For as long as I can remember, movement has always been a major part of my life. From many years of training in dance, to pole & circus arts to 8 years of competitive downhill skiing; it’s a lifestyle that I have continuously chosen to embrace through time. In the last 5 years of my physical practice, I’ve been involved in a lot of more high impact activities, which eventually lead me on to seeking Pilates as a way to help keep my body stable and prevent injury.
I can honestly say that this has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. Ever since, I’ve considered it to be one of the greatest healing modalities as it has taught me so much about my body that I wasn’t aware of. When I first added it to my practice, I noticed that a lot of my own imbalances were coming up through some of the exercises that I was doing and that immediately drew me towards wanting to cultivate a greater sense of balance in my body and repattern the way that I move and hold myself in my day to day life. Pilates has a great number benefits; in my personal experience it has helped me deal with chronic back pain and rehabilitate several injuries as well as life long postural imbalances. Overall, it has made me gain a much more holistic view on what it truly means to be strong and stable.
Pilates is strongly focused on correct postural alignment. The exercises in a classic mat class emphasize on strengthening and toning the deep core as well as all the internal stabilizer muscles. They also work to elongate the muscles and create more space in between the joints, whilst aiming to promote stability, which in turn helps the body gain better range of motion. Because a lot of the work is quite subtle and precise, it requires a great deal of concentration, allowing you to develop a more refined sense of self awareness and understanding of what your body is actually doing in space. In addition to that, performing each movement in sync with the breath is also a powerful tool to enhance the mind-body connection.
Because it is a low impact form of movement, it can be suitable for anyone. A lot of people think that Pilates is just for women; in fact it was created by a man (Joseph Pilates), and on top of that there are many male athletes that practice it sustain their bodies throughout their careers. But despite all of that, who doesn’t want good posture and a pain free body? I think anyone can benefit from it. We all have little habits that can over time be damaging to us, like rolling our shoulders forward when we sit or standing predominantly on one leg, and the mindfulness that this system focuses on can really help re educate the body and change some of those patterns. Ultimately we will never have a perfectly symmetrical body; aches and pains are bound to happen and come up. Integrating the concepts of this work in your day to day life is a continual work in progress, but the results found along the way can really help change your body for the better.
I for myself have experienced such dramatic changes and improvements in my physical condition from adding Pilates into my practice, and one of the most rewarding things for me is to be able to share that with others. I feel passionate about creating a supportive and empowering environment for people to discover a deeper sense of well being through connecting to their breath and moving their bodies; and to facilitate that truly is a privilege.
Join Leiah, at STRETCH, every Thursday evenings, 6:15pm-7:30pm. FREE to members, $20 drop-in.