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Joseph Pilates’ exercise method is much more than a collection of physical exercises. Based on a strong philosophical foundation and observation, Pilates formed a core set of principles upon which the Method is built. Understanding and working with these principles will help you make the most of your Pilates practice.
- Centering: Pilates originates all movements from the center, or core, of your body encompassing your abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs—also known as the “powerhouse” of the body. Pilates movements begin in the center and move outward to the limbs. Large muscle groups, our spine, and organs are all supported from this powerhouse.
- Concentration: In order to maintain control (the next principle), it’s important to maintain concentration and remain fully aware of your body during each movement. How you perform an exercise is as important as the exercise itself.
- Control: Pilates movement is not about intensity but control, and controlled exercise yields the greatest benefits while protecting muscles from injury. In fact, control was so important to Pilates that he called his method “Contrology.” At first, you may find it difficult to control every aspect of your movements, but as your skill level increases through practice, you will enjoy increased control.
- Precision: Each exercise has a specific procedure and quality that it’s important to followed precisely. As you practice concentration and gain control, you will enjoy the increased awareness and precision with which you are able to practice each movement. You will gain more benefits from a few precise movements, than more movement done sloppily.
- Breath: It’s important when practicing Pilates movement to breath fully and purposefully, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Breathing is our link between the inside and outside of the body, as well as the mind-body connection. And, while breathing is normally something we do automatically without thinking, focusing on your breathing promotes awareness and helps you deliver the optimum amount of oxygen to the muscles being used.
- Flowing/Efficient Movement: You may be used to exercising rapidly, using jerky movements (think jazzercise and step). In contrast, Pilates, like disciplined dance forms, focuses on quality of movement rather than quantity or intensity. Quality is about tone, balance, and flow rather than repetition. By concentrating on precise and controlled movement, you will achieve movement efficiency, with a balance between muscle contraction and relaxation.
- Alignment: Correct alignment, stabilizing the pelvis, is an important aspect of Pilates practice, as faulty alignment negative affects your abilities to concentrate, center, breath properly, maintain correct posture, and achieve balanced, efficient, movement.
Achieve your physical best while practicing Pilates under the careful guidance of a knowledgeable instructor. Check out our class schedule providing focused, individual attention.
I welcome your comments. What do you struggle with? What would you like to learn to do better? What are your health challenges and accomplishment?
Image Credit: Toni Busch