PilatesFor those of you that have explored yoga, but found that the more spiritual elements of the exercise didn’t suit, then it is worth taking a look at Pilates.

Making Room for Pilates

It maybe that you already have an exercise routine in place, whether that is cycling, swimming, football, HITT training etc, but research suggests that it is a good idea for both recovery and injury prevention to round out your fitness regime with a weekly class in something like Yoga or Pilates.

Pilates Founder

Pilates, is in itself a complete exercise method, it was named for the developer Joseph Pilates; born in Germany Joseph suffered ill-health as a child that left him distorted and frail. He was determined to overcome his disabilities, and studied Eastern and Western exercise approaches and would later move to England and have jobs as a circus performer, boxer and self-defence instructor.

In 1926 he moved to the USA and opened an exercise studio, and perfected his regime of precise movements, that would focus on building the core strength of the body, improve posture and look at benefiting both physical and mental health, through controlled exercise and breathing.

Pilates designed over five hundred exercises, taking into account different levels of ability. Many classes now incorporate tools such as foam rollers, gym balls and resistance bands. But still today the slow and steady pace of the movements is retained. Which allows your spine to rotate and extend, your muscles flex and your abdominal contractions are controlled by your steady breathing at the right time.

Pilates in Practise

Pilates is very restorative, and can be done at a level that the body can cope with, such as a beginner, intermediate, advanced, someone post recovery etc. The movements can undo some of the damage that we create in our bodies through every day living – sore necks from looking at computers, long periods of time standing or sitting etc. Breathing and moving through the positions actually exercises your neuromuscular motor controls, which aids rehabilitation.

It is advisable to go to a class for beginners if you are new to Pilates, your instructor can take you through not just the positions but also the breathing. Lateral breathing will help you to engage your core muscles and also assist in the timing of the exercises.

Be in The Present

Whilst Yoga is more spiritual, Pilates does have a ‘mindfulness’ component, the breathing exercises in particular are useful in encouraging you to focus right in that moment. Needing to focus on the movements and the timing of the breath, stops your mind from wandering and keeps you in the here and now!