This Article is About
stomach muscles
natural curve
yoga exercise
pelvic floor
neutral position
giving birth
Pilates - The Basic Principles
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Pilates  -  The Basic Principles

Pilates is a kind of fast pace yoga exercise. So if you like Yoga but find it a bit boring you should consider Pilates. You get both the strength, breathing techniques and a brilliant cardio. After giving birth to my second child I wanted an effective way to get back into shape and found Pilates. I was astounded how quick my results came and the way these exercises flattened my stomach needless to say I was sold.

Pilates is based on five basic principles necessary for all exercises. The foundation for these principles is the technology to pull in your abdomen and tighten your pelvic floor.

1. Breathing

Breathing is performed by first drawing in air through your nose with your mouth closed and then you blow out through a small mouth, so that there is little resistance to the exhalation. You should be able to hear the exhalation sound clearly. When you breathe in the chest should extend out to the sides to avoid lifting your shoulders. Be careful not to pull your shoulders up towards your ears whilst inhaling. In the beginning the breath can feel unnatural and a bit strained, but you'll quickly discover that the respiratory muscles between the ribs and the diaphragm become stronger and more supple. Like any other muscle in your body, these muscles are trained in order to function optimally. The more efficiently you breathe, the more control you get over the exercises and it relaxes the muscles in the upper body.

2. Pelvic position

There are two positions for the pelvis when doing Pilates. One is neutral and corresponds to the pelvic position in standing and walking. The other one is when you tilt the pelvis under you, so that the natural curve of your back is straightened. Neutral position is used in all exercises where either feet or one foot is on the floor. The tilted position is used in all exercises where both legs are lifted off the floor.

3. Chest position

Stomach muscles derived from the lowermost portion of the ribs. To maintain natural spine position in the thoracic part of the spine, the ribs must be in constant contact with the abdominal muscles. The ribs should not stick up from the stomach, so that there is a cavity between the stomach and ribs. Stomach muscles should be tightened contracted and naturally pulled in in a way that helps the ribs stay down in contact with the stomach muscles. Remember to breathe all the way down to the lower ribs on the back, without raising the shoulders significantly.

4. Shoulder-position

The shoulder blades embedded in the muscles of the upper back. The shoulder blade is articulated with the rest of the skeleton, and is therefore important to stabilize through the muscle. Shoulder-movements are of great importance for the arm movements. To stabilize the shoulder blades is just as important as to pull in your stomach in the exercises. When the shoulder blades are stabilized the lowermost parts of the muscles in the upper back are activated and to avoid the shoulders from moving.

5. The neck and head position

The neck should maintain its natural position through all the exercises and the head must balance directly over the shoulders in a seated position (so that the head does not drop to the front). The neck should follow the curve of the spine. If your back is bent so should the neck be as a natural extension of the back.

7. Pull in your stomach

To activate the deepest ones of your stomach muscles, especially when lying down, the stomach should be contracted and pulled in before the exercise begins. This contraction should be maintained throughout the exercise. When the stomach is pulled in the spine or pelvis should not move.

8. Tighten your pelvic floor

Your pelvic floor is an important part of the muscles around your spine. The pelvic is usually described of as a large group of muscles that should be trained separately, but they are actually integrated into the exercises just like the breathing. The better your stomachs deep muscles function, the better the muscles around the spine work and vice versa. So remember to tighten the pelvic floor just before you tense and pull in your stomach in all of the exercises.

Please do try this amazing form of exercising, it will work wonders for your body, mind and shape.

Street Talk

For me nothing competes with Yoga but I have been doing it for 25 years. Pilates is ok but I really like it with the machines! Wow! That got me! Which is funny because I hate gym machines. Congratulations Anna to climbing the ranks! You are 9th right now! Girl power! :)

  about 9 years ago

Brilliant! Pilates is a wonderful system. Along with Feldenkrais method, Alexander Technique, and even the Paula Method it is among those systems that I most recommend to my patients for maintaining proper posture and balance. They can even participate on the same day as having had an Osteopathic treatment, and the exercise session will even enhance as well as balance the treatment.

  about 9 years ago

I'm so pleased to hear that. They are lucky to have you. i suffered from back problems when I was younger and then again when pregnate. Now my back is strong as an oxe thanks to pilates, kettlebells and swimming :).

  about 9 years ago

Those Swedish women! Strong like ox. Thanks!

  about 9 years ago

Very good information, I maybe in my seventies, but it is never too late in life to try anything. I will try this need to straighten my spine, and take more control of my stomach musles. Thanks very nicely written.

  about 9 years ago

Yhak you so much for reading. You are right in that it's never to late. We've been thought since a young age that at the age of 70, 80 etc we are supposed to be looked at and to feel old. I say wrong, if we since a young age had been thought that we are middle aged around 70 and 80 then that would have been the norm. Please read up on Joseph Pilates and see that you are right in that age has got nothing to do with it.

  about 9 years ago
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