Saturday, February 13, 2010


Mat for Performance

Centering, Control, Concentration, Precision, Breath, Movement: these are the principles in the Pilates, Gyrotonic, Yoga, Martial Arts, Dance, etc.. These are the basis of action.

It may sound as if the principles are extraneous descriptives of the same thing. Or it may sound like the principles describe something very difficult to do. In a way both are true. Each principle relates to the other. One principle can include all of the others in its definition. Yet although reliant, each principle stands alone to align the other.

Before playing with momentum or plyometrics, it's good to understand gravity and ground reaction as resistance for your workout. Then you either control movement against gravity or flow with the resistance, or some combination of the two, and voila, momentum. 

To figure this out, you learn how to relax while exerting effort. Otherwise, movement will be even more difficult than it already is when we overcome gravity.  

That is, unless of course, you're a two year old, so supple and close to the ground.

As with most mind-body exercise, it takes some getting used to.  Sometimes it's uncomfortable to have to think altogether, let alone think and exercise.  In the longterm, it's good for your brain muscle too.  

And it gets easier after you get familiar with certain exercises, your neuro-motor control adapts to the patterns.  Then you won't have to think so hard; you will be able to internally scan in order to exert the appropriate force with the appropriate muscles at the appropriate time and breathe too.

In Pilates training, scanning is your learned internal check for the precise experience. You learn how to dissipate extraneous tension and when-where more tensile support is necessary; how to make elongated arcs of movement with smooth motion; you learn how to maintain appropriate alignment.

The result in stamina and agility, coordination and flexibility becomes thinking but not thinking, like feel-thinking but not. It's higher level use of your brain and body. It's like your mind and body become in sync. And every muscle in your body feels alive. And it feels nice.

It's a great workout and definitely puts your core into motion. This class demands movement such as inversions, rolling, kicks, jumps, balance and turns.  It promotes play.

Mat for Performance is an excellent cross-training program that builds agility, flexibility, endurance and balance.