‘Co-ordination of mind, body and spirit’, J Pilates
I’ve heard Pilates described as a ‘non-spiritual yoga’ which I believe does an injustice to Pilates (not just the exercise system but to the man and creator himself). It may not be spiritual in a mystical sense but it’s origins have a focus on one’s spirit or energy.
In 1945 Joseph Pilates published ‘Return to Life through Contrology’ – the original name for Pilates. At the start of the book he sets out his philosophy and it’s quite incredible how relevant the themes are to today’s society and how forward looking he was around the need for a holistic solution to address mental and physical well-being.
He talks passionately about the need to develop mind, body and spirit in order to thrive physically and mentally. He saw Pilates as a well-being approach to combat the mental pressures as well as the physical strain the increasingly fast paced living and desk based work were having on the population even back then.
His guidance to achieve ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ (a sane mind in a sound body) reads like a contemporary well-being article; quality sleep and diet, proper breathing, good posture, walks in nature, connecting with loved ones and daily Pilates exercise.
Rather than large muscles or weight loss, he promotes an exercise system that develops a body free from pain and flexible and strong enough to allow daily tasks and hobbies to be pursued with energy and zest. “Body, mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a co-ordinated whole..freed from nervous tension and over-fatigue is the ideal shelter for housing a well-balanced mind.‘
Before he introduces the exercises he ensures readers are clear that his exercises aren’t just about movement they are about a focus on breathing, blood flow, small as well as global muscles, mental concentration and control. Through this holistic approach the true benefits can be felt within the mind, body and spirit.