To understand Pilates, it is helpful to know where it originated. What many people may not know is that Pilates is named after the man, Joseph Pilates, which developed it. “Contrology” is what he called it because he strongly believed in a connection between the body, mind, and spirit. He integrated the effects of six core principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow into every action. Either on the mat or on specific Pilates equipment that Joseph Pilates himself designed, these principles are the foundation of all exercises.
In most Pilates classes you will notice an emphasis on the pelvis placement, rib cage, scapula, and cervical spine (neck). Pilates consists of many exercise movements. If the above principles are incorporated into each and every movement you will notice amazing results within your body, mind and spirit. This focused concentration increases the effectiveness and results in greater learning compared to mindlessly doing the exercises.
There are many benefits you can expect that range from better posture, greater core strength, increased flexibility and mobility, enhanced balance, back pain relief, and an overall improvement in body awareness. The list goes on with several other benefits that include an increase in neuromuscular coordination, better circulation, decrease in anxiety, relaxation, joint health, better functioning organs, increase in energy, decrease in depression, increase in recovery time from stroke or other neurological issues, help with herniated discs or injured vertebrae, pain relief from sciatica, etc etc. The benefits don’t stop there. If you’re interested in reading more about the benefits of Pilates please look for my article entitled ‘The Benefits of a Good Pilates Program’.
Concentration: By focusing on your mind-body awareness you will be able to establish a superior connection with your body, and you will gain benefits from your workouts. It is best to do each exercise in a precise and slow manner, rather than rushing through them or performing them with incorrect form or alignment. You can obtain maximum results by putting your complete attention to each movement as you do it.
Centering: By paying attention to the muscles of the abdomen or core (some call it the Pilates Powerhouse) all of your muscles function and develop more efficiently. The Pilates Powerhouse is located between the top of the pubic bone and the bottom rib. In all Pilates movements, we bring our focus to this area first to create a centered, power in the body.
Control, rather than sloppy, high-intense, or repetitive movements is the key to performing the exercises correctly. Movements are performed with muscular control, to gain maximum benefits. Generally, we do not isolate just one muscle but rather incorporate an achievement pattern that recruits anatomy trains to create flow and precision. Subtle shifts in movements help gain control and result in profound results.
Precision: In Pilates, precision is key. Precision is achieved by maintaining awareness throughout each movement. Body parts are aligned relative to other body parts. Every part of the body has a specific line of movement. Proper form is essential to ensure you gain the most benefit from each exercise with the goal of creating uniform muscle development.
Flow: Pilates is synonymous with the flow. Set your intention to complete each movement with grace and fluidity. The goal is that energy flows evenly throughout the body during an exercise. Imagine yourself a graceful ballerina, gymnast, or dancer
Breath: A full breath is central to all of Joseph Pilate’s exercises. He used the metaphor of the lungs as bellows to strongly pump the air completely in and out of the body. The ribs are expanded in two directions – to the sides and out to the back – without lifting the shoulders. Controlling the breath as you perform each exercise warms the body and helps activate your muscles while keeping you focused. The most efficient gas exchange occurs when we breathe into the lowest depths of our lungs.
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