of me; trying to juggle between a business and personal life, I collapsed under my own weight. I fell into a deep, dark pit of doubt. So much time I had spent questioning my self-worth, my ability, and every single thing I had done. All the things that were constantly going on in my head, all the overwhelming emotions suffocated me. To one point, it all became too much, and I knew I had to find the way out. So on my quest to find something to push me out of the office, to fill my mind with light-some thoughts, I stumbled across online Pilates workout.
And they were perfect for me and my worn-out self.
The exercises were gentle enough for my not-so-fit body back then, but they could be quite intense when I wanted to challenge myself. The physical movements combine with breathing helped calm me down and anchor my mind. At first, it was merely a work-out session, something to take me off my busy schedule. But then, I started to notice the change in my mood, my attitude, and my mental state. I was more relaxed and collected, I looked at things that used to stress me out differently, and I felt more at peace within myself. I spent more and more time on the mat, detached my mind from stressful elements. I also did my research and learned more about a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
It is easy to see physical changes when you do Pilates; however, that is only a fraction of its benefits. Pilates helps you reach your ideal weight and tone those abs, yes, but your mind will also be “trained” and result in “mental fitness”.
Physical movements increase blood flow in your whole body including the brain, coming along with that is higher oxygen level – the boost for sharper and clearer thinking. Your newly refreshed brain will then produce a better, more positive view on those difficulties you meet along the way which will surely lead to a better reaction. Your brain feels anew and your attitude toward life brightens up.
Pilates exercises also affect the secretion of neurotransmitters, creating the rise in endorphin, serotonin and dopamine levels. And all of these, amazingly, are all feel good chemicals. Endorphin is known to reduce the feeling of pain and energize body. Serotonin – the happy hormone – is in charge of mood regulation, relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety. Moreover, as a very important factor contributing to sleep, the rise in serotonin will lead to better sleep quality and more moderate sleep-wake cycle. Undoubtedly, when your body and mind are fully rested, you will be able to face the world head-on. And lastly is our friend, Dopamine – the one that generates satisfaction, which encourages us to do more of what brings us pleasure. Thanks to that, you’ll be keen on practicing even more.
Ain’t that a win-win!
Pilates is the combination of movement and breath. Anyone has ever taken a Pilates class can tell you that the exercises can be deceptively easy, but once you get started, you’ll know they require a lot of mind and body control. Adding mindful breathing to that, not only your muscles can work best, but also your emotions can be monitored. Since different breathing patterns link to different emotions, gentle airflow can take our brain to the calmer state and ease the pain.
The benefits of Pilates when practice correctly and regularly don’t stop with that, and I hope to share with you more in other blog posts, but maybe it’s best if you come and experience for yourself. Don’t hesitate to take a look at my Youtube channel and join me on the journey toward better mental health.
What is your remedy against this stressful life? Do you use fitness exercise as a mind retreat or do you prefer some other means? Share with me and let’s have a little chat in the comment section below.