The Principles of Pilates
Good alignment is the key to good stability. Care and attention must be given to the precise starting position of each exercise and then control and alignment considered throughout the movement pattern. In Pilates, clients are encouraged to recognise and to improve correct skeletal alignment throughout the whole body. It is necessary for all of the joints of the body to be correctly aligned in order to encourage the desired muscles to work efficiently.
The breathing patterns of each exercise are essential to facilitate the movement, aid stability and encourage fluidity of movement. Synchronising the breath to movements is, therefore, key to mastering the Pilates Method. Effective use of the breath can also help the mind to relax, focus and recharge. Pilates teaches lateral and thoracic breathing. This encourages the expansion of the lower ribs into the sides and into the back.
Core stability is the ability to maintain the positions of the pelvis, spine, shoulders and head, in order to provide a stable (but not necessarily still) base of support from which all movement is initiated. To achieve this effectively an individual must first gain an understanding of alignment (join position) and also develop the self-awareness needed to monitor and control alignment while at rest and thoughout any given movement. Centring is a dynamic process that relates directly to both the challenge of limiting unwanted movement as well as maintaining the control and flow of the movements that are supposed to be taking place at any given moment throughout the exercise.
Pilates is both mental and physical conditioning. It requires constant awareness of the movement process. You must be mindful of your body and its movements, consciously aware of what you are doing so you can maximise control. Pilates develops greater body awareness and control through concentration by focusing the mind on the detail and precision of the exercises being performed.
In basic matwork sessions, simple and functional movement patterns are first taught to encourage precision and control, as the client develops these skills, the complexity of the movement sequences increases.
A focus on controlled, graceful and yet dynamic movement should be at the core of each movement. Pilates exercise should never be executed with force or stain, instead, each movement should feel light and fluid with a focus on grace and ease of movement.
Focusing on relaxing areas of tension within the body before and during each exercise is important as it allows constructive change to occur. Conscious thought will be focused purely on the task of moving correctly which helps relaxation. Over-dominant recruitment patters will continue to dominate the way an individual moves unless time is taken to release areas of tension and overuse. Relaxation of overactive muscles thought conscious and controlled movement forms a key part of Pilates exercise thus enabling less active muscles to be recruited and developed. In Pilates, you will raise your awareness as to where you are holding tension and reeducate the tense muscles to release to their resting length.
Pilates builds endurance by ensuring that the body is used efficiently. As clients become more proficient at the exercises and their muscles begin to work more functionally, energy will no longer be wasted holding onto unnecessary tension or moving inefficiently and stamina will develop.