Know Your Body, Enhance Your Practice

Concentration, one of the six Pilates principles, allows you to connect the body and mind for a more effective, successful Pilates practice. When you can visualize a muscle working you can access it more effectively. This is harder than it looks since you must be comfortable with the exercise at hand and understand which muscles it engages.

I took a trip to the South Street Seaport yesterday to go to the Bodies exhibit. I’m a real anatomy nerd, so I went for fun but also for a musculoskeletal refresher. It got me to thinking about this Pilates concept of concentration. As Pilates instructors, we can speak about the body as much as we want, but we don’t know the breadth or depth of each students’ knowledge of anatomy. That’s why we try to speak about the body in the simplest terms possible while trying to educate throughout class. But what if, for example, your instructor is talking about engaging the hamstrings, and you’ve never read about or seen a photo of what the hamstrings look like? Sure, you may know roughly where they’re located, but can you visualize where the muscles originate and insert with the skeleton? Or know that there are actually three muscles that make up the hamstring group?

I know, I’m getting technical with this, but the point is that even slightly increasing your knowledge of human anatomy can have a great influence on your Pilates practice. Your concentration during a Pilates class will be more than skin deep. It will be specific enough to hone in on the muscles being worked so you can exercise them in the best way possible. Your body and mind connection will be that much more united in bringing you a strong, lengthened and aligned body.

I’d recommend this exhibit to anyone, especially if you practice Pilates.  Some may be squeamish about the concept of real human bodies on display, but it’s truly fascinating and eye opening. Learning about the body in this sense can help you make the most of the one you live in (and exercise with) every day.

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