Familiarizing yourself with the Pilates Principles will help you understand the concepts used in classes. Working with these principles in mind will make you more prepared for your first Pilates class and deliver you far better results as you learn and progress.
There are six original principles that were created by Joseph Pilates; in which he believed helped to teach and train the body to the best of its efficiency and strength.
There has been many Pilates institutes since Joseph Pilates who have adapted and developed their own theories and methods to include a few more steps or principals to this original list. Other principals you may have come across might be stamina or relaxation; though most classically training teachers will work on the six original principals set out by the master of the method himself.
The Six Original Pilates Principals
Pilates is all about the alignment of the body, stability of the body and promoting controlled movement through all joints. Understanding one’s own body, posture and movement requires mind-body awareness and concentration. With better concentration and working properly, you will gain far more benefits from your workouts.
Centering (Core Stability)
Centering is the ability of connecting with and controlling movement from the center of the body, otherwise know as Core Stability. In Pilates the core is referred to as the Power House, and is the combined use of the abdominals, back, oblique and pelvic floor muscles. By paying attention to the muscles of the core you will help all of your body’s muscles to function and develop more efficiently.
In Pilates, slow and steady wins the race. Pilates exercises are performed with utmost control, rather than intensity or repetition. This is key to performing the exercises correctly, helping maximize strength and minimise the risk of injury. Attention to detail and concentration is crucial for achieving perfect control.
The Pilates method of breathing is fundamental for the stability of the spine. Controlling your breath with deep exhalations as you perform each exercise helps activate your core muscles and keep you focused. Breathing correctly not only helps strength, it also helps to release stress and tension in areas such as the neck and shoulders. All muscles used to breath are ultimately connected to the posture (spine, rib cage, diaphragm and pelvic floor) therefore, how we breath plays an active role in creating good posture.
Precision is the ability to move in a precise range of movement, with precise control. Precision starts with the alignment of the body and special awareness (proprioception). It requires excellent mental and physical concentration: practice makes perfect. Proper form is essential to ensure you gain the most benefit and keep your body healthy.
Flow (Fluid Movement)
Pilates is a movement-based method, not just about stability. Each motion should be smooth and graceful. It uses flow or fluid movement to promote mobility, stability and strength through the body. Many of the classical mat work exercises use flow to gain and challenge stamina of the body.
“Be certain that you have your body under complete mental control.”
– Joseph Pilates: Return to Life Through Contrology