Use of each of the nine Pilates Principles will enable you to better your own Pilates practice. They are formulated to give direction to the mind/body approach of Pilates. Treat them as a baseline guide for optimum benefits for each Pilates class you attend.
- Breathing- Joseph Pilates said, “Breathing is the first act of life, and the last. Our very life depends on it.” A lateral breathing pattern is considered essential for movement efficiency, helps to engage muscle contraction, focuses the mind giving more awareness to the body and improves lung capacity.
- Concentration- Concentration is needed to make the most out of each move in your Pilates class. It helps you to keep good form and prevent injuries.
- Control- Utilizing control within each exercise means you perform them with purpose. This is done by using a focused mind to help with each movement.
- Centering- Centering involves the idea that all Pilates exercises initiate from the center of the body, the core. Increasing core stability, strength and flexibility is a main focus of Pilates.
- Precision- After consistent practice and using the principles of concentration, control, and centering you will be able to move through each exercise with precision. It’s both the quality and exactness of exercise paired with correct alignment that define this principle.
- Balanced Muscle Development- Each class pays special attention to working each muscle group and moving the body in all different planes of movement. Joseph Pilates describes it as “…an important reason for consistently exercising all our muscles; namely, that each muscle may cooperatively and loyally aid in the uniform development of all our muscles.”
- Rhythm/Flow- This principle makes the moves graceful and at the same time more intuitive in nature. It allows the user to feel a sense of pace and pattern. It also shows the instructor that you have clarity of the movement.
- Whole Body Movement- This principle incorporates a focus of moving the body from front to back, side to side and from top to bottom in every class. Pilates also equips you to integrate your mind and spirit into each movement your body performs.
- Relaxation-Ease of enacting movements, lessening tension in non-activating muscles, and amount of effort required on a particular muscle group encompass the elements of this principle.
Learning to include all of the above principles takes time and effort. Try to meditate on a few different ones with each class you take. Over time you will be able to enjoy the benefits of each principle and will be able to use these guidelines in other areas of your life as well.