Pilates and Body Awareness – New Research

Taught as the founder intended, Pilates is a very mindful form of exercise. Throughout my classes I encourage you to feel what is happening to your body as you perform the exercises and in the pauses between the movements.  You will hear me drawing your attention to your heart beat, postural tone, how and where you are breathing, the temperature of your body, the sensation of tissues lengthening, contracting and releasing, gurglings in the gut when you perform the navel to spine core engagement.  It is this aspect of our Pilates practice that helps us be more present in the body as we go about our day-to-day life and be more mindful of how well we’re moving.  Are we sitting, standing, walking with good posture?  Do we feel well-balanced?

New research from Anglia Ruskin University highlights another important benefit of being tuned into our body and the sensations we can feel happening inside us. In an interview with cognitive neuroscientist, Dr Jane Aspell on a recent edition of BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind, developing this ability to detect physical sensations going on inside the body – or interoceptive awareness as it’s called – can have a positive effect on how we view our body, how we feel about our appearance.  The study showed that people who have stronger brain responses i.e. greater awareness of signals from inside the body (heart beat, rumblings in the gut) have a more positive body image.

Pilates is therefore a useful way of training ourselves to be more aware of what we can feel happening inside the body, which in turn helps us be more comfortable in our own skin and more in tune with our body’s physical and emotional needs.  Fascinating stuff.

The images in this post are of Peter Jansen’s Human Motions Sculptures. Another new discovery this week. Thank you!

To close, Bjork beautifully being herself…

Post-Class Q&A

New for 2022.  Starting next week (from 7 February) all four online classes will feature a short Q&A at the end of the session.

Once we’ve said our goodbyes to those who need to leave straight away, I’ll invite those remaining to ask any questions about the specific exercises we performed in our hour of practice or any general teaching points I made along the way. 

This will be the perfect opportunity to check you’re doing the exercises correctly, to ask for further guidance on any adaptations or alternative exercises I provided, to say I felt this when I did a certain movement, is that right? etc etc. Anything that comes to mind really. Ask away.

I’ll return the session to gallery view when the class has finished and invite you to turn your microphone on if you have a question.  You could turn your video on too if you like. When I need to demonstrate an exercise to answer a query I’ll put the session on speaker view again so you can see me more clearly.

If you don’t have a specific question and just want to watch the Q&A, that’s great too.  A point raised by someone else and my answer might be just what you need to feel more confident doing the exercises, particularly the newer or more challenging ones.

Thank you for continuing to support the classes and I hope this small add-on to each session will help you get more out of your Pilates practice.

To close, here’s one of Lyse Doucet’s tracks from Desert Island Discs this morning, which had me (belly)dancing in my kitchen…

Gait Biometrics

how-we-walk

Here at EP HQ we’re fascinated by the human body, how it moves, how people hold themselves, how the shape of the body over time reflects the kind of life we’ve led.

An interesting feature on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science last week got our attention.   It was about the way we walk. Our gait like the iris, fingerprint and voice is unique to each one of us, but unlike those other biometrics, you don’t need to be directly in front of a scanner, camera or microphone to be able to identify someone.  It can now be done at a distance and with great accuracy thanks to new 3D, super high resolution technology. Ideal for confirming the identity of criminals from CCTV footage, for example.

The School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University has developed a facility called the Gait Tunnel – a red carpet passing through a brightly coloured, vividly patterned three to four metre-long corridor lined with 12 cameras.  The gait, i.e. the motion of the legs, is analysed using mathematical equations programmed into computers which process the images from the cameras.  It is three-dimensional, the views from each camera intersected to provide a solid, 360 degree reconstruction of the person as they’re walking.  Two or three strides of a person walking provides a set or pattern of numbers, a statistical footprint of their gait if you like, which can then be used to recognise them.

Fascinating stuff.

To close, a classic Monty Python sketch…