THE SIX PRINCIPLES OF PILATES
Pilates teachers often refer to six basic principles upon which the method is built. These principles appear to have been first presented in the book “The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning,” by Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen in 1980. They have been widely adopted by the larger community. The comments are my own.
CENTERING – Focus on the center of your body, the powerhouse (or core.) Movement and balance come from the center of the body.
CONCENTRATION – Joseph Pilates taught us about the “Mind-Body Connection.” The exercises demand concentration, focusing the mind fully on the actions of the body to make the most of each movement.
CONTROL – With centering and concentration you can achieve control of your movements. The goal is to move with complete control of your body.
PRECISION – Centering, concentration and control bring precision. Your movements become exactly as you visualize them.
BREATH – Movement and breathing become one. Each breath – in or out – supports and drives your movement. Emptying the lungs is as important as filling them.
FLOW – Your goal is to flow smoothly from one movement and exercise to the next. As in sport, or life in general, flow is a sign of mastery.
WHAT IS CORE?
Lots of people throw around the words “core strength,” usually without any specificity – as if anyone with a six-pack has it.
In Pilates, the term core refers to the direct muscular connection which can be made from between the knees to the bottom of the rib-cage.
The muscles which work together to make this connection are:
- The inner thighs — adductors of the legs
- The Pelvic Floor — supporting the weight of the organs
- The Transverse Abdominus — wrapping the center like a corset
- The inner obliques — adding stability in concert with the T/A
- The Diaphragm — the primary muscle for breathing
Core strength depends on these muscles working together in balance and harmony. Leave out any of the muscles in this group and the stability of the body is compromised. Also, notice how many of the muscles of the core are essential for healthy breathing.
There are other players as well; Rectus Abdominus and the outer obliques have a role in trunk stability, and I have heard a good Yoga teacher argue for including the feet despite their distal location, due to their important role in stability.
JOSEPH PILATES QUOTES
“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”
“To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limits of our ability.”
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”