Pilates - "mindfulness in motion"

Consciously combining concentration, movement and breath, the Pilates method can help to cultivate mindfulness

It doesn't always have to be Yoga or Meditation when it comes to mindfulness. A study of the Appalachian State University and Duke University Medical Center showed that Pilates also has the potential to increase mindfulness and significantly improve general well-being.

Initially, in the 1920’s, mainly dancers used the method developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates, which he used to call „Contrology“. From the beginning he understood his system as integrative means to foster somatic experiences, concentration of the mind, and centering. The aim is a holistic training of body, mind and soul. Even if Pilates shows a certain similarity to modern Yoga, it is nevertheless a unified, distinct method, which has a different historical background and different aims. The defining elements of the method are concentration, control, precision, flowing movements and breath.

Originally, the teaching was characterized by a command style of instruction and defined aims for flexibility. In the meantime, pedagogical orientation has changed and the emphasis lies on alignment, breath, and the body-mind-connection. Thus, Pilates has the potential to increase the mental quality of mindfulness and foster overall well-bing. Mindfulness is the quality that arises as soon as I focus my attention on the present moment: on my breath, on a certain movement, on a bodily sensation, etc.. It is this quality that makes a difference: it transforms a mere outer movement into an inner experience.

All in all, the above mentioned study pinpointed, that participants did not only feel physically better and more flexibel; they also had better self-regulatory skills, increased body awareness and spatial orientation, a better sense of their own energy level, a lower stress level and a better mood than participants of the control group - significant signs of increased mindfulness.


Karen Caldwell, Marianne Adams et al. - Pilates, Mindfulness and Somatic Education; Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices; 2013 Dec 1; 5(2): 141 - 153.

Joseph H. Pilates - Return to Life through Contrology, Presentation Dynamics Inc; Revised Edition, 2012