Pilates… What’s it all about?

Understanding the Pilates Principles

If we asked you about the foundation of Pilates, you would probably think of core and breath, but those are actually just two of the six principles of Pilates. As we get back into our fitness routines this the fall, it’s the perfect time to go back to basics and gain a better understanding of what Joseph Pilates intended with this great system of movement and breath.

Joseph Pilates believed that, above all, we need to learn to breathe correctly! Breath is essential for life, but it is also important for creating effective movement. Correct breathing oxygenates the blood and increases circulation. Understanding how to breathe properly allows you to use your lungs more completely, filling them all the way from the collarbones down to the lowest ribs and filling the whole rib cage front to back. The act of breathing also facilitates movement: movement flows with the breath, and the rhythm of breath also helps control the pace of movement. Proper breathing patterns and mind-body connection are fundamental to the study and practice of Pilates.

Joe Pilates said, “The brain trains the body, and the body trains the brain.” Concentration is the key element in connecting your mind and body. You must be present with your mind to work your body to its fullest potential. The body can learn parts of a movement but must connect with the brain to experience the whole of the movement. The amount of attention and concentration you bring to your practice of Pilates will determine how effective it will be.

Have you wondered why we ask you to do just 4 or 5 repetitions of an exercise, when you feel you could do 15 or 20? Pilates is based on muscle control and repeating an exercise only as many times as you can do it meticulously well. This allows our system to remember only proper, effective movement and helps prevent injuries from overtraining or incorrect form due to fatigue. The mind-body connection supports you in achieving control and creating the best movement possible. Pilates teaches our body to move as it was made to move: as an integrated, cooperative system.

Your center is the foundation for movement. All energy for a Pilates movement starts from your center and flows outward to your limbs. Pilates teaches you to work from the inside out, activating the deepest core muscles and basing your movement from there. Through each exercise Pilates teaches you to increase strength in the ‘core’ of the body: the muscles and connective tissue system in the area of the abdominals at the front, back, and sides of your midsection, extending from your lower ribs to just below your buttocks. You will learn to connect your deep core with movement and breath, making your movement stronger, more stable, and more connected.

The Pilates exercises are designed to put bones in the best position to work efficiently. Pilates teaches you to apply precision and control to your whole workout, using the mind-body connection to focus on correct execution. Your body learns by repetition: practice, when done safely, precisely and with control, does make perfect! Pilates helps prevent injuries by intelligently strengthening and conditioning the whole body in a balanced way. Pilates focuses on the smaller muscles just as much as the larger ones, so you won’t over-train your already stronger, more dominant muscles.

Flowing Movement
Flowing movement is not often a focus of other exercise programs, and Pilates is unique in that it teaches the body to move as we do in real life: with continuous, fluid motion. Pilates trains our more than 600 muscles to work intelligently and efficiently together with our connective tissues and the rhythm of breath. You will move more safely, more smoothly, and be less prone to injury. By practicing Pilates on a regular basis, you can train your body to move in a more efficient, cohesive manner.

Because the whole body works together as a system, the six principles inter-relate and overlap. It’s not possible to focus on just one while excluding the others, but we can learn about the different aspects that make Pilates the amazing system that it is!

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