Pilates - A Complete Mind and Body Experience
Pilates (pronounced Pi-LOT-eez) is considered a mind and body
exercise. It originated with a man named Joseph Pilates back
in the early 20th Century. He was a German national living
in England; he was also a boxer and performer. He had studied
and apprenticed in learning yoga and Zen exercise techniques,
as well as learning about the physical training regimens practiced
in ancient Rome and Greece. He developed a set of exercise
and invented special machines on which to do them. When he
was interned at a camp during World War I, he began showing
his fellow internees the exercises. After the war, he and
his wife, Clara (a nurse), incorporated the exercises to help
injured and ill patients. Much of the machinery remains the
same today, and home videos offer simple exercises in Pilates
that do not make use of the machines, or use bands to help
imitate the use of machines.
One of the main focuses of Pilates is to work with balance,
and with strengthening the core inner muscles of the abdomen
and the back. However, there are Pilates exercises to strengthen
every muscle in the body. Concentration on holding specific
poses and working certain muscles ensures that you become
stronger, helping you burn more calories and tone your body.
Additionally, breathing is important in Pilates, as it helps
you maintain your focus. As you do Pilates, you will notice
similarities to yoga in some of the movements and concepts.
When one practices Pilates regularly, it yields many benefits.
Increased lung capacity, from the steady, deep breaths that
one takes as one exercises is one of these benefits. Circulation
is also improved. Strength and flexibility are gained, as
well as balance, posture, and strength in the body's core.
Pilates can also help build bone density and improve the health
of one's joints. Mental benefits include an increased awareness
of body, stress relief, feelings of well-being, more energy,
and sharper thinking skills.
While many people go to the gym to work on machines with professional
instructors, it is also possible to receive some of the benefits
at home. Poses and exercises done sitting, standing, or laying
down can help you increase strength and balance. However,
you should be careful when doing the exercises at home with
a video or DVD. You might sustain injury if you do not do
the exercises correctly. Working with a trainer initially
and then moving to doing exercises in your home can help you
get an idea of the proper way to exercise, and allow you to
do so on your own without sustaining hurt.
Pilates has been used among sports trainers and by dancers
for years. It is only recently that it has been widely used
among the public. Additionally, some of the techniques are
used in physical therapy and rehabilitation, as the resistance
can help patients regain strength and balance. Because of
its focus on mindfulness of the body, and because of its ability
to increase mental alertness, Pilates is considered a mind-body
exercise program. However, unlike yoga, tai chi, and Zen practices,
it does not have a spiritual element.
Learn more about the origins of Pilates, and how to find
Pilates instruction by visiting Pilates
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