What is Pilates?

What is Pilates?

The term ‘Pilates’ refers to a specific type of exercise that concentrates on firming up your body while emphasising core strength. This assists with improving general fitness and overall well-being. Pilates focuses on posture, balance and flexibility. In this type of exercise the chance of injury is much lower as opposed to forms of exercise which are more strenuous.

Pilates practice also focuses on the mind-body connection. This means that while doing the various exercises your mind needs to be continuously aware of your breathing and the way in which your body moves.

A bit more about the mind-body connection

When we speak about the ‘mind-body connection’ our thoughts, feelings, opinions and outlooks can positively or negatively affect healthy our bodies are. This is because the brain and peripheral nervous system, the endocrine and immune systems – in other words all the organs of our body and all the emotional responses we have – share a common chemical language and are constantly communicating with one another.

Conversely, what we do with our physical bodies (in other words what we eat, how much we exercise, even our posture) can have a positive or negative effect our mental state. This means that there is a complex relationship between our minds and bodies.

Besides Pilates, there are a number of mind-body therapies available:

  • Patient support groups
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Creative arts therapies (art, music, or dance)
  • Yoga
  • Biofeedback
  • Tai chi
  • Qigong
  • Relaxation
  • Hypnosis
  • Guided imagery

When was Pilates developed?

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates, in Germany, who was a carpenter and gymnast. While he was dwelling in the United Kingdom, he developed Pilates as an exercise programme for injured dancers and soldiers. Joseph Pilates was a firm believer in the mind-body connection and he immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. In New York, he opened a Pilates studio.

 At the beginning this form of exercise was called Contrology which was Joseph Pilates’ preferred name for his method. It was based on the idea of muscle control. In other words, all exercises are done with control, the muscles work to lift against gravity and the resistance of the springs (if you’re working on a reformer) and thereby you control the movement of the body and the apparatus.

Why is Pilates so popular?

Pilates is practised by many who like to challenge themselves. This discipline requires a considerable amount of control because the movements are very precise. These movements test your balance as well as your flexibility. Although Pilates focuses quite extensively on the core as well as  abdominal and pelvis strengthening each movement involves other muscles.

Pilates consists of a number of movements which are performed consecutively and in controlled fashion – as we said earlier in this article. All the movements must be done according to the book with the correct posture and alignment. This is so that you can reap the full benefits of the exercise. Thus, your Pilates instructor will keep a beady eye on you to make sure that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.

Pilates is an amazing overall workout. In addition, it provides great health benefits because it makes both your mind and body stronger and additionally improves overall fitness levels. This type of exercise improves your balance, posture, flexibility as well as strengthening and toning muscles. When you pair Pilates with other cardio exercises it becomes a complete physical fitness workout programme.

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