The Pilates Principles: They maketh the Method
The six original principles of the Pilates Method are:
BREATHING – CENTREING – CONTROL – CONCENTRATION – FLOW – PRECISION
The Pilates Method is firmly founded in this set of principles that make the method what it is. The principles of the Pilates method not only bind the various Pilates method approaches together but the principles are the overriding philosophy bequeathed to us by the legendary Joseph Pilates.
This is the fourth of six articles where we are examining these Principles in greater depth so as to offer you a richer understanding of how they will guide you in your quest for Pilates health and happiness.
Remember, we are looking at the principles given in alphabetical order – they are all as important as each other!
To concentrate is to focus your thoughts or actions towards a specific goal and thereby make more intense, stronger, purer, by reducing what is inessential.
In Pilates it is necessary to concentrate your focus on the movements at all times to make them more refined, intense and effective. This creates the basis of the mind body connection and develops the deep awareness and intent that enables change and progress. If you can bring your full attention to the exercises and do them with total commitment, maximum value with be obtained every time.
Joseph Pilates wrote in his book ‘Return to Health’ that to do his method we must:
“Concentrate on the correct movements EACH TIME YOU DO THE EXERCISES, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value.”
One way to actively hone your concentration on the exercises is to set up a mental checklist of points to focus on before and as you move. Keep it simple so that you can keep it up and do it constantly – patience and persistence are necessary for you to achieve the benefits. If you apply your concentration to the movements every time you will be surprised how much faster you see and feel the benefits.
Here’s an example of a checklist you might use; have your Pilates teacher help you establish your best landmarks and execution points.
1. Alignment – find some skeletal landmarks that set you up correctly for each exercise and ensure you are in the correct starting position for each exercise
2. Anchor – which part of your body that is to stabilize the movement.
3. Reach – which part of your body is lengthening away from the anchor
4. Powerhouse – engage the powerhouse/centre for each movement
5. Breathe – use your breath pattern
Then, all that’s left to do is MOVE!!!!