Originally conceived by Joseph Pilates as a rehabilitation program for veterans of the First World War, the Pilates workout is based on the basic understanding of the correlation between the mind and body and that the health of both are inextricably linked.
The Pilates workout has become hugely popular in recent times, with the emphasis being on building core strength, body flexibility and self aware grace of movement.
Since Pilates are low impact, precise and measured movements, these workouts can be suitable for anyone. Not only may athletes benefit from complementing their usual workout with Pilates workout, but even dancers can benefit from the graceful movements.
Pregnant women and new mothers can find this suitable for their purposes; as can seniors; all of whom will benefit with increased strength and a leaner, fitter body. Grace, balance and economy of movement are the cornerstones of the Pilates workout, which is based on the following principles:
Breathing is central to the Pilates workout, since correct breathing means proper oxygenation of the blood, means awakening of the cells of the body and ridding them of wastes that cause fatigue.
Proper exhalation “Squeeze out the lungs as you would wring a wet towel dry,” as Pilates himself said, is the key to proper inhalation. Breathing should be done in a concentrated, controlled and precise manner.
Centering or focusing on the muscles at the center of the body – the abdomen, lower back, hips and buttocks or the body’s “powerhouse” is one of the main principles of the Pilates workout.
Energy radiates from here to the other parts of the body, and this is why the Core is of such vital importance.
Deep concentration is required for Pilates and in particular beginners have to learn to concentrate on small fundamental movements.
This mindfulness of physical being and movement is important. It is this aspect of Pilates that is known to help with degenerative mental diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
Control of the body and its movements is highly important because uncontrolled or sloppy movement was anathema to Joseph Pilates.
Precision of movement and purposefulness in every movement is also central to the Pilates workout. There is value in the details, and the aim is towards perfection of each movement. This can result in benefiting real life, since it can teach us grace in everyday movement and an attractive economy of action.
Flow and efficiency of movement, like precision, is also very important. There appropriate transitional movements that help keep the flow of movement continuous between different exercises. Leaning to maintain this flow or fluidity of movement can help the body build stamina and improve strength.
Alignment of the body’s skeletal structure is also important in that this lets you get the best out of your Pilates workout. The head, shoulders, ribcage and pelvis should be optimally aligned to stabilize muscles and also help in preventing injury.
Flexibility is one of the results of the Pilates workout as well as its principles. Studies have been able to demonstrate that Pilates can help to enhance and improve flexibility of the body.