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 1920â€™s, mainly dancers used the method developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates, which he used to call â€žContrologyâ€œ. 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