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Get 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?

Pilates (it's 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.

Lets 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 does.

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 training.

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.

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DISCLAIMER: Information on this website is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Pilates: A Beginner’s Guide

Pilates is a gentle, low stress activity, extremely popular among physical therapists. When practiced on a daily basis, you’ll see how easy it is to progress into the next skill level. With long-term practice, Pilates has been shown to prevent muscle injury and back pain. ‘Pilates: A Beginner’s Guide’ outlines gentle warm-up and stretching exercises, plus basic routines to help you achieve optimal strength. Check out this ebook now!

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