Tuesday, May 10, 2011

pilates at the core of diversity in movement

one of my teachers commented on the importance of diversifying the movement of our muscles to keep them healthy and balanced. this resonated so much with me from a pilates perspective!! as someone who needs both variety and consistency in my own workouts, pilates strengthens and prepares me for the things that I love to do, like practicing yoga and spinning.

i love the isolated contractions found in yoga and the cardio from spinning; both are incredible outlets for me mentally as well. when my yoga teachers tell me to lengthen my spine and both sides of my waist, I use my core muscles to accomplish this. when my spin coach tells us to lift up out of the saddle, i make sure that my posture is lined up (from front, back and sides) so that i can stand in runs upright without depending on my arms to support me. even with the occasional circuit and dance class, i prioritize breathing and core integration.

the pilates method teaches the practitioner how to initiate any movement from the core. it also teaches us how to coordinate our muscles to simultaneously exploit both their stretch and strength functions. we also learn to strengthen the small accessory muscles in the joints. this way of body control keeps us strong from the center and teaches us to respect the natural lines that the body creates. all of this helps us avoid excessive injury and prevents stress on our bodies.

a regular practice of pilates prepares us to execute the above examples of two radically different forms of exercise by keeping our bodies flexible and strong. for many, it is tempting to use the arms and shoulders to lengthen the spine and waist in yoga, i see this all the time – people shrugging their shoulders up to pull their spine long, yipes! pilates conditions the body to use the core muscles to accomplish this length. some people suffer from lower back weakness or pain by over flexion (hunching over with a very rounded back) in spinning; pilates encourages proper core strengthening and correct posture, synchronizing the muscles that not only connect the ribs to the hips, but all of the supportive muscles that, for instance, connect the vertebrae together.

workouts should be fun, challenging and consistent. diversity in workouts keeps one mentally engaged and physically well-conditioned. learning about your body functions, how to move from your core and support your spine is invaluable; not only will you be able to execute any exercise safely, you will excel in all of your activities by keeping your body strong and adaptable!