The introduction to Pilates Principles will teach you the eight basic principles that provide the foundation of Pilates. Pilates is a great workout and can be performed by anyone regardless of age, ability, or physical handicaps. Practiced regularly Pilates will strengthen your muscles and make them look toned and lean, improve your posture and increase flexibility.
Pilates strengthens your core (also known as the powerhouse), which extends the entire length of your torso and consist of various muscle groups including the shoulder area, abdominals, lower back, hips, and pelvic region. The core muscles stabilize the spine, creating firm support for our bodies to stand erect and allow movement of all extremities.
An introduction to Pilates begins with the founder, Joseph H. Pilates, who over ninety years ago developed this unique exercising technique using yoga, acrobatics and dance as part of his inspiration. The original purpose of his method was to rehabilitate soldiers during WW I. He built his program around eight basic principles that he called ‘the method’ and these principles are still the primary focus of Pilates today. These principles are:
•Concentration is the connection between your mind and your body. Focusing on the movements makes them more powerful and therefore fewer repetitions are required.
•Control refers to deliberate movement of the muscles. There are no sloppy, fast or hazardous attempts at the exercises.
•Center describes the basis of each movement initiating from the powerhouse.
•Fluidity describes the graceful movements of the exercises which are meant to be performed in slow and poised precision.
•Breathing is the most important of the physical principles. The exercises are performed focusing on each inhale and exhale. The attention to the breathing united with the physical movements produces a smooth natural rhythm.
From the text book “The Complete Guide to Joseph H. Pilates Techniques of Physical Condition” I quote Joseph H. Pilates in regard to the breath, “To breathe correctly you must completely exhale and inhale, always trying very hard to “squeeze” every atom of impure air from your lungs in much the same manner that you would wring every drop of water from a wet cloth.”
•Imagination describes a flow of creative thought and vision that reinforces the first five principles.
•Intuition is listening to our bodies. We are not forcing our bodies to perform beyond our capabilities. There should be no pain in the movements and if there is then the exercise should be stopped immediately. The more you practice Pilates the more in tune you will become with your body.
•Routine. Establishing a regular routine will provide physical conditioning more quickly as well as promote development of mental conditioning.
In original Pilates, sometimes referred to as Pure Pilates, the mat program consisted of 34 exercises. Today there are many variations of these exercises some involving props and equipment. Joseph Pilates also developed large pieces of equipment which were intended for studio use. The pieces of equipment are: the Universal Reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair, and the Pedi-Pul.
Pilates is much more than a simple form of exercise involving a series of sit-ups, leg lifts, and balancing postures. In order to begin the physical exercises you must be able to incorporate these eight principles into the Pilates movements. This requires practice and anyone can do it, however I recommend that you begin your training in a class with an experienced teacher. Pilates is a safe and effective form of exercise and you may want to try it as part of your workout routine.
Always practice caution when exercising and don’t try to rush your way to fitness. Be healthy, be happy!
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