This morning I had the utter joy of waking to a rare, stunning blue July sky and gentle breeze. I picked up my picnic rug and walked ten minutes around the corner and then into a secluded woodland clearing that could easily be in Tuscany or Provence or honestly some magical fairyland, but much greener and with fewer pixies. And I joined eleven other Vita clients* with Liz at the helm for an hour of flowing Pilates surrounded by green and more green and blue.
Now, we know you all know your eight Principles of Body Control Pilates, obvs. But if we should ever (very unlikely) put you on the spot during a spot of the single leg stretch, you might only be able to exhale Alignment, inhale Centering and exhale Co-ordination. And then once you’ve returned yourself to relaxation position, with a sense of accomplishment, recall Stamina. And that would be a respectable four out of eight there.
However, the big eight are all equally important, and every class we teach covers them all. The last four are perhaps not the most obvious, nor what draw people to Pilates initially. But these last four are the cornerstones of what we are doing with our ‘Vita in the Woods’.
Firstly, Flowing Movement. That sense of sheer delight when you get to grips with an exercise such as Bow and Arrow and can let then let one exercise flow into the next. The emphasis here is more on creating and repeating short sequences and less chat. It involves Control and Co-ordination too, but flows (see what I’ve done there…) into the next principle: Breathing.
Breathing is often the part people find hard, or forget to do or overthink, but once mastered it’s like putting the wind in the sails of the movement. And to breathe deeply, outside, surrounded by oxygen-rich trees must surely be like imbibing the champagne of air, renewing and revitalising the blood. And with all this flowing and breathing comes Concentration.
Concentrating on the flowing movement and matching it with the breath undoubtedly has a positive impact on mindfulness. Being in the moment takes concentration and challenges any wandering thoughts to wander off for a while and helps the grey matter have a break. The stillness and seclusion of this place brings us to the eighth…Relaxation.
As we all laid down on our rugs this morning, there was a small sense of the smug at making it to this gorgeous location for an 8.15am start, immediately followed by an audible exhale as we looked up through the trees to the blue sky. Everyone knows the obvious benefits of being outside in nature. Even the slow toe taps into the single leg stretch and the Hundred were really quite enjoyable. Relaxation position has seldom seemed so accurate.
So, as we finished, and Liz led the class off into the woods to look at some wild orchids and possibly see some pixies, I reflected on how utterly lovely this experience was. We covered all the eight principles of Pilates as a great class should. In these most magical surroundings, the hour seemed to pass quickly though I left feeling like it was a while since I had arrived…
*These classes are only open to our enrolled Vita Pilates clients. To join us on another Saturday, contact us by clicking here.