to know Pilates
What Is Pilates?
Do you know what's hot with celebrities,
yuppies and women today?
Yes, move over Yoga, boxercise
and aerobics...the latest in-thing making the Hollywood and
posh clubs round is Pilates. Huh....what exactly is Pilates?
pronounced pa-lah-teez) refers to a type of body conditioning
exercise that used a series of controlled movements to strengthen
the body and tone muscles. Pilates can help increase your range
of movement, muscle strength, improve your mood and sense of
well being, and provide you with greater flexibility and a
better posture. Pilates has been popular with gymnasts and
professional dancers for many years.
One major reason for its
popularity has to do with the fact that pilates can help increase
strength, coordination, flexibility and endurance without adding
bulky muscles. Pilates has lately become very popular among
Hollywood actors as well because it effective in shaping and
toning the body. Now, pilates has become popular among the
general public precisely because of its reputation as an effective
body sculpting and core strengthening exercise routine. In
fact, most people who practice pilates on a regular basis report
feelings of increased flexibility, tone, improved posture,
mood, and overall better health.
It's interesting to note
that pilates has become popular with famous actors and athletes
in light of its origins. Originally pilates was designed to
treat immobile or otherwise bedridden soldier patients during
World War I in Great Britain.
Joseph H. Pilates designed
the pilates exercises. He was working as a nurse at the time
and noticed a need for physical rehabilitation and therapy
for injured and immobile soldiers. He designed the bulk of
the movements and exercises that are still in use today. Pilates
himself was born in Germany.
As a child, Pilates had been
a sickly child. He was afflicted with asthma, rickets, and
other childhood ailments that left his body weak and frail.
He sought to make his body stronger by taking up several sports
and becoming a dedicated athlete. Finally while working as
a nurse during World War I, he developed the exercise regime
that he would forever be associated with.
Like yoga and other mind-body
exercise formats, pilates is linked to a philosophy of health
and flexibility in both the mind and body. Pilates himself
studied yoga and Chinese martial arts and incorporated aspects
of these wellness practices into his format. Pilates made a
strong connection between emotional and physical health and
strove to produce a format that revolved around this fundamental
principle. At the core of pilates is a strong philosophy centered
on the attributes of focus, precision, concentration, control,
breath, flow, and strength.
Like yoga, pilates is often
practiced on a mat. Mat routines are common, and so is the
use of various supporting accessories and tools. Mat exercises
and routine are the most common way to practice pilates. Another
popular pilates format is the training method.
Training involves the use
of various machines to strengthen and tone muscles. Both approaches
to pilates involve the use of resistance and controlled movements
to achieve the desired results. Most people who do pilates
report that it can be difficult at first, but that the body
slowly conforms to the practice.
compare Pilates and Yoga
If you accidentally step into a Pilates class, you would probably thought that
it was a Yoga class. And probably vice versa.
At a quick glance, pilates
and yoga seem to have a lot in common. They are both mind-body
conditioning formats that rely on smooth, precise movements
and measured breathing. In fact, the similarities between pilates
and yoga work are not entirely coincidental.
Joseph H. Pilates, the founder
of the Pilates Method, studied yoga and martial arts extensively,
and sought to integrate the mind-body aspects of these practices
into his new body conditioning exercises and routines. So if
pilates and yoga have so much in common, what are the differences
between these two mind-body formats? Here is a brief overview
on how pilates and yoga resemble and differ each other.
Perhaps the most obvious
difference between pilates and yoga is that yoga is an ancient
practice that originated in India over 5,000 years ago, while
pilates is a relatively new phenomenon. Pilates was developed
and popularized by Joseph H. Pilates and his wife Clara in
the early to mid-twentieth century. Pilates was inspired by
the ancient asana (movements and postures) of yoga, and tried
to incorporate this aspect of yoga into his own routine.
Another of the main differences
between pilates and yoga has to do with the underlying philosophy
of each. Although they are both described as mind-body formats,
pilates is generally considered to be more of an exercise than
lifestyle choice. Yoga is not meant to operate as a simple
exercise and body conditioning routine, but instead as a lifestyle
philosophy. Pilates was first adopted as a physical conditioning
routine by professional dancers and gymnasts. Like yoga, pilates
also seeks to unite the mind, body, and spirit, but does not
delve into the meditation and relaxation aspects like yoga
Another of the main differences
between yoga and pilates has to do with the strength training
aspect of pilates. Pilates focuses strongly on building the
core strength of the body. The core of the body refers to the
deep abdominal muscles, also referred to as the torso area.
Pilates has long been known as a powerful tool for building
core strength and for lengthening the spine. Some of the specific
goals of pilates are to improve postural symmetry, increase
circulation, improve posture, and create long and lean muscles.
Yoga, on the other hand,
is not promoted as a strength training or body conditioning
practice. Both yoga and pilates do indeed help participants
deal with stress and cultivate relaxation, although only pilates
is geared specifically toward building all-over body muscle
and tone. Also, pilates also has a strong rehabilitation component
that yoga practice does not.
Another functional difference
between pilates and yoga is the way in which breath is treated.
Both practices place an important focus on breath. However,
breath is more fundamental in yoga practice than in pilates.
In yoga, breathing is taught as an important part of practice,
and yoga generally instructs that participants breath primarily
through the nose. In pilates practice, participants are generally
taught to breath through nose and exhale through the mouth.
Pilates for the beginner
If you are interested in getting toned, increasing your flexibility, improving
your posture and flexibility, then pilates may be just what you have been
looking for you. To get started, you can purchase a pilates program that
you can do at home through DVD or video.
However, because pilates
places a great emphasis on precision and concentration, it
is a good idea to take classes with an experienced instructor
who can ensure that you are doing the movements correctly and
safely. To find a pilates class near you, check out the offerings
from your local YMCA, community college, or recreation center.
In many areas, there are now professional pilates studios that
offer classes on a pay-per-lesson basis, or you can purchase
a whole block of lessons. Make sure the instructor has received
professional certification in pilates, with hundreds of hours
In most cases, you can choose
between mat training and machine work. Pilates studio classes
usually focus on mat work, while professional gyms are more
likely to be equipped with pilates machines. Whatever focus
you choose to pursue, make sure your studio or gym offers lessons
at the beginner level. Also, you should be certain that your
class offers supervision from an experienced instructor who
can modify any move for a beginner.
If you are like most beginners,
you will probably start off with pilates mat program. Most
mat programs follow a sequence that allows you to begin with
easy exercises and gradually move to more advanced movements
in a natural progression. It is important that you start off
at a beginner level, no matter your fitness level or previous
experience with other strength training programs.
Joseph H. Pilates, the founder
of Pilates, designed the sequences so that one must follow
the other. To get the most of your pilates workout, focus on
your breath. Experienced instructors will teach their students
to use their breath in conjunction with the body. Your instructor
will teach you how to keep a steady breathing rhythm that complements
the movements. Like yoga, one of the fundamental goals of pilates
is to unite the body and mind. Remember that one of the goals
in doing pilates is not just to stretch and tone, but relieve
stress and anxiety.
One of the great things about
pilates is that you don't need a lot of equipment to get started.
Simply make sure to wear comfortable clothes during your pilates
sessions. This may include a T-shirt or tank top coupled with
tights, sweats, or shorts. Like yoga, pilates is usually done
without shoes. Purchase a mat you can work on. This cushioning
ensures that you are practicing on a soft, pliable and safe
surface. Pay attention to your body while practicing pilates.
If you feel any pain or stress, you should stop.