Masterful Mat





Scooping the abdomen in and up, spiral wrapping the thighs, tightening the tush, relaxing  shoulders downward, staying centered in body, mind, as well as on the mat,  breathing expansively AND listening to verbal cueing can trigger information overload, causing loss of focus on one thing at the expense of another; like scooping but forgetting about the correct placement of your shoulders or squeezing the inner thighs together but failing to breath. 

 “There’s so much to remember to do”, said one of my on-the-verge-of-exasperation Pilates students. 

 She’s just returned to Pilates after a four year hiatus and is gradually getting her rhythm back.  I suggested one way to process all of the directives that will lead to mat class mastery is to perform an order of operations.  Remember solving algebraic equations?  You have to simplify what’s in the parenthesis or brackets first, then you tackle the exponents, followed  by multiplication and division, finally working out the addition or subtraction to arrive at the correct answer.

I recommended that she first physically center and imprint herself on the mat, then try to quiet her mind, so she could concentrate and process all of the sensory feedback she will be experiencing. Next, I instructed her to start her breath work; which should be expansive and energizing. Once a workable breathing pattern has been established, she should focus on contracting her navel to her spine without drawing her shoulders upward.  With concentration and correct body placement established, she's poised to flow through a sequence of movements with grace and control. 

Honoring the integrity of each movement, incorporating the principles that govern the Pilates method,  mat class mavens remake their bodies and calm their minds.