The human mind is so complex that even our brightest scientists are still discovering its mysteries. In an age where new discoveries abound, there is always hope of recovery from neurological pathologies. Our minds are truly magical and neurological issues are complex; this complexity has led to surprising and counterintuitive discoveries at the nexus of mind and body. As mindfulness gains support from the medical community, we are learning more and more about the endless possibilities.

Pilates is a powerful mind-body exercise that can have profound healing effects for people suffering from neurological pathologies. The power of the mind-body connection has historically been dismissed simply because it is subtler than the exercising of muscles. People often find it difficult to invest in activities where the benefits are not immediate and obvious, but the benefits of practices based in mindfulness can have results that are truly remarkable. To explain this phenomenon, it is useful to understand neuroplasticity.

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What is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, allowing the nerve cells in the brain to compensate for injury and disease.  As a result, nerve cells can modify themselves in response to changes in environment. While researchers are not yet clear on how this works, they now know that the brain is capable of continually adjusting and reorganizing itself. Bottom line: brain activity promotes brain reorganization, meaning that “brain workouts” help the brain form new connections more quickly and stimulate reorganization when the brain is not capable of doing so on its own.[1]

How Does Pilates Encourage Neuroplasticity?

Pilates promotes neuroplasticity by stimulating self-repair and reorganization with specific movements to jump-start the brain, helping it to strengthen the connections associated with these movements. By using forced movement with the aid of Pilates apparatuses, the brain can reform the connections associated with physical movement, which can enable independent and biomechanically optimized movement over time.

Pilates is an incredibly effective mind-body practice. It can be a saving grace for people who have suffered a brain injury or pathology. Pilates is an exercise to optimize both the mental and physical wellness of the modern human. By providing mindful meditation coupled with physical movement reconditioning, Pilates practice results in an overall enhancement of individual wellbeing.

[1] Stanford University, Huntington’s Outreach Project For Education http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/neuroplasticity/#strategies-for-promoting-brain-reorganization

 

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