The Principles of Pilates
The control of Pilates exercises comes from the centre of your body – the ‘core’ or ‘cylinder of support’. This is the area between your diaphragm, your pelvic floor, your deepest abdominal muscles and your deepest spinal muscles. Pilates termed it ‘the powerhouse’. We’ll continually cue you to bring your focus to your centre during Pilates exercises.
Pilates is a mind-body exercise. By focusing your concentration on each movement (and trying not to let your mind wander), this mind-body connection is reinforced, and you’re able to achieve more from each exercise. This also helps with aiding body awareness and relaxation.
Each movement is performed with complete muscular control, making the method very safe. Only exercise levels that you are able to do with complete control are advised. It is all too easy to see your fellow class participant moving onto the next level of an exercise when your body isn't quite ready for it yet, so try not to compete and leave your ego outside the studio ; )
It is important to focus on precision and quality of movement rather than crunching out the repetitions of an exercise. Less is really more. If during any exercise you feel you can’t control the precision of the movement – stop and rest – continuing is likely to overwork muscles that are already overworking!
Pilates advised his students to imagine their lungs as a set of bellows. As you breathe in deeply, imagine the bellows opening, so the air comes down into the bottom of your lungs and the ribs move out sideways… hence the term lateral breathing. This diaphragmatic breathing increases the oxygen circulation in your blood and muscles. awakens cells and muscles. Breathing is timed with the movements, and both inspiration and expiration are active.
Awareness of where your body parts are (i.e. What posture you’re in) is the key to good alignment. Gradually your bodily awareness will improve, and so will your posture. At the start of each class we will cue head, neck, pelvis shoulders and legs placements… It soon becomes automatic.
Think of how a ballet dancer moves. Their movements seem gentle and flowing with fluidity. As our breath is continuous, so are our Pilates movements (but don’t worry, I will let you rest).