The Mindful Everyday Interview

We talked Pilates, Mindfulness and more with Liz Patient from Posture Perfect Pilates:

Where/when did your interest in Pilates start?
I started doing Pilates around 11 years ago when I was working in a desk job. My posture had deteriorated and I was getting a lot of lower back pain. I wanted to try and relieve some of the pain, and also improve my posture ready for my wedding the following year!
My lower back pain was soon gone, my posture improved and I had fallen in love with Pilates. Since then Pilates has helped me to stay fit and healthy through two pregnancies, then helped me to safely recover afterwards. I’m now a keen runner so Pilates also helps me to maintain my flexibility and stay injury free.

What training have you undertaken?
I have a CYQ Level 3 Diploma in mat based Pilates, which I obtained through Pilates Training Solutions. The course was run by Claire Worman, an Osteopath, and Belinda Buttery, a Fitness Professional and lecturer in Anatomy, Physiology and Sports injuries. It was a really great course with much more depth in terms of the anatomy and physiology than standard Pilates training courses. This has been really beneficial for me so that I can tailor the classes and exercises to more individual needs. I have also carried
out a course on small equipment with Belinda Buttery, so I can add variety, challenge and support with various pieces of equipment.

What exactly does a Pilates session involve?
There are lots of different types of Pilates, and every teacher approaches it differently, so it’s a good idea to find a session that works best for you. My training was more clinical based so my sessions focus on improving core endurance and posture, whilst protecting the spine and correcting muscle recruitment. I always offer different levels of difficulty for each exercise so that people can challenge themselves based on their own strength and stamina. I also keep the numbers limited in each session so that I can ensure
individual attention, and most importantly, correct technique. A typical session starts with a moment of relaxation, bringing the focus into the body and ensuring it is correctly aligned. We then take a moment to focus on breathing and activating the core muscles. This is followed by a warm up, then the main part of the session is a series of Pilates exercises designed to
challenge the core muscles and other under used but important muscle groups. We then end with some appropriate stretches. Every session is different and although the focus is always on the core muscles it’s definitely an all over body workout!

What kind of people do you see?/Who benefits from Pilates?
Pilates has so many varied benefits and the nature of it (low impact and adaptable) means that it is suitable for almost anyone. I teach all different kinds of people with a variety of needs and challenges. I can adapt and modify most of the exercises to cater for the individual. This is one of the main reasons I keep the class sizes limited, so I can ensure each individual gets the most out of each session.

Do you see a connection with Pilates and mindfulness?
Absolutely, Pilates is all about “mindful movement” where we really concentrate on which muscles we want to initiate and use. Our bodies have become accustomed to working in a certain way due to environmental
pressures (lifestyle, occupation, stress, injury etc.). In Pilates we are re-educating the brain and how it controls muscles by changing the order in which muscles are recruited. This helps to realign the body, improve posture and correct the muscular imbalances that have developed.
In the sessions I run we always take a moment at the start to bring the focus into the body, to concentrate on the breath and alignment of the body and to consciously activate the core muscles. This helps participants to keep the focus just on them throughout the session, which improves concentration, body awareness and the movement itself, all key principles of both Pilates and mindfulness.

What do you think are the barriers to practising mindfulness?
I think the main barrier most people perceive is time. Our lifestyle these days is so hectic and there are so many distractions and demands on us that trying to fit something else into our lives seems too much. The irony is that the less time we think we have the more we should try to find mindful moments within our day.
There is so much going on in our lives that taking the time to stop and bring the focus back to what is important is more essential than ever. I read a quote once; “If you don’t have ten minutes to spare in your day to meditate, then you need to be meditating for 3 hours”. Basically if your life is so busy and
demanding that you can’t take ten minutes to be calm and peaceful, then the demand on your body and mind is such that you probably need to meditate for much longer!

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in Pilates and making positive changes, but isn’t sure where to begin?
Like any change you try to make, start small and make it manageable. Doing a few Pilates stretches or exercises each day can be a gradual introduction. YouTube is a great place to find short Pilates programmes that are easy to follow.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and start classes then the sessions I run are small and friendly, with all the mats and equipment provided. I offer the first group class free to anyone wanting to give Pilates a try. Great chance to give it a go without any commitment!

Do you have any special tips and tricks to add mindfulness to your day?
If you can start your day with a moment of mindfulness then I think you put yourself on the right track. For me it’s a few Pilate’s stretches and exercises which get my body and mind in the right shape to take on the day!

Liz has a number of weekly classes running around Fleet and Church Crookham. Details of the times and locations of the classes are all available on her Facebook page;
Liz also offers 1:1 sessions, bespoke group classes and corporate bookings. She provides all the mats and equipment required, so there is no need to purchase your own.