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Recommended Pilates Exercises - Pilates Tips

Author : Kylee Fritzpatrick

Pilates is one of the most popular forms of exercise today. This is an understatement. From the couch potato to the most fanatic fitness enthusiast, everyone has heard to some degree of Pilates. But what exactly is Pilates?

Developed by Joseph Pilates, this form of exercise utilizes the power of the mind to control the muscles in order to develop strength, flexibility and good alignment. It also gives its practitioners a wider range of limb motion as well as a host of other physical and mental benefits.

Unlike other fitness exercises, Pilates demands that the practitioner must concentrate, control, focus attention on the center, practice efficiency of movement, breathing and precision. Thus, when understood at a much deeper level, Pilates is more than an exercise routine. It is, as Joseph Pilates explains, the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.

Before starting any of the Pilates exercises, it's crucial to understand the concept of the "Powerhouse." This refers to the center of strength or the core muscle areas found in the lower back, gluteals and abdominals. To engage the "Powerhouse," you must stand tall and straight, taking extra care not to lock your knees. Then, ever so slightly pull your navel in towards your spine and slightly tuck this under your hips. As you consciously practice the "Powerhouse" all throughout the day, you will feel taller and straighter and this will become second nature to you. As you do your Pilates routines, engaging in the "Powerhouse" position will allow you to greatly benefit from the exercises.

One of the best Pilates exercises simple enough for any beginner to follow is called The Hundred. Aside from the usual benefits given by Pilates, this particular routine can also relieve lower back pain. Here's how to do it:

On a mat on the floor, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat with your arms at the sides, ensuring that your "Powerhouse" is engaged. Exhale and slowly lift your shoulders and head toward your knees. Lift arms to a parallel position that is even with your hips. Draw your knees towards you chest. Lift your legs, placing it in an imaginary table in front of you. Inhale, and as you exhale, pump your arms vigorously beside your body. With every exhale, make sure that you flatten your belly down into the floor mat. For a more vigorous set, follow the same position, but this time, straighten out your legs to about a 45 degree angle (You need to engage your Powerhouse if you want to hold out your legs for 3 sets of 5 second inhale/exhale cycles.) Inhale. Pump your arms as you exhale. To wrap up this exercise, simply draw your knees to your chest, wrap your arms around it and breathe.

Pilates is not only a good way to lose weight, it's also beneficial for overall physical health and mental wellbeing. If you're looking for a workout that benefits your body, soul and spirit, then Pilates is a good choice for you.

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Tags:   pilates exercises, pilates workouts, pilates tips

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Submitted : 2010-12-10    Word Count : 545    Times Viewed: 181