Joseph Pilates once said “Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” This statement applies easily to the intense couple of months you will spend preparing for the bar exam. Assuming you don’t have any children yet, studying for the bar exam in the upcoming months may test your patience and persistence like nothing has before. And it is perseverance that will ultimately help you be successful on the bar exam, whether it is on your first try, or after taking the exam multiple times. You will need to find ways to stay centered and focused.
Most of you have probably heard of Pilates but many of you may not know what it really is. Pilates is an exercise method consisting primarily of low-impact flexibility and muscle strengthening endurance exercises. Similar to yoga, Pilates emphasizes proper alignment, core strength and muscle balance. A man named Joseph Pilates created Pilates in the 1920’s but the practice of his exercises has picked up in recent years. The practice of Pilates, like yoga, is more than just a workout.
So if you wondering how to fit in a mental break in between study sessions during your bar preparation but also get some exercise Pilates might be just what you need to help you through some grueling months. As Joseph Pilates once said, “The Pilates method of body conditioning is a complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” You may even like it so much that you cannot give it up. If you want more evidence for why you should try Pilates, consider these benefits:
Pilates might actually help you perform better on the bar exam. For decades neuroscientists and physiologists have been studying the benefits of exercise on the brain and recent studies appear to show that exercise actually improves brain power. There really is no time like the present to maximize your brain function than on a racehorse exam covering all of what learned in law school and more.
Similar to meditation, Pilates will help you practice mindfulness. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, decrease insomnia, reduce negative emotions, increase concentration and bolster your immune system among others. There are many definitions of mindfulness but in general it is the process of bringing your attention and focus to what you are doing in the present. Such mindfulness will inevitably lead to better sleep, mental state and therefore will ensure your best performance on game day.
Whether or not you have started studying yet, you are likely overwhelmed and stressed by the bar exam. Pilates, similar to yoga, also uses your breath to engage specific muscles and therefore requires an attention and focus on what you are doing in that moment. Deep breathing, which is essential to Pilates increases circulation and helps carry more oxygen to your cells, including those in your brain. When you take deep breaths it also helps calm your body and sends a message to your brain to relax. For more on deep breathing see this former bar exam toolbox blog article on learning to relax. Why not exercise your body while learning to relax and check two things off your daily list at one time?
Another benefit of Pilates is that many of the exercises focus on core strength. From now forward, whether studying for the bar exam or working as a lawyer, you will likely be spending a lot of time sitting. Sitting hunched over books at a desk or even on a couch can take a toll on your body. Sitting for prolonged periods can cause back pain or worsen existing back issues. It is well known that weak core muscles may contribute to back pain. A stronger core means a stronger back. Pilates is effective to alleviate back pain.
Pilates can also help you improve your posture, which will help prevent and improve any back pain. Consider going through this Pilates posture checklist at least once a day: Begin by standing, balance your weight on the middle of your feet, activate your core muscles, neutralize your spine or drop your tail bone, relax and open your chest, drop your shoulders away from your ears, then imagine that your ears are reaching for the sky while looking straight forward and keeping your chin in its natural position.
You do not need fancy equipment or to go to a pricey studio to reap the benefits of Pilates. All you really need is a mat. A mat workout will gain you the same benefits as a reformer class. A full Pilates workout typically lasts 45 minutes. If you don’t have time for a full workout, try this 20-minute full body workout for a quick study break. You can search here for some tips on finding more on-line resources to find a good Pilates workout you can do in the comfort of your own home. However, let’s face it some days during this bar exam journey you may not have the time or the energy for a 20-minute workout. On those days, consider these Pilates tips for a 5-minute transition or go through the posture checklist I suggested above.
Hopefully by now you are ready to grab that exercise mat and try Pilates. If anything try and incorporate some of these moves into your day to gain some benefits.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check the other articles in this post:
- Passing the Bar Exam One Asana At a Time, Part One
- Passing the Bar Exam One Asana At a Time, Part Two: Poses to Enhance Your Ability to Concentrate
- Passing the Bar Exam One Asana At a Time, Part Three: Poses to Counteract Poor Posture When Studying
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