Mindful Pilates - combining Mindfulness AND Pilates
Paula Trafford’s Mindful, Mat-Based, Functional Pilates offer a broad range of classes for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels. There is a real desire for participants to embody the process and bring the body wisdom revealed through the classes into your daily life experience.
Pilates is a body-mind discipline and physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Gymnast Joseph Pilates.
Joseph Pilates considered his method the ‘art of controlled movements,’ designed to feel like a workout.
Nowadays Pilates, initially called “Contrology,” is practiced worldwide.
With regular practice, Pilates can improve flexibility, mobility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body.
Paula Trafford teaches a more Mindful version of Pilates as a fluid, practical and functional self-care exercise method by which many clients have experienced therapeutic benefits over time.
Paula’s practical and mindful embodiment methods enable you to integrate both Mindfulness AND Pilates awareness and body use into your daily life activities. This creates a greater physical and energy economy as well as improving self-awareness for generalising into your whole wellbeing.
There is a key emphasis on
- optimal pace,
- developing a strong core,
- improving coordination and balance.
The core, consisting of the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, hips, and rhomboids is often called the “powerhouse” and is considered essential to a person’s stability.
The different exercises in Mindful Functional Pilates are modified in range of difficulty from beginner to advanced. Intensity can also be increased over time as the body adapts itself to the exercises, ensuring you always remain integrated and on top of your daily game.
The Original 6 Pilates Principles
Breathing is important in the Pilates method and considered to act as “bodily house-cleaning with blood circulation“, thereby cleansing and invigorating every part of the body with oxygenated blood.
Proper full inhalation and complete exhalationare key. In Pilates exercises, the practitioner breathes out with the effort and in on the return. Pilates attempts to properly coordinate specific breathing practice with movement.
Pilates demands intense focus, the way that exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves.
“Contrology” was based on the idea of muscle control.
All exercises are done with control, the muscles working to lift against gravity and the resistance of springs [on particular apparatus]. Though most Pilates classes are done primarily using body weight and without apparatus.
The centre is the starting place and focal point of the Pilates method.
Many Pilates teachers refer to the group of muscles in the centre of the body—encompassing the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs—as the “powerhouse”.
All movement in Pilates should begin from the centre and move outward to the limbs.
Pilates aims for elegant economy of movement, creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions.
Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina.
Using correct posture while doing Pilates exercisesimproves safety by correcting muscle imbalances and optimising coordination.
Precision is essential. The focus is on doing one precise and perfect movement, rather than many halfhearted ones.
A few well-executed movements are of much higher value than many sloppy or half-hearted attempts. Eventually, this grace and economy of movement can become second nature.
True relaxation improves mental concentration and enhances correct muscle-firing patterns.
With increased precision, efficiency of body motion reduces stress in performing the exercises.
The 7 Principles of Mindfulness
Applying the seven essential attitudes of mindfulness can help you cultivate awareness of the present moment and may help calm your anxious mind.
Mindfulness, beloved to have originated in an ancient form of Tibetan Yoga known as ‘Kum Nye’ involves being in the present moment, non-judgmentally with awareness of space and action/non-action.
Three essential components of mindfulness are; awareness of your breath, mindset and attitude.
According to John Kabat-Zinn, the following seven factors are the “attitudes” that constitute mindfulness practice. Together they are the foundation that can help you build a strong meditation practice of your own.
As you start your mindfulness practice, you begin to pay close attention to your thoughts.
Let ideas, opinions, likes, and dislikes come and go without you feeling any attachment to them. As you notice your mind wander, observe without judging yourself for not paying attention, acknowledge your mind has wandered, and gently return your attention to your breath.
Things will emerge in their own time. Be patient with yourself and be open to each moment. It’s important to give yourself permission to take the time you need for mindfulness and see what unfolds in the present time. No need to rush to get somewhere else or ‘better.’
3. Beginners mind
Look at things with a clear, uncluttered, beginner’s mind. Too often, we let our past experiences, and future expectations prevent us from observing the present moment. It can help to look as if through the eyes of a small child and be present to the moment.
Trust yourself, your experience and feelings. Learn from mistakes, look inward for guidance, and trust your intuition. Be receptive to learning from others, and more importantly learning to listen to and trust yourself.
Much of life contains purpose, or striving to attain goals.
Mindfulness meditations involve “non-doing” and focusing on seeing and accepting things as they are in the present moment. Embrace and embody the moment you are in, retain awareness, without reacting or transitioning into goal-setting mode.
Acceptance allows all things to be as they are without trying to change them. When you accept your current situation without wishing it was different or trying to change it, you’re able to be more aware of what you are experiencing at that moment.
7. Letting go
In mindfulness practice, you may notice a desire to hold onto specific thoughts or experiences. Allow your thoughts or experiences be exactly what they are, nothing more, nothing less. Let go of any judgment on experience. Let it be and let it go.