Welcome to Pilates! Pilates will help you improve your core, which includes the muscles of your abdomen, lower back and hips. It will also help you improve your strength, co-ordination and balance. Millions of people practice it regularly. Pilates is suitable for everyone, irrespective of their fitness level.
Pilates and yoga provide similar benefits as far as the body is concerned. Both improve posture, flexibility and balance. Both put a lot of emphasis on breathing and the mind. However, their methods, goals and their immediate impact on the body are different. The ultimate goal of Pilates is mainly related to the body. The ultimate goal of yoga is to quieten the mind and lead it to self-realisation. Yoga has static postures called asanas. Pilates has postures, but rather than being static, they are linked together in a flow.
Origins And History
Pilates gets its name from German-born Joseph Pilates who created the system in the first half of the twentieth century. His father was a gymnast. His method takes inspiration from gymnastics and other western forms of exercise like wrestling and boxing. Initially, it was a system of exercises, but later on, he added a variety of equipment called “apparatus” to complement them. Apparatus complemented exercises and speeded up the process of shaping and aligning the body.
What Can You Expect To Learn In Pilates Classes
Pilates exercises are done on a mat. Apparatus like the Reformer and Wunda Chair are often used to provide resistance or support according to your needs. Technique is very important in Pilates. The moves may look simple, but you must do them with a lot of accuracy and control. They are usually done in a particular order with one exercise flowing into the next.
You should start with basic moves if you are a beginner. Although it’s not cardio or high-intensity exercise, Pilates is demanding. You will see its effect on your muscles. The main focus is the core, but your limbs will also become stronger. The exercises will improve your strength, flexibility and the mobility of the joints.
Elements of Pilates
There are several versions of Pilates, but most of them adhere to these nine elements or principles.
- Correct breathing: This ensures good oxygenation of blood and its efficient delivery to all body tissues.
- Concentration: Pilates requires you to focus on your movements and technique. How you do is as important as what you do.
- Control: The movement of the body is carefully controlled by the right engagement of muscles against gravity or resistance provided by the apparatus.
- Cantering: The centre of the body is the origin of all exercises. All Pilates movements should start from the centre of the body and move outwards towards the limbs.
- Flow: Elegant transitions from one move to another.
- Alignment: Correct alignment of the body is required during the exercises to correct muscle imbalances and improves co-ordination.
- Precision: Pilates is more about quality than quantity. Fewer accurate moves are better than a lot of inaccurate moves.
- Relaxation: Relaxation improves mental focus and correct functioning of muscles.
- Stamina: Improvement in stamina reduces stress, improves accuracy and increases efficiency.
Regular practice of Pilates should give you the following benefits
- Improved muscle health, muscle function, posture, balance, flexibility, strength and joint function.
- Relief from stress and tension.
- Reduced risk of falls and injury, especially in the elderly.
- Relief from some types of back pain.
- It helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Pilates can be tailored to individual requirements. This makes it suitable even for people with medical conditions like hypertension or heart disease. People with diabetes-related complications may need to avoid some movements. If you have had a recent back or knee injury, you may need to wait for some time before you can join the classes. People with arthritis can also do it and it may actually improve their condition.
If you have any medical conditions, it’s important to consult your doctor before joining the classes. You must also inform your teacher so that any necessary adjustments can be made to the exercises.