Rewiring for Positivity through Pilates
Apr 01, 2022 - Meghan Pickrell
Wiring. We often take for granted its integral role in our homes, vehicles, and even our brains. The process of remodeling raw metal into a conductive wire and mental processes into habits is quite similar. Both require intentionality, directionally, and persistence.
No matter our age or experiences, the wiring in our brains is just as subject to adaptability as the metal that gets heated and bent into physical wires. This is a concept known as “neuroplasticity.”
In this journal entry we’ll explore the science behind transforming our brains, how this can help us form positive habitual change, and what Pilates has to do with all of this.
Find Your Inner Neuroscientist
From the time we are born, our brains are constantly responding to knowledge and sensory inputs. Through repetition and practice, our brain creates how our bodies respond.
Instead of practice making “perfect,” however, practice made permanent.
Thankfully, the possibility for change is also built-in through a process called – you guessed it – neuroplasticity. The basic science can be found in the word’s roots.
Neuro – connectivity between brain and body
Plasticity – malleability
Originally thought to end in adolescence, neuroplasticity is actually present at every walk of life. With direct attention towards creating or changing a habit, we mold new pathways into our brains. As neurons increasingly travel the desired pathways, they decreasingly travel the old ones.
This is how we train our bodies to move more intentionally and our minds to think more positively.
Connecting Thought to Action
For a hands-on approach to maximizing our brain’s natural state of neuroplasticity, we turn to the inspirational writings of Mel Robbins.
The Countdown from 5 Attitude
Everyone has at least one dangling goal or creative vision they wish to actualize.
It might feel silly at first, but Mel recommends counting down from 5 then launching into the task at hand. This “countdown” mentality actually helps us to turn what is bouncing around in our neurons into positive movement in the external world.
The “Self-High Five”
Even in the tightest of schedules, there is always space to fit in small acts of enthusiastic self-affirmation.
Mel recommends the “self high five,” noting how impossible it is to feel down while participating in this celebratory gesture. If a high-five doesn’t fit your style, get creative and find little movements that stimulate your brain’s awareness of how amazing you are.
You’ll find that a pat on the back, high-five, or thumbs up will leave you standing tall!
Pilates as Ritual
Now onto physical posture… what does this all have to do with our favorite form of exercise?
We spend every waking hour aware of our bodies’ limitations. Yet all it takes to stretch those limits are supportive, knowledgeable teachers like Meghan. Pilates is not just about balancing the body, but also about harmonizing its connection to the way we think.
Seen through the lens of neuroplasticity, Pilates not only teaches new movement skills which challenge our brain, but also offers the opportunity to challenge our thinking. Through positive affirmations from the teacher, pilates serves as a conduit to change our relationship with our body.
On the mat we get to shed any self-doubt we have about our bodies and celebrate their potential. As we learn and grow in our practice, we can repair our frazzled internal wires and even add new pathways of thought.
Whether it’s through our mini-session on “rolling” or our full body session on “returning to center” (or really any session), we are practicing new skills and observing our thoughts. We learn how to quiet those that are unhelpful and stimulate those that are productive. Through this intentionality in movement and thought, we are able to rewire our brains’ signals towards affirmation.
This re-alignment is only achievable when we ground ourselves, both literally and figuratively. Afterwards, we are able to return to the other realms of our lives invigorated mentally and physically.
Just like the wiring that keeps us warm, on the go, and entertained, our brains’ wiring can always be innovated. All it takes is improving the conductivity of turning ideas and goals into movement.