What is Pilates?
It is essential to recognise and release areas of unwanted tension before you exercise, otherwise the wrong muscles will be firing up again and again and you’ll never break the cycle of bad body use. Our first goal in Pilates, therefore, is to teach you to be aware of tension and how to release it.
Another benefit that comes with the relaxation is that it helps you to focus. Pilates is a mental and physical conditioning programme. You feel relaxed but aware.
Our next step is to bring the body into good postural alignment. By reminding it constantly how it should be standing, sitting or lying, and by moving correctly, you can start to bring the body gadually back into better alignment. This is essential if we are going to restore proper muscle balance. You must have your bones in the right place to get the right muscle working. In that way you build the muscles so they will support the joint, not stress it. We are as old as our spine feels.
Deep breathing improves the transportation of oxygen and nutrients around the body, charging it with more energy. It helps to detoxify the body by improving circulation and eliminating wastes.
Thoracic breathing – the movement of the diaphragm has a stimulating effect to the abdominals similar to firing up the core muscles.
Deep breathing further helps to reduce mental and physical tension, reversing the body’s stress responses, calming nerves and inducing relaxation. You will naturally and automatically achieve stronger abdominal connection, as you breath out if preceded by a deep lateral breath in.
We need to learn how to add movement to the equation of relaxation, lateral breathing and correc talignment. This isn’t easy to begin with but, like learning to drive a car, it soon becomes an automatic movement. Meanwhile the actual process of learning this co-ordination is excellent mental and physical training, stimulating that two way communication.
Pilates is all about natural movements performed correctly with ease and control.
Finally, we aim to build endurance into our key muscles. this is achieved as you progressively challenge your stability. As you become more proficient at the exercises and your muscles begin to work the way nature intended, you will discover that your overall stamina will improve. You will no longer be wasting energy holding on to unnecessary tension or moving inefficiently. All Pilates exercises are designed to encourage the respiratory, lymphatic and circulatory systems to function more efficiently. Think of a well-serviced car where the engine is tuned and the wheels aligned – it runs more efficiently – as will your body.
(Adapted and reproduced from the Official Body Control Pilates Manual: Lynne Robinson Helge Fisher Jacqueline Knox MCSP SRP Gordon Thompson)