Pilates from the heart

Linda Elsea

No matter what the sport, we need constant reminders of the fundamentals to execute the plays well. Learning Pilates is no different.

We can sit mindlessly on a stationary bike reading a book, or walk the treadmill while watching TV, but without conscious awareness and mental focus, practice can easily turn to complacency. Mental awareness is primary to maintaining control of spring-loaded Pilates equipment for obvious safety reasons. Professional teachers with years of experience have had to have teeth replaced because of loss of momentary focus.

Many years ago when I was training for my teacher certifications, I accidentally kicked my teacher in the face while doing a handstand. She had to spend several sessions with a chiropractor for neck adjustments over the next few weeks. Even teachers are not immune to injuries when working with spring-loaded equipment. Although we were both ready for the set-up, she was standing too close and got whacked. This is why you will never see Pilates equipment in gyms for individual use.

I love the equipment for its ability to stretch me a little further than I thought possible, enable me to reach a little higher, engage the abdominal muscles a little deeper and lengthen the spine a little taller. It’s all about training and correcting postural muscles to execute the fundamentals consistently well.

Developing the fundamentals of breathing, self-control, awareness, rhythm and flow and persistence are also qualities of the spirit that makes us more effective and productive in our activities of everyday living. It’s been said that what gives competing athletes of similar strength and abilities the winning edge isn’t due to physical strength or superior training. When it comes down to 100ths of a second at the finish line, it’s the spirit that drives the winning thrust home.

As seniors, we don’t need that kind of drive anymore. But what about the drive to keep moving, stretch a little higher, stand on your feet a little longer, stay up a little later, finish one more project at your desk, in the kitchen or on the patio? Pilates has allowed me to extract just a little bit more out of myself. It has lifted my spirits, cemented relationships and helped overcome fears. What’s good for the spirit is also good for the heart. Serving others is what does my heart good. Pilates has been that vehicle of service for me.

Do you have questions about Pilates for seniors? Call Linda at 480-721-0493.