Pilates is a low-impact exercise that can benefit both the mind and body. It can alleviate anxiety, stress and depression. It can increase body strength, muscle tone and flexibility.
Whilst doing pilates you focus on the precise movements in each exercise. It is this focus that shuts out all the worries and clutter in your mind, allowing you to feel calm. The exercises can also act like a massage for your muscles so they relax, which enhances the feeling of calm. After a session, I get an additional boost from the satisfaction obtained in knowing I am improving my physical health.
The majority of these effects are temporary and stop soon after the end of the session. However, over a long time it can help your mind become accustomed to feeling calmer and train it to get less anxious.
Yoga is similar to pilates but with relaxation and spirituality playing more of a role. Despite, or perhaps because of this, I personally prefer the more scientific approach of pilates and find it more engaging.
The best way to start is by joining a class, as the teacher will check you are doing the exercise movements correctly. If you want to see what it’s all about first, here is a good pilates introduction video provided by the NHS.