The Eight Principles of Pilates
Control: One of the fundamental rules when doing Pilates is to control your body’s every fluid movement. While performing Pilates exercises, attention is paid to the detail of the movement while ending each exercise with complete control.
Breath: Most people use about 50% of their lung capacity resulting in stress, improper posture, and reinforced tension habits. Consistent breathing is essential to flowing movement and proper muscle balance. Every Pilates exercise has a specific breathing pattern assigned to it to help maximize the body’s ability to stretch and release tension in order to gain optimal body control. Deep inhalations and full exhalations increase lung capacity resulting in deep relaxation.
Flow: Pilates exercises are performed gracefully, smoothly, and fluidly. There are no movements that require momentum or static positions.
Precision: Precision is similar to control but with the added element of structural awareness. All Pilates exercises have precise definitions of how the body is positioned at all times. Lack of structural awareness results in postural misalignment that becomes difficult for us to detect within ourselves. Under the guidance of a competent Pilates instructor, precision of movement and body structural awareness can be increased resulting in improved posture and overall movement.
Centering: All movement starts from the core of the body. This area of the body is sometimes referred to as the Powerhouse (deep abdominal and back muscles). All exercises are done with the deep abdominals engaged to ensure proper centering.
Stability: Stability is the concept of being able to not move a part of the body while another part is challenging it. In Pilates exercises, attention to the part of the body that is not moving is just as important as the part that is moving. Being able to maintain a stable, neutral spine while the arms and legs are moving results in efficient movement patterns.
ROM: Range of motion is how much movement a part of the body can perform and is related to flexibility. Pilates exercises are designed to increase ROM in the spine or joints if there is tightness and, also, if there is too much flexibility that could result in instability. It is important to understand the proper ROM for the spine or joints to ensure stability and prevent injury.
Opposition: Within the body, muscles or groups of muscles work as opposing pairs (antagonist and agonist). Pilates goal is to train the body to be balanced. From this concept of opposition, Pilates exercises are prescribed to strengthen weak muscles while stretching the opposing bulky, tight muscles thus creating a sense of balance in the body.