Breaking Down The Principles of Pilates

The six principles that are the foundation of the Pilates method are an approach to exercise that can benefit sports, weight lifting, yoga, dance or any form of movement. Pilates done correctly requires a strong mind-body connection that enables the body to move with less effort, allowing flowing and balanced movement. The method uses an individuals own body to its greatest advantage utilizing its own strength, flexibility and coordination and requires that the individual pay attention to his or her own body throughout the exercise.

It is important to note that Joseph Pilates did not directly set out the Pilates principles. They are concepts that were extracted from Joseph Pilates work from later instructors and because of that there are some variations in the specific words, but the concepts can be found in almost any Pilates program.

The six principles are as follows:

  1. Control
  2. Centering
  3. Concentration
  4. Precision
  5. Breath
  6. Flow

Over the next few months I will be focusing on one principle at a time with a hope that it can bring a new aspect to not only your Pilates workout but any of your workouts here at SAC.

Control: Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. There are no body parts that are left to their own devices.

For any exercise technique there needs to be a level of awareness that is necessary for progression. The ability to control your movement will develop as your skill level increases and the complexity of the movement increases. With practice you will always be aware of your alignment, body position, and muscle activity. How many times have you looked in a mirror while exercising and been surprised that you are not in the position you thought you were?

Progression in Pilates is not about the speed of the movement, but rather the quality of the movement. Controlled movements equal good technique which is imperative for safe, effective results.

This week as you take your session with your instructor, or hop into a mat class, think about how you can apply control to your movements and your transitions between exercises. Try this: during “Open Leg Rocker” do 6 repetitions without landing on your neck or head. Then, to transition to the “Corkscrew”, bring your legs together and take 5 or more seconds to slowly roll down to the mat, leaving your legs in the air.



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