Student Support Blog
Having trouble motivating yourself to practice?
Sometimes finding the will to practice is tough. It may be overwhelming to think of how much work it will be, remembering what exercises are in your repertoire, how much time it will take, where to schedule it into your day, etc.
Personally, I’m having a hard time wanting to be in the studio since closing March 16th. It feels lonely, and since I am Althea’s only human contact most of the day, leaving her alone in the living room for an hour so I can be in the studio for a workout, then the time to shower after, feels like I’m abandoning her (I know she’d be fine. It’s in my head. Nevertheless...).
A week after closing I brought the Arm Chair and Spine Corrector out to the living room to have handy. What I’ve noticed is how often I’d jump on one of them at random, and at any time of day; walking by between tasks, watching tv, when I’m suddenly at a loss for something to do, when a spur-of-the-moment urge to “just stretch” or explore a movement hits me, or before going to bed (when I need to unscrunch after being curled up on the couch 😯). While this isn’t the vigorous workout that energizes me and makes me sweat, it certainly is keeping me feeling strong and open.
If you have a Power Circle, Weights, Theraband etc. at home (a few of you have a Barrel), try leaving them in a high traffic area rather than in a separate room or stored away in a closet. Maybe even right next to the chair you watch tv in... somewhere painfully obvious and accessible. Use them to fill empty time, like a fidget. Do one exercise, or a couple of exercises, whatever pops into your head (see also At Home Apparatus Exercise List). As long as you’re doing something it’s better than doing nothing... you may even be surprised how much you end up doing, and how often!
At Home Apparatus Exercise List Added
I’ve added a list of At Home Apparatus. The choices can be used to end a mat workout, or sprinkled throughout your day as needed. It is not necessary to do all the exercises listed for each apparatus, pick what you need, or what you want to play around with! If you are a jaw-clencher, or are particularly stressed these days, I highly recommend the Towel exercise for the jaw!
I will try to get photos to accompany the lists soon, in the meantime feel free to contact me with questions!
New Exercise List Added
As requested, I’ve added a list of all the Mat exercises with Power Circle Variation (text only at this time). A few of the advanced exercises I have yet to include instructions for. As with most things, if the variation is so much fuss that it breaks the flow of the workout/isn’t available for your body, leave the Circle to the side and do the regular version. See the blog post below for more insight on the Power Circle.
“Breathing is the first act of life, and the last.” -Joseph Pilates, Return to Life Through Contrology
Breathing can also be problematic many of the days in between. It can be due to anxiety, illness, or structural/mechanical issues (Obstructive Sleep Apnea, for example). After a dozen years of observing people closely, I’d argue that most just don’t breathe well. I’ve noticed breathing that comes with upper body tension, breathing that’s shallow, breathing that sounds constricted in the throat, breathing that’s too rapid and breathing that stops with exertion.
I’m sure I don’t have to describe here all the reasons one needs to breathe well, or the trouble that comes when one can’t. A quick Google search will give you plenty of info (just please look for the science to back up what you find!!).
In Return to Life Through Contrology, Joe writes “...above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” While he doesn’t go into great detail on the mechanics of breathing, he simply says (I’m paraphrasing here) to squeeze every atom of air out of the lungs, to the point of feeling like a vaccuum, so the inhale is virtually effortless. Thanks for the minimum of words Joe (not sarcasm).
The ability to exhale deeper improves with a Pilates practice. I’ve found at some times, in order to get deeper work an exhale must happen (the movement drives the breath), and at other times an exhale happens and the work deepens as a result (the breath drives the movement).
In Joe’s method breathing is important in all the exercises, but some are more specific to improving the ability to breathe. Some examples: Hundred, Spine Stretch Forward, Saw and Spine Twist on the Mat; Saw and Breathing on the Tower; Hundred and Coordination on the Reformer; just to name a few exercises on three of the dozen or so pieces of apparatus in the system. Some apparatus were specifically designed for breathing; the Breath-a-cizer and the Power Circle (aka Magic Circle), for example.
For an at home practice, no matter what exercises are in your repertoire, just using your Power Circle can get you in touch with your exhale, and as a result, your center. Place the Circle between the inner thighs toward the knees, the lower shins near the ankles, the soles of the feet or hands; exhale to squeeze the Circle, exhaling deeper to squeeze the Circle more; release the Circle and let the air flow in.
Happy breathing! 🌬