• How Pilates and Yoga can improve our mental health

    I had an interesting conversation with a lady before our regular Wednesday morning Yoga class this week; she was telling another participant how she felt after the class. She used the following phrases 'I feel amazing after the class, I walk out of here feeling absolutely on top of the world and ready to conquer anything'. She then asked me whether anything was happening to her mind to induce those feelings.

    You may think that most people attend Pilates and Yoga classes to get a flatter tummy, improve their posture, reduce back pain and increase all over muscle strength and whilst both disciplines help us to achieve all those things, my experience as an Instructor is that my class participants increasingly comment on how calm and relaxed they feel after a class and how they value the impact of the classes on their mental health and general wellbeing.

    This conversation made me realise that people may not know what physiological changes are taking place during and after a Pilates and Yoga class which have a very positive impact on their mental health.

    Pilates and Yoga are both contemplative forms of exercise with meditative qualities and both involve deep breathing to facilitate movement patterns. Deep breathing helps to calm the mind, increases lung capacity and improves blood circulation. It also increases the removal of waste products from the body, such as carbon dioxide.

    The quiet, calm atmosphere of the classes combined with the emphasis on focusing on the breath stimulates a part of the nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system works automatically (autonomically) and is often referred to as the 'rest and digest' system.

    This calming of the nervous system reduces heart rate and blood pressure and allows us to enter a more relaxed or meditative state. People often tell me they feel less stressed and have a great night's sleep after a Pilates or Yoga class which all leads to improved overall health.

    Combine the mental benefits of these disciplines with increased muscle strength, improved flexibility, increased energy levels and a general feeling of wellbeing and ask yourself why wouldn't you sign up to attend regular Pilates and Yoga classes!

    Check out the timetable and join us :-)


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