Health and Wellness: Increasing Awareness and Understanding in The Benefits of Pilates
Pilates by definition is a type of exercise consisting of low-impact muscular strength, endurance movements and flexibility, emphasizing in alignment of posture, strengthening the core and balance of the muscles. It is consisting of different exercises or movements strengthening and stabilizing the body core, promotes muscle endurance and control, increasing the body’s flexibility and overall strength. The primary objective of Pilates is promoting total body conditioning, improving not just the physical body but also the mind and emotions including correcting alignment, concentration, centering, precision, control, breathing and flowing movement.
The body’s core pertains to the area between your shoulders and your pelvis excluding the arms and legs, and it includes all muscles within this area. These muscles include the transverse abdominal, pelvic floor and multifidus muscles which are tone and strengthened by Pilates movements, and are considered essential intrinsic core muscles. Pilates is a very good exercise to regain body core strength for fulfilling our activities of daily living, helping in regaining proper posture, prevention of muscle bulking and shortening, and strengthening the core alleviate and prevent neck, back and joint pains. The other benefits of Pilates are overall slimming, increased mobility, improving stance and posture, feeling of inner strength, stress reliever and promoting relaxation of the mind.
Pilates is a very good workout leaving you more energized than tired comparing to other forms of exercise, giving you a more positive mindset, feeling stronger and in control as you have just faced a challenging workout. Warm-up toning, flattening the belly, and working on the arms to promote circulation are used in Pilates. The first phase of Pilates is called “hundreds”, wherein you need to lie on your back, lifting your legs in a seventy-five degree angle, lifting the head and shoulders with your arms in your sides, and palms facing down, while pumping up and down and a series of inhalation and exhalation five counts each until you reach one hundred breaths. Roll-up, single-leg circles, single-leg stretch, sine stretch, mermaid side bend, side kick and crisscross are the movements involving Pilates.
Similar to sit-ups, roll-ups start when you lie on the mat with your hands overhead and then slowly rolling up to sit-up. Single-stretch involve lying on your back, lifting your head and shoulders off the floor, and then extending your right leg into the air at a forty-five degree angle, inhaling and hugging your left knee into your chest, and vice-versa for ten repetitions. The spine stretching helps in lengthening the back and hamstrings, wherein the legs are spread hip-width, with the feet flexed apart, stretching your arms in front, while exhaling and lowering the head between the arms, then finally inhaling and starting all over.
Indeed Pilates can give us many health and wellness benefits, not just physically but also mentally, socially and spiritually.