Pilates was pioneered by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century and is widely believed to have been popularized by dancers because of its strengthening and rehabilitative qualities. It is a wonderful form of low-impact exercise. Its emphasis on deep breathing, being aware of your body, creating a strong mind/body connection and engaging your core in every movement, makes it a perfect compliment to other higher-impact forms of exercise, such as weight training, running or sports, which require balance, strength and co-ordination.
Pilates recruits your inner core muscles, those ones which help hold you upright and keep your spine straight, and focuses on always engaging your "powerhouse" (this is the area between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bones). Pilates uses a particular deep breathing technique to assist you to actively engage your powerhouse and other muscles. Its practice is based around the following 6 core principles:
From a personal perspective, I have found that the regular practice of Pilates (whether classes or incorporating some of the exercises into my workouts), has helped me maintain good core strength, has improved my co-ordination and my mind/body connection is stronger. This has been highly beneficial for running, weight training, sports and my posture. In addition, I think that a Pilates class is a wonderful exercise in mindfulness - you are so focused on your body, your breathing and the movements that everything else just fades into the background. I find that Pilates leaves me with the same sense of inner calm as yoga does. If you are looking to try something new, or wanting to improve your core strength and mind/body connection, I highly recommend you give Pilates a go.
Love, Health and Happiness,