“You can say what Pilates is in three words. Stretch with Strength and Control. And the control part is the most important because that makes you use your mind.”
In a separate quote Romana goes into more detail about just what’s going on up there – the specific functions of your mind “on Pilates.” Pilates is often referred to as mind/body exercise but I feel this is quite the understatement. The capacity to which our minds can exert control over the body is infinite. Romana also says “You can improve your genes a little if you are tenacious enough.” So there we go.
This is your mind:
2+2=4…The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain…
This is your mind on Pilates:
“Intelligence guided by the will using memory and imagination assisted by intuition.”
I loved this quote the moment I heard it. As someone that is stubborn enough to want it all to be possible despite the occasional alternate agenda on the part of my body, I like that I can be smart and willful, lie down, workout and make myself feel better (I give 3 shaves and a 2 hug salute to Kara Wily for one of the best Pilates taglines out there).
Let’s look a little closer at these nuances…
intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills
You have learned and honed your Pilates exercises over countless hours. Maybe you even teach the 100 in your sleep. Smart cookies don’t crumble.
will: the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action, a deliberate or fixed desire or intention
“Fixed desire” exactly – I love it! You decide, you initiate and now you fixate. Awesome.
memory: the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information
Also do not underestimate the memory of the body. It is more than you may imagine. Pilates has a wonderfully curious effect that I like to call “the Pilates mind-eraser.” This phenomenon occurs when you work fabulously and ridiculously well in an exercise only to have no idea what comes next…even if you are a teacher and of course you know what comes next. Let the body lead you for a few moments and it will take you just where you need to be and suddenly your mind will return: “Yes! Side Splits. Of course!” Which leads me to a bit of a tangent, actually…
This “Pilates mind-eraser” feeling is an unexpected parallel to the June Havoc school of remembering your lines. June Havoc (the real-life Baby June in the musical Gypsy) was a firm believer that if you go “up” on stage – meaning the forgetting of your lines during a performance – you just keep right on talking and eventually your next line will come right out. So just keep moving and going about your business and that next exercise will find its way to you (you=your mind+body).
imagination: the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses; the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful; the part of the mind that imagines things
Ideas and images are the best friends one can have in the workout. What speaks to your particular creative and resourceful mind? There are no limits to the information and ideas you can recruit to assist you.
intuition: the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning, a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning
This is the body thinking and leading the mind. Instinctual. Visceral. Say it, Joe: “Now you are an animal!”