May 18, 2022
It is almost impossible to navigate today’s fitness world without coming across the mention of Pilates. It has proven itself a worthy alternative to other low-impact exercises like yoga, helping with everything from injury rehabilitation, muscular toning, strengthening and improving flexibility to balance, body awareness, and stress relief.
Now, like any other exercise method out there, Pilates is based on certain principles that serve as the discipline’s foundation. By incorporating these ideas throughout your Pilates routine, you’ll be able to yield the most out of it and perhaps even unite your mind, body, and soul.
The story goes that, as a child, Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, suffered an illness that left him weak. In a bid to overcome the effects of the illness, he started looking into different methods of exercising.
As he researched, he became intrigued with the notion of attaining a complete balance of the body, spirit, and mind—an idea that inspired him to create his own exercise method – enter Pilates.
It’s worth noting that Pilates (the creator), did not lay down specific Pilates principles. Rather, they were compiled by his students as they condensed ideas from his work. For this reason, you’ll find the order of the principles, the precise language used for certain notions, or the number of principles varying with each Pilates instructor.
Here are some of the more renowned principles.
Concentration may very well be the most important of all the Pilates principles. It implies being extremely aware and mindful of every movement. This means not only paying attention to the exercise, but mindfully focusing on the movements your body makes. To reap all the good physical and mental benefits Pilates has to offer, every relaxation, squeeze, pull-up, or draw-in should be executed to the tee.
Joseph Pilates used the term “powerhouse” to describe a huge group of muscles in the middle of the body, including the abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks. This is what modern-day instructors refer to as ‘the core.’ According to Pilates, the powerhouse is supposed to be the source of all energy for Pilates exercises, which subsequently flows outward to the limbs.
Centering is drawing attention or focus to your core. This way, you get to connect the physical energy from your core to coordinate your motions through your entire body. Pilates believed that it was critical to develop a strong powerhouse in order to rely on it in everyday life. At the same time, centring involves centring your mind and body.
Control is yet another universally embraced principle of Pilates. It points out to having complete control over your muscles when performing each exercise. Pilates’ method emphasises both attention and appropriate, safe, and thorough muscle control.
You utilise the exact and correct form with complete control, ensuring that no part of your body is overlooked. You’ll also need to focus on each independent muscular contraction on cue and be aware of the position of your limbs relative to your core.
While achieving complete control will definitely be a conscious effort at first, it should become more automatic over time, provided that you give it a lot of practice. This is what you’d typically see with top-performing athletes. You’d notice that they have complete control over their movements and bodies, yet their actions, although purposeful, seem to occur almost without thought.
Trivial as it might seem, breathing is actually one of the more difficult principles to master. Pilates stressed the importance of breathing the right way. Working control into your breath takes a certain level of mindfulness. When done correctly, you’ll attain a state of awareness in body and mind. Ultimately, you’ll find yourself performing each movement with more vigour and integrity.
Pilates breathing is more of a thoracic or lateral breathing technique, rather than the deep abdominal breathing typical of yoga. Here, the student is usually instructed to visualise their lungs as they deeply inhale air to its fullest and then release it the same way. At the same time, the student should aim to breathe into the sides and back while actively trying to maintain their core stability.
Precision simply means paying close attention to minor details and movements of the exercises. In the Pilates Method, each movement has a specific purpose. Every instruction and component is deemed critical to the overall effectiveness of the activity. Leaving out any detail or complexity is ignoring or dismissing the exercise’s genuine usefulness.
The emphasis is on performing one precise and faultless movement rather than a series of haphazard ones. The idea is for this level of precision to become second nature and carry over into everyday life, just as control and flow do.
All Pilates exercises should be done with grace, fluidity, and ease. The aim is for every exercise’s energy to connect to all your body components and flow evenly throughout.
To gain more stamina and strength, you want to maintain that very smooth, elegant, and continuous movement when transitioning from pose to pose.
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that has been practised for years. It is only now that it is gaining traction as more and more people discover its potential. The best part is that anyone can do it. It can be adapted to suit any gender, age, or even persons with pre-existing injuries.
However, like any skill, Pilates needs a lot of discipline, practice, and patience to attain full mastery. If you are only just starting out and don’t know where to begin, you can benefit from the guidance of someone already experienced in the field.
That is what Village Pilates is here for.
For any questions or inquiries, feel free to get in touch with our team at Village Pilates and have a chat with one of our instructors.
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