The Pilates Method – Joseph Pilates

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Joseph Pilates in the Barrel

The result of a lifetime dedicated to the observation of the body and its natural functioning, Joseph Pilates called this method “The Art of Control”. Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1880, Joseph Pilates taught and perfected his method until his death in 1967.

This method combines the philosophy of western exercise, dynamic and based on muscular physics, with oriental philosophy, body control and fluidity, focused on breathing and active relaxation. The stretches of Yoga and the fluidity of Tai-Chi come together in precise and dynamic exercises to obtain elongation, flexibility and toning of all muscle groups, not only the superficial muscles but also the deep one that holds joints and internal organs.

Pilates pretends to accustom us to the mental control of the movement, to the dominion of the mind on the body, and to avoid that our erroneous postural habits are imposed to our will, that is to say, to realign our position by means of the conscious exercise.

People of all ages and physical characteristics can benefit from this method. It is recommended for body restructuring, rehabilitation, body shaping or simply to obtain good muscle tone without developing large volume.

Joseph Pilates performing the Teaser
Joseph Pilates performing the Teaser

Benefits:

  • Improves posture, generating correct postural habits in daily life
  • Increase body awareness and body-mind connection
  • Elastifies and tones all the muscles of the body, including the deepest ones, responsible for the adequate postural maintenance
  • Improves coordination, balance and fluidity of movement in line with breathing
  • Shapes the figure achieving a long, proportioned and flexible muscles without great efforts

The Pilates method is based on 6 principles:

  1. Concentration: The body executes what the brain claims, work together. We must pay attention to the movements and their muscular response. Visualizing each movement the nervous system will be responsible for choosing the best combination of muscles to perform the exercise.
  2. Center: Use your “energy center” to drive all movement. The “center” is a place of balance that connects the abdominal muscles and the lower back with the gluteals. It is a corset-shaped strength belt: the abdominal muscles criss-cross the front of the body to act as a support for the spine and the main organs. Strengthening this area will improve our alignment and posture. To keep the spine in correct position we must strengthen the abdominal muscles.
  3. Breathing: Being very aware of the way we breathe. We must breathe correctly during the exercises. We inspire by taking the air to the back, to the floating ribs, filling the lower part of the lungs with air. The diaphragm flattens out and the rib cage expands. We exhale deeply, emptying the lungs to the maximum, expelling tensions and toxins; releasing pain and fatigue. The diaphragm arches and the rib cage contracts.
Joseph Pilates in the Reformer
Joseph Pilates in the Reformer
  • Control: Avoid sudden and irregular movements that can cause injuries and perform the exercise by breathing, concentration and stretching. The control is the essential key to achieve the quality of movement.
  • Accuracy: The movements vary between stretching and strengthening, while breathing deeply in each position. As in yoga, the combination of breathing, stretching and strength exercise produces a soothing and pleasurable effect. Performing the exercises slowly and fluidly requires precision in every movement, and this precision will require precise control of your body and free your mind.
  • Fluency: Realization of the exercises in a slow and fluid way. There are no isolated movements, the natural functioning of the body does not contemplate them. Pilates is movement, each exercise merges with the next. Make sure that the parts of the body not involved in the exercise support the movement, participating but without tension.