Is Pilates Good for Anxiety?




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The modern world can be a stressful place, and it’s no wonder that anxiety is on the rise. But what if there was a way to reduce your stress levels and improve your mental wellbeing? Pilates may be the answer you’re looking for!

Pilates can be an effective way to reduce anxiety levels through proper breathing and relaxation techniques. It also helps build strength, improve muscle tone and flexibility, which can help with a sense of ease in one’s body.

In this article, we’ll explore how Pilates can help with anxiety and provide tips on how to get started.

How does Pilates help with anxiety?

Pilates can be an incredibly powerful tool in reducing stress and anxiety levels. Through engaging the body and mind, Pilates provides a space for the body to relax, rejuvenate, and release tension while the mind focuses on the present moment, leaving worries at the door.

The Pilates principle of breath oxygenates the blood, triggering the brain to calm down and create a physiological response in the body that naturally decreases stress and anxiety.

Pilates is an effective way to help manage anxiety because it focuses on the mind-body-spirit connection.  By connecting your mind to your body and being present for your session, you are able to stay focused and reduce your stress levels.

Pilates also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for conserving energy, relaxing the body, feeling pleasure, and burning fat for fuel.

The slower breath patterns used in Pilates help to lower blood pressure, improve mental clarity, increase circulation, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

By combining the mental and physical elements, Pilates can be an effective way to help manage anxiety. In fact, doing Pilates on a regular basis can not only help manage anxiety and stress, but can also help with physical manifestations of stress such as back pain, muscle tension, dizziness, rashes and skin disorders.

Does Pilates help with stress?

The answer to whether Pilates can help with stress is an unequivocal yes. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Pilates in reducing the symptoms of stress and releasing anxiety.

The low-impact nature of Pilates allows for controlled movements and breathing. This allows the body to create a psychological response to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Additionally, Pilates helps to provide space for the mind to focus on the present moment, leaving worries at the door.

With many people looking for tools to help them find inner calmness, Pilates is quickly becoming a top option because of its many benefits.

By doing low-impact exercises and breathing exercises, such as spine rotation and bridge, we can open up the main areas of tension in the body and be better able to handle our stress and anxiety.

Therefore, Pilates is an effective and powerful way to reset, de-stress, and clear our thoughts.

What is the best way to practice Pilates for anxiety?

The best way to practice Pilates for anxiety is to start with slow, low impact movements that focus on controlling the body and breathing.

This will help you to relax and create space in the mind to focus on the present moment and leave worries at the door.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Begin by lying on your back with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms by your side.
  2. Close your eyes and take several deep, slow breaths.
  3. Begin to focus on contracting and releasing your abdominal muscles, breathing in as you tighten them and breathing out as you release.
  4. Continue to focus on your breathing, gradually increasing the movements as your body relaxes.
  5. As you start to feel more relaxed, you can move onto more gentle Pilates movements such as the Single Leg Circles, Bridge, and the Hundred.
  6. Focus on the movements and your breathing as you do them, allowing your body to relax and unwind.
  7. When you are finished, take a few minutes to lie on your back and observe your breathing and body. Notice any changes or sensations.

When you’re ready, give this full 25-minute beginner workout a try.

Are there any risks or side effects of practicing Pilates for anxiety?

Yes, there are risks and side effects associated with practicing Pilates for anxiety. There are many benefits to improved mental health, such as increased energy, relaxed muscle tension and better sleep, but it is important to consider the risks.

Pilates can be physically demanding, and it is important to consider a person’s physical limitations before you start a practice and seek medical advice.

Over-exertion can lead to muscle strain or injury, which can be further exacerbated by an individual’s anxiety.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that the instructor is qualified and experienced to deal with any specific mental health issues an individual might present.

The side effects of Pilates practice for anxiety can vary depending on the person. In some cases, it can lead to a heightening of symptoms such as increased heart rate, difficulty concentrating and increased muscle tension.

It is important to be aware of the potential risks and to speak to a medical professional or mental health professional before beginning a Pilates practice.

What are the benefits of doing Pilates for anxiety?

1. Pilates Reduces Stress and Increases Calmness

Pilates is an effective form of exercise for reducing stress and increasing calmness. It works by providing an opposite experience to typical daily life, as the movements are relaxed and steady, rather than fast-paced or frenetic.

The practice also requires participants to disconnect from technology and focus on the self, creating a deeper connection with the present moment.

Additionally, breathing exercises and mindful movements help trigger the brain to relax and create a psychological response which decreases stress and anxiety.

The combination of mental focus and physical exercise provides a powerful tool to help reduce stress and anxiety symptoms and create balance in life.

2. Increased Focus and Concentration

Doing Pilates helps increase focus and concentration by providing an easy way for newbies to meditate.

By providing something tangible to focus on, it makes it easier for our conscious minds to let other thoughts drift away and allows our subconscious to process information.

On a deeper level, it encourages connection with our physical intelligence and provides an opportunity to be in the present moment.

Pilates also helps to strengthen muscles for optimal posture, which can help alleviate and combat feelings of anxiety.

The combination of physical and mental benefits helps to recharge the mind and body and ultimately provides a more grounded outlook.

3. Improved Overall Health and Well-Being

Doing Pilates can greatly improve overall health and well-being in a myriad of ways. Pilates is an exercise that combines physical movements with mindful breathing and concentration. This combination helps bring a sense of focus and control over the body, enabling participants to cultivate a sense of confidence in their daily lives.

In addition to its physical benefits, Pilates has also been found to improve mental health. The release of endorphins during exercise has long been known to be mood-elevating, but Pilates goes a step further, allowing participants to take time away from their worries and move into their bodies. The deep breathing and mindfulness that come with Pilates helps to heighten mental clarity and mindfulness.

Participating in a Pilates class also offers social benefits. Being around others and creating a routine can be a great way to maintain a healthy mental state. Additionally, research has found that engaging in activities such as Pilates can be an effective tool for managing depression and anxiety. 

Overall, Pilates is an excellent form of exercise for improving both physical and mental health. The combination of physical movements, mindful breathing, and concentration can provide participants with a sense of control and clarity over their body and mind.

For further benefits, see: 23 benefits of Pilates

What are the steps on how to start doing Pilates if you have anxiety?

Seeing the benefits, I’m sure you’re ready to give Pilates a try and see how it can improve your mental and physical health.  

Step 1: Choose a Pilates studio

If you’ve never done Pilates before, it’s very important to seek out instruction from a qualified instructor.  The popularity of Pilates means that should be an easy task, with instructors available either in privately owned studios or as part of gym staff.

Research the different types of Pilates studios available in your area. Look for studios that offer classes that meet your fitness level. Consider if the classes are tailored for beginners, or if the studio offers private sessions for those who are new to the practice.

It’s always a good idea to look for reviews of the studio online to get an idea of what other people are saying about it. Read through the comments to ensure that the studio is a welcoming and comfortable environment for you.

Look for a studio that has a variety of instructors with different styles. Ask for recommendations from friends and family who have tried Pilates before.

Call the studio and ask any questions you may have. Make sure that the instructor is certified and qualified to teach Pilates.

Visit the studio to see if the environment is comfortable and welcoming. Make sure that the studio is well-maintained and has all the necessary equipment for a safe and enjoyable Pilates experience.

Choose a Pilates studio that has experienced instructors who will be supportive and encouraging as you start Pilates. They should be knowledgeable and willing to answer your questions.

Make sure that the studio is respectful of your goals and level, and will offer modifications when needed.

By taking the time to research the different Pilates studios available and choosing the right one, you will have a positive and successful experience as you begin your Pilates journey.

Step 2: Learn the basic exercises

The basic exercises for Pilates are usually performed on a mat, but can also be performed with a variety of equipment such as a Pilates Reformer.

The best way to learn the basic exercises is to attend a Pilates class. A certified Pilates instructor will be able to guide you through the exercises and ensure that you are performing them correctly.

Once you’ve learned the basics it’s possible to follow video tutorials online that offer free classes. My own videos are available on YouTube, which means you can enjoy my class in the comfort of your own home and is very easy to use on modern TVs.

Here is one of my wall Pilates workouts you can try.  The use of a wall will help you maintain your stability.

When practicing Pilates, it is important to focus on the quality of the movements and not the quantity. Concentrate on using good form and maintaining a slow, controlled pace.

Additionally, focus on your breathing and ensure that you are taking deep, full breaths. With consistent practice, you will soon be able to master the basic Pilates exercises and be on your way to a healthier body and mind.

Step 3: Get used to doing the exercises

One of the biggest challenges to improving your quality of life is incorportating physical activity into your regular routine. 

There are too many instructors who use a short term view, e.g. shed weight in 30 days, to attract viewers and clients.  This approach is in the intructor’s interest rather than yours. 

Committing to a class is a great first step. It makes you schedule exercise for a set date and time which results in you being more likely to go and do exercise than if you’d planned to do something on your own at home.

Consider bringing a friend or family member along for fun camaraderie and support. This can make the process easier and more enjoyable.

Remind yourself of the physical and mental health benefits that you can obtain through practicing Pilates. Knowing the positive impact Pilates can have on your life can be a great motivator.

Start by committing 1-2 days a week to practicing some of the exercises. Be patient with yourself. Pilates can be really hard if you want it to be, so go at your own pace.

By following these steps, you can get used to doing the exercises in Pilates even if you have anxiety. With time and patience, you can benefit from this amazing exercise regimen.

Step 4: Stay focused on your goals

Staying focused on your goals when doing Pilates can be challenging, but with a few simple steps you can ensure that you stay on track and make progress.

Define your goals. Before you start your Pilates practice, take some time to define your goals. Think about what you want to get out of the practice and how you plan to measure your progress.

Set achievable goals. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable so that you’re more likely to stay motivated and focused on them. Break down large goals into smaller, more manageable ones.

Visualize success. Before and during your practice, take a few moments to visualize yourself achieving your goals. Imagining yourself having the body you want and feeling the confidence that comes with success can be a great source of motivation.

Focus on the present. Pilates is all about being mindful and focusing on the present moment. When you’re practicing, instead of letting your mind wander to thoughts about the future or worries about the past, bring your attention to your body and the movements you’re doing.

By following these four steps, you can stay focused on your Pilates goals and make progress towards achieving them. Make sure to stay consistent and motivated, and don’t forget to celebrate your successes!


What are the mental benefits of Pilates?

Pilates is known to have a number of mental benefits due to the six principles (centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow) it focuses on.

These mental benefits include: increased self-awareness, self-control, focus, increased confidence, decreased stress and anxiety, increased energy levels, decrease in fatigue, stress management tools, and building community in group classes.

Additionally, Pilates has been shown to improve cognitive functioning and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

By combining physical and mental activity, Pilates is an excellent way to boost ones mental health.

Practicing Pilates regularly can help promote better sleep, improved self-confidence, and an overall better mood.

What are the physical benefits of Pilates?

The physical benefits of Pilates include strengthening the core, improving flexibility, improving balance, alleviating aches and pains, particularly back pain, weight loss, building longer and leaner muscles, improving posture, improved stabilization of the spine and pelvis, rehabilitation of injuries, prevention of future injuries, increased lung capacity and circulation due to the practice of deep, mindful, lateral breathing techniques.

How often should I practice pilates for anxiety?

To get the most out of the practice, it is best to practice Pilates regularly. I recommend doing a Pilates routine at least twice a week, ideally three times a week, to experience the full benefits of the practice.

Ideally, it is best to practice Pilates early in the morning or late in the afternoon when our bodies are less tense.

This helps to maximize the relaxation that Pilates can provide. 


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