Pilates provides strength and flexibility to the abdomen and back muscles and helps in muscular and mental coordination.In addition, it offers numerous other benefits.
Pilates (pronounced puh-lah-teez) is a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body. The Pilates method of exercise was developed by Joseph H. Pilates. As a child he was rather frail and suffered frequent asthma attacks. He took to a number of sports to strengthen his body until he finally became a brilliant athlete. He designed these exercises when he was serving as a nurse during World War II to help wounded soldiers to regain their strength. He believed that both physical and mental health were related and designed a whole set of equipment and mat exercises to strengthen the torso.
Who can do Pilates
Anyone can do Pilates. Initially, all you need is a mat and comfortable clothes. As you get keener you can start with the equipment. Anjali, who has been practising Pilates for 3 years now says, "Pilates has helped me regain my shape after pregnancy. I did not do any form of exercise for almost a year after my delivery and so I was finding it difficult to get back in shape. I joined a local gym and took to Pilates because you don't have to break into a sweat while doing it. It uses simple breathing techniques and the body's resistance to its own weight."
Pilates is a combination of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns. It uses controlled movements in the form of mat exercises or equipment to strengthen and balance the body. What all this means is that it is a kind of body conditioning procedure. Pilates has proven invaluable not only as a fitness endeavour also in the field of professional sports training and physical rehabilitation. This form of exercise is also popular among dancers.
How it benefits you
If practiced regularly, Pilates can benefit you many ways. Its primary focus is to increase lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing. It provides strength and flexibility to the abdomen and back muscles and helps in both muscular and mental coordination. As a result you will find yourself having a better posture, balance, and core strength. Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time.
However, with time and dedication, Pilates practice can improve strength, flexibility and balance. Unlike toning your muscles by weight training, Pilates helps build long lean muscles without bulk. It helps strengthen the abdominal muscles and creates a more flexible spine. It increases body awareness. It helps reduce stress, relieve tension, and boost energy through deep stretching.
Pilates helps restore postural alignment. And ensures a speedy recovery from pain or injury. It is good for even those with arthritis as it improves circulation and increases joint range of motion. Regular practice heightens neuromuscular coordination and enhances mobility, agility and stamina. Pilates is an excellent way to compliment sports training.
Everyone from young children to the aged has found to benefit from Pilates practice. This has particularly helped people with Repetitive Stress Injury, Chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, Sciatica, Osteoporosis, Degenerative Disc Disease, Polio, Multiple Sclerosis, Obesity and Scoliosis have known to benefit.
Pilates principles, like the breathing techniques and other fundamentals can be applied to walking, driving, cleaning, sitting, standing, weight lifting, running, sports, relaxing, dancing, hiking- the list is endless.
Pilates is a welcome change from the regular high-impact workouts. It conditions the body from head to toe with a no- to low-impact approach suitable for all ages and abilities. The only thing it requires is patience and practice.
NOTE: If you have any health problem, be sure you consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme.