I have struggled with having anxiety my entire life. Whether it excitement, stress, worry or fear,- I feel like I have dealt with every form of anxiousness there is. Growing up and in school lot of times my anxiety was misinterpreted as ADHD- but in fact I just have a hard time focusing because my mind is constantly working. I seldom sleep and when I do, my brain is always chasing a dream or thought. Pilates has been a great way for me to not only cope with my anxiety as a release but also as a way to train my brain to stay focused on on the task at hand, and not let my mind wonder into a manic dreamland.
One of my favorite basic Pilates exercises I like to do to begin my practice when I am feeling anxious is basic "breathing." Starting with my knees bent, feet planted and palms facing up, I like to imagine that on each breath my lungs fill up and on the exhale all the muscles around them come into place with emphasis on powerhouse engagement. This really helps to set focus and intent, and gives my shoulders(I have shoulder unevenness that has resulted in a slight mechanical scoliosis) a good starting position in knowing everything is in it's proper place.
Staying in control is key in Pilates, not only by staying connected to your powerhouse, but staying in control of your mental focus as well. Using deep imagery helps focus on the task at hand always, and utilizing this simple tool can help when anxiety starts to take over in everyday life. I think the key to dealing with anxiety is being able to control the manic part of the brain when it starts to race and wonder into thoughts...Pilates helps connect your mind to your body. This can give you awareness and control, even over your emotions if practiced often. I find that once you finish your Pilates practice after a anxious event it is almost as though your mind comes out of the fog and you are clear headed again. Pilates is a great way to not only stay physically healthy, but mentally as well.
AUTHOR: Bailey Fay Baldeschwiler Hinojosa