What is Pilates?
In a way, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. There are some elements that I think stand out when practising Pilates. Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates. German born, he emigrated to England and then to the USA in the 1920’s for the purpose of rehabilitation. Some of the first people treated were soldiers returning from war and injured dancers. He invented a new form of exercise creating machines for specific movement, as well as mat-based exercises.
Benefits of Pilates
Pilates improves posture, muscle tone, balance, joint mobility and stress. It is a low impact form of exercise and involves a flow of movement so injuries are very uncommon. Pilates exercises are flowing and never static, unlike Yoga in some cases.
Pilates helps to creates body awareness, which allows you to correct any postural issues that may be causing muscle and joint strain. It also focuses on improving core stability which heightens awareness of moving safely and strengthening the core muscles to prevent low back issues. It is an exercise form that is inclusive and can be performed by everyone - from beginner to advanced.
Know your ABC’s - Alignment, Breathing and Centre
When first meeting a client, we look at their alignment and what changes can be made in their posture to allow for better alignment, and therefore helping to correct any strain on their muscles and joints. Practising Pilates reminds you to think about your posture and alignment and stand tall. I’ve had clients comment that people say they look taller as they are standing correctly after just a few sessions.
Ofcourse we all know how to breath - or do we? We often resort to shallow breathing from the chest area when we are tense. Pilates reminds us to breathe deeper into the body. We send our breath down through our body allowing tension to leave the body and also allowing for an ease of movement. This is called lateral breathing.
If we are holding our breath or our breaths are shallow, then our movements will be rigid. We want to create fluid movements throughout. Breathing is also linked to engaging our core muscles before we perform a movement, again reminding us to move safely and strengthening our deeper core muscles.
This is a key element of Pilates. We often talk about engaging the core or centre. We work on core strength and stability which means strengthening the muscles around the centre to protect the lower back against injury. We don’t just rely on the abdominals but deeper postural muscle groups to allow for stability while performing exercises as well as in daily life.
Pilates is a very safe form of exercise. You start with basic movements and progress to more complex movements over time. It is a full body workout, working groups of muscles creating a stronger, longer body. At Bridge to Health we work with equipment and create dynamic sessions for our clients, looking at your specific body issues, and alignment, preparing a program tailored to your needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us to book a session with one of our Pilate instructors.
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