Concentration Frees the Mind

August 20, 2009

By Kathryn Ross-Nash

One of the most valuable offerings of a Pilates workout is the ability to clear your mind, but so many people never take full advantage of this benefit. They enter the studio and bring with them all the things they need to do, the things they have just done and the tremendous pressures of everyday life. Whenever a student shows up at the studio and I can “see” the baggage they are carrying, I tell them to “leave it at the door.”at the door

Joe Pilates encouraged us to bring our minds to our workouts. All his underlying principles incorporate focus and require us to be completely present in our work. One of the main principles of Pilates, of course, is concentration. When we use the mind to guide the body, the work is never executed on autopilot. A centered mind is needed for a centered body. Joe Pilates stressed using five aspects of our mind: intelligence, intuition, imagination, will and memory. When you fully engage your mind, you free it.

With that in “mind,” let me share a few things I do for both my clients and myself:

1. Leave it at the door: When entering the studio, I tell myself that I have chosen to be here and am committed to the time. There is nothing I can do about all the other things, and they will be there when I get done. (And if they’re not, well, then, that’s even better!)

2. Find a focus (intelligence): I know what I am lacking in my workout. For example, if your teacher is always telling you to squeeze your bottom, then that would be a great place to focus when you are working.

3. Go with your gut (intuition): If you are truly present in your workout, you will know which exercise suits you and what ones do not. Every day your body is in a different place. Some days we are full of energy, some days we are not. Honor the place you are in that day and adjust accordingly during your workout.

4. Find a way to let go of outside pressures (imagination): I have a fellow teacher who keeps an empty basket by the studio entrance and has her clients mentally deposit their baggage there. [Editor’s note: We love this one!]

5. Keep bringing yourself back to focus (will): As you work, your focus may drift, so keep bringing yourself back to where you are and challenge yourself to build your focus with each lesson.

6. Make yourself learn the order of your workout (memory): Learning the order of your workout has many benefits. One is that it helps to keep the mind sharp by using and developing your memory. One first-generation teacher told me that Joe would tell him to do Reformer, then do everything he knew on the Cadillac, then on the Wunda Chair, and so on.

Remember: When you bring your mind to your workout, you free yourself from the pressure of everyday life. This allows you a break—to breathe, regroup and be able to approach life with a fresh, clean and clear vantage point. It helps to teach you to be present; in the now. Your workout is your moving meditation.

So the next time you enter the studio, remember that this is your time for you. It’s one short precious hour to lose the stress of the day, so “leave it at the door.”

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Hot Air Balloons, More Pilates and the Dress of My Dreams

August 12, 2009

By Kristin McGee

Dear friends,

I am thrilled to announce that I just found the dress of my dreams. I can’t give away too many details because Tim, my fabulously supportive fiancé, reads all my blogs, helps me with my Facebook posting, and runs and manages my PR more or less whenever he has any free time. He is a computer whiz! He just finished his summer internship here in New York. We’ve had an incredible time living together in my tiny apartment. I’ll be so sad to see him leave in a few weeks. He has one more year of business school, and then we’ll get married in December. Once he finishes his last semester in the spring, we’ll take our honeymoon. We haven’t decided where yet, so I’ll probably ask you to help with suggestions. (So if you any some great honeymoon tips, let me know.)-1

I just can’t believe how lucky I am. I went to the store whose dresses I had seen in certain brides’ magazines and always loved the most. The dresses are from Barcelona, http://www.pronovias.com, and Carmel, who helped me, was beyond awesome. I found a gorgeous veil to go with the dress, and I will make sure to send out pictures after my big day.

I’m glad I held off on the dress at the Italian dress store. As much as I loved it, it didn’t make me cry when I put it on (I always heard that was the criterion). And guess what: I literally had tears in my eyes today when I stood in front of the mirror. Carmel was hilarious…she kept asking how I got my body and I said it was Pilates. She is going to come take a class of mine now.

Speaking of classes, I taught a wild class last weekend at a Hot Air Balloon festival in New Jersey. Tim came with me, and we took our first-ever hot-air balloon ride in the Darth Vader balloon! Tim was beside himself being the Star Wars fan that he is. My teaching leads me on some of the greatest adventures, and I am so thankful to have a fiancé who will support me along the way.

Thanks to all of you for your support, for your comments and for following me on the greatest adventure of my life. I always love to hear from you! I’ll have another “Pilates Bridezilla” installment for you soon, so stay tuned!