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Just Breathe

As a Pilates practitioner, I take what I know and love about Pilates and teach that to my students. It’s with sheer excitement, that I share small discoveries and wins with my students. For me, I teach what feels good for me and vary that for students depending on their level of experience and what’s going on for them that week or day. In my day, I will work with students from a vast variety of skill and experience levels. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a beginner student will ask something along the lines of ‘when am I supposed to breathe?’ Absolutely no judgment from me if this was you!

While breathing is an essential tool we use to stay alive, I don’t believe that you have ever been taught to ‘do’ it or ever asked anyone other than your Pilates teacher when to ‘do’ it, have you? This belief that there is a right and therefore wrong way to breathe when practicing Pilates has always baffled me. I remember as a beginner, being told to inhale on this bit and then exhale on that bit and feeling like my lungs were going to explode if the movement was too slow and then feeling like a was going to hyperventilate if the movement was fast. I also found that when the teacher said to breathe in – I wanted to breathe out, maybe it’s the rebel in me or can you relate to that feeling too?

When starting out, just getting in and out of certain Pilates choreography is enough of a challenge of its own without adding a specific breath pattern in the mix. I remember my first Pilates teacher training where I could not for the life of me remember the breath pattern of a specific movement and I had to repeat it over and over again in front of the group until I got it right…not a fun moment! Although when I watch archival footage of Joe teaching, his 100% focus appears to be on the body in front of him making the correct shape. He demonstrates, gives hands on assists and moves their body to make the shape he wants them to be in. The movement is the most important thing – I think this is where we as teachers can confuse and maybe even discourage beginners with overcomplicated classes that focus more on doing ‘all the things’ instead of focusing on good quality movement.

As your teacher, I want to see you moving well and then you may want to try experimenting with breathing patterns to see what works for you once you’ve got that part down. If you’re an experienced Pilates practitioner, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you breath full and deep when the movement allows and it doesn’t enter your mind to be conscious of the specifics of the inhale or exhale – or is that just me again?

Joseph Pilates did give specific instructions on the breath in each movement however, these breath patterns are working with the natural biomechanics of the particular movement. For example, if you are rolling down from standing, the lungs are compressed from the forward flexion. I feel like this strong importance to inhale and exhale at certain times originated with the publication of the Pilates principles. Did you know that Joseph Pilates never had any written ‘principles of Pilates’? These were created many years after Joe passed in 1967 by a couple of students who were taught by one of Joseph’s disciples in the 80’s. They included the principles in their book “The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning”, and these 6 principles ended up becoming a part of most Pilates training programs worldwide. These principles are known to be – concentration, control, centering, flow, precision and breathing.

Although these principles weren’t of Joseph Pilates devising, he did mention breath work in his books “Return to Life Through Contrology” and “Your Health”. He speaks of how your breath should be the fullest and deepest possible, of how clean air and sunshine are vital to good health. He advocated for eating healthy meals and sleeping well every night and the importance of mental calmness. Off topic: would you believe he even wrote about dry brushing??? (see paragraph below) Oh and he never mentioned strong abs (not once!).

My message here is to advocate a freedom to move that is unrestricted and not bound by too many rules. Breathing is something that we inherently accomplish without guidance all day long. We may need a gentle reminder to deepen or slow down our breath and as a Pilates teacher, that’s what you’ll get from me.

Belinda Survilla

 

The use of a good stiff brush as described stimulates circulation, thoroughly cleaning out the pores of the skin and removes dead skin too. The pores of your skin must “breathe” – they cannot do so unless they are kept open and freed from clogging. Your skin will soon respond most gratifyingly to this perhaps seemingly “Spartan-like” treatment and acquire in the process a new fresh, glowing appearance, and develop a texture smooth and soft to the touch. So brush away, merrily, and heartily too!

Joseph Pilates

Return to Life Through Contrology

 

Healthy Recipe: Piña Colada Smoothie

We kick off our Summer 6-week Challenge this week, so we thought we’d share some healthy food – a recipe from the latest meal guide to get you in the summer spirit. This smoothie is full of goodness and the perfect breakfast or lunch option.

 

INGREDIENTS

– 1 scoop Bananas & Cream PranaOn Protein Powder

– large handful frozen organic pineapple chunks

– 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (our favourite is Pure Harvest Coco Quench)

– 5 large mint leaves or tbsp PranaOn Mint Super Greens

 

METHOD

Add all the ingredients into a blender or smoothie maker and blend until smooth.

Try some of our other healthy food recipes.

 

Belinda Survilla is the Pilates & Co. studio manager and takes regular classes at the Miami studio, including orientation.

We undertake the 6-week Challenge every season. Keep an eye out for our next one. It’s lots of fun and a great way to kickstart your Pilates practice.

Fig, Walnut & Ginger Uncookies

Recipe: Fig, Walnut & Ginger Uncookies

Perfect for Christmas or any time of the year, these cookies are the cookie that you don’t cook! They are great for entertaining and just for having when you need a little yummy snack with a cuppa. This healthy Fig, Walnut & Ginger Uncookies recipe is courtesy of the new cookbook The Midlife Kitchen which is full of ‘health-boosting recipes’, from one of our favourite foodie Instagram feeds by the same name. Enjoy!

Yield: 10-12, Active Time: 15 minutes, Total Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

200g dried soft figs

2 tbsp water

Juice of a lime

50g walnuts, crushed

2 tbsp LSA or ground almonds

1 tsp fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 tsp ground cinnamon

A pinch of sea salt

Coating: more LSA or ground almonds

 

METHOD

Put everything in a food processor and whizz. You may need to use a spatula between pulses to make sure the ingredients are fully incorporated. You can make the ‘dough’ as chunky or as smooth as you like – I prefer it a little chunky.

If the mixture is too dry add a little more water; if too wet add more LSA or ground almonds. It should be soft but not too sticky.

Take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and form into a small disc/cookie shape, approximately 3-4cm in diameter.

Coat each uncookie in more LSA or ground almonds.

Chill for 30 minutes or so before eating to firm up and make them deliciously chewy. Uncookies will keep in the fridge for up to a week but I can assure you that they won’t hang around that long!

 

HEALTH TIP

Don’t be put off nuts because they are relatively high in calories – they’re full of protein and fibre to keep you feeling full, so you’ll probably eat less overall. Studies have shown that people who consume nuts are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t.

 

Recipe extracted from The Midlife Kitchen, by Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice – available on Booktopia, Dymocks and from all good bookshops.  Follow on Instgram @midlifekitchen

Middle Age Spread Midlife Kitchen

Recipe: Middle Age Spread

This recipe takes 10 minutes and will be the most productive 10 minutes of your week guaranteed. Because you will be left with a spread you can use for toast, vegetables and crackers (in fact use your imagination) that is so delicious and also super healthy. This healthy Middle Age Spread recipe is courtesy of the new cookbook The Midlife Kitchen which is full of ‘health-boosting recipes’, from one of our favourite foodie Instagram feeds by the same name. Enjoy!

Yield: 500 grams, Active Time: 10 minutes, Total Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 250g bag of spinach

1 400g can butter beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

A small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 tsp ground coriander and 1 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp Greek yogurt

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

Sea salt

Fresh, ground black pepper

 

METHOD

Wilt the spinach in a frying pan on a low heat for 2 minutes. Drain and use kitchen towel to remove any moisture.

Place the spinach in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and pulse to a semi-smooth texture. 

This can be eaten warm, or cold from the fridge, where it will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

HEALTH TIP

Butter beans are the star here, providing protein, healthy carbs and a brilliant fibre fix. This benefits the cardiovascular and digestive systems, as well as priming energy levels.

 

Recipe extracted from The Midlife Kitchen, by Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice – available on Booktopia, Dymocks and from all good bookshops.  Follow on Instgram @midlifekitchen

Can you do Pilates While Pregnant?

Pilates is famous for being an effective and enjoyable method of movement but is it really suitable during pregnancy and post-partum? The simple answer to this question is – absolutely!

Contrary to popular belief, Pilates does not ‘focus’ on abdominal strength. It focuses on full body movement because the whole body needs to be uniformly strong and flexible to be in peak condition. What’s the point in having a rocking 6 pack if your gluteal muscles aren’t strong enough to help you off the couch?

The need for a strong and flexible body does not diminish once pregnant. Current research (ASCM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and prescription) shows that moderate exercise 3 to 4 times per week is ideal for healthy pregnant women. The recommendation states, “Dynamic, rhythmic physical activities that use large muscle groups are ideal.” – Pilates anyone? All women who are pregnant and healthy are encouraged to exercise throughout their pregnancy however movement will need to be modified throughout pregnancy based on symptoms, discomforts and abilities of the individual.

I find small group sessions of 1 – 3 participants utilising the reformer, Cadillac and wunda chair to be the most enjoyable and effective classes for pregnant and post-natal clients. These sessions are so great because of the vast amount of modifications available for all stages of pregnancy. These variations in the movement are so valuable not only because it allows flexibility in the movement being taught but also because it means that you will never get bored during class. The Cadillac, chair and reformer allow movements to be performed standing, side lying or sitting once supine (lying on your back) is not an option for you. We offer these small group classes along with our group reformer classes at Pilates & Co. Modifications to suit your stage of pregnancy are offered in both types of class.

AVOID DURING PREGNANCY:

  • Lying flat on your back after 16 weeks. This ensures that venous obstruction does not occur
  • High humidity
  • Isometric muscle actions i.e. weighted holds
  • Contact sports
  • Quickly increasing physical exercise (especially if sedentary)
  • Overstretching, due to the release of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol

TO-DO DURING A HEALTHY PREGNANCY:

  • Good movement
  • Time outdoors
  • Gentle Pelvic floor exercises – don’t overdo it!
  • Time to relax
  • Trust your body
  • Nurture and nourish yourself
  • Stay hydrated
  • Listen to your body – you are a unique and beautiful individual. No comparisons or self-judgment are needed.

Pregnancy is not a condition or disorder, however, if you have not been active previously or have any contraindications for exercising during pregnancy, it’s necessary to check with your doctor before joining a class.

Belinda Survilla is a mother of 3 and Manager of Pilates & Co. and regularly teaches Pilates reformer, reformer HIIT, clinical small group and private sessions at the studio. Belinda found the benefits of practising this wonderful method of movement invaluable, allowing her the strength and confidence to take back her health.  instagram @belindasurvilla

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