Pilates is part of the training program of every professional sports team in America. It is also a meditation
BY PAUL KAIHLA — Some people don’t go to a gym at all. Some go to a gym, but they do their own thing, in their own silo of solo, whatever. For two decades, I was one of those muscle-heads. Then, I discovered the power of the group — and the “metro-sexual” workout that a German emigre made eponymously famous as, pilates.
It’s one of the reasons I go to the gym now.
There is an energy in the room, gracefully non-verbal, that invites my own attention to do a deep dive into my core, both somatically and pyschologically .
People often talk about the “body-rush” they feel after doing pilates, and I experienced a long-lasting wave of that on Friday.
There was this swirl of energy and aliveness, and euphoria that defied a separation between my thought and tissue.
Dancers remain the first and foremost apostles of pilates. Nicole Tesson, doing the “teaser” position above, is a dancer, first, and pilates guru, second. The reason that she and her contemporaries are a step ahead of a lot of us in their spiritual evolution is that their whole discipline is devoted to bridging the mind-made dichotomy between mind and body.
Pilates is a spiritual practice in the sense that it literally brings your attention to the core of your being, to the muscles and tissues deep in your torso and that wrap around your bones.
It takes so much attention to isolate these muscles that you can only do the movements if you totally withdraw your awarenes from work-a-day thoughts. The movements bring you out of your mind and into your body — into a quasi-meditative state.
The dance profession is what preserved pilates for the rest of us, during decades of relative obscurity after Joseph Pilates introduced it in the 1930s in New York (initially, to dancers in George Ballanchine’s and Martha Graham’s companies). A couple of generations later, pilates finally became a fad among the beautiful people in L.A. in the 1990s. Now it’s in the private gym of every NBA, MLB and NFL franchise in America.
Nicole brought us all the way into a pilates body-trance at the end of a one-hour mat class with these words, that she later confessed, “just poured out of my mouth” without any premeditation:
Bring yourself back into your breathing.
Enjoy your breathing . . .
Feel the weight of your body melt into the mat.
Let everything inside fall to the outside,
and the outside, fall inside.
If this spoke to you, here are five similar articles.
- The Pilates ‘body-rush’
- My body is my mind
- Guided meditation: Resting into yourself
- Waiting to exhale
- A body-worker works his own body with somatic knowing