Mind-Body Tips for Better Pilates Workouts - dummies

Mind-Body Tips for Better Pilates Workouts

By Therese Iknoian

Adding mindfulness to your Pilates workout will give you great results. As with any type of workout, it’s helpful to know a little bit about the hows and whys of movements and their progression so you can put them together safely and smartly.

With Pilates, remember two things as you head off on your own to put together a workout from the exercises:

  • Do movements where you both flex (bend forward) and extend (bend backward) your spine in each session so that you don’t get all lopsided or tight on one side.

  • Always do Ab Preps or Hundreds. These exercises are key to helping you focus on what’s to come, to establishing your mental and physical alignment and to toning your abs. Even as you become more familiar with the physical alignment preferred in Pilates routines, the Ab Preps and Hundreds can bring your focus back and help you re-establish that alignment each time you start.

Each workout starts with a warm-up of sorts. In this case, that means you go through the preliminary exercises to get your spine, pelvis, abdominal muscles, mental focus, and everything else in the right place for the routine.

Although Pilates doesn’t usually finish up with meditation or other relaxation exercises, each of these workouts finish with a mental cooldown of sorts. Consider that a mental transition to bring you back to your day at hand.

Top off your workout with a few of the preliminary exercises you did early in the workout — particularly the ones you have the hardest time with. Doing so also helps you determine whether you now have an easier time with the preliminary exercises after doing the workout itself.

Take the preliminary moves in your transitional cooldown a bit slower so you can bring your routine home peacefully and finish up in a calm state. Truly think about how your body is moving — here’s where that mindful focus comes into play — and how your body has perhaps changed since you started the routine a few minutes earlier. Focus on your alignment in particular.

With these tips in mind, you are now ready to try your hand (and legs and arms and . . .) at some Pilates workouts with a mind-body twist!