If you’ve never done Pilates before, a private pilates class with me is the ideal way to learn the fundamentals before you start mat classes. Not compulsory, but if you would like more information about this option, please click here
To give you a head start .
The short video will show you how to breathe properly for Pilates, engage the core muscles and find optimal alignment in each of the six starting positions. We’ll go over everything in class as well.
© Thanks to Claire and Belinda at Pilates Training Solutions
So, to recap…
There are six basic starting positions:
- lying on your back
- lying on your front
- kneeling on all fours
- lying on your side.
The video will show you how to position the body in each of the six starting positions, placing your spine into a neutral alignment. This targets the body’s core and stability muscles. Exercises are then performed by moving the limbs to challenge the neutral spine. A good analogy for the technique of ‘centring’ would be to imagine that the trunk of your body is like the trunk of a tree which remains still and stable in the wind. Your limbs are like the branches of the tree. It doesn’t matter how much the wind blows the branches around, the trunk remains still.
The founding principles of Pilates are: core engagement, correct breathing, control, flow, concentration and precision. Joseph Pilates believed that incorporating these principles into each exercise would result in the body, mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a co-ordinated whole.
1. Engaging the core
The video will show you how to engage your core and pelvic floor muscles.
The group of muscles, collectively known as ‘the core’, wrap around the lower abdomen deep beneath your ‘six pack’ abdominal muscles. They provide stability and support for your spine, hips and pelvis. They need to be consciously engaged to about 30% before pilates exercises. Visualisation really helps with this. I am rather fond of the belt method (described in the video). Or you could imagine that you are about to cough or laugh and notice the way that you naturally engage.
The Pelvic Floor muscles support all your lower organs and are the ones you engage when you are trying to stop a flow of urine. It is thought that this muscle engages when the core engages too, but you can reinforce the use of this muscle by using the lift method as described in the video. Holding a 30% contraction prevents too much pressure bearing down on the pelvic floor whilst exercising.
Top Tip: If you have a sneaky peek at your tummy while you are exercising, you should see a ‘scooped’ appearance as if you have taken a ‘scoop’ out of a block of ice-cream. If you see (or feel) your tummy bulging or doming upwards during an exercise, then you have lost control of your core muscles and need to stop, re-engage and try again.
In Pilates, the breathing pattern is used to provide a rhythm for the movements and can affect the quality of posture. It helps to focus awareness into the body and helps with concentration.
The video will show you how to breathe properly for Pilates.
Keep the abdomen flat and your shoulders relaxed, back and down. If you belly-breathe, it is likely that you will lose your core contraction.
When exercising, never hold your breath.
Breathe fully and naturally and without force.
Your breath starts each movement. A natural breathing pattern will help you to improve the rhythm of the exercise as well as focusing your mind-to-body awareness.
The general rule is to breathe in to prepare for an exercise, breathe out to move, and breathe in to come back to the starting position.
Pilates exercises require that you ‘switch off’ the big muscles in your limbs which are often over-used at the expense of your core muscles and start to use many of the muscles which are often under-used. This can seem strange at first as we are so used to using these ‘global muscles’ to move with.
All exercises should be performed with an even flow so that there is no strain on the joints.
To perform each exercise it is essential that the mind controls the body and that you can fully concentrate on each part of your body as you move.
Take your time and slow down – Mastering one precise movement will make sure that the exercise gives you the maximum benefit, rather than doing many imprecise movements.
- If the instructor asks you to do something which you suspect might exacerbate an existing condition – DON’T DO IT 🙂
- Dont do anything if it hurts. (Mild discomfort is fine)
- Dont worry about what other people are doing around you. Stay at your own level, work at your own pace.
- Ask for help if you need it.
Pilates Solihull and Pilates Coventry.
Balsall Common, Hampton in Arden, Dorridge, Knowle, Barston, Meriden, Shirley, Marston Green. Pilates classes in Solihull.
Pilates classes in Coventry and Kenilworth – Balsall Common, Burton Green, Tile Hill, Kenilworth.