I’ve worked with many people over the years and the one thing that always becomes evident to me, is that with certain challenging exercises, the fear of losing one’s balance or even looking foolish, can reveal emotional and psychological blocks that hamper the learning process.
There is a connection between our thoughts and our physical responses so when clients are practicing challenging exercises, I encourage them first to focus solely on their breathing. On the inhalation portion of a breath cycle, I ask them to gather up the negative thoughts of that day and then, on the exhalation, to simply let them go. This concept of combining the power of the psyche and directing the breath requires a deeper level of concentration, and though elusive, it can be developed into a powerful connector throughout the Pilates practice.
For example, two of the Long Box exercises practiced on the Reformer, Pulling Straps and T-Pull, help to open the chest and simultaneously strengthen the back. But if the heart/chest area is tight and closed off, it’s very difficult to recruit the correct muscles. By releasing and letting go emotionally, while staying in the Pilates technique, the body experiences a new willingness to work harder. The heart is more than just a muscle performing its daily circulation duties. There is an intelligence attached to this wondrous life-giving organ muscle and when given the opportunity (and permission), Pilates can be the lifeline to an open heart and a strong, supple spine.