Have you ever watched your dog sleep? I have but that is probably because it's the only activity that my dog T dedicates her absolute concentration to. And I'm not talking about a whim of a nap I'm talking about putting in a solid 4 to 6 hours at a time in day bed (as opposed to the more favoured Stag Bed in the evenings). She has mastered the correct head position and the angle of her bum against the bed or cushion to be at maximum comfort so that the moment her legs give up on her she can land in a place and position of complete and supported relaxation. And so therefore The One Mat and her Dog office is normally a peaceful and serene place. T is normally in a state of slumber in one of her multiple beds or favoured rugs and it is incredible to lie next to her on my mat and go through my home practice.
So why am I talking to you about the art of watching a sleeping dog? Well, when was the last time you did just that? When did you last take an hour to yourself and restore your sense of being you (or as some lovely university friends will remember the term 'Just Being'). Probably not as recently as you'd like. When was the last time you concentrated on your body and how it was feeling, how it is moving, how it is to be you today?
Concentration is a discipline that we credit to many other things that are normally not ourselves; TV, chores, work, pending Christmas engagements ... But concentration in Pilates is all about you and your body. It's a skill and one you should take pride in and hone and craft. The brilliant thing about lying on your mat and concentrating completely on yourself is the level of information you can take from yourself. By just checking in and taking the time to know your own body you can very slowly train and develop it so that it works in the best possible way. Is your spine as supported as it could be? Are you really lying in neutral? Are you balanced with the distribution of your weight? Do you know how to work your body efficiently?
Concentration is one of the six principles of Pilates and it's the one we possibly least consider when starting our practice. We are all too often worried about other elements like
- will I be able to do it?
- what if I'm not very good?
- what if I find it difficult?
- what if I can't remember the breath pattern
You can answer all of these questions about your practice if you concentrate on yourself.
And that's what you can learn from a sleeping or resting dog. They aren't worried about anyone else; its just them and their immediate space. Concentrating on themselves and being efficient with their bodies. They are true masters of concentration because they can switch it on in an instant to create the perfect space to lie down in while their human sits on a reasonably uncomfortable chair typing their blog post!
Cassie (and a snoring T)