Pilates – Controlling Body, Controlling Mind
In the early twentieth century Joseph Pilates developed a physical fitness system which he called “Contrology” and which was later renamed to honor its developer. Today, Pilates is practiced worldwide and used to achieve the ultimate goal identified by its founder – “the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind and the ability to perform life’s daily activities with zest and ease.”
Principles of Pilates
The way Pilates exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves. Pilates demands constant concentration on what you’re doing. You must focus deeply on your entire body in order to achieve smooth movements – a task that becomes easier with time and practice.
Joseph Pilates’ “Contrology” is based on the idea of controlling every muscle movement through intense concentration. Control during the exercises helps the muscles to lift against gravity and against the resistance of equipment used. “The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.”
Pilates instructors often refer to the muscles in the center of the body as the “powerhouse”. This powerhouse is used as the focal point for Pilates exercises. Strength in the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs is believed to strengthen the rest of the body. Increased total body strength from consistent Pilates practice can have positive effects on health and quality of life for years to come.
- Efficiency of Movement (Flow)
Pilates exercises build strength and stamina as the movements flow within and into each other with appropriate transitions used to achieve elegant efficiency of movement. In Pilates, physical energy, exerted from a strong core, flows and coordinates movements of the limbs.
Precision is essential to achieving full benefits from Pilates. Each time the exercises are done, the practitioner must concentrate on doing the correct movements. This minimizes waste of energy and loss of benefits of the exercise. Precision in doing one perfect movement outweighs completing many halfhearted ones. This becomes second nature manifested as grace and economy of movement in everyday life.
Joseph Pilates saw proper breathing technique as vital in cleansing the body and improving blood circulation. He is recalled as instructing people to squeeze out the lungs as if wringing a wet towel dry. Correct breathing increases the intake of oxygen and the circulation of oxygenated blood around the body.
Practicing Pilates can help you to improve core strength and stability which leads to a better posture, balance and flexibility. Whether you are advanced or a beginner at regular exercise you can benefit from Pilates training tailored to your specific needs and abilities.