In the past year and a half, we all had to make dramatic changes to our lifestyles and day to day routines.
During the global Covid-19 pandemic, we had to adapt to working from home and limiting or cutting out completely our social interactions. The feeling of being isolated and lonely contributed to many people struggling with their mental health. The pandemic, combined with the dull winter period, has taken a toll on our emotions and has decreased our ability to deal with stress. Grieving the loss of SOMETHING, small or big, became part of life. People lost their loved ones, their jobs and friendships crumbled.
The new normality of online connections has taken away human interaction, empathy and compassion.
So, how can we become more proactive during this difficult time and to improve our mental health?
Stress is a normal state of mind and our bodies are equipped to handle small amounts of it.
But when stress becomes a constant trigger and takes over and it can become chronic. Chronic stress induces the production of the stress hormone cortisone. Cortisone has serious negative effects on the body. The muscles are constantly tensed and contracted, which causes muscle stiffness and discomfort. When we are in a constant stress state, our bodies are always in “fight” mode.
Lately, we hear people complain more of neck and upper back stiffness, body pain, migraines, insomnia, digestive issues and lack of energy.
One way to improve mental health is to exercise. Pilates is a mind-body type of exercise and is a powerful tool to help reduce stress, find purpose and control through movement.
During the pandemic, it was safe and convenient to exercise online. However, it’s time to come back to the studio and connect with your teacher and to the other participants. It’s important to embrace the social aspect of your pilates practice and be nurtured with human touch and personal attention . Isolation time is over!
Nova community is very supportive and surrounds every new student with warmth, care and love. Laughter through some challenging exercises is truly therapeutic. It’s so humbling to be able to make fun of your little mistakes. A funny joke before a Plank on the TRX or the Hundred exercise on the Reformer always sets up a positive and cheerful mood.
The Pilates breathing is deep and full, using the diaphragm. Many times just a few deep breaths can completly change our responses and decisions to not be reactive. So learning to be aware of the breath and following it’s calming rhythm during practice can do wonders for our mental well-being. The lateral thoracic Pilates breathing deliveres more oxygen to the brain, wich contributes to lowering anxiety and worry.
Pilates demands focus.
When the mind is focused on the movement, it’s pure and it doesn’t wonder around. When we are fully present and concentrated on what we do in the present moment, there is little space for other things… With focus, exercise becomes fluid, effortless and easy. At the moment, we are lost in thought, our movement goes all over the place. If this sometimes happens, center yourself and come back to the anchor point – the breath. Try to always be 100% committed to what you do at your pilates training. Think of your session as a GIFT from yourself, which you fully deserve!Close your eyes and concentrate on following the verbal instructions of your teacher and connect with yourself. The 45 minutes pilates workout may be the only time during your busy day, when you are fully committed to your mind, body and spirit! Enjoy it!
Pilates is not a shortcut for resolving all your physical or mental health issues! But with practice and consistency, it becomes more of a lifestyle than a short term solution. Even if you fall off the wagon for a few days or weeks, don’t beat yourself up. Simply come back and start again. Muscle memory is real and you will be surprised how quickly you will come back to your best performance.
Create a strong feeling of how pilates makes you feel, inside and out! Then listen to the call and return to the practice again and again.
Take good care of yourself!