The Pilates Principles
There are six main principles to remember when it comes to Pilates that are fundamental to honouring the Classical method established by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s.
These principles are intended for more than just your workout.They can also be applied to your life and should become an integral part of how you go about your day-to-day life.
These guiding principles will help you progress in your Pilates practice. Having a good understanding of these six principles will mean you will have a better understanding of the whole Pilates Method and get more from your workout
Originally, Pilates was known by the name ‘Contrology’ meaning ‘control of the mind and body.’ Joseph Pilates, who originally coined the phrase, intended that anyone who practices Pilates (or Contrology, as it was then known) should have complete mind-body control over all of the muscles in the body. He stressed the importance of positioning and sequencing in Pilates and it was his belief that by being able to control the muscles in this way, people could erase poor habitual positioning and eliminate bad posture.
According to the original Pilates Method, in order to properly control your body you must start every movement from your centre. You may also hear this being referred to by Pilates teachers as the ‘powerhouse’. The ‘Powerhouse’ refers to the group of muscles from your ribs including your diaphragm, abdominals, lower back muscles, pelvic floor and muscles around your pelvis. These muscles provide support and stability for your torso and spine and initiate movement or ‘actions.’
All postures and movements in Pilates should always begin from your centre, (your powerhouse) and then flow out to the limbs.
Pilates is an exercise that should be practiced mindfully. In order to do the exercises correctly you will need a certain level of focus. Each movement in Pilates is intentional which means that full concentration is required in order to perform the movements correctly. When you are able to focus your mind on the movements, you will notice your movements strengthening and improving. Pilates is not just a workout for the body, but for the mind as well. Taking this time out to be mindful is great for your mental wellbeing!
If we can learn how to do one thing well in life it is to breathe properly. Breath can have a profound impact on your Pilates practice, your muscular activation (and relaxation!) and how well you can establish movements. You may hear Pilates teachers talk about sending breath to particular parts of your body, for example, breathing into the back muscles. This intensifies a movement and sends the breath to that particular body part, meaning that the movement is stronger and focuses the mind on the areas you are working on.
Precision is key in Pilates to establish alignment in the body as a whole. When you practice Pilates with precision, you are more likely to stay true to the Original Method. We are striving for optimal alignment of the body as a whole which ultimately helps to work against any imbalances you may have.
Pilates is intended to be practiced as a continuous flow of exercises strung together to form a sequence. Each movement should feel like it flows into the next rather than a series of separate movements performed one after another. The transitions between movements are as important as the movements themselves and great care should be taken to ensure you are transitioning between movements mindfully. A Pilates class should have a lively rhythm to it rather than feeling slow or stilted. Practicing matching your breath with your movements will also help you to establish a good flow.