Pilates has become one of the most popular exercise practices in the country.
Classical Pilates is a method of exercise and movement designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body through a series of exercises using resistance apparatus coupled with focused breathing. Pilates yields a myriad of results for students of all fitness levels.
Pilates enhances overall flexibility through the neck, shoulders and joints, improves posture, joint health and bone density and refreshes the mind through concentration and deep breathing.
Benefits of Pilates
– Improves spinal strength and posture through uniform muscle development and body awareness
– Builds core strength and creates a long, toned body with slender thighs and flat abdomen
– Improves bone density and joint health
– Creates better physical and emotional health through increased circulation and increased vitality
– Refreshes the mind through practice of complete concentration and deep breathing
– Trains various muscle groups simultaneously through the adoption of smooth, continuous movements
– Because Pilates is extremely restorative, individuals with physical injuries often use it as an important adjunct to physical therapy.
6 Principles of Pilates
Six principles have been distilled from the work of Joe and Clara Pilates to define the integrative effects of “contrology.”
1.) Centering: Bringing the focus to the center of the body to the area between the lower ribs and the pubic bone. The “centerspace” is the biomechanical source of power for the body.
2.) Concentration: Bringing full attention breath and movement to obtain the full value of the mind/body connection.
3.) Control: Conducting every exercise with complete awareness and muscular control.
4.) Precision: Bringing appropriate placement and alignment and path of movement to each exercise.
5.) Breath: Using the lungs to pump air fully in and out of the body heightens concentration, oxygenates muscles and increases connection to the centerspace.
6.) Flow: Fluidity, grace, and ease are goals applied to all Pilates exercises. The energy of an exercise connects all body parts and flows through the body in an even way.
History of Pilates
In 1914 in wartime England, Joe Pilates, a boxer and performer, developed his exercise method based on knowledge of bio-mechanical principles of movement and anatomy.
He created a series of exercises called “Contrology” designed to give the mind control of the muscles. Joe Pilates devised equipment to challenge and support the muscles through resistance and his wife Clara, a trained nurse, incorporated the exercises to help sick and injured patients.
In his book Return to Life, Pilates said, his program “develops not only the muscles of the body, suppleness of the limbs and functioning of vital organs and endocrine glands, it also clarifies the mind and develops the will.”
Joe and Clara brought Pilates to New York in the 1920s, where the dance community embraced it. Today, Pilates is practiced by people who seek mindful, moderate health practices to improve posture, balance and core strength, bone density, muscle coordination and flexibility.