Pilates – The 10 Classes That Changed My Life

I’m 10 sessions into pilates, and I’m officially addicted. In fact, I’m taking my pilates out on the road during my travels to New York City next week. I’m attending 2 classes at the 5th Street Pilates studio. I really can’t wait. In my first 10 sessions, I can say I notice a visible difference. In fact, in the last 2 weeks I can say that I have lost 1 inch on both my upper and lower waist. I’m committing myself to practicing pilates at least three times a week going forward. I can now see as well as feel myself getting stronger. I think Joseph Pilates, the founder of pilates would be pleased.

“In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you’ll be on your way to having a whole new body.” – Joseph Pilates

For me, my commitment towards mindfulness has taken me somewhere I never expected. It has not been about my work. It’s about my personal health, life and the goal of having another baby.

I’ve never been the graceful type. I’ve never attended a ballet or a dance class. Until yoga and pilates I never really considered that I might have the personal option to have a graceful bone in my body. For my entire life, I’ve accepted the fact that my body wasn’t graceful. I was just not born this way.

 

This week while I watched my daughter during her ballet class, I watched her and saw the same things. I don’t want want her to follow my lead and believe that about herself or her own body especially when I see the joy for her that ballet brings.

And while I work towards understanding my own body acceptance issues, I try to think of myself as a graceful dancer during my pilates class. See myself as a beautiful and pretty ballet dancer who is performing her pilates dance and honing her graceful craft. Both pilates and yoga have made me more body aware, but they are separate practices that often overlap in often weird ways.

In yoga, I never liked “bridge pose” or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana in Sanskrit. I just don’t think I ever really thought about posture or my vertebrae when practicing the pose in yoga in the same context I do with pilates. With the bridge pose in yoga, I was focusing more on the ability to hold the pose for long periods of time while stretching and breathing into my back.

bridge-pose-yoga

 

In pilates, the bridge pose is much different. Your back plays a more supporting role in the pose. It’s about proper alignment and the stacking of vertebrae but for me it’s about using the different parts of your core to activate and lift your body. As I mentioned before, I am focusing on machine pilates with the Reformer. The key to doing the bridge pose on the reformer is to keep your core solid so that the carriage (The green flat mat seen below. It actually glides forward and back.) doesn’t move. Coming down from the pose you reverse the action vertebrae by vertebrae. Although I’ve been doing bridge pose with yoga for 10 years, pilates really changed how I experience the pose and think about how my abdominals are tied to my core. They need each other to be healthy.

 

bridge-pose-reformer-pilates

I’m not saying that my bridge pose is graceful but both yoga and pilates find utility and the beauty in small movements with a focus on the body. The control is an area I really enjoy. It’s challenging in a different way that 45 minutes on the treadmill is not. I’m not just checking the accomplishment off my life. I’m building strength and with that extremely small movement I’m learning about myself and my own inner power and strength.

Photo Credit Yoga Journal & Nywanda

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