Pilates Total Conditioning Program lays emphasis not only on proper exercises, but also on the proper breathing while in the process of performing any one typical body movement. In other words, the technique is very similar to the ancient Indian exercise, 'yogasana', and in the same way in which the practitioners of yoga concentrate not only on exercises and specific body movements, but also on specific deep breathing exercises while performing the exercises, the Pilates' methods attempt to control and regulate the breathing of the individual during the course of his exercise regimen. (Pilates, a Core Conditioning Program)
However, one significant difference between yoga and Pilates is the fact that while yoga concentrates more on breathing and its regulation, Pilates concentrates more on exercises. Another difference is that while yoga is practiced more for spiritual benefit hat comes as a result of physical welfare and well being, Pilates is practiced more for the benefits of good exercise and deep breathing exercises. It was those Hollywood celebrities who started to practice Pilates because they wanted a better alternative solution to the often too tedious and strenuous exercises offered at that time, like for example, aerobics, which involves a large amount of jumping and running and other such extremely physical activities, and running, which often gave the practitioners severe back pains and knee injuries and the like, because of the stress placed on the joints and the feet, that gave Pilates the fame that by right belonged to it. Sportsmen, dancers, and others who found that they could not take the strain of an extremely active exercise regimen found that the program being offered by Pilates was a definitely better alternative, and this led to the immense popularity of the Program.
The Pilates exercises are generally practiced on a mat placed on the floor, or with specialized equipment, or a combination of both. The practitioners are taught at the very outset, the various ways in which to use their own body weight to offer resistance, so that they would be able to go through, gradually, a series of exercises that would actually stretch and at the same time, strengthen the core muscles of the body. Most of these exercises are done either while sitting on the floor or by lying on it, and the concentration is not on endless repetitions, where the individual may start to get bored, but on doing one movement just a few times. If the individual prefers to use equipment for his exercises instead of just the mat, then that particular equipment is used in the same way as the body is used during the performance of the floor exercises, that is, the body itself is used to provide resistance; while in this case; the machinery is used for providing resistance. The equipment that Pilates uses may be either rigged with boards, or with pulleys, or with springs and straps that are supposed to support the body, especially the hands and the feet, during the exercises. The most important piece of equipment that is used by the Pilates Total Conditioning Program is the 'Reformer', and this is much like the traditionally used Rowing Machine that can be found in nay modern Gymnasium, and this Reformer runs back and forth on rollers, with springs fitted in for the purpose of resistance. Generally, there will be a number of attachments fitted in, and these attachments will make the exerciser perform a larger variety of exercises than without them. (Pilates, a Core Conditioning Program)
Strength, proper breathing, and flexibility are all achieved after a few sessions of the Pilates Program of developing the core muscles of the body, and the nervous system, and the respiratory system derive immense benefits form this regimen. (Fitness, Pilates) Since Pilates is an exercise that concentrates on the total conditioning of he body, and achieving not only body alignment but also straightening and strengthening the spine, while at the same time concentrating on deep breathing exercises that would work their benefits on the respiratory and the nervous systems of the body, it can be said that it is a revolutionary exercise that would provide tremendous health benefits to the persons who practice it, regularly. (Pilates: Montaine, Center of Health and Wellness)
IV) What are the main benefits of Pilates?
The benefits of the Pilates Exercise Programs are many. The first benefit is the one, which benefits the Pelvic Floor. This is achieved by the several different floor and mat exercises as well as by the equipment exercises that are a part of the exercise program. There is a very strong relationship between the muscles of the abdomen and the pelvic floor, and when the Pilates exercises are done, pelvic floor function will be greatly improved. Women especially find this to be of immense benefit, whether or not they have borne children as yet. Men too find it useful, because the pelvic exercises not only control incontinence, but also protect the prostrate gland, and thereby improve dramatically their sexual functions that may have been caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. The creation of 'core stability' is another benefit that is derived from Pilates Exercises. (Fitness Connection, Pilates and Yoga wise)
It is a well-known fact that core stability is created by the various muscles in the abdomen and the mower back, and when these muscles are improved, then the vital core of the body is strengthened, and the body receives a strong and stable center, which is absolutely important for the maintenance of good posture and control all through a person's everyday life. This would also have the added benefit of preventing back injury. The third benefit that is derived from the Pilates Program is that the abdomen will become flattened, and this will not only improve posture, but will also improve the strength of the lower back. A series of deep abdominal exercises would help in this, and these exercises are done from the waist downwards, so that the entire abdomen is involved. Most post-menopausal women find that this offers them immense benefits as they may be prone to osteoporosis, and may damage their spine if they were to do any other type of exercises, like for example, sit-ups.
Yet another advantage of taking up the Pilates exercise regimen is that bone density would be greatly improved, and therefore, adequate protection against arthritis and osteoporosis is offered. This is because of the fact that the Pilates exercises are basically weight bearing, and also non-impact type of exercises, and this means that when weight is borne, the bone density would improve automatically, and therefore, osteoporosis is prevented. The mat works of Pilate's exercises will the shape and the muscle tone of the exerciser, and a lot of fat is lost around the abdominal areas and the gluteals. However, it must be remembered that Pilates does not claim that calories will be burnt, or that weight will be lost. Therefore, it is generally advised that when the individual wants to lose weight, then he must combine Pilates with a set of aerobic exercises. Ante and post natal exercisers, that is, women who are pregnant or who have just delivered a baby, will find that Pilates offers them more benefits than any other type of exercise regimen, since Pilates guarantees that the muscles that have been loosened by pregnancy and its aftermath will be tightened and strengthened, and many small minor discomforts that pregnancy usually brings will be forgotten. (Fitness Connection, Pilates and Yoga wise)
In a nutshell, the many benefits of the Pilates regimen of exercises are as follows: a better posture, a better alignment, and a better balance of the body, a greater awareness of the body and the various muscles that perform various different functions, without us being aware of it, better flexibility, stronger and leaner muscles, a great relief from back pains caused by sports injuries, and chronic types of back pains, stronger deep or core muscles, a better range or full range of movement, a full body workout, and a decrease in mental stress and tensions. To be able to achieve all these benefits from one single exercise regimen is truly amazing, and this is the reason why this exercise regimen is so popular all over the world, even today. (Pilates, a Core Conditioning Program) Some more benefits, in the words of the famous Pilates himself, are the lengthening of the body, and the decompression of the spine, the stimulation of the circulatory system and the oxygenation of the blood, help in healing injured tissues, and the alleviation of mental stress. (What is Pilates?)
V) Who can benefit from Pilates?
Anyone and everyone, young and old, from those who are new to exercise programs, to those hard core professional sportsmen and the like who must maintain an optimum fitness level so…