Pilates is a series of over 500 exercises, both mat and equipment based, inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet. It was initially introduced into America in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates to assist athletes and dancers to safely exercise and maintain their fitness when rehabilitating injuries.
It is a system that enables tailoring and adaptation to individual requirements, both mental and physical, to ensure that the body is working in harmony: the specific focus is on abdominal strength and muscular activation, and coordination of breathing with movement.
A common question I hear is: what’s better for me, yoga or pilates? And the answer is, both are fantastic, in different ways. It will depend on what you need from your practice right now. If you are rehabilitating an injury or really in need of building abdominal strength and stabilisation through the core, commit to a regular pilates practice. There is no reason you cannot also do yoga – the body loves variety in movement and thought!
Top Ten Reasons to Commit to Pilates
♥ 1. Improved stabilisation of the spine: consider how much impact you put on your spine through poor posture, twisting, bending, lifting heavy objects (this includes children!), poor running technique…to name but a few sins against the spine
♥ 2. Improved flexibility
♥ 3. Relaxation of the muscles through the neck, back and shoulders through improved postural awareness
♥ 4. Improved physical coordination and balance
♥ 5. Lengthens and stretches the muscles – through body weight and light weight resistance, there is an increase in muscular and bone strength
♥ 6. Time to focus on breath, movement and how the body feels
♥ 7. Improved proprioception (awareness of your body in space)
♥ 8. Released tension in the body equals a less tense and anxious mind!
♥ 9. Engages the mind throughout practice – no time to dwell on the outside world or get restless!
♥ 10. Learning to breathe in the pilates style (inhaling through the nose to fill the back and sides of the ribcage and exhaling through the mouth while bracing the abdominals) oxygenates the blood and increases energy and alertness