Pilates, Mind and Body Balance

Pilates is a practice that helps improve physical appearance and concentration through a series of simple exercise routines that produce calm, self-control and body awareness while sculpting the body. Its primary objective is to achieve a balance between body and mind; however, there is also an expenditure of energy and therefore burning of calories, contributing to maintaining ideal weight.

These exercises are a recent development; they originated from the need to find a balance between body and mind in the 20th century by the German coach Joseph Pilate. He started from the idea that the use of the mind is fundamental to control the body; the discipline proposes to strengthen the center of the body by working the deep musculature to move with more freedom. In the same way, breathing and relaxation exercises are carried out; by practicing both exercises you achieve a single end, the body’s self-control.

What is Pilates?

Pilates can be defined as an exercise program where there is precision in movements, breathing and concentration, all of them combined to achieve a strong body and mind balance. These movements are gentle and are executed with breathing control and fulfill a double function; improve physical condition and increase the capacity for concentration and self-control. Hence the name “Contrology” for the Pilates technique.

To apply this discipline it is not necessary to do a lot of exercises.  The fundamental thing is coordination of breathing to achieve total relaxation of body and mind. It’s never too late to adopt a Pilate’s exercise routine to start enjoying its enormous benefits. Start with Pilates for beginners to understand the essence of the practice. Then you will discover its greatness.

Pilates Benefits

Pilates is a method that allows you to enjoy a wide variety of benefits. You strengthen the center of the body, consisting of the abdomen, thighs, the base of the back and the glutes and these at the same time enhance the rest of the muscles of the body. Apart from that, it offers relaxation and self-control benefits due to the practice of breathing.

Those who practice Pilates regularly say that they have achieved remarkable changes and improvements, learned to control stress, obtain self-control and have a flexible body. Among its main benefits are:

  • Provides vitality and strength. People who practice this exercise routine are stress-free and tend to feel happy and full of mental toughness and optimism.
  • Tones the body. Practicing Pilates improves circulation and increases muscle strength.
  • Increases self-esteem. You learn to know the body, so you can integrate body and mind, getting physical benefits and changing the way you perceive yourself.
  • Relieves muscle pain. For those who complain of back, abdominal and lumbar pain, this can be improved by increasing the flexibility of the muscles and the stability of the joints.
  • Corrects posture. The continuity of the exercises and the increase in flexibility help to correct posture and prevent muscular injuries.
  • It helps to sleep. Pilates relaxes the body, so it is possible to fall asleep more quickly and get more rest, vital for energy recovery.
  • Improves sexual life. The wide variety of pelvic exercises provides greater control of the pelvic muscles. In men, it helps to solve erectile dysfunction problems. Increased flexibility is another advantage.

Pilates Exercises for Beginners

We live in a world where stress predominates, so what better way to relax than doing a sport or Pilates exercises which leads the body into deep relaxation and a feeling of total peace. To carry out Pilates exercises, you must take into account first:

The fundamental principles

  • Concentration. With the aim of achieving total mastery of the practice.
  • Centralization. The exercises must begin in the abdominal part of the body and from there it is transferred to the rest of the muscles.
  • Control. The movements should be in harmony and rhythmic.
  • Breathing. A key factor of Pilates, it is necessary to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth which allows the activation of the central musculature.
  • Precision. A vital principle to improve the quality of the exercise, providing greater benefits regardless of the number of exercises.
  • Fluency. The execution of all movements must be smooth and continuous.

Every Pilates beginner session should be based on providing the body with stability and body awareness to unify body and mind. The basic exercises for any beginner are:

  1. 1. In a lying position and facing upwards, and looking at the zenith, flex the legs at 90 degrees. Feet spaced hip-width apart with the belly towards the spine (supine position), inhale and raise the arms towards the sky with the hand palms facing each other. After exhaling bring the arms back together to the head, then perform the opposite movement, always inhaling and exhaling until the arms are on the ground.
  2. In the same previous position (supine), raise the chin at the height of a tangerine, then inhale while extending the neck and looking at the sky with smooth and continuous movements.
  3. Starting with the supine position, exhale and raise the head continuously until you reach the top of the back and separate the shoulders from the floor. Then, inhale and descend slowly.

Pilates V Yoga

When practicing relaxation exercises, both methods are beneficial to train body and mind; they improve the state of physical health and well-being in general. Both techniques are similar and sometimes they offer the same exercises to execute; however, they have significant differences regarding benefits, which are worth highlighting.

Purpose

The biggest difference between the two is purpose. Yoga creates a meditative environment, relieves stress and seeks to improve quality of life, while Pilates works to increase the body’s awareness and does it from the inside out. As a result, it provides a stronger body with greater self-control.

Technique

Both methods improve balance and strength, hence the similarity that exists in certain exercises, although the difference lies in the technique that many people do not perceive. Yoga prepares the mind and body for meditation, while Pilates works the body to strengthen it and improve muscle function through control and mental mastery.

The two methods meet the objective of developing strength and flexibility but are emphasized differently. Pilates focuses on improving flexibility, while yoga emphasizes strength improvement.

Breathing and concentration

Breathing and concentration are also factors that differentiate both disciplines. Pilates involves inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth to achieve greater relaxation, concentration and control of the body. On the other hand, people who do yoga breathe by inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

The truth is that both forms of exercise are beneficial for health; practicing one or the other is a matter of preference. A person who wants to improve flexibility, tone muscles and achieve relaxation and self-control, should practice Pilates, but if you’re going to focus more on flexibility and reduce stress or seek a quiet moment, you should practice yoga.

But you do not have to choose just one. The good news is that you can alternate both methods and thus obtain higher benefits. You can transform your daily routine incredibly and satisfyingly, producing greater physical and mental well-being.

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