There are many benefits that you will experience from doing Pilates. This is because Pilates is responsible for developing every aspect of fitness such as strength, flexibility, coordination and control. However, if you really do want to reap all of the benefits that Pilates has to offer, there are a number of principles according to which you need to structure your practice.
As Pilates is a mind-body exercise, it cannot be performed half-heartedly. Pilates calls for full attention to, and awareness of the entire body. It is this principle that can make a basic exercise challenging and effective for even an advanced student.
Control is probably the fundamental principle of Pilates. This is seen by the fact that Joseph Pilates originally called this exercise form “Contrology”.
When practising Pilates, it is important that each movement of the body is made in a slow, controlled manner as opposed to merely swinging your body parts into position. This is because by using controlled movements, various muscles are required to work together and help the body to develop greater coordination as well as balance.
Control also prevents injury and assists the practitioner to realise the full functional benefits of that are gathered from each movement.
The action involved physically bringing the focus to the centre of the body, in other words the powerhouse area between the lower ribs as well as the pubic bone.
Breathing in (inhaling) to prepare for the movement. Breathing out (exhaling) and moving on the effort which connects the pelvic floor with the abdominal muscles. In a lot of cases, the effort will be on the concentric (positive) phase of the exercise. Although, in some cases, the effort may be on the eccentric (negative) phase of the exercise.
It is highly advisable participants do not hold their breath while exercising. Precision during breathing should be taking during the eccentric phase of the exercise so that the abdominals are engaged properly and that placement of the rib cage is not compromised.
Pilates exercises are all done in a flowing manner. Fluidity, grace and ease are goals which apply to all exercises. The energy of a movement connects all body parts and flow through the body in an even manner. Pilates equipment, like the reformer, are exceptionally good reflections of one’s flow and concentration as these are likely to bang around and suddenly become quite ‘machine-like’ if one loses control and flow.
Having an aligned posture is essential if all Pilates exercises are to be carried out correctly.
The rib case position affects the alignment of the upper back. When lying on your back (or supine) in a neutral position maintain the sense of the weight of your ribs resting gently on the mat, in other words maintain the normal curve of your upper back.
Do not push off, or push your ribcage into, the mat. Pay specific attention to the placement of your ribcage when you are inhaling or while you are performing arm movements overhead.
Stabilising your shoulder blades on the posterior part of your rib cage is an important as contracting your abs during the initiation of very exercise. This will help you to avoid straining your neck and upper shoulders.
To achieve proper placement, a sense of width should be maintained across the front and back of the shoulders. Make sure that you neither allow your shoulders to round forward too much nor squeeze towards the spine.
Your shoulders ought not to be lifted too far off the mat or be over-depressed. Shoulder placement should be somewhere between these two positions as well as in neutral. The shoulder blades have a wide range of motion so remember to maintain stability.
Pilates consists of movement through a slow, sustained series of exercises by making use of abdominal control as well as proper breathing. The quality of each posture is more important as opposed to the number of repetitions or how energetically you can perform the movements. Books and videotapes on Pilates are available, but look for a qualified Pilates teacher or Pilates-trained Personal Trainer to get the best results.