What is Pilates?
Pilates is a positive, precise functional flowing exercise system promoting a healthy body, mind and spirit. It was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early part of the last century. It is popular among dancers and is now being used by the wider population it is accessible, adaptable and rewarding it can benefit all abilities.  It combines elements of strength, control, flexibility and breathing with a specific focus on the core to support the posture and promote back health. It works with flowing movement patterns and focuses on neutral alignment of the spine working with breath and core engagement to enhance body awareness and release tension. It can really help to address learnt bad habits and movement patterns from slouching over a desk and old injuries causing our bodies to imbalance creating bad posture. Pilates can help to correct and/or maintain the body in a safe and effective way. 

Alignment

Alignment refers to correct skeletal posture during the whole movement pattern. In Pilates we always start our movements from the correct alignment; this can be standing, sitting, semi supine and prone
Correct alignment helps to correct muscular imbalances. It helps to minimise wear and tear on the body through correct use of muscles, ligaments and tendons
We can achieve balance through an awareness of alignment

Breathing

Breathing in oxygen is the main source of fuel for any exercise so correct breathing is important
Breath control in Pilates is essential to how we control and execute the movement
Breathing during Pilates is called Postural lateral breathing or thoracic breathing because we breathe into the upper back sides of the rib cage and the back whilst keeping mild abdominal contraction
Generally during Pilates we breath in to prepare for a movement and out to perform a movement or strain being careful not to hold the breathe.
Breathing also aids relaxation

Centring

The Powerhouse or the core is made up of the abdominals the pelvic floor and the buttocks. It is where every action/movement stems from
All Pilate’s movements are executed from a strong and stable core this allows for a high degree of control over the limbs
Pilates encourages an even muscular balance and does not promote the use of one muscle group over another
Over use of one muscle group can lead to injury
Centring helps to promote mind/ body control

Concentration

Pilates requires focus from the individual which helps to connect the body and mind
Concentration helps us to improve on technique which helps to develop precision and flow preventing injury
It also helps us to develop sensory feedback helping to increase kinaesthetic awareness
During Pilates participants are encouraged to observe their bodies correcting making the correct adjustments for correct alignment and posture

Control

In Pilates fewer repetitions performed with good control is more effective
Movements performed with control avoid injury and helps us to achieve better results for our body
Challenging stability is the way we work to improve control

Co-ordination

Co-ordination can often be neglected in our daily movement patterns
Pilates works with the co-ordination of movement, breath and engagement of the core
Mind /body connection can be improved with co-ordination
Co-ordination involves mental and physical work stimulating 2 way communication
By increasing the difficulty of movements step by step co-ordination can be improved

Flowing Movements

In Pilates the movements flow into one another with a breath in-between.  The movements are part of a conscious thought process with one action moving through into another one
Movements move away from the centre of the body which should be strong and stable
Co-ordination
In Pilates there are not many static holding movements

Relaxation

During each movement we are encouraged to release unnecessary tension from muscles that are not required therefore allowing you to be more aware of the muscular focus of each exercise. It teaches us to distinguish between which muscles to release and which muscles should be activated
Tension can effect breathing which in turn prevents spontaneous action during exercise. Relaxation aids focus and breathing
Relaxation can help to prevent tension, anxiety and stress

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