Truth be told, I’ve never really held a deep (or even shallow) belief in yoga and pilates as serious forms of exercise. Granted I have dabbled in both at various stages of my life, and I do appreciate their benefits for people with injuries, but on the whole I always seem to come back to the more conventional cardio options like running and cross training in the gym.
But after attending a free pilates session today as part of Team London Bridge’s #lovelunch promotion I have to say I’m coming around to the idea this might actually be something worth incorporating into my life more regularly. I left the office feeling stressed out and stiff and have returned in a Zen-like state, completely free of aches and pains (one neck exercise we were taught will definitely be included into my stretching repertoire from now on).
It strikes me, now I think about it, that an important – yet often overlooked – factor in people’s enjoyment of yoga and pilates in particular (given their reputation as relaxing practices) is whether or not they like their teacher. In a gym class it’s somehow easier to tolerate an instructor with an annoying voice or irritating manner – you just grit your teeth and get on with it, focusing on the end results for those abdominals. But yoga and pilates are different – you have to like your instructor. You have to trust them. If they annoy you then you’ll never reach that place of inner calm and tranquillity that your practice demands, and therefore you will fail to reap the benefits.
Another important factor is where the class takes place. If you can hear the busy main road with its beeping car horns and shouting builders then you’ll never be able to relax enough to get the most out of your practice.
Today’s class was held at Globe House, a charming bare-brick space with a New York loft apartment feel that’s set back from the hustle and bustle of the roads around London Bridge and has a lovely calming atmosphere. The instructor, Liz, was neither annoying in voice nor irritating in manner. Far from it – she was warm, friendly and clear in her instructions (unlike many of the yoga and pilates teachers I have come across in the past, who have you twisted up like a lump of scrapyard metal in your pursuit of the elusive posture they’ve just demonstrated).
I nearly didn’t go to today’s session but now I’m really glad I did – it might just have ignited a new passion for pilates. Watch this space…