Our Mind-Body Connection…and why I love it!

Our mind-body connection…and why I love it!

“the brain and peripheral nervous system, the endocrine and immune systems, and indeed, all the organs of our body and all the emotional responses we have, share a common chemical language and are constantly communicating with one another.”

Dr. James Gordon (founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine)

What exactly is meant by the word “mind?”

NOT brainIt’s important to note that “mind” does not mean brain. Rather…the mind consists of mental states such as thoughts, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, and images. Let’s think of the brain as the piece of hardware (like in a computer) that allows us to experience these mental states (the programs on the computer).

Our mental states can be fully conscious or unconscious. Our emotional reactions to situations can occur without us  being aware of why we are reacting. Each mental state has a positive or negative physiology associated with it— and this is felt in the physical body. When we stay stress is held in the jaw, the hips, the shoulders – this is what we mean!

What is the history of mind-body connection?

Awareness of the mind-body connection nothing new – although we may be experiencing the practice of this for the first time if you have recently joined our studio.  Until approximately 300 years ago, virtually every system of medicine throughout the world treated the mind and body as a whole. But during the 17th century, the Western world started to see the mind and body as two distinct entities. In this view, the body was kind of like a machine, complete with replaceable, independent parts, with no connection whatsoever to the mind.

May people know that Western medicine has its definite benefits. We know it is a foundation for advances in surgery, trauma care, pharmaceuticals, and other areas of allopathic medicine. However, it also greatly reduced the enquiry into humans’ emotional and their spiritual life. I am a firm believer in an old saying my mother taught me “our thought controls the mind, the mind controls the body”, and our mind can be the burden or the control for our body.

“Man should develop his physical condition simultaneously with that of his mind” Joseph Pilates

Pilates and our Mind-Body Connection

Many forms of exercise can be completed mindlessly such as walking on a treadmill at the gym, for example, while watching a television screen to pass the time. This type of external stimulation can create a disconnection with our bodies as our focus is on the television as opposed to our bodies. Pilates encourages us to go within and connect with our deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor and create an awareness of these muscles and how they feel and function at any given time.  The more in tune we become with these muscles, the greater our body awareness becomes and we are gradually able to take greater control of these muscles with our minds and use this control to move more efficiently, improve posture and correct movement patterns that are no longer serving us.

If we look at the Principles of Pilates:
Concentration, Control, Centering, Flowing Movement, Precision & Breathing
The mind-body connection is required to execute these principles successfully whilst practicing Pilates and as Joseph Pilates said his Method is as much as a mental workout as it is physical. The benefits of a mind-body connection are too numerous to list here but just some of these include relaxation, increased body awareness and it enhances mental and emotional well-being. It is one thing for a Pilates instructor to have been taught these principles, it is another to truly believe them,, live them and honour them in every practice.
“Pilates is a complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”  Joseph Pilates
Joseph Pilates could never have envisioned that being able to switch off from the outside world and focus completely on one’s own body and mind during a Pilates session would be more valuable than ever and a rarity to be savored in this chaotic and busy modern world. Next time you are in a class, try to close the eyes for a few moments during your practice and re-connect to the breath, to the body on the mat, and find that connection a little deeper!
Anne & your AWPilates Family

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