We began the exercises which had to be repeated daily for 30 days before we could move onto a new series. If we skipped a day we had to start back at the beginning. Not an easy task when you are dealing with a stubborn 15 year old. As suggested by Pyramid of Potential owner, Kathy Johnson, I discussed the process with Tony because he had to buy into it. He did. When we left the first meeting I asked him how he felt. He told me he felt smart. It brought me to tears. Any parent with a child who has ADD or other learning issues can relate to the frustration and sadness you feel knowing you have a smart child who doesn’t think he/she is because of the frustrations they have with traditional learning styles. Now we had a new plan and it began with movement!
The similarities between the original Pilates mat exercises called Contrology which Joseph Pilates developed at the turn of the 19th century and the brain development exercises developed nearly 100 years later are astonishing. These brain exercises are based upon fetal and infant movement patterns. Their purpose is to inhibit aberant primitive reflexes. Both series of exercises promote the integration of primitive reflex development in order to improve cognitive function and sensory motor skills. Both encourage crossing the midline of the body during movements and demand an intense level of concentration. The habitual practice of these simple, yet specific movements and exercises have resulted in amazing positive results, many times in both physical defects that have proven otherwise to have been incurable along with behavioral issues, learning disabilities and emotional stressors. All of these symptoms have been debilitating in the sufferers and in many cases have either completely disappeared or significantly reduced by practicing these exercises.
Joseph Pilates studied the natural movements of young children and observed animals. He understood the importance of integrating these movements into his exercises as a way to maintain balance and overall health in the body. He believed we are only as old as our spines are young.
In Tony’s case we have seen improvement in his grades and his attitudes. We also found out that he is near-sighted, which is a contributing factor in his audio processing issues. I encourage him to practice Pilates and he does a lot of walking. All in all he is a new kid and has a positive attitude.
My concentration in the studio on posture and fracture prevention has brought many questions to the surface for me and has led me to continued research and fascination into the ironic similarities between these healing movements. I worry about the prevalence of chronic slouching.
Chronic slouching creates in imbalance in our bodies, poor posture, pain, poor circulation, poor aerobic capacity, depressed emotional states and can cause compression fractures in those with low bone density.
What does encouraging a “C” shaped posture do to our youngest members of the population, our infants who have no voice about how they are placed about by their care givers? Is it possible that these C shaped car seats, umbrella strollers and high chairs not only prevent the core strengthening necessary to develop strong back and abdominal muscles, full lung capacity and proper digestion; do they also prohibit the integration of the Landau Response and the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex which develop the extensor muscles? Unless an infant is allowed to stretch out and lie prone not only do these physical challenges fail to be met, the subsequent brain development does not occur leading to poor posture, weak muscle , tone, poor balance & timing, clumsiness, poor sense of timing, poor sequencing skills, chronic lateness and disorganization.
Pediatricians are now seeing increasing cases of back and neck pain in their young patients. Could it be that in some cases this begins in infancy with frequent use of c curved carriers?
Sally Goddard, author of Reflexes, Learning and Behavior says that “Movement lies at the heart of learning.” Joseph Pilates said “The brain itself is actually a sort of natural telephone switchboard exchange incorporated in our bodies as a means of communication through the sympathetic nervous system to all our muscles.” “Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles. When brain cells are developed, the mind too is developed. Pilates begins with mind control over muscles. By reawakening…otherwise…dormant muscle cells, Contrology correspondingly reawakens dormant brain cells, thus activating new areas and stimulating further the functioning of the mind.” Both opinions support the mind-body-spirit connection.
Pilates wrote that “To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limit of our ability.” He said “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
As Joseph Pilates explained in his book, “Return To Life Through Contrology”, “Continued use of Contrology steadily increases the normal and natural supply of pure rich blood to flow to and circulate through the brain with corresponding stimulation to new brain areas previously dormant. More significantly, it actually develops more brain cells.”
We know now that the ability to move freely during infancy allows for healthy integration of primitive reflexes. Our bodies learn “good posture” through a series of movements that begin during infancy and allow for the integration of healthy movement. Our carriers and sedentary lifestyle could well be preventing these important steps from occurring. This is just another reason that the Pilates system of exercise should be an essential if not mandatory part of our wellness and movement.
Whether irony or just timing, I believe that brain development exercises are just another example of why practicing Pilates is an integral part of life!
Something to consider....What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you.
Remember, we are fortunate to have Kathy Johnson as our next guest speaker on Tuesday May 29th from 6:30-8:30pm at the studio. If you are interested in learning more about the brain body connection through movement and how to help your children or students or you improve your learning style PLEASE JOIN US!!!
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