Why Try Pilates...
To have a life you are excited about means being really clear about what you want and finding ways to get there. When I really started taking my health in my hands that I found pilates. The way I describe pilates for people who have never done it, is very specific core work for your whole body. You have to move very precisely, with control and breath. For me when I first started it felt like the deepest connection I had ever made to my body. I could feel little muscles I didn’t even know existed before and I saw results in my posture and core. It was very meditative for me so I became an instructor to teach others how this very precise workout can get you connected with yourself.
Nowadays there are so many hybrids now out there that combine other workout modalities with the core centered precise work of pilates but, I want to introduce to you how learning some pilates can aide you right now in curbing back pain, improve your posture and make you feel really stabile in your body.
There are six principles in pilates. I want to share them with you and how to cultivate them in your body.
Principle 1: Centering
In this principle we look at having all the actions of the body come from what pilates called the “powerhouse”. Pilates thought of this area from below your ribs to the deep muscles of your pelvis.
Great way to feel this part of your body is to hold a plank and really think about taking your belly button to your spine. Light up your entire body from your head to your feet. Squeeze your heels together and see how long you can hold the pose.
Principle 2: Concentration
In this principle we take every move and put our 100% into having every muscle do what its supposed to do.
To practice your concentration lay down on your back and try what’s called a leg circle. Keep your right knee bent and take your left leg up toward the sky. Without moving any other part of your body, take that left leg in a circle as if taking your foot around a dinner plate on the ceiling. Your right hip is going to want to go with you, your ankle is going to want to circle with you but keep your concentration on keeping every other part of your body still. Try 5 each direction and then switch feet.
Principle 3: Control
Every pilates exercise is done with total muscular control. What makes this different from principle 2 is concentration is about the mind, control is about the body. Keeping the mind in total control of the body function is something that needs to be cultivated.
To practice control balance on your right foot with your left leg at a 90 degree angle. After you have established balance, hinge at the hip, take your left leg long behind you as you touch the floor with your left hand. With total control stand up back to your starting position. The slower you go, the more control you have in your muscles. Try 5 times on each leg. Notice if you have more control in one leg over the other.
Principle 4: Precision
Pilates is all about having a correct movement, a correct placement and a correct alignment to each pose and movement. This precision becomes a mind set when you begin a pilates session.
To practice precision here is a sequence to try to focus on moving with clear precise movements. Begin by standing up with your tallest posture. Slowly roll down to the ground one vertebrae at a time and without letting your hips sway from side to side walk to a plank, heels squeezing together. Make sure your feet stay stacked take your right hand up to the sky in a side plank for one full breath, then repeat on the other side before returning to a plank with your heels squeezing. chin to chest as you walk your hands backward without letting your hips sway, rolling up tall to a standing position.
Principle 5: Breath
Breath is a vital part to life, let alone any type of exercise. Every exercise is coordinated with a breath pattern that allows all the correct muscles to fire.
To practice breath sit on the ground balancing on your butt. Prepare by taking a full breath in and a full breath out. On your next breath out sit back and kick your legs out balancing as close to floor as you can control without any pain. On your breath in sit back to the starting position. Continuing moving for 10 full breaths. Keep the breaths even and full, don’t rush.
Principle 6: Flow
When practicing pilates, think of yourself as a dancer. The goal is to have each move be fluid and controlled.
To practice flow lay on your back with both feet flat on the ground. Your feet are hip width apart and close enough to your butt that you could touch your heels with your finger tips. Breathe in pressing through all 4 corners of both feet peel your hips off the ground one vertebrae at a time till you are one long line from your throat to your knees. Exhale and soften your chest to lower down one verteBrae at a time back down to the start. Notice if you come down as one piece or if you move robotically. Can you get it fluid?
I think the thing that really made me fall in love with pilates is how all the principles could translate into life. I continue to work on having my love centered and grounded with concentration and presence in everything I do which brings about precision. During all the hard times using breath to be who I want to be and flowing through to the best of my ability instead of resisting.