Thursday, May 27, 2004

What is Pilates?

For me Pilates is a way to correctly train the body from the inside out. As a former dancer, I had known what it was like to support yourself from your center, leaving the appendages free and loose, yet in complete control. This is what all the ballet, jazz and modern dance training was for. With practice, I could perform with agility, speed, grace, control and balance in all kinds of movement, as well as in sports. It is feeling ideally coordinated and prepared for anything that involves movement. It is knowing how to use the body to defy gravity, both in the immediate sense through proper alignment, strength and balance, and in the long term sense in that through proper use of the body over time, there is less wear and tear on the body and longevity is acheived.

That is what Pilates tried to bring to the general public, a sense of qualitative control over one's body and an appreciation for the vitality good health and fitness brings the person disciplined enough to work for it. Anyone who has desire, can learn to move more gracefully and with more control and balance by learning Pilates. Is it everything one needs to know in terms of fitness and movement? Of course not. But, just as yoga prepares the mind, Pilates prepares the body for the challenge of any physical activity, including everyday living.

So, what is it? The short definition might be: It is a system of training the body and the mind that focuses on core strength, stability and mobility of the spine, and controlled movements with the breath. Rather than go into details of the principles, I recommend you pick up the book of all of Joseph Pilates' writings, "A Pilates Primer: The Millennium Edition", published by Presentation Dynamics. It is available through Amazon.com, as well as at the online store of www.yogilates.com. This book will give you Joseph Pilates own words on his system of training as well as some of his philosophies on what he felt our society of the 1930's (and still today) needed to be aware of with regards to health and vitality. There are some questionable sayings in this book, but the main premise still rings true today.
If you read this, let me know what you think about it and if you have any other Pilates books you want to recommend.