“Pull Your Ribs In” and other corrections: What your Pilates Instructor really means when she corrects you.
Pull Your Ribs In
Pilates focuses on building good posture while creating a flexible, strong, and functional body. When the abdominals are not engaged, the lower spine can “sway” or hyperextend, which can also affect the middle spine, shifting the lower part of the rib cage forward, causing the look of “sticking your ribs out”. “Pull your ribs in” is a quick way of saying “straighten up” and align your back with the proper, natural curves of the spine, nothing exaggerated.
Soften your knees
Locking, or hyper extending, your joints, including elbows and knees, can overstretch and ultimately weaken the ligaments in those joints. “Soften your knees,” means to keep them from hyper extending, which may feel like you are bending them tremendously!
“Scoop your powerhouse” doesn’t mean suck in your gut! It means this: draw your navel toward your spine, yes, but also contract your pelvic floor, cinch your whole waist like tightening your corset (which engages the tranversus abdominus) and lift your spine (elongate the spaces between your vertebrae). It’s tough! Which brings us to:
“Lift” is a quick way of reminding your body to decompress the spine and elongate the spaces between your vertebrae. It’s like “scoop” but with more emphasis on growing tall through the trunk.
“Wrap” refers to tightening the bottom in order to contract the outward rotators of the pelvis; specifically, the piriformis and the other 5 external rotators sitting under your gluteals.
Have you ever watched a ballet dancer warm up? Her feet looked turned out, toes pointed away from each other, but really the “turn-out” stems from her hips. The turnout does not need to be extreme in Pilates, but enough outward rotation in the femurs (thigh bones) to engage the bottom and draw the inner thighs together.