If you pay attention to fitness fads at all, then you’re almost certain to have heard of pilates by this point in time. Originally developed as a means of gaining greater postural control and improving one’s health, the popularity of the discipline has taken off as of late because of its promise of delivering strong core muscles. But just what is pilates?
One of the primary principles of pilates is that of alignment. By doing the pilates exercises and postures, one attempts to bring the spine into alignment, achieving perfect posture supported by strong and flexible core muscles that hold everything in place. The idea is that this will allow one’s energy to flow unobstructed.
Pilates enthusiasts also put a great deal of focus on breathing. This is due to their belief that only through proper breathing can one sufficiently strengthen their muscles in order to properly execute the postures in question. Ultimately, everything falls into alignment and the breathing provides a rhythm to proceed by.
Centering is another fundamental principle of pilates. It has several meanings. Firstly, it refers to the means of centering one’s posture, of achieving a perfect alignment of spine and musculature to attain maximum strength and flexibility. Centering is done by focusing on breathing and various principles of alignment.
Control and precision are both emphasized as well. If one goes through the rote motions of a pilates routine, treating it as a mere workout, then no benefits will be had. Only through precisely controlling one’s movements and breath will one gain the level of awareness that is ideally imparted by the practice of pilates.
Lastly, pilates is intended to increase flexibility. While this does imply that one will have a greater range of motions in one’s muscles, that’s not the only benefit. Flexibility also refers to one’s ability to bend and adapt to the travails of life in a mature and responsible way. What is pilates? A way of life!