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Sep 28

Seven Guiding Pilates Principles

1.  Powerhouse (a.k.a. Core). All energy for the movements begin by FIRST engaging your powerhouse, which is the band of muscles between your belly button and the pubic bone (abs, lower back, hips, inner and outer thighs and buttocks).  Imagine a corset or girdle that wraps firmly around your waist and over your hips.

** By engaging or contracting your powerhouse, you protect and support the lower back and pelvis.

2. Breath. How you breathe is very important in Pilates exercises. You don’t want to hold your breath at all.  In Pilates, you breathe laterally by expanding the rib cage, breathing into the sides of your body and back.

Inhale through the nose to bring fresh oxygen to your body and exhale through the mouth to rid body of waste.  Pilates breathe supports, elongates and stabilizes the spine.

3.  Concentration. This is one of the most important principles in Pilates. You must be very mentally present as you do the exercises, aware of every aspect of your body’s movement, alignment, sensations, muscle flexes….

4. Control. Every movement is to be done with control, so you aren’t just throwing your body around.  Think of a plumb line down the middle of the body and work both sides evenly and with control.

5. Fluidity. Dynamic, energetic and smooth movements replace isolated static and quick, jerky movements of other exercise techniques.  A focus on grace and ease is emphasized over speed.  Ultimately the movements should feel as fluid as a dance.

6. Precision. You try to make each movement as precise as possible; alignment, placement of your limbs and position of each part of your body is paramount and a central aspect of how and why Joseph Pilates designed this system of exercise.  Choose to focus on doing a single, precise movement over many half-hearted ones.  Think quality over quantity.

7. Intuition. Listen to your body!  It does know best.  If something hurts, stop and figure out how to modify your movement.  Or alternatively, push yourself but always keep in mind the above Pilates principles.

COMMON TERMS/CUES

  • Pilates position: heels together, toes apart
  • C-curve: scooping your belly in
  • Navel to your spine
  • Tummy in and up/Lifting up off your hips
  • Lifting your sternum/Open your chest
  • Shoulder blades down your back

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