Train your physical and mental health. Yes, just like you do with yoga. Get to know a basic training that, in addition to a strong core, gives you good posture, fuller breathing and improved flexibility.
If you're thinking about starting (or restarting) Pilates, you're not alone. Pilates has become increasingly popular in recent years. Why?
“Through the Pilates method, the unique trinity of a balanced body, mind and spirit can one day be achieved. Confidence follows.” According to Mr. Pilates.
What is Pilates?
With Pilates you train all the muscles of your body through a unique series of exercises. The more than 500 exercises can be performed on a mat or on machines. The principles that you use when moving are: breathing, concentration, control, precision, center and flow. By applying the principles, after an hour of Pilates, your head is empty and your body is supple and in balance.
Effects of the exercises
Years ago, with a DVD 'Pilates for Dummies' and a yoga mat that was much too thin, I started training my muscles in front of the television. It was noticeable that these were weakened by pregnancy and hours of sessions in front of screens. What I also noticed - after a few weeks of practice - was that I stood up straighter, my stomach was flatter, I moved more smoothly and felt younger.
Pilates is all about your core, your powerhouse
My core, the muscles of my torso, had gained strength, and that translated from easier bending over to lift my baby to confident and smooth dancing at a party. That core, Mr. Pilates called your "powerhouse." An appropriate word for the lively and stable feeling in my stomach. As if from that center I could move through the world more naturally and effortlessly.
The History of Pilates
Above I already mentioned him twice; mister powerhouse himself, Joseph Pilates (Mönchengladbach, 1883 - New York, 1967). In 1914, during the First World War in an internment camp in England, Joseph created the basis of what later turned out to be his revolutionary method. Using the coil springs from the hospital beds, Joseph – as a teacher – and his fellow inmates did pulling exercises. He enthusiastically taught different forms of movement, convinced as he was of the healing effect of well-designed, controlled exercises. He literally said, "Change happens through movement and movement heals."
A healthy body; Pilates helps your immune system
It is striking that during the outbreak of the Spanish flu in 1918 - which claimed more victims than the First World War - his students from the camp remained healthy. This fact ensured the first name recognition of Joseph Pilates.
Almost hard not to draw the line with the virus we are dealing with today. It is so important to train yourself strong and healthy. The chance is much smaller that the infection will strike hard in a healthy body with a strong defense mechanism. Your body clears things up before it makes you sick. You can strengthen this defense mechanism yourself by regularly doing Pilates.
Relief for complaints and injuries
Do you suffer from low back pain, stiffness or an injury to your shoulders or neck? With Pilates, you can do targeted exercises that relieve pain by strengthening your core and thus relieving pressure on the upper and lower back. A Pilates workout is soft and controlled, without explosive movements. The emphasis is on balanced training of muscles around the joints.
Pilates during pregnancy
During your pregnancy you have an increasing weight that needs to be carried. That requires strength and endurance from your muscles. Pregnancy Pilates is ideally suited for this because you calmly and concentrated keep your back, abdomen and pelvis in optimal condition.
Pilates after childbirth
After giving birth, you can slowly start building up your condition and muscle strength. Your pelvic floor and your abs have had a hard time and deserve the most attention. From there you can build more and more. The floor exercises in Pilates are enjoyable, it is not yet the time for jumping and running. As soon as your core is strong again, you can sprint to the bakery again.
Reduce stress and break your negative spiral of thoughts
So much for the physical part of your being. We now know that our mental and emotional bodies have at least as much impact on our well-being. Many people I speak to have gone through intense emotional processes in the past year, some because of their loss of income, others because of loneliness, fear of getting sick or lack of perspective. A negative thought pattern is often not the best motivation to exercise. As a result, you end up in a spiral of listlessness, feeling fed up with yourself, sleeping badly, even more negative thoughts and less movement.
Happier through Pilates
Start small. Drag that mat into your living room and drag yourself onto it. Click on YouTube or your Pilates or Yoga school's online classes and start moving. Don't demand too much of yourself, but give yourself a compliment for sitting on that mat. That's the hardest part. Believe me, you will notice it, in less stressful thoughts, more self-esteem, being more attentive, simply happier with your life. Feeling that itch more often that you feel like something, falling into a deep sleep in the evening satisfied: Pilates is demonstrably suitable for improving your psychological health. Joseph Pilates himself said: "Physical fitness is the first condition for happiness."
Scientific benefits and effects
I say that so indiscriminately, 'demonstrably suitable', what are - besides my own experience - the studies that prove these benefits of Pilates? A meta-study, a study that linked all relevant studies on Pilates and mental health up to 2017, concluded that the effects of Pilates were measurable.
Here are the proven benefits of Pilates:
- Improved mood
- More mindful
- Improve sleep quality
- More attention
- Less stress
- The feeling of being valued in person and appearance
- Fewer depression symptoms
- More self-respect
- Sense of emotional well-being
- Optimistic attitude to life
It almost sounds too good to be true, and why take it from anyone else? I'd say try it for yourself; Roll out your mat three times a week and keep it up for two months.
The difference between Yoga and Pilates
Joseph Pilates was ahead of his time. In his teens, around the turn of the century in 1900, he studied oriental forms of movement such as yoga, zen and Tai Chi in addition to gymnastics. Now the year 1900 seems long ago, but that is of course peanuts compared to yoga, which was practiced 5000 years ago. So what is the difference between pilates and yoga.
Both forms of movement are based on the connection between body and mind and use breathing as a focal point. While yoga uses the breath to get into a more calm and meditative state and you breathe into your stomach, Pilates focuses on strengthening your core, tightening your abs and breathing more into your chest and back.
Yet the body-mind connection is stronger in yoga. The yogis from India wanted to create a higher consciousness and even today many yoga forms revolve around spirituality. Pilates developed its method as a rehabilitation program and put more emphasis on physical activity. Today, many people still choose Pilates to recover from injuries or as basic training for, for example, a dance course. Pilates can be perfectly combined with running or dancing.
Pilates at home, what is the best mat?
If Joseph and his fellow inmates could do it from their appalling conditions in the internment camp, then you can do it at home. The most important and first step is to drag yourself onto that mat. Or maybe you'll roll out your mat while hopping, if you eventually land on it.
The second step is having a good mat. Because you perform many exercises in Pilates, a thick yoga mat is very pleasant. Ten years ago, I had an ultra-thin mat and some exercises hurt my spine or hips.
Pilates mat or thick yoga mat
A thicker mat is many times more comfortable. To be clear: a Pilates mat is the same as a thick yoga or fitness mat, only the name is different. These mats are suitable for Pilates. Yogashop's Premium mats are good for Pilates and fitness, and possibly also the 6mm Love Generation mats with or without print.
In summary, I would say, buy a mat, agree with yourself that you will lie on that mat a few times a week, make sure you find a good Pilates workout online (or via a DVD, but maybe I'm old-fashioned) and follow the instructions .
Don't forget to be proud of yourself afterwards. Experience how Pilates makes your powerhouse - that strong core, your walk through life more powerful and fluid.