Pilates is a safe, low impact exercise that is suitable for every age and fitness level. It can be used to rehabilitate injury, tone and strengthen muscles and improve flexibility, balance and body awareness. Pilates is built upon 7 core principles that create the foundation of the Pilates discipline. The goal is to unify mind, body and spirit by integrating these principles into your Pilates workout.
The number 1 Pilates principle is concentration. A Pilates workout involves complete concentration on what our bodies are doing and how they are moving including correct posture and body position, movement patterns, muscle activation and breathing. Training the brain and the body to function with optimal efficiency.
Every Pilates exercise focuses on the activation of the core, providing a stable base for the rest of the body to work from to produce movement and strength.
Each Pilates exercise has a specific breathing pattern which improves the effectiveness of the exercise. Importantly the activation of the core is driven by the breath, but breathing deeply also nourishes the body supplying the muscles and brain with oxygen and focusing the mind. Concentrating on the breath helps to prevent breath holding which can cause increases intra-abdominal pressure which can put pressure on the pelvic floor.
Being in control of every movement is very important, this helps to strengthen muscles and movement patterns and reduce injury. Complete control requires the deep activation of the core first, layering on the control of the global muscle system with the brain.
Hand in hand with control goes precision, each movement needs to be precise, carried out with purpose and direction. For each exercise we will describe a precise body posture, position, muscle activation and movement that is vital to achieving the goals of that particular exercise for eg if an exercise requires you to lift your leg into the air, it is completely different to ask someone to lift their leg into the air with no direction, than it is to set the body into a specific position, cue the core and the breathe, instructing the person to take the leg into a precise position and move it in a precise manner.
Movements need to be continuously flowing with no stopping throughout the exercise and no distinct start and finish between each repetition, this helps to facilitate more eccentric work (lengthening) which helps control the movement in all directions, which is highly functional.
Regular practice is essential to ensure the brain and muscles don’t forget optimal movement patterns and that gains in strength and flexibility are progressed.
So how can you incorporate these principles into your everyday practice?
From the moment you walk into the room, I want you to be aware of your body in space, that wonderful lengthening (axial elongation) from the crown of the head to the floor. The position of your head, neck and shoulders with each movement, whether standing or lying. The articulation of your spinal vertebra as you move, noticing the movement of each vertebrae as you flex, extend and rotate, the separation and the stacking. The alignment and weight in your feet, whether you are lying or standing, from right to left/front to back. Finally the integration of the breathe, the core and mindful movement to really achieve the amazing benefits that Pilates has to offer.
Fit-Sana has a matwork Pilates class every Tuesday and Thursday at 08.55, if you have never done Pilates before I would highly recommend a few private sessions to begin with. Contact me for more information.