Pilates works by combining breathing techniques with unique stretches. It is different to other forms of exercise as it focuses on improving the body’s core, making the body more flexible and stronger. Many people confuse it with yoga, but Pilates is actually much more dynamic because it exercises the body through stretching and targets flexibility, posture, and strength. The end result is a prevailing mix of better posture, less tension, clearer understanding of correct body mechanics that assists in injury prevention and an overall feeling of well-being. Pilates is a safe and gentle exercise system, making it a great way of maintaining pre and post natal fitness.
Benefits of Pilates
Pilates is a really good body exercise for women as it tones and firms up muscles without giving you that bulky, bodybuilder look. Pilates also increases the strength and effectiveness of your core stabiliser muscles which might not be targeted during normal abdominal exercise. Pilates also enhance what practitioners call “body awareness”. It gives you awareness into how your body acts during exercise and even normal activity around the house. This helps you to avoid injuries and have the correct posture and style during everyday tasks. Pilates also teaches people who engage in the exercise regime to be more economical and efficient in their body movements, which makes your movement smoother, safer and less prone to injuries.
For your first taste of Pilates, we suggest you go to a gym or workout centre that specialises in Pilates or has Pilates classes. Some of the positions and exercises are quite difficult to master and it’s always best to receive instructions for the experts, especially when you are just getting started. There are two simple to do exercises that may just give you a taste of Pilates so you can see if it’s something you might want to pursue.
The Ballerina Arms exercise:
Sit cross-legged, keeping the spine straight
Bend the elbows at a 90 degree angle to protect the shoulder in its socket
Then take the arms back to connect the shoulder blades
Arms should be brought down so the shoulder blades slide down the spine
Then, raise the bent arms above your head
End with arms in front, just as they were at the start of the exercise
Repeat the exercise three times every day, and in one week you should see a major difference in your posture.
The Roll Up exercise:
Lie on your back, legs straight, arms stretched above the head, shoulders down
While keeping the back flat on the floor, slowly lift arms toward the ceiling as you breathe in
Breathing out, slowly roll forward, peeling the spine off the mat. Head remains straight, eyes focused forward
Breathing in again, stretch out over your legs. Breathing out, slowly roll back down to the floor
There should be no pauses, and as you breathe in, roll up again to begin the second repetition
No more than ten repetitions should be done in a row.
Pilates is great exercise as it increases flexibility, muscle tone, circulation, energy levels and overall fitness.