The Origin of Pilates
Pilates was first introduced by a man called Jospeh Pilates. Joseph Pilates pioneered his unique training system in hope of riding his students of all physical limitations. Inspired by both Eastern and Western philosophies, he combined the mental focus and specific breathing of yoga with the physicality of gymnastics and some other sports to create something new.
So what is Pilates really all about?
As life wreaks havoc on our bodies, we grow more and more crooked and imbalanced in the course of our daily routines. These routines and habits cause us to consistently overuse some muscles and underuse others. Pilates aims to align, strengthen and stretch your body to help create more balance. It is not a cure-all nor should it replace other forms of exercise, however it aims to teach us how to reactivate muscles as a child we took for granted. It incorporates a serious of controlled exercises that when preformed together aim to strengthen weak muscles, mobilise joints and increase the flexibility of tight muscles. In essence it is returning your body to how it use to move as a child.
The Benefits of Pilates
There are several benefits to Pilates, improved flexibility, core strength, postural alignment, co-ordination, and stress relief are to name just a few. The great thing about Pilates is, anyone at any age can benefit from it. Typically people look for Pilates once they have been injured, however as a preventative exercise Pilates is just as important.
There are several principles which Pilates incorporates into each exercise, which aim to work the body in a holistic approach. The main 6 are listed below. As you begin your practice of Pilates, you may be overwhelmed by how the six principles transform even the most basic exercise into a complex one. Don’t worry; tackle one concept at a time until it becomes habitual.
The Principles of Pilates
Control: Being aware of the position of all your body parts, by maintaining a neutral spine and through the use of the deep stabilizer muscles, enhances and maintains the correct spine alignment, reducing the risk of injury.
Centering: This is where specific focus is placed on the core muscles to remain activated at a low level for period of time while the exercise is preformed.
Concentration: Focusing on the muscles as you practise the exercises will enhance your ability to perform the movement correctly. During each portion of the exercise you should be conducting an internal dialogue, directing your body through the exercise.
e.g.; Neutral Spine, pelvic floor and core activated, lateral breathing, shoulder placement, chest open.
Precision: Do not simply focus on completing each exercise but on performing it as perfectly as possible. Do not rely on pure strength to complete the exercise, apply precision to your workout and your body will benefit.
Flow: There should be no stiffness or jerkiness; movement should be smooth and continuous.
Breathing: Focusing on Breathing promotes awareness, thoracic control and the use of the lower ribs. In general we inhale as we begin to prepare for the movement and exhale as we perform the movement. Always breathe deeply and fully, in through the nose and out through the mouth.