Work deadlines, relationships, busy schedules, finances, life-changing medical diagnoses, world pandemics, the list goes on…
Stress: we’ve all felt it. It’s all around us and it can come and go—and sometimes consume—our daily lives.
Some stress is okay. In fact, it’s a perfectly normal and expected part of life. It’s the body’s natural reaction that kicks in to protect us from threats. According to the American Psychological Association, stress floods the body with hormones that elevate your heart rate, increase your blood pressure and boost your energy—all to help you deal with the problem at hand.
Long-term stress, also known as chronic stress, occurs when your body gets “stuck” in this position, and this is when it can have some seriously negative impacts on your body including:
It’s important to manage stress so that it is only brief, occasional and a positive motivating force—instead of long-term and all-consuming to a point that it is detrimental to one’s health.
Pilates is a tool that can be used to actively manage stress through movement, mindfulness, breathing and routine.
4 Ways Pilates Helps Manage Stress
The physical movement that takes place during a Pilates workout helps fight stress like any other form of physical activity. Getting your body moving releases “mood elevating” endorphins in the brain as well as relaxes your muscles and relieves tension. The body and mind are closely linked, so when your body feels better, your mind should, too.
When your body and mind are in the present moment with your breath, it’s like an active meditation and your nervous system relaxes in a beautiful, harmonious way.
The very foundation of the Pilates method is centered around both body and mind. Exercise itself is a mood-elevating activity, thanks to the release of those endorphins mentioned above, but Pilates takes things a step further.
Joe Pilates designed his practice to take the individual out of their “head” and into their body through breath, control, precision, centering, concentration and flow (also known as the 6 guiding principles of Pilates). Practicing Pilates regularly will sharpen your mental focus and exercise your brain for optimal awareness, in and out of the studio—which is why we call Pilates a lifestyle.
According to The American Institute of Stress, daily abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes is proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. Deep, intentional breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of calmness.
Joe Pilates, the creator of the Pilates method, knew the importance of breathing. He believed that inhaling fresh air and exhaling stale air promotes a path towards “total health.” Each Pilates workout—whether on the mat or apparatus—is centered around breathing, which reduces stress and improves mental clarity.
Having a normal routine is a great way to manage stress since not having one can often lead to feelings of, “when will I get it all done?” Routines also help carve out more time to truly relax and take time for yourself.
Regularly attending Pilates classes can become a part of your daily or weekly routine, making sure you always take a little bit of time to be active. I’ve also found that having a routine and committing to a daily workout can help encourage healthier choices throughout the day. For example, knowing you have a scheduled workout class later in the day might make you opt for the healthier lunch option that leaves you feeling lighter and properly nourished for exercise.
Living The Pilates Way
If you find yourself consumed by chronic stress or anxiety, Pilates is a great outlet. This is because the Pilates method is more than just a workout—it’s a way of life. Through movement, mindfulness, intentional breathing and routine, you can live the Pilates way in and out of the studio.
We invite you to come try it out for yourself! If you’re new to the Pilates world, the best way to get started is taking a private class to learn the proper movements.
For a limited time, we’re offering 3 private sessions for only $225.
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About The Author
Fitness has always been a guiding force for Kathy Lopez, owner of Studio Be. Her inherent drive for health has naturally translated into helping others achieve strength, balance and wellness. Kathy has been voted Ventura's best Pilates instructor nine years in a row. Learn more...