Joseph Pilates was passionate about the benefits of learning how to breathe efficiently. He said:
“Before any real benefit can be derived from physical exercises, one must first learn how to breathe properly. Our very life depends on it.”
Breathing for Pilates
In Pilates, breathing is one of our basic principles. We practise lateral or thoracic breathing. This is to encourage the expansion of the lower ribs into the sides and into the back. The breathing patterns specified for each exercise are to facilitate movement and aid stability. Effective use of the breath can also help the mind to relax, focus and recharge.
Breathing to Relieve Back Pain
With persistent back pain, muscles often feel tense and tight. A breathing exercise, such as breathing in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11, can calm the nervous system so as to relax tense muscles and prevent sudden spasms of back pain.
Breathing for Insomnia
If you suffer from poor sleep, a deep breathing trick can help. A US expert recommends the 4-7-8 method to help you relax and fall asleep. The trick is breathing in for four counts, holding for seven seconds, then exhale completely for eight counts. Repeat these steps two and four times. Read more in this breathing trick can induce sleep article from The Telegraph.
The first basic principle is alignment, which refers to bringing your body into its ideal posture, where your joints are in their optimal position in relation to each other and your muscles are doing the minimum amount of work to hold them there.
Without good alignment, you risk extra wear and tear on your joints and extra aches in your muscles which may tire from overuse or become weak from lack of use.
When performing our Pilates exercises, we focus on starting in and then holding good form as we move, so as to reinforce the correct alignment of our joints and retrain our muscles to maintain that alignment.
…results in perfect posture when sitting, standing or walking…
He did not mention alignment, but I like to think this is covered within the principle of precision. The instructions in his book Return to Life through Contrology are certainly precise, as are his directions that they are to be followed faithfully to acquire physical fitness.
…exercises that produce a harmonious structure we term physical fitness reflecting itself in a coordinated and balanced tri-part unity of mind, body and spirit.
I certainly agree that it is critical to perform Pilates exercises with correct technique in order to gain the benefits of doing them.
In a recent article The Diet And Beauty Secrets That Charlize Theron Lives By, Charlize admits to being a Pilates junkie, saying: “It’s totally changed my body.”
When it comes to physical activity and cheat days, she says: “I’m always calculating my activity. If I haven’t been moving a lot, I can’t eat a lot. Or maybe it’s a cheat day. But I’m honest with myself.”
My ability to do the exercise routine slowly but continuously improved from session to session. I was getting stronger. I was moving better, and my posture was improving. I was enjoying the feeling of wellbeing.
Caged Lion is a book by John Howard Steel, who knew Joseph Pilates personally.
It tells the story of how John started doing Pilates, then called Contrology, and how he got to know the man himself. When Joseph Pilates died, John was part of a small group who kept the exercise method alive. At the time, it was performed buy just a few devotees, but now the Pilates method is practised by millions all over the world.
The book is a fascinating read, part autobiography and part-biography. It tells us about John’s involvement in Pilates over six decades and gives us the history of Joseph Pilates, the man, and how he came to develop his exercise method and invent the studio equipment, largely unchanged today.
The book also describes the unique attraction of the Pilates Method, the power that it has to change lives and keep its devotees practising into their eighties and nighties.
Plantar fasciitis is a term that has come to be used for general heel pain. There are over 40 conditions which might cause heel pain, but only some of these are due to damage, such as tearing, fraying or crushing, to the plantar fascia. This is the thick tissue that runs underneath your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes. Typically, the pain is worse in the morning, gets better as you move around and then comes back later in the day after a period of inactivity.
You may be more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you:
recently started exercising on hard surfaces
exercise with a tight calf or heel
overstretch the sole of your foot during exercise
recently started doing a lot more walking, running or standing up
wear shoes with poor cushioning or support
are very overweight
Successful treatment depends on getting the correct diagnosis of the underlying cause. Things that might help are:
Pilates can help with the later as it aims to ensure good alignment and balance mobility and strength, not just of the foot and ankle joints, but of the whole of your body. Specific exercises for plantar fasciitis might be: