Background Of The Pilates Method
With a background from various sports and injuries, Joseph Pilates developed his method almost 100 years ago. The aims of his method were both injury prevention, rehabilitation as well as body conditioning. After moving from Europe, Pilates settled down in New York where Martha Graham, amongst other dancers, started studying with him. Both of them incorporated each other's ideas into their work, and many dancers found that regular Pilates practice was highly beneficial to their dance career. Ever since then, Pilates has been a successful part of the training of actors, dancers and professional athletes.
Benefits for the dancer
Unlike most other kinds of exercise, the Pilates method involves the body's small and deep muscles, and focuses on strengthening as well as stretching. This creates strong yet long, flexible muscles rather than bulk which enhances not only the condition but also the shape of the dancer's body.
All works in Pilates starts with the center of the body, resulting in increased stability, centering and awareness of the core. In this way, many common dance injuries and postural imbalances, such as lordosis, can be prevented. Centering does also improve balance, which is one of the main principles in Pilates. Apart from referring to static or dynamic balance (required for relevé, pirouettes etc.), the term also incorporates the balance between various muscle groups (such as hip flexors and hip extensors), balance between lengthening and strengthening, or the balance between tension and relaxation.
Fundamental for all of this is constant breathing, which is another vital element in Pilates. Flowing breathing supports the flow of the movements, and it provides the muscles with oxygen which allows them to use their full capacity regarding both power and endurance. This conscious practice will also promote beneficial breathing patterns in other circumstances, such as challenging dance routines. Even though Pilates exercises and the Pilates class as a whole are done with flow, every movement requires control and precision. This makes the exercises very gentle and safe, and adds the mental benefits of increased concentration and awareness.
By the end of the education, each student has a solid knowledge about the Pilates method as well as his/her own body. He/she will be able to create an exercise program designed for his/her individual needs, both for injury prevention, rehabilitation and body conditioning. This empowers them to be in charge of their own health and will be a vital part of their future career, no matter where they are and which kind of training is accessible for them.