Pilates For The Inside

By Amy Taylor Alpers

Amy Taylor Alpers

Since 1990, when my sister and I founded The Pilates Center in Boulder, CO, our mission has always been to “heal the world through Pilates.” It was Joseph Pilates’ mission as well so I know I’m in the best company. To heal the body through Pilates one must not just ‘do’ these exercises, but rather 'use’ them intentionally towards their unique and powerful purpose. When you focus on their deep intent rather than just their technical rules while doing them, their value for your ultimate health potential increases exponentially.

Pilates designed each movement specifically and deliberately to achieve a whole body organic health response. In his book, Return to Life, he very clearly explains that the ultimate goal is the 'internal shower’ – the stimulating of the breath and circulation to bring fresh, oxygen-rich blood to every cell. As you take my classes go deeply inside your body and explore every essential part of you to powerfully enhance this process.

Expand your breath capacity by inhaling deeply, stretching open all the joints and soft tissue of your rib cage and spine. And remember to “fill the bottom of the bucket first,” opening the parts of the  lungs nearer to the low back and kidney area where we are so often tight or tense. Then empower your exhale by strengthening your abdominals - the pump mechanism that pulls and pushes air into and out of your body. “Exhale every last atom of air from your lungs until they are as empty as a vacuum,” as Joseph Pilates exhorts us in his book.

Be aware of your skin – your largest organ and a powerful player in your immune system. Feel your skin come alive, awakening the nerve and blood cells in it – even the smallest capillaries - that help to detox your body and teach your brain where your parts are in space. Joseph was a huge proponent of skin brushing as well – try it, you might like it. Let your skin breathe.

Massage your organs – brain, lungs, heart, stomach, liver, intestines, kidneys and more - rinsing and cleansing them as you move, to push metabolic waste out and bring vital nutrients in. Remember your bones are organs too, factories for producing blood and lymph, filled with blood vessels. And keep all your joints lubricated with warm, flowing, nutrient-rich, synovial fluids. Your skeleton should feel spongy and resilient and shock absorbent, not stiff or rigid.

As Joe said, “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” So flex, twist, extend, and elongate all 26 vertebra as if you were a cat, stimulating your entire nervous system through your spinal cord and all the nerves that branch off from it to all the parts of your body at the same time.

Pilates should feel good. It should cleanse, detox, and revitalize, awakening dormant cells and stimulating your whole body into health. Observe and massage all your body’s systems as you move. Breathe, circulate and “return to life.” Enjoy!

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