How Pilates can restore your calm



Are you feeling frustrated, stressed-out or just always busy?

Finding your calm can sometimes seem impossible with all the demands of life: running after kids, work, family commitments, household chores… the list can seem endless.

Here’s 5 ways clinical pilates can help you restore your calm.


1. Focussed movement

Mindfully moving your body helps you connect your inner body map (your brain’s understanding of your body) with the reality (what’s actually happening). In other words focussed movement helps you become more in-sync with yourself.

A really good way to reduce stress or anxiety is to narrow your focus down on something specific. In Pilates we often get you visualising how your your body is moving and connect up where you feel things as you move. This can help slow you down and fix your attention on something slow and rhythmical.

2.  Breath

Incorporating breathing techniques (especially techniques that focus on long slow exhales) with movement can access your body’s vagus nerve (the thing that helps promote rest and switches off your stress response). Breathing is a quick and effective way to slow your system down and promote calm.

Belly breathing (breathing air down to your stomach – you can try this by putting your hands on your stomach and feeling it expand as you inhale and drop as you exhale) is a great way to help switch on your core.

Your diaphragm is a big dome shaped muscles that forms the top of your core – so getting used to diaphragmatic breathing not only helps slow you down and relax but also engage your core better.

You can practice a breathing technique right now. Why not try this technique called box breathing.

  1. Close your eyes (it’s okay no one really cares!)
  2. Take a slow breath in for 4 seconds
  3. Hold it for 4 seconds
  4. Breathe out for 4 seconds
  5. Hold for 4 seconds
  6. Repeat

How do you feel?

3. Posture

It might be somewhat surprising but adopting tall postures and big open stances (common in many pilates exercises) gives some feedback to the brain that can promote a sense of being strong, in control and stable.

The posture you adopt has a feedback loop to the brain that can affect our mood. So if you’re feeling a bit anxious overwhelmed or out of control then try standing tall with your shoulders back. Holding this posture for a minute or so can make you feel more grounded and calm.

Getting stronger in pilates also helps improve your posture in the longer term. A lot of the exercises in a pilates class are focussed on you moving well with good posture – over time you get used to moving this way and your strength increases changing your normal posture to a more upright one.

4. Effort

We’ve talked about how slow controlled movements can help slow your system down and bring calm but hard efforts can also have a similar response!

Hard work, sweat and effort releases a bunch of chemicals in the brain that reduces the body’s stress response. Some of what happens in a classes is designed to get the heart rate up a bit and work at a higher rate. The exertion increases blood flow and diverts attention to the hard effort. The hangover here is a release of reward chemicals in the brain that make you feel good.

So – get after it!

5. Laughter

Nothing makes you feel better than a good belly laugh!

Laughter does some pretty cool things in our brain. It reduces the presence of cortisol (our stress hormone) and releases some feel good hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. Laughing also helps reduce blood pressure and helps you relax and let go of muscle tension

Pilates at Equip is social and inclusive – its a mix of focussed attention and good times. We’re always keen for a laugh and try a crack an occasional joke – whether you think it’s funny is another thing entirely!

So if you’re feeling stressed out, anxious or just looking to find more calm in your everyday then Clinical Pilates might be the thing for you.

Book an online appointment with one of our team today!

Equip Physiotherapy is here to help reduce your pain & manage injuries! Booking through our online appointment form is the most convenient way to lock in the team member & time you want.