I am writing a 3-part series of Joseph Pilates’ philosophy of wellness. The 1st part explained Jo’s definition of physical fitness – the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure. This is a fantastic definition because it suggests that real fitness requires a properly developed body and mind so that we can live our lives fully and with joy.
These next two articles will continue to explain his empowering philosophy of wellness. Yes, I believe Jo was a bit of a philosopher. But unlike many philosophers, Jo gave the world practical tools in which to practice his wellness philosophy – an extensive repertoire of exercises. Ultimately, you can learn Pilates exercises, and never really know the foundational thoughts that created the exercises and still receive huge wellness benefits. But if you are a person like me, I really like to know why and how things came to be. When I know why something is the way it is, I am more committed to the what, how, when and where. Of course there are many different ways to move your body. This, Pilates, is simply one way - one way that, I believe, is a very effective, efficient and low injury risk way to move your body and gain physical fitness that requires mind & body engagement. Take Joe’s philosophies and apply not only to your Pilates practice, but to your life.
There are 5 philosophic principles that underpin Pilates exercises:
Mind/Body/Spirit Balance – wholistic approach to movement
When the mind connects to the body for healthy, functional, specific movement, circulation flows and energy centers are stimulated to release the energy required for spiritual uniqueness to be manifested inside and outside of the body.
All muscles are developed in balance. The quadriceps should not be stronger than the hamstrings for smooth and pain free hip and knee function. Stabilizer muscles are given as much attention as mobilizer muscles. Stabilizer muscles are those smaller muscles very close to the joint. These muscles give the joint (elbow, shoulder, hip) stability. Mobilizer muscles are the larger muscles, further away from the joint, that allow us to make large and powerful movements. Most of the common strength programs focus on large muscle groups and neglect the smaller muscle groups that develop joint integrity which most often leads us to injury. And once we are injured, its often a long road back to recovery, if ever. So prevention is key to wellness.
Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells. Without oxygen, our cells die. Breathing is the first act of life and the last – its that important. Most people do not breathe properly. Pilates exercises incorporates breathing into the choreography of each exercise.
Flexible & Decompressed Spine and Joints
Flexibility and decompression is what allows us to move through space with ease and grace. Pilates exercises works to create space in the body. With every Pilates exercise you do, there should be an aspect of decompression and the creation of space so that there is freedom for the joint to move.
Breathing + movement = increased heart rate and circulation. Each Pilates exercise combines breathing and movement.
Without proper circulation there can be health issues such as:
- Atherosclerosis – clogged arteries
- Peripheral arterial disease – decreased blood flow to extremities
- Vasculitis - inflammation of blood vessels eg./ rheumatoid arthritis
- Thrombosis – blood clots in veins
All this sounds pretty good – and it is! The purpose of this article was to inform you that at the center of Joseph Pilates’ vision was the true wellness of the body. The more I learn about Jo’s creation of “contrology,” the more I trust that Pilates is for life.
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