PILATES* - Moravia Naranjo
*Information about this course, dates and prices will be posted further ahead.
Pilates is a system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness. It was developed in the early 20th century by German physical fitness specialist Joseph Pilates (1880–1967).
If practiced with consistency, Pilates improves flexibility, builds strength, develops control and endurance in the whole human body. It puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, and developing a strong powerhouse, and improving coordination and balance. This quest for better training has in fact led many dancers to Pilates.
Pilates demands intense focus: you have to concentrate on what you're doing all the time. And you must concentrate on your entire body for smooth movements. This is not easy, but in Pilates the way that exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves.
"Contrology" was Joseph Pilates' preferred name for his method and it is based on the idea of muscle control. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment. All exercises are done with control with the muscles working to lift against gravity and the resistance of the springs and thereby control the movement of the body and the apparatus. The Pilates Method teaches to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.
For practitioners to control their bodies, they must have a starting place: the center. The center is the focal point of the Pilates Method. Many Pilates teachers refer to the group of muscles in the center of the body—encompassing the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs—as the "powerhouse". All movement in Pilates should begin from the powerhouse and flow outward to the limbs. This is the main focus of Pilates. It does this to strengthen the rest of the body. This can have effects for years to come if you are consistent to the exercise.
Flow or efficiency of movement
Pilates aims for elegant sufficiency of movement, creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina. In other words, the Pilates technique asserts that physical energy exerted from the center should coordinate movements of the extremities: Pilates is flowing movement outward from a strong core.
Precision is essential to correct Pilates: the focus is on doing one precise and perfect movement, rather than many halfhearted ones. Pilates is here reflecting common physical culture wisdom.T he goal is for this precision to eventually become second nature, and carry over into everyday life as grace and economy of movement.
Breathing is important in the Pilates method: there is considerable value in increasing the intake of oxygen and the circulation of this oxygenated blood to every part of the body. This is cleansing and invigorating. In Pilates exercises, the practitioner breathes out with the effort and in on the return. In order to keep the lower abdominals close to the spine; the breathing needs to be directed laterally, into the lower rib cage. Pilates breathing is described as a posterior lateral breathing, meaning that the practitioner is instructed to breathe deep into the back and sides of his or her rib cage. When practitioners exhale, they are instructed to note the engagement of their deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and maintain this engagement as they inhale. Pilates attempts to properly coordinate this breathing practice with movement, including breathing instructions with every exercise.
Students are taught to use their “powerhouse” throughout life’s daily activities. According to Joseph Pilates, the powerhouse is the centre of the body and if strengthened, it offers a solid foundation for any movement. This power engine is a muscular network which provides control over the body and comprises all the front, lateral and back muscles found between the upper inner thighs and arm pits.
The Powerhouse is activated effectively by hollowing of the deep abdominals, by drawing the navel back into the spine in a zipping-up motion, from the pubic bone to the breast bone thereby engaging the heels, the back of the inner thighs, the deep, lower-back muscles, and the muscles surrounding the sitting bones and tailbone area without inhibiting the natural function of the diaphragm—that is without the practitioner holding their breath either from lifting the chest upwards or contracting the chest.
In the sitting position the power engine elevates the torso and places the center of gravity at its highest and most efficient position; in prone position it elongates the body bidirectionally to reduce weight in the upper body; in supine position it elongates the body bidirectionally and places the center of gravity again at its highest and most efficient position.