Moving in the Right Direction  
In Pilates, less is more where subtle body movements can make all the difference.  (Photo: Flickr user, myyogaonline)
In Pilates, less is more where subtle body movements can make all the difference. (Photo: Flickr user, myyogaonline)

Less is more

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In Pilates, less is more where subtle body movements can make all the difference. Pilates and yoga movements are all about subtleties. The slightest movements can produce the most effective or the most ineffective results. You can reach your arms over your head in the attempt to stretch the sides of your body, but if the shoulders lift up to the ears, you can seriously aggravate an already tight neck. Maybe you heard that doing abdominal exercises is good for your back. So you try to execute an abdominal exercise, but if the navel pops up to the ceiling instead of drawing down to the spine, you could hurt your back. Bigger or more movement does not always mean better movement. We need to think more about quality of movement rather than quantity. Any golfer can testify to that statement. The difference between a hook and a slice can be as simple (or as complicated) as an improper weight shift, or the front foot more forward than the back foot, or a break in the elbows. Subtle movements make all the difference in the result.

Let’s step away from pilates and yoga and golf and look at applying the “subtlety” principle in general. For example, the subtleties of communication can produce a strategic information gathering session, or an argument. It’s like the age old saying, “its not what you say but how you say it.” How people communicate - raised eyebrows or dropped eyebrows, looking down or looking away from someone, lifting your voice up or lowering your voice tone at the end of a sentence, politically, saying the word sensitive, which really means dangerous, are all subtle ways of changing the message of an issue or a topic. It is the same way when you want to communicate a message to a certain part of the body. Miscommunication can produce wrong or poor results, proper communication produces quality, effective, efficient results. Quality movement starts by communicating the proper message in your body. To seeing quality results on the outside, one needs to start with proper communication on the inside.

The inside communication is the “mind – body connection” or the “mind-body intelligence.” Neuromuscular patterning needs to be developed so that the body can function in a coordinated, pain free manner. Pilates is all about developing neuromuscular patterning for the stabilizers of the spine. Yoga also approaches a pose from the inside out. These two movements teach you how to articulate your body properly by developing mind-body intelligence. The benefits of reducing the energy demands caused from pain by improving neuromuscular efficiency are many. It includes more energy, clearer vision, increase in muscle definition through normal activity levels, a normalization of tissue metabolism, and more energy available for the higher brain functions of creative thought and problem-solving. Psychologically, it means a general sense of greater well-being, feeling balanced and whole. A commitment to the mind-body connection leaves people experiencing a return to energy levels remembered from a much younger age. From this kind of testimony, we realize that the more we can reduce stress on the system created by dysfunctional neuromuscular connections, like poor posture, the easier our life becomes. This inside communication is all about subtle. The mind-body connection is not about large, aggressive movements, it is about subtle, thoughtful, purposeful whole body integration.

Experiencing freedom of movement is a process. The length of that process depends on the health and intelligence of your body when you start. Personal health and wellness is not a race. Slow down and take time to develop your mind-body intelligence and be prepared for listening and tuning into the subtleties of your body.

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About the Author

Lori Rockl graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Political Science. After working with the Federal Government through two elections, she escaped back into her gifted life of fitness training and now owns a successful Pilates & Yoga studio. Although her clientel tell her often how much they learn from her, Lori would tell you that she is the one that learns the most from her clients. For Lori, the study of the mind-body connection is an infinitely fascinating study. She has found that Pilates and yoga are excellent tools for healthy living and incorporate those tools into her marathon and triathalon training. Please contact lori at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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