I always encourage my Pilates clients, (especially my most beginner clients) to take home a few very simple (but not necessarily easy) exercises and work on them each day at home.
Practicing Pilates at home really helps students increase body awareness on their own, and in the long run helps them get more out of their private sessions.
It’s one of the best ways to for them to become more familiar with their body.
When they come back to their Pilates lesson they are more connected to their breathing, their core, and their movements, plus they are more in control.
You don’t need to be at the gym, or even in workout clothing to do your movement homework. You don’t have to have a yoga mat, or even be barefoot! It doesn’t need to be an hour long, super time consuming event either.
The frequency is what actually makes a difference.
Traditional Pilates does take some practice, and it’s great to keep doing it at home. I often give the basic mat work as homework. But this is not Pilates-specific! Even exercises like bodyweight squats or pushups are great homework exercises.
Homework maintains your flexibility and helps to prevent injuries. Many of my clients injure themselves less and have less pain when they do their homework. I find that many injuries are a lesson, a chance to learn a deeper connection to the body and our little (and sometimes not so little) compensation patterns that we may not have even realized.
The more practice, the more you know about yourself. The more you know, the better you move.
Ask your trainer or teacher for some simple stretches or strengthening exercises that you can do at home, specific for your tight/weak spots. Then you just have to commit to doing it!
Here are my 5 top reasons why “mindful movement” practiceÃ¢â‚¬¦.whether it’s as simple as a few stretches or as structured as a full on yoga or Pilates class… is a GREAT idea:
1. It gives you time to explore how things feel to you on your own.
Follow the specific exercises, but notice how differently if feels on your own. You can have your own experience, notice progress and discover what feels good and what doesn’t. Be sure to ask your teacher or trainer for support or clarity if you are not sure how to do an exercise. As a teacher, it gives you information about what your students feel as they do their homework. As a student, it gives you the practice of just feeling things in your own body at your own pace.
2. For the pure and simple joy of practice
Your practice at home is where the progress happens. Your lesson is what feeds your practice. Like piano, the lesson is not your where you do the work. You practice between lessons, and the real work happens on your own. You will see a big difference in how you can interpret cues and instructions, and your body will thank you as well.
Feeling your body and noticing your habits, strengths and weaknesses (we all have them!) can be life-changing! Notice as you move throughout the day, do you always carry your bag on the same side? Do you sink into the same hip all the time? (That’s a big one.) Do you stop breathing when you feel nervous or upset? Are you knees locked all the time? Click here to see guidelines for optimal alignment.
Practicing helps you to maintain what connections you made in your lesson or class. You will build a good foundation for progress. It takes time and repetition to develop strength, flexibility, and coordination but once you do you can progress and see results that much faster.
5. Self care
A little bit each day. And a little bit is better than nothing! Just like brushing your teeth. You do it every day no matter what, and it always feels better after you do it. Think about your muscles and how good it feels to have strong muscles free of tension and pain. Yes, it is possible to feel good with just a few minutes per day. Your practice can help you get closer to feeling that good.
And when you feel good, you take better care of everyone and everything else.