Contributed by: Jane Sandwood
It’s no secret that practicing Pilates is good for your physical health, helping to strengthen and tone muscles. More than a quarter of a million Americans practice Pilates to keep their body looking and feeling its best. Many people, however, don’t consider the mental benefits of Pilates. The practice emphasizes breathing, focus, and mindfulness to help strengthen the bond between mind and body. A focus on relaxation and stress reduction further helps to clear the mind and improve the mood. Here are just a few of the mental health benefits that you may experience from practicing Pilates.
Improve Your Concentration
Pilates is a mindful practice, helping individuals to appreciate the here and now. By encouraging you to focus on the current moment, the practice gives the world sharper clarity and helps you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your surroundings. Pilates can improve your focus both on and off the mat, strengthening your mind and your memory.
Cope with Depression and Anxiety
Pilates and breathing exercises can help to reduce anxiety and the incidence of panic attacks in prone individuals. Not only does it improve physical health and help restore emotional balance, but it also gives individuals the chance to disconnect from a hectic or stressful life and unwind for a short period. Practicing Pilates allows people to forge a deeper connection with the spiritual self, reducing symptoms of unrest and unease and promoting internal stability.
Follow Better Sleep Habits
One of the quickest ways to wear down a mind is through sleep deprivation. Adults who don’t wake up feeling refreshed each morning can suffer from a myriad of health complications, including a loss of critical thinking skills and memory. A lack of sleep also raises the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream, which can impact not only your mental wellbeing but also your physical health.
Practicing Pilates each day can help to relax both the mind and the body, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Staying active also improves the quality of sleep and REM cycles. With a longer night and a deeper sleep, you can focus better during the daytime and won’t have to worry about mental fatigue.
Pilates is not just designed to strengthen the muscles and improve balance. It also sharpens our mental faculties, improving our performance both at work and at home. Emphasis on breathing technique and mindful thinking can help to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance concentration, and even improve sleeping habits.