Pilates is a systematized form of exercise originated by Joseph Pilates at the beginning of the last century. It was brought to the United States in the 1920's and became popular in the dance community. It is for every body, and I use the Pilates method in all my training sessions.
The six principles of Pilates are:
- Centering: This concept is defined as physically bringing the focus to the center of the body, the powerhouse area between the lower ribs and pubic bone. Energetically, Pilates exercises are sourced from the center.
- Concentration: The direction of attention to the movement of the body. If you bring full attention to the exercise and do it with full commitment, you will obtain maximum value from each movement.
- Control: It is not about the intensity or speed of the movement that increases strength, but the quality and control of the movement performed. Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. No body part is left to its own devices. It is all a conscious, deliberate movement that the mind is controlling.
- Precision: In Pilates, awareness is sustained throughout each movement. There is an appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body. This is important in keeping the body pain free, as well as seeing improvement in range of motion and strength.
- Breath: Joseph Pilates emphasized using a very full breath in his exercises. He advocated thinking of the lungs as a bellows -- using them strongly to pump the air fully in and out of the body. Most Pilates exercises coordinate with the breath, and using the breath properly is an integral part of Pilates exercise.
- Flow: Pilates exercise is done in a flowing manner. Fluidity, grace, and ease are goals applied to all exercises. The energy of an exercise connects all body parts and flows through the body in an even way. Pilates equipment, like the reformer, are very good mirrors of one's flow and concentration as they tend to bang around and suddenly become quite "machine-like" if one loses ones control and flow.
Pilates is Pilates Because of the Six Principles
The Pilates principles may sound a bit abstract, but the integration of these principles accounts for the balance, grace, and ease that one can experience as a result of practicing Pilates. You may hear them expressed with slightly different words and in a different order, but they convey the same meaning in Pilates. Joseph Pilates brought us his form of movement almost 100 years ago. Today, we are still finding appreciation for his brilliance!
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