Contribute by – Preksha Buttan
Social media has put health and fitness right at the centre of everyone’s attention. With new workout routines, transformation Tuesdays, super fit celebrities and more trying to grab our eyeballs, it’s hard to ignore your health anymore. Pilates is one such fitness regime that’s become the new route to that summer body you’ve coveted. So, what is Pilates and why should you get on the bandwagon? Well, here’s everything you want to know about Pilates.
What is Pilates?
Contrary to what most of the people believe, Pilates is not new. Joseph Pilates, a carpenter and gymnast, founded it almost a century ago. You can read more about him here.
Pilates is a set of low impact movements which strengthen and stabilize the core. Not only that it also works on other body parts. It helps in strengthening the muscle while concentrating on posture, balance and flexibility. Similar to yoga, Pilates too harmonizes mind and body. Our breathing is controlled while performing slow and graceful movements of Pilates. This controlled breathing calms our mind down and creates a sense of awareness about the body. This helps in establishing a connection between the two.
Pilates is suitable for almost everyone. You can join a Pilates centre where you can get an expert to train you. Or you can also do it at the convenience of your home as equipment are not a necessity.
What are the types of Pilates?
Pilates can be of various types based on the equipment used. Each type targets a different set of muscles and has its own benefits. So before you jump headlong into becoming a Pilates junkie, you need to think about your needs. Like with any other fitness regime, it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking it up.
Pilates is broadly of two types: Equipment Based and Non-Equipment Based. These types can be further divided on the basis of the types of movements and purpose.
Mat Pilates – Performed on the floor using a mat that is a little thicker than the classic yoga mat. Joseph Pilates originally started teaching his routine and specific movements in this manner.
Contemporary Studio Pilates – This type of Pilates is performed in fully equipped studios under expert supervision. It consists of classical exercises combined with certain variations according to the need.
Group Reformer Pilates – Only equipment needed in this type of Pilates is the Reformer. It is all about flow and uses resistance springs to increase or decrease the difficulty level.
Clinical Pilates – Clinical Pilates is used to treat specific injuries and ignores the need for the overall physical development of the person.
Classical Pilates – This type is similar to Contemporary Studio Pilates. It is also performed in a fully equipped studio. The only difference is here no variations are included and movements are kept similar to those of Joseph Pilates’ original series.
Who can do Pilates?
Almost everyone can do Pilates as it is low impact and holistic. You can modify it according to your requirement and fitness level. Hence, the option of a great degree of flexibility is available here.
However, Pilates is not recommended in any of the following health conditions:
- Unstable blood pressure
- Herniated disk
- Risk of blood clots
For any exercise to be effective it is a better idea to start with basic moves. And once you reach a level of comfort, you can advance to the complex ones. It is also necessary to make sure that you have an expert around to guide you and help in injury prevention.
What are the principles of Pilates?
Originally Joseph Pilates referred to his work as “Contrology”. He defined it as a method to bring together the body, mind and soul. His principles of Pilates are the foundation for his approach. Integration of these principles helps in the overall performance of the movements.
Centring – This calls you to bring all your focus to the core – centre of your body, between the lower ribs and pubic bone.
Concentration – It urges you to perform your exercise with full dedication to yield maximum results.
Control – Pilates require complete muscle control. Only with conscious and deliberate movements, you can make the most out of it.
Precision – This principle of Pilates talks about the importance of the quality of the movements rather than the number of repetitions of them.
Breath – Joseph Pilates stressed upon the importance of deep and controlled breathing. He recommends thinking of lungs as bellows and using them strongly to pump the air in and out of the body.
Flow – Joseph Pilates’ intended to apply grace, ease and fluidity in the movements. According to this principle, this continuity and smoothness bring strength and stamina.
What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?
Yoga and Pilates may look similar but there are a few significant elements that differentiate them. Yoga has been in India’s heritage for more than 5000 years whereas Pilates has been around for just a century. Joseph Pilates’ research suggests that he studied yoga first. So, in a sense Pilates is a modern form of Yoga.
The most important difference between the two is that Pilates is equipment based. Some of the machines that are used here are the reformer, Cadillac and wunda chair. These machines help to improve the strength, posture, balance and flexibility. On the other hand, yoga is a mat-based exercise. It involves various asanas along with meditation which harmonizes mind, body and soul. Thus, yoga can be beneficial in attaining spirituality.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
Core strength and flexibility are not the only benefits of Pilates. It works on the whole body and provides a lot of benefits ranging from physical to emotional. Let us discuss a few of the benefits of Pilates in detail.
Full body workout – While working on the strength of the core muscles, it also works on the strength of the whole body. Various moves target various muscles of your body. Controlled breathing calms the mind and releases the stress thereby improving your emotional and mental status along with providing physical strength.
Bone density – Bone reacts to resistance and equipment like reformer and Cadillac machine used in Pilates provide resistance. It is due to the fact that these machines have bands and springs. Thus, for those who are aiming for bone strength development, Pilates could be a great option.
Weight loss – Any kind of workout along with healthy eating can help in losing weight. Pilates is no exception. If you indulge in a healthy eating habit and commit to your Pilates routine, you will definitely shed some weight.
Core strength – As discussed, Pilates strengthens and stabilizes core muscles. While performing the movements of Pilates, core muscles have to be contracted at all time. It is a need because it helps in performing the exercises correctly. Pilates not only focuses on the superficial muscles but also targets deep abdominal ones. It can definitely help you get ‘six-pack’ while working on the whole body.
Flexibility – Unlike other forms of exercises, Pilates involves a range of motion. It moves the spine from flexion to extension. Side bending and internal-external rotation increase the body’s range of motion thereby helping you to improve flexibility. This flexibility will also help you prevent injuries.
Your body sends a lot of signals when it needs some special attention. You can provide your body all the love and care by simply indulging in a healthy workout regime. Pilates can definitely help you in improving your body and mind. Moreover, the strength you will attain will not only make you healthier but a happier version of you.
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