When we do our training courses we’re taught the ‘Basic Principles’ of pilates but these are not the same across all schools. For example, STOTT Pilates 5 basic principles of Breathing, Pelvic Placement, Rib Cage Placement, Scapular Movement and Stabilisation and Head and Cervical Placement are different to Body Control’s 8 basic principles of Relaxation, Concentration, Co-Ordination, Centring, Alignment, Breathing, Stamina and Flowing Movements. All equally valid, no right or wrong here but it got me thinking, if I had a training school, what would mine be? It’s 15 years this month since my first mat training course; learning those principles changed my life and gave me the basis of everything I have taught since. Now I’m ready to create my own and to let them change over time…here’s to the next 15 years!
Now I don’t mean it will be walk in the park but there’s enjoyment to be gained in the challenge, the company, the achievement, the flow of the movement. We all know that exercise is the best thing for us but if we’re not enjoying a class the chances are we won’t return or if you’re taking part online, the laundry or a second coffee will win. Keep trying different stuff until you discover something you enjoy, then you’re onto a winner. Enjoyment is KEY! Exercise is not a chore. Your time is precious, spend it exercising in a way you love 💕
#2 Starting Position
Standing, side lying, seated, kneeling, supine or prone, your alignment and comfort in each starting position is crucial. This might mean the use of blocks, towels, cushions or barrels depending on your strengths and weaknesses. Think about where your head, shoulders, ribcage, pelvis, knees and ankles are all positioned in relation to one another and the space around you before you move. See it as a quick body check and if there is tension or discomfort, there’s always an alternative way of reaching the same goal.
What is the goal? Having an idea of the ‘why’ can help us see where we’re heading with each exercise. For example, the Hip Rolls and Shoulder Bridge have the same start, mid-point and end positions but the primary intention in Hip Rolls is articulation through the spine whereas in the Shoulder Bridge it’s stability of the pelvis. Knowing the goal is helpful for participants and crucial for teachers. Moving with intention makes the exercises purposeful and effective.
“Don’t forget to breathe”, “Breathe wide into the back and sides of the ribcage”, “Breathe fully and deeply”, “Just breathe”…a few of the cues I use in every lesson. Every exercise has a breath pattern. The breathing is important because every breath moves the ribcage, the diaphragm, the pelvic floor, the shoulders; basically the entire internal workings of the torso move as we breathe. So let’s embrace the breathe and make it work for us so that the exercises flow and invigorate us. When do we fully and wholeheartedly focus on our breathing? I’m sure that a whole class of mindful breathing would leave us feeling energised, even without the exercises!
#5 Length, Strength and Control
And finally a head nod to the history of pilates and an expression apparently used by Romana Kryzanowska, Joseph Pilates’ long-time protege and the original ‘Pilates Elder’. What a perfect way to sum up each move we make. Find the length, find the strength and be in control.
So take control of your exercise routine, whatever that may be, and enjoy yourself!
A short video to go alongside this blog can be found on our Facebook page here 😊