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What is Pilates?

Friday, 01 Oct 2010 11:43 AM

Developed by a German fitness enthusiast Joseph Pilates, Pilates is basically a discipline of exercise that focuses on mind-body connection. An immensely popular exercise regime in the U.S. with millions of followers and thousands of instructors, Pilates or Pilates yoga attempts to strengthen the mind and control muscular movement. Traditional Pilates exercises were typically practiced in specialized exercise studios. However, in recent times, adapted and contemporary Pilates exercise has become a regular feature in many gyms, fitness centres, clubs, and yoga workshops.
 
Pilates Exercise Techniques
The versatility of Pilates exercises makes it a favorite among dancers, athletes, actors, and even seniors. Pilates exercise teaches students to develop controlled movement of the core strength muscle groups present in the abdomen and back. A range of methods and apparatuses are used to train the trunk muscles and create stability in the torso. Common equipment that has been found useful in Pilates classes are the Pilates reformer, high chairs, pulleys to utilize the resistance exercised by the participant’s own body weight, exercise balls, springs, rollers, and resistance bands. Pilates classes and Pilates DVDs help the participant understand the core principles, learn the correct postural alignments, workout techniques, and most importantly, effective breathing instructions for a good Pilates workout.
 
Pilates Principles:
  • Alignment: Pilates exercises require correct positioning of the head, pelvis, ribs, and shoulders to prevent injuries and derive the best results.
  • Breathing: A proper breathing technique ensures adequate blood flow and oxygenation of cells across the body and is vital in Pilates. Well coordinated breathing with workouts energizes the body and releases tension.
  • Centering: Pilates teaches ways to channel energy from the core or center of the body, i.e., the abdomen, to the extremities like the legs and hands.
  • Concentration and Control: Careful attention needs to be paid by the Pilates participant to their movements and controlled inhalation-exhalation.
  • Movement and Flexibility: Pilates usually does not emphasise repetition, but requires continuous movement. Pilates exercise should flow smoothly and improve grace, flexibility, and strength.
Pilates Reformer
One of the most important and effective Pilates machines is the Pilates Reformer. A Pilates reformer looks somewhat like a horizontal bed with loops, belts, and springs attached. The main purpose of the Pilates reformer is to bring about pelvic stability. It is used to help sufferers of muscular sprains, back aches, and pelvic-disc-related diseases. The body is pushed up and down or back and forth while maintaining the spine and pelvis in neutral positions. The use of the Pilates reformer under the guidance of a trained Pilates instructor relaxes strained and tired hip muscles and knees. It also enhances the body’s flexibility and mobility. The benefits of Pilates are amazing and can be easily learned and practiced by attending Pilates classes or watching Pilates DVDs.

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Developed by a German fitness enthusiast Joseph Pilates, Pilates is basically a discipline of exercise that focuses on mind-body connection. An immensely popular exercise regime in the U.S. with millions of followers and thousands of instructors, Pilates or Pilates yoga...
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