Key To Pilates Success
When you do something over and over again, when you practice a movement that you love (single leg stretch is my absolute favourite Pilates exercise. Ever.) it becomes perfect, right? Well no, not really. Key to Pilates success is in not chasing perfection because perfect really doesn’t exist.
We all have a degree of asymmetry and we’re also changing constantly. The person you were ten, fifteen, twenty years ago is completely different to who you today. The person you were last week, yesterday even, is different to who you are today. Change is constant and inevitable; every day is different. Your body may move and feel differently one day to the next, one side of your body to the other; it’s perfectly normal.
Pilates is an endless path. It’s a path filled with delight, hard work, frustration, fun, brick walls (to be climbed over or knocked through and sometimes, just walked around for now), joy, discovery and so much more. I could go on, but then it would be an endless list instead of an endless path. There is so much to discover, movements where you really have to work hard to find a way into them, movements that are so calming you feel like you’ve arrived home, back to your own body. But it is endless; part of my love for Pilates comes from knowing there is no end point to reach. We can just keep practicing, forever! And it does really help if you practice regularly, it is key to Pilates success.
Practicing regularly may seem like hard work at first and where will you fit it in? Something else may have to be moved aside or sacrificed, so that you can take 30 minutes or an hour for your own body and mind. It could help here to replace the off putting words ‘hard work’ and ‘sacrifice’ with more positive ones. When you feel like your sacrificing something, it’s just that; a sacrifice, loss, missing out. And hard work? Life can feel like a conveyor belt of hard work. How about committing to your practice and then repeating your practice at regular intervals? Commitment and repetition are much more user friendly words.
Our brains are plastic; we have neural plasticity. Our brains aren’t made of plastic, obviously; neural plasticity means your brain is capable of change. It’s capable of change throughout your life. (Or, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks)
When you practice standing on one leg to help improve balance; as you peel your foot off the ground, lifting your toes away from the floor, then replace it in the same spot, you’re grooving the movement. I love that term. And directly from Joseph himself – “It is the mind itself which builds the body”. The man knew what he was talking about.
Another way of looking at it is treading though a cornfield.
When you’re walking through a cornfield for the first time, it’s frustrating and difficult. The corn is high, you can’t walk on it properly because you can’t squash it down; it’s tricky to move through it. But as you take the path again, it’s a little easier. The next time, you can see the beginning of a path to follow. The time after that you see that you’re forming a new path. And one of the brilliant things about our brains, about forming new neural pathways, is that old, unused ones start to grow over. You can create new habits, new ways of moving, new ways of thinking. Your difficult, tricksy, ‘new’ way of moving becomes your default.
Regular practice is key to Pilates success, it doesn’t lead to perfection but it does lead to change. On that note, I’ll take the opportunity to shoehorn another of Joseph’s quotes in here to finish. “Change happens through movement and movement heals”