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Pilates is an exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and improve overall health. Exercises are performed on a mat and on specially designed equipment. The Pilates system includes exercises for every part of the body and applications for every kind of activity. Created in the early part of the 20th century, Pilates was so far ahead of it's time that it did not begin to achieve popular recognition until the first few years of the 21st century. Over 10 million people are now practicing Pilates in the United States and the numbers are growing every year.
Pilates focuses on engaging the mind with the body to create exercises that involve the whole body. Every exercise is performed with attention to the breath, proper form and efficient movement patterns. Pilates strengthens the core, improves balance, increases coordination and decreases stress. The exercises are relatively safe, low impact and appropriate for anyone from 10 to 100. Pilates focuses on learning to move better so the benefits are felt in everyday life.
Pilates is used in fitness centers, private studios, rehabilitation clinics and hospitals to improve the health and well being of clients from the recently injured to the super fit. As more and more people participate, Pilates continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of anyone wanting to improve their ability to move with strength, ease and grace.
Joseph Pilates thought of his method as a way to connect and develop the mind, body and spirit. These are the key principles of the Pilates method.
1) Breathing - The breath is the essential link between the mind and the body. It draws our wandering mind back into our bodies and back to the task at hand. It is the foundation of our existence and the rhythm that accompanies us from birth to death. In Pilates the breath is integrated into every movement in order to keep our awareness on what we are doing, to improve the flow of oxygen throughout our tissues and to improve the capacity of our lungs.
2) Concentration - To concentrate is to pay attention to what you are doing. To be present with and in control of the task at hand. Without concentration the exercises lose their form and their purpose. When teaching it is important to have a client do only as many repetitions as they can without losing their concentration. As Joe often said, "It is better to do five repetitions perfectly than 20 without paying attention"
3) Control - To be in control is to understand and maintain the proper form, alignment and effort during an entire exercise. Pilates exercises are never done without engaging the mind to control the movements and the efforts that the body is making.
4) Centering - In Pilates all movement radiates outward from the center. Developing a strong, stable and flexible center is one of the defining features of this form of exercise.
5) Precision - Understanding proper form and placement and being able to perform exercises with efficiency comes with practice. Precision is the end product of concentration, control, centering and practice.
6) Balanced Muscle Development - Understanding, developing and maintaining correct alignment and form is essential to Pilates. With practice these principles become second nature and lead to improved posture, increased comfort and enhanced physical abilities.
7) Rhythm/Flow - All movements in Pilates are done with a sense of rhythm and flow. Flow creates smooth, graceful and functional movements. It decreases the amount of stress placed on our joints and develops movement patterns that integrate our body into a smoothly flowing whole.
8) Whole Body Movement - Pilates is fundamentally about integration: integrating movement into a flowing whole body experience, integrating the mind and body to create clarity and purpose, integrating mind, body and spirit to create a life of balance.9) Relaxation - To be healthy in body and mind it is important to understand the balance between effort and relaxation. In Pilates we learn to use just the amount of effort needed to complete the exercise correctly, no more, no less. Learning to release unnecessary tension in our bodies helps us to find ease and flow in movement and in the rest of our lives.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. Moderate exercises for arthritis on a regular basis, performed in a pain free range of motion, is what is always recommended for arthritis sufferers because of the importance of keeping those effected joints mobile. Pilates benefits people with arthritis for this very reason.
Pilates Benefits include increased strength, increased flexibility, and a better sense of balance and body awareness.
Performing Pilates exercises for arthritis may also lead to a decrease in fatigue and leave you with a general feeling of well-being. All of these benefits are perfect for the arthritis sufferer.
Adaptation is the name of the game when you embark on these exercises for arthritis. The key is to modify the exercises to suit your level of fitness.
A qualified Pilates instructor can see you through an appropriate routine for your particular ailment and tailor it to be effective for you.
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