“Contrology (Pilates) develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”
Pilates is an extremely safe and effective exercise programme conceived and designed to restore optimal alignment and movement patterns. It focuses on correct functioning of the core postural muscles which help keep the spine correctly aligned as well as working on the strength, mobility and flexibility of the whole body. Pilates is a functional form of exercise in that it was created with health benefits in mind to enable you to live your life in the best physical condition and with a deep sense of wellbeing. With regular practice, muscle imbalances responsible for poor posture will be corrected, the main cause of many health issues such as back problems, joint degeneration, headaches, digestive disorders and injuries in general to name but a few. The level of focus and concentration required to breathe and perform the exercises correctly makes Pilates a mind/body form of exercise, improving body awareness, reducing stress and improving mood. The mind/body connection was something Joseph Pilates strongly believed in.
“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”
It is widely accepted that the quality of our attention can have transforming effects on all systems of the body. Moving away from the frantic and slowing down so that we can pay more attention, awakening kinesthetic awareness, is at the core of the rehabilitative process. Modern research and practitioners from many diverse therapies have added new dimensions to Joseph Pilates’ work, but to truly understand the relevance and benefits of this century-old method you need to go back to the beginning and progress from this firm foundation.
These are some of the benefits you will start to notice:-
- Your body will become better aligned to prevent imbalances leading to injuries and improve posture. This is particularly useful for sportsmen, for example: think of a tennis player constantly hitting the ball using the same arm or a golfer always swinging from the same side.
- You will become more body-aware and better coordinated, improving your skills of proprioception – the sequencing of movement.
- Your body will change shape for the better, giving you a leaner, toned physique rather than bulky and muscular.
- The space between your vertebrae will be increased which will minimise pressure on discs and nerves. There is no question that Pilates will prevent back problems or at least teach you to manage them.
- You will build core and back strength to help support the spine and maintain good posture. Many of us have posture that is far from ideal, often the cause of many health issues, particularly back problems.
- All muscles are worked so that the whole body can function together in harmony rather than one area becoming overloaded.
- The condition and strength of your pelvic floor will be greatly improved as the pelvic floor is part of the core, reducing incontinence problems. A huge problem and not just for women!
- Flexibility and mobility will be substantially improved over time so that the body can move freely, without putting undue strain on the back.
- Exercise increases the levels of serotonin and endorphins which promote feelings of wellbeing and meditation is now widely used as a way of dealing with depression. Yoga and Pilates are an excellent way to help you lead a happy, positive life.
- You will learn how to breathe correctly and efficiently so that plenty of oxygen reaches every part of the body, especially the spine. Breathing relieves stress and can reduce high blood pressure as well as increasing energy. It also helps improve posture as posture improves breathing.
In my 35 years of teaching, Pilates has been the most useful discipline I have learned and it’s been so rewarding to be able to pass this on to so many people of all ages.
“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises.”
About the Author
Author: Josie McKenlay
I’ve been in the health and fitness business for 35 years and have taught everything from aerobic and indoor cycling to barre, yoga and Pilates. I trained with Michael King at the Pilates Institute in London in 2000. I’ve taught in the UK and the UAE and now train others who wish to become Pilates teachers. I am also a certified diet and nutrition advisor and a yoga teacher – I completed further yoga training a couple of years ago in Rishikesh.