Ask Rael Q & A: 18th Issue

by Rael Isacowitz

I get distracted by other students during my mat class. How I can I turn my focus inwards?

I am a strong believer in the power of the mind and the importance of being mindful of each movement in your Pilates practice. Being present mentally in your mat class is so important- I cannot stress this enough. Mat work, more than any other aspect of Pilates, is about meditation in motion. It starts with the first movement of the class and continues like a dance, until the last moment of the class. I truly believe this, and practice it!

Here are 5 tips to keep your focus:

  1. Remember this is non-competitive. It does not matter how anyone else is doing the work, concentrate on your own body and your own performance.
  2. Focus on your breath. This is an exceptional way to keep your mind engaged. Breathing is an age-old path to inner awareness and meditation.
  3. Be aware of your body and your movement. Try and access the muscles you should be working and gain maximum control of those muscles.
  4. Feel the power of the powerhouse throughout the work. Many disciplines have their equivalent of the powerhouse. Constantly be aware of this spring of infinite energy.
  5. Finally, know the principles of Pilates. I cite 10 principles in my book Pilates (Human Kinetics): awareness, balance, breath, concentration, center, control, efficiency, flow, precision, and harmony. Although Joseph Pilates did not list the principles is this way, these are the principles I gleaned from reading his books many times and practicing the work for 35 years. These principles are ever-present both in my practice and in my teaching. I recommend that they become almost like a mantra during your mat work class, and your practice in general.

I hope this helps, as the power of the mind is infinite – when body, mind and spirit unite, transformation occurs!


This article first appeared in the September 2013 issue of Pilates Style Magazine. For more great stories about Pilates, check out the latest issue of Pilates Style, on newsstands nationwide, in the app store or at

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