Neuro-Somatic Pilates

Beth smiling

Written by Beth Sandlin

May 10, 2023

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the conflicting advice in the fitness world, you’re not alone. It seems like every day there’s a new trend or fad that tells us what we should or shouldn’t be doing.

Following someone else’s plan can be tempting, but it doesn’t account for your individual circumstances and goals.

At the beginning of my fitness journey, I took cues from my boyfriend’s regular exercise routine, and later, when I discovered Pilates, I followed the guidance of my instructors. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with taking cues from others, it may not always suit our individual needs.

Even once I began to teach Pilates I didn’t take the time to understand how it could compliment other workouts I was doing or even my goals. Instead, I was worried I wasn’t doing enough. And this is a valid concern because we want the time we spend moving with workouts to be beneficial, but we can’t only focus on physical health.

For many years, I simply focused on the physical benefits of Pilates from a conditioning perspective while ignoring the signals of my nervous system. I would oscillate between being really motivated to workout and just burning out. If you’ve ever experienced a lack of motivation it’s possible that you’re missing out on the crucial element of nervous system awareness.

You may have heard people talking about our bodies being in a constant state of fight or flight in response to stress and trauma and therefore we need more down-regulating activities such as taking a break, deep breathing, or slow movement sessions. However, for some people, this approach can trigger disassociation.

Somatic movement is often associated with slower sessions that may not be the most effective for overall health. However, it’s important to note that somatic simply means relating to the body.

After more than two decades of practicing Pilates and applying a trauma-informed approach to my movement and teaching for over a decade, I’ve developed a straightforward system that acknowledges the connection between the brain, mind, and body: Neuro-Somatic Pilates. This approach emphasizes a balance between choosing workouts that enhance physical conditioning while also taking into account the nervous system’s influence on the type of exercises we do.

This simple framework can be applied regardless of your Pilates or exercise experience, and it’s the focal point of the upcoming workshop, Neuro-Somatic Pilates: How to Optimize Your Workouts by Moving in Alignment with Your Brain, Body, and Nervous System. By integrating Neuro-Somatic Pilates into your workout routine, you can move in harmony with your entire body, resulting in physical, mental, and emotional benefits that can lead to a more joyful and sustainable practice.

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