Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Why I Do Pilates

Hello again friends!
Thanks for stopping by at Puppies and Pilates. I really appreciate anyone who takes the time to read what I have to say, even if its for a couple of sentences until you realize you couldn't find the answer you originally searched for on Google. We've all been there. Its OK :)

So I'm writing this before my workout of the day. I don't usually plan my pilates workouts I just pick something from the Blogilates YouTube channel and go from there. Even though I really should practice composing my own routine, I just want to put something on and follow instructions. And have something to swear at when it gets too difficult. 

Cassey I love you, but sometimes you are MEAN!

It occurred to be last night before bed that I haven't really talked about why I do pilates as my major exercise. I have touched on the fact that pilates has helped my back issues but there is a lot more to it than just improving my posture. 

For anyone who has no idea what pilates is and how it works, I'm going to enlist the help of the Better Health Channel. This website is very informative and factual so you don't have to worry about it being completely bogus *cough Wikipedia cough* (no offence, Wikipedia) 

A lot of people confuse Yoga and Pilates. Which is understandable. There's a mat, you bend and twist your body into poses, controlled breathing and often there is some sort of music involved. They both have their similarities and they both have their differences.

This diagram illustrates the similarities and differences of yoga and pilates

Pilates focuses on all major muscles groups and aims to help lengthen and stretch your muscles, using your body weight to tone them at the same time. There are two types:

Mat based exercises

or the Reformer:
I promise these are not torture devices!

It was actually invented in the 1920s by a man called Joseph Pilates (hence the name!). He used it to help bed ridden patients gain muscular strength by attaching pulleys and ropes to their bed and manipulating their limbs. He also became popular in New York by training ballet dancers (source).
Each movement is precise, based from the core of the body and performed in conjunction with controlled breathing in order to execute each move. For example in a crunch, you would breath out while exerting the force and breath in when you relax. Doing pilates doesn't mean that you will grow a few inches and become a lean and toned supermodel, but it will help with your posture and make you stand taller. 

Yoga on the other hand, while very similar in the aspect that it help to tone and lengthen your muscles and makes you more flexible, its more of a mind and body practice. Some people describe it as a lifestyle- incorporating breathing, meditation and various asanas (poses) of increasing difficulty to help relieve stress and connect yourself to your body. 

There are quite a few different types of yoga classes such as Bikram and Ashtanga, each with their own properties. Benefits of yoga, in general, range from cardiovascular, to digestive and nervous (source). 

One could argue that Pilates is a lifestyle too, and I have definitely incorporated it into my own. It depends on what you put into it in regards to effort, and what you want to get out of it. Some people want a toned beach body. Some just want to walk around without suffering chronic pain issues. Some people might even do it for the social aspect and go to classes with their friends. There are so many reasons that I could list. Pilates has helped me become more connected and in tune with my body. I'm more focused on how each muscle moves, how I stand and walk and even what I put into my body. When you're more connected to your body you don't want to do it harm by excessively drinking or eating too many bad foods. I'm not obsessive (as seen in my previous post) but I'm more mindful of what I do and don't do to my body. I appreciate what it does for me every day. *self hug * 

As you can see there are benefits to both Yoga and Pilates. I choose pilates because it focuses on improving your core strength and posture, thus improving the pain issues I had with my back. I never thought that it would impact me so much and that I would be in fact writing a blog post about how much it has changed my life. I encourage everyone to incorporate these type of exercises into their workout routine as not only will it make you fitter, stronger and more flexible, you may find yourself being more intuitive towards your body and letting it speak to you. That's some pretty deep shit right there and if you knew me in real life you would think 'who is this person and what have you done with the cynical, snarky Tahlia that we love'. Trust me in that if you let it, Pilates (and Yoga) can change your life. 

-Tahlia XO

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