At every Pilates class and in most Pilates articles, you’ll find out how this hundred-year-old exercise system can build a strong, healthy body. But what about a strong mind? In a time when mental health is rampant with the stress of the world, it’s beneficial to have a treatment ally other than medication in your coping toolkit. Science has shown that Pilates has a positive effect on mental health. Take a look at these four reasons why Pilates is essential to mental health and start easing your depression and anxiety.
Build Mindfulness – Part of learning to cope with stress, anxiety, or other mental illness is learning to be in the moment. Many practices focus on the control of breath, ranging from zazen (Zen Buddhist Meditation) to Alexander Technique (a realignment method) to put you in the moment and in touch with your body. Pilates is founded on the same approach of integrating careful breath into positions and movements, supplying oxygen to your muscles and getting you to stay present to be fully aware of your body.
Calm Your Mind – Breath control and mindfulness is a direct link to calming your mind. Building your ability to focus on the breath and stay in the moment allows you to reduce anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, chronic pain, and other symptoms associated with an over-stressed nervous system. Because you are solely focusing on your body and what it is experiencing in Pilates, you learn to adopt this sensation of connection and calmness off the mat.
Battle Anxiety and Depression – Many mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are due in part to imbalanced chemicals in the brain (serotonin and dopamine) that allow the brain to rest, relax, and be happy. Like other forms of exercise, Pilates is an excellent component in anyone’s treatment plan. Alongside elemental treatments like psychotherapy and medication, Pilates should be used regularly to help mitigate symptoms. Pilates is effective because it creates a social environment, manages levels of serotonin and endorphins, and provides a relaxing space to disengage from stress.
Relieve Tension in Your Body – Tension in the body creates tension in the mind. This connection is the reason why many people with chronic pain also have comorbid symptoms of anxiety and depression. Our bodies tend to operate using a “fight-or-flight” response to stress and release stress hormones to prepare us to react to danger. A buildup of these hormones without exercise to vanquish them can cause hypertension, muscle spasms, pain, and, as a result, stress in the mind. Pilates helps you relieve muscular tension and also may help you metabolize these stress hormones, releasing tension in your body and rejuvenating your entire being.
Let Pilates for mental health be as much of a self-care element as exercise is for your body. At Core Fusion, we enjoy empowering people to better their bodies and minds through Pilates. For more info on our classes or to register, contact us today.