Pilates is an incredibly adaptable exercise program that challenges the body's mind and muscles to work in unison. The exercises can be adapted to fit the needs of a wide range of individuals.
I am a dancer and Pilates has been a significant aspect of my exercise program for some years now. I have enjoyed the challenging exercises that required a deep focus to connect to my inner abdominal muscles and generate the power from within to fuel my movement with efficiency and vitality. At the age of 21 I became pregnant. My life was filled with movement of all kinds: dance, aerobics and Pilates. Even though my body was changing, bones were shifting and ligaments lengthening exercise allowed me to stay healthy, enjoy a risk free pregnancy and it intensified the connection I had with my body and my growing baby.
Every pregnant woman is different and it is essential to listen to what your body can and can't do and I found it varies from day to day. I was involved in some sort of exercise right up till the week before I had my baby.
After recovering from labor and beginning to feel the desire to regain my body I turned to Pilates. Pilates really focuses on finding core support and utilizing that to initiate movement. Well, what is core? I like to think of the core of an apple. You know the core is in the middle of the apple but it is difficult to decipherer where it begins and where it ends because it connects to the rest of the apple. Without the core there is no apple and the core cannot exist without the rest of the apple. As an apple grows from a tiny fruit it grows as a whole, the core does not grow first or get bigger than the rest of the apple, no, it grows as a whole. It is the same with the core of a human being.
I would say that the core is somewhat the center with respect to the body most people consider the abdominal trunk the core. I like to think of the spine as the core and core support are the muscles, ligaments and tendons that provide the spine support. There are many muscles that assist in supporting the core and the challenge is to use them most efficiently.
After the journey of pregnancy and labor these "core support" muscles are stretched to their ultimate capacity. Pilates helped me regain control over my body. I remember the first session I had with my Pilates instructor, I attempted a basic "roll up" (laying on my back, legs on the floor, holding each end of an elastic band that went around my feet and connecting to my most deep core muscles to lift my torso off the floor) it was pathetic! It was like my mind and body were speaking different languages and no longer could communicate. My muscles had been stretched so much that I couldn't locate them. The first two sessions I didn't make any connections but I focused on centering and locating my muscles. By the third session I was able to produce a "roll up" that was initiated by my core, it was such an achievement and utterly exhausting. As I practiced my exercises I began to experience my body re-connecting to muscular patterns. The great thing about doing Pilates after pregnancy is it offers an opportunity to redevelop core muscle patterns. I felt stronger and connected at a deeper level post pregnancy than I did before having my baby.
Pilates is wonderful! Do not be discouraged because the purpose of Pilates is to challenge your mind and body to work as an ensemble. The challenge offered by Pilates is the key to the success gained though doing it. I am stronger, more connected and a better dancer due to doing Pilates before and after my pregnancy. I strongly advice all pregnant women from all walks of life to find a Pilates instructor and begin taking classes six weeks after labor, the results are glorious.
By Worldwidehealth Editor
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