Many people don’t realize it, but the founder of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, was a big supporter of meditation and based most of his postures on yoga, Martha Graham dance techniques, and a history of marital arts training.
The humble beginnings of Pilates are indeed fascinating.
He began his system during World War I, when he was interned in a camp. He rigged springs to hospital beds where patients with extremely limited mobility lay resting from various wounds and injuries.
This allowed patients that would not have otherwise been able to exercise, reap the benefits of his genius apparatus – which later became the pilates machines that you see in studios and gyms today.
His system turned out to be so effective that when an influenza epidemic broke out in 1918, killing thousand of people, not one of his ‘patients’ succumbed to the disease.
In 1926 Pilates returned to the US and in the late 1960s his system of exercise began to take off, gaining huge popularity. Because it melds so well with yoga, it has been turned into a hybrid practice used my dancers, athletes, and even those wishing to be stronger, and more flexible.
You can see a modern version of a pilates/yoga hybrid class below.