Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to Basics: Body Awareness

Much of our days consist of a to-do list where we rush to make sure all our points are checked off.  Each check off the list is a way of tracking our success in the day.  Pilates also has a check list of key points to focus on for each exercise.  As instructors we help our clients learn these ways of enhancing their practice.  

Over time no matter the form of exercise or movement you choose you will notice you develop body awareness.  In Pilates this is most easily seen in your posture improving outside of working in the studio.  You may sit up taller in your car when you drive or scoop while walking your dog so he doesn't pull you along.  Increased body awareness also puts you more in touch with your environment.  That is why Pilates is a mind/body exercise.  You are able, over time to know where your body is on the equipment.  Almost as if you were outside your body taking a photograph of yourself for your mind to be able to adjust your position if out of alignment.

A simple exercise can be done at home standing or seated in a chair.  Keep in mind for those that do yoga this may seem more meditative but I want you to actively feel your surroundings.

At Home Exercise (can close eyes if advanced):
Standing or sit and begin by feeling your feet in contact with the floor or carpet.  Make sure there is equal weight distribution on each from your big toe, heel and little toe.  This is your tripod for balance; posture starts at the base which is your feet.  Now start tracking up your thighs.  Notice if your legs are parallel to each other.  Make sure your ankles are stacked in line with your knees and hips (depending on if seated).  Now draw a box with your torso from your hips to shoulders.  In-between the "box" think of lacing your rib cage and muscles together as if you were wearing a corset.  Shrug your shoulders up than release them down as you feel the openness through your chest.  Lastly, imagine being pulling up to the ceiling by the crown of your head allowing your neck to lengthen.        

This simple exercise takes only a few minutes to complete and done once daily is a great way to create more body awareness.  Over time your body will memorize good posture that can last a lifetime.