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Pilates is a form of mind-body exercise developed in the 1940's by Joseph Pilates. This practice emphasizes performing fewer repetitions than traditional strength formats, with very precise alignment, in several planes of motion. Pilates strengthens abdominal and back (the core) using pelvic stabilization and abdominal control. Done regularly, with correct alignment, Pilates can help to develop long, strong muscles, a flat stomach, a stronger back and improve posture.
Pilates principles include control, fluid movement, breathing, concentration, stability and postural alignment. In Pilates every exercise requires core engagement, which is activated by proper breathing. Pilates instructors advise students to exhale during the flexing movements phase of the exercise. Exhalation causes the deep core muscles to press against the diaphragm to expel the air, causing a deeper core contraction.
The Pilates mat exercises enhance postural alignment, coordination, strength and flexibility. The technique uses a systematic approach, which sequences exercises according to their direction of movement. Extension movements, for example, may follow spinal extension, thereby creating muscle balance as well as balanced postural alignment.