Before any outer movement, we aim to initiate our movement from the Centre. This takes a little time and practice initially to engage the core muscles of the pelvis, abdominals and back, just enough to support the movement but without creating undue tension. This internal effort is unique to the Pilates method and is the secret behind the flat stomach, defined waistline and beautiful posture, which can be the by-product of regular Pilates practice.
Pilates breathing or “thoracic breathing.” means breathing into the back and sides of the ribcage in an effort to improve our lung capacity and breathing efficiency. This enables the abdominals to remain engaged to support the spine and pelvis throughout movement. The rhythm of breath flows naturally, as you prepare for movement on the inhalation and make the movement on the exhalation. Although feeling challenging to start with, with a little practice many clients find this is one of the key elements contributing to their sense of wellbeing and rejuvenation after class.
Pilates movement should be fluid and controlled without jerkiness or unwanted tension. Joseph Pilates original matwork sequence was a continuous flowing series of exercises aimed at conditioning the body in a holistic way. Contemporary Pilates teaching often enables this original series of exercises to be modified and adapted to suit different client needs and levels of ability. However the essence of flowing movement is still one of the fundamental Pilates principles, as relaxed effort is a state which enables the mind and body to work in harmony.
By taking time to focus on our body during Pilates classes, rather than taking it for granted, we use a variety of cues to help us move in a way that is more beneficial to our body’s natural needs. Eventually this internal focus becomes second nature and our body just knows a better way to move.
Each movement of each Pilates exercise requires complete control of your body by your mind. There should be no sudden, meaningless, or haphazard movements during your Pilates workout, it is a mind body connection. This is why the Pilates method is such a safe exercise regimen. Exercise without awareness and control can lead to injury.
Each exercise in the Pilates method has a purpose and a goal. Therefore, as you approach each exercise precision is required to execute the exercise as perfectly as possible and retrain damaging movement patterns. As Joseph Pilates used to say “honour every movement”. Most of the exercises in Pilates are very low repetition, thus you must focus on doing a few precise perfect repetitions.