What is Pilates?
Pilates is a balanced, safe and effective approach to fitness conditioning, that can be practised at any stages in your life. Pilates focuses on stretch, with strength and control. The control method is so important, as it makes you really use your mind. Pilates was founded by ‘Joseph Pilates’, he recognised that all movement emanates from the centre (core) of the body, and accordingly set the primary goal of his method as strengthening the centre of the body.
So many of us spend days sitting at a desk, and our recreational activities rarely effectively challenge us physically, Pilates was developed as part of an antidote to the sedentary ways of modern life. Pilates has so many applications for everyone: it’s a system of total body conditioning that prepares people for functional fitness. Pilates helps to promote correct posture by strengthening and stabilising the core, helping to prevent injuries as you become older, heightening body awareness.
What Joseph Pilates says.
Joseph Pilates suggested that initially practising Pilates, should begin by attempting a few exercises in sequel order, for just 10 minutes a day, four days a week for at least three months. His belief (which still to this day rings true) was that positive results from anyone new to practising Pilates should motivate participants to increases the number of exercises performed in subsequent sessions.
The wonderful aspect of Pilates, is that once a number of sessions have been attended via a class session (sessions are recommended to perform exercises with the right form), Pilates can then be practised at home in private, or your work environment, even if you have only a small area to train within, due to all movements taking place on the small space of at matt, you can pretty much train anywhere you choose. Those with busy lifestyles will reap the benefits of fitting the exercises into their busy schedules.
Benefits of Pilates.
Pilates is a great tool for dealing with stress, concentration is a big component of Pilates, as it is essential to contrate on the whole body with every exercise, enabling the mind to become distracted from any concerning stressful thoughts, concentration aids the muscles to work uniformly to achieve maximum effect.
Breathing is an integral part of all Pilates exercises; each exercise is led by its own pattern of breathing to ensure optimum engagement of the stabilising muscles. Joseph Pilates described breathing as ‘the first and last thing we do in life, breathing is a movement pattern in its own right’, like all movement patterns it must be rehearsed and mastered.
The style of breathing practice is ‘Lateral Breathing’, involving inhaling into the lower back and lateral area of the rib cage. Lateral breathing is believed to reduce tension in the neck, and shoulder region, by minimising the recruitment of the accessory respiratory muscles during exercise.
Posture and awareness are the core foundations of Pilates, sedentary lifestyles take their toll on the human body in many ways. Sitting at a desk all day results in a lack of stimulation to the deep stabilising muscles that provide stability and support to the spine and its associated structures. Over time practising Pilates will correct posture and help it to eliminate or manage incorrect posture related pains within the body. Good posture can be successfully acquired, only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control.
Quick Pilates Workout.
Introducing Pilates into the work place.
- Sit or stand upright hands on the lower ribs.
- Ensure fingers are at the front of your ribs and thumbs are towards your back.
- Take a deep breath in through the nose.
- Keep shoulders relaxed and pulled down.
- Feel the rib cage expand.
- As you exhale feel the rib cage pull inwards, drawing your abdominals towards your navel (similar sensation to holding the need to urinate).
- Repeat 5 times.
- Stand tall, lift from the crown, wide legs and toes slightly rotated out.
- Pull arms laterally out to shoulder height in the letter T position.
- Inhale rotate spine, ensuring hips stay fixed.
- Exhale reach forward and in the direction of the opposite leg to your leading arm.
- The rear arm should medially rotate and reach behind creating a diagonal line, palm up.
- Inhale roll up from the lower spine to the upper spine, back to upright position.
- Repeat 5 times each side.
- Lie on back, pelvis and spine in a natural position, legs bent in v shape and soles of feet press down.
- Knees align with hips and palms to floor, extending shoulders and finger tips towards hips.
- Inhale to prepare.
- As you exhale curl your tailbone to initiate the move, scooping the spine up to create a stable position from shoulders to your parallel knees.
- Hold position and inhale.
- Exhale and curl spine back towards the matt, starting at the top of the back, working further down towards the bottom of your back.
- Sit tall, and equal your weight onto your bottom.
- Stretch your legs out in front, with feet flexed.
- Take an inhale lift tall and pull shoulders back and downwards with arms stretch in front.
- Exhale and push your hips slightly backward, as you drive your body weight forward, pulling you core in an upwards motion; imagine you are trying to touch your toes whilst curling over a ball.
- Inhale and hold.
- Exhale start to roll up connecting each vertebra back together like links in a chain starting with the lower lumbar and finishing the position with your crown pulling up towards the sky.
Zayna began her fitness journey over 20 years ago whilst serving time with the British Armed Forces; her passion for fitness guided her towards qualifying as a personal trainer, sports therapist, GP referral trainer, pre/postnatal fitness expert and a Pilates and fitness yoga instructor. Zayna has spent the past 20 years dedicating her life to her growing number of clients ranging from body sculpting, spinal correction, diabetes, cardiorespiratory rehabilitation, diabetes, clinical obesity and pre-postanal clients.
She regularly attends workshops in all her chosen areas to stay connected with present training concepts. Zayna is based in the UK (London and Sussex) offering mobile home visits or studio based personal training and group Pilates and yoga sessions. Having started off fitness teaching with years of high impact classes and suffering injuries due to impact, she stumbled upon Pilates and has never looked back. The benefits of changing your present lifestyle with correct exercise will improve your future. Pilates not only makes you feel great and helps to relieve aches and pains it also helps make you look great.
To contact zayna email:
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Author: Paul Stevens-Fulbrook
Paul Stevens-Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher and Education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started blogging to help support teachers with the everyday struggles that they all face (including himself).