The Principles of Pilates
Joseph Pilates believed that incorporating these six principles into each exercise would result in the body, mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a co-ordinated whole.
Or ‘engaging the core muscles’. The ‘core’ is our ‘centre’ or ‘powerhouse’, the muscles of the lower back, abdomen and hips. Pilates focuses on strengthening this area to help support good posture and correct alignment. So we move better, more efficiently, and our energy is increased. We balance the right and left side of the body and at the same time strengthen weak muscles, allowing dominant muscles to relax.
During Pilates exercises, the breathing pattern helps the rhythm of the movement and the quality of our posture. Breathing naturally and without force into the sides and into the back of the ribcage oxygenating the body, increasing blood flow and allowing us to contract the core muscles. Correct breathing helps us to focus our mind-to-body awareness and helps to keep us ‘present’. “Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.” said Joseph Pilates.
Pilates movements connect together into a seamless whole. One, merges into the other in a slow, but dynamic sequence. When done well, the routine looks effortless, easy and elegant. Movements should not feel ‘painful’. We should not feel that we are over-exerting ourselves.
Pilates exercise helps us to improve our focus, our mind to body awareness. The sequences act like a moving meditation to allow us to be mindful and ‘present’ with what we are doing. Joseph Pilates said “Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do it improperly and thus lose all vital benefits.”
Gives us the opportunity to slow down, to allow the mind to control the movement and to execute that movement with good technique, using the appropriate muscles and breathing pattern. Each Pilates movement is purposeful. Following the correct method of execution each time will allow us to gain the most benefit which can translate into our daily lives.
Practice, practice, practice to keep improving the quality of movement. Allow the mind to control our muscles, slow down a motion, get a sense of that motion into the body and reap the benefits. Every Pilates movement is thought-out and necessary, nothing is wasted.
How to Breathe, Centre and Align the Body
The video shows you how to position your body correctly in each of six starting positions, to place your spine into a neutral alignment and how to breathe correctly.
Each movement we do in class will incrementally challenge the neutral spine by moving the limbs. The trunk of your body can be thought of as being like the trunk of a tree in a storm, which remains still and strong, supporting the branches as they whip in the wind. Your arms and legs are like the branches of the tree. It doesn’t matter how much the wind blows the branches around, the trunk remains still.