Pilates for the Soul

-Theresa Rowe

I must warn you, Pilates is habit forming.

Once you start, you won’t want to stop.

I teach, and have taught, a variety of different classes in my career, but no class compares to Pilates. Practicing Pilates has brought me closer to Christ, while moving me beyond the place of physical pain and emotional discomfort. He is my shade in the deserts of this world. Taking time to be still in His presence, while exercising, has allowed me to stretch spiritually and strengthen my core physically. Resting in His shade, while going through each exercise, shields me from anxious thoughts and worries, and helps me enjoy the peace of his presence.

Why Pilates?

Pilates is a series of stretching and strengthening exercises developed after World War II by Joseph Pilates. Pilates called his method Contrology, which refers to the way his method encourages the use of the mind to control the muscles. Scrawny and sickly as a youth, the photographic results of his method are astounding.

Pilates focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and are essential to providing support for the spine. In particular, Pilates teaches awareness of breath, alignment of the spine, and strengthening of the deep torso muscles-which are important in alleviating and preventing back pain.

Pilates requires concentration and focus because the body is moving through precise ranges of motion. With the mind focused on our muscles, our daily dilemmas are forgotten and the soul can celebrate peace with God.

Listen to the Spirit

Each Pilates exercise is performed with increased attention to proper breathing and abdominal control. I remind the students to breathe deeply and to bring the naval to their spines as they prepare their bodies for a head to toe challenge. We stay connected to God through our spirit as we roll up on the mat and stretch our body over our legs while being mindful of reaching out beyond the limitations we have set for ourselves. Knowing God is stretching with us, we can be assured that nothing is impossible. God is our vine and we are His branches. His word tells us that, “those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

For me personally, I love being barefoot on the Pilates mat. I love the freedom of bare feet; it reminds me of being a child again, and the importance of maintaining a child-like faith in my Heavenly Father. I must continually reprogram my mind to stop over analyzing everything and simply trust God. Exercising shoeless reminds me of this very thing, in a unique Pilates’ sort of way. Hey, it works for me!

Stretch Yourself

These sessions of experiencing God open new doors of strength and closeness to Him. It is a healthy balance of physical and spiritual wellbeing. Pilates helps us slow down and BE in communion with God. In Psalm 46:10 He tells us to “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Just because we live in the world doesn’t mean we must live like the world. Stretch with purpose to live your purpose.

Theresa Rowe is a motivational speaker, author, mother of seven, and grandmother of four. She has over 20 years of professional fitness experience. Find further information, resources and workouts on her website.

Shaped By Faith.