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How Does Pilates Lengthen Your Body?

Posted Aug 23 2008 10:43pm

You've probably heard that pilates "lengthens" your body. Do medieval torture devices come to mind? Don't worry, its not quite as graphic.

There are a few ways that pilates can help to lengthen your body, but in this post I want to focus on just one. Pilates brings your body into its correct posture and alignment, therefore you regain your true height. After days, weeks, and years of sitting at a desk, driving cars, watching tv on the couch, carrying kids or bags, our bodies start to fall into an easy slump. We start dropping down into ourselves, shrinking, and letting go of any spring or lift that our spines and mid-lines are capable of.

When we practice pilates regularly, our bodies relearn what length and height is really possible. The truth is, that length was there all the time. We were just smushing it down with poor posture and low energy!

The optical illusion above is a perfect example of how pilates can change and lengthen your body. If haven't already guessed, both the red and the blue lines are the same length. Its the direction of the black lines that creates the illusion that one is shorter than the other.

Think of the red and blue lines as two mid-lines of two bodies and the black lines as directions of energy. The blue mid-line could appear long like the red mid-line, but it is contained and shortened by the energy of the black lines. You can imagine the black lines on the far right as being the arms hanging heavily downward, and pulling the energy of the poor person downward with them!

Now look at the red mid-line, and see how the black arms lift upward and also lift energy upward with them. In this case, focusing on just lifting energetically, as well as literally, made the difference in appearance of length.

This is pilates! Pilates lifts and lengthens your energy up and and out along the mid-line, allowing you to find the height and length that you've always been capable of.

I love to tell this story about how I always thought I was 5 foot 2 inches in height. I actually did measure at that height at one point. I was always annoyed at being so short. One day a few years ago, after doing pilates and Alexander Technique for a long time, I decided to re-measure myself. 5 foot 4 inches! I was shocked, but I shouldn't have been. Hey, pilates works!

Here is an old post I wrote about the mid-line in general: Read more!

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