Founder of Prayerful Pilates, Louise Ryrie explains how Pilates can help with mental health and emotional wellbeing. Plus how she found it to do an ideal way to connect with God with combined with prayer.
The Pilates movement improves knowledge of the body and develops physical strength and fitness. Combining this powerful practise with prayerful thought, can bring additional depth to a conversation and connection with God, expressing emotions where sometimes words can fail.
Pilates is a movement system created by Joseph Pilates, dating back to the First World War when he was interned as an enemy alien, on the Isle of Man. His exercise technique began as rehabilitation from injury for soldiers, and then dancers. It quickly moved onto injury prevention, and Pilates popularity spread globally across the wider public.
I believe we have a responsibility as created beings, to understand the workings of, our bodies and keep them healthy. I sang a song at a funeral recently: ‘Here I am, Lord.’ It brought back memories from my days as a pianist. And I asked God again, as I have done in the past, to use my skills.
I want to highlight the link between exercise and improved mental and emotional wellbeing - it’s not a co-incidence.
I want to awaken people’s minds to act on the gift of our created bodies, to learn to love them whatever their limitations or imperfections, and to look after themselves so that we can do greater good in the world. I want to highlight the link between exercise and improved mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s not a co-incidence, it’s a small but important step towards bringing more love into our community.
I decided to create a Christian Pilates programme one year when I was at a Christian summer conference and couldn’t stay still in the rows of chairs during a seminar. I physically struggled to stay seated, and I can find concentration without some kind of movement can be difficult. I moved to the back of the room where there was floor space and began some tentative Pilates movements while still listening to the speaker. It worked. And Prayerful Pilates developed from there.
I decided to create a Christian Pilates programme one year when I was at a Christian summer conference and couldn’t stay still in the rows of chairs during a seminar.
Try this simple exercise to bring focus and stillness: sit or lie in a comfortable position and slow your breathing down. Listen to your inhale and exhale and try to make both longer and smoother. Bring a relevant word to mind – a suggestion of “peace” here – and repeat the word in your mind. Stretch it out, make it last longer. Sound out each letter, and emphasis different parts of the word. Spell it in your mind or trace it on your palm. Whisper it to yourself. Spend as little, or as long as you wish on this exercise. Finish with a long slow stretch and yawn, before slowly standing and continuing the day.
Prayerful Pilates will be offering workshops at New Wine United Summer Conference in Peterborough this July and August. Louise will also be presenting at the Christian Dance Fellowship of Britain’s national conference in the autumn.
You can follow them on Instagram here.