By Cathleen Rodgers

We all know that practicing the Pilates Method comes with many benefits—a stronger and more flexible body, increased circulation, good body awareness, and improved concentration, to name just a few. Attending your sessions regularly will yield good results, which you will likely notice more and more as time passes. And yet, there are a few simple things you can do every day outside of the studio to really help all that Pilates pay off. Here’s how can you get the most out of your Pilates practice:

Breathe – Pilates himself was a huge advocate for deep breathing, which cleanses the body of toxins and promotes better circulation, respiratory function, and clearer thinking. Try to take a few moments out of each day to focus on your breathing: full breath in, and deep exhale to empty the lungs. Over time, this will become second nature to your body, and you’ll be breathing better than ever.

Eliminate distractions – Concentration is key to a successful Pilates session. We live in a highly connected, technological world, which is both a blessing and a curse. The constant reminders, communications, notifications, etc. become taxing on our mind and bodies, and are highly distracting. Try turning off the unnecessary notifications; stowing away the phone for an hour; focus on one task at a time; or just take a break when you need. Not only will you get more done (and faster), your mind won’t feel loaded down.

Check your posture – Whether you’re walking, driving, standing, or merely sitting at work, take a moment to check in with your posture: are you slouching? It’s easy to lean into poor posture as the day wears on; especially if we are tired. So when you catch yourself settling into unhealthy posture—wherever you may be—think about your Pilates stance. Lengthen your spine and lift the abs in and up!

Stretch – You have, without a doubt, heard this from your Pilates teacher before. Stretching is so important for our bodies so we can stay limber. Just take a few minutes each day to stretch, if you can. A simple routine with basic stretches is enough, no need to make it complicated! Ask your teacher for help developing a set of stretches specific to you, so that you can implement them into your daily routine.

Practice optimism – With a healthy body comes a healthy mind, and vice versa. So while you are physically improving yourself, it is important to mentally improve as well. Try to see the positive light of every situation (easier said than done sometimes!) and practice gratitude for the wonderful things in your life. A fresh outlook will do wonders to lift your spirits!

Remember your corrections – Every single person has their own strengths and weaknesses. No two bodies are the same. Try to work on your personal “problem spots” throughout the week, so that over time, your body will improve or even correct its faulty movement patterns. For instance, if you know that your shoulders tend to hike up or disconnect from your back, take a moment to draw them down again into proper alignment.

With the day-to-day practice of each of these, you will only enhance the benefits from Pilates that you are already experiencing. After all, Pilates is a lifestyle, not just a method meant for studio practice!

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