Pilates Basic Principles - Overview

Pilates Basic Principles

Pilates is based on a few “core” ideas which are called basic principles. Different instructors or pilates methods might teach slightly different principles. The five that yours truly teaches are:

  • Breathing
  • Pelvic area
  • Rib cage area
  • Scapular area and movement
  • Head and cervical area

Why Have Pilates Principles?

The idea is that we have five different areas of focus that do not work separately, but together! This is in sync with how our body naturally acts. When we lift a forearm we are not just using the muscles of the forearm but also the muscles of the upper arm and maybe the torso (depending on position and weight of the object.)

As you can see, other parts of our body help out whether it is in a stabilizing action or an assisting action. So… we focus on five different principle areas so that they can assist, one way or another, in each exercise. Assist in this context can mean support, stabilize, counter-act, or aid.

Often you will hear a pilates instructor talk about maintaining the principle area in neutral.

What is Neutral Position - Why do we need it in pilates?

Within these principle areas we often talk about a neutral alignment. A neutral alignment is what is anatomically best for our bodies. For instance, the neutral position for the pelvic area is one that is the most shock absorbing for the large weight load that is carried there.

In our daily lives we often do certain motions that steer our bodies away from neutral. It may be schlepping the kids from school to soccer practice, carrying a purse or bag on the same shoulder, doing repetitive motions the same direction (like golf), or sitting at a computer all day long like I am right now! Our bodies can also create certain patterns due to stress.

In pilates we try to restore these neutral positions to maintain or regain strength and mobility in the most efficient way that is free of injury and pain. The goal is a healthy, pain-free, mobile, and strong body that works in the most efficient way possible.

Did I mention that your posture will improve? Did I mention that your back may not hurt anymore? Did I mention that you will be ready for a swimsuit even in the winter? Okay… just checking.

Pilates Exercise… More for your Money

One of the major differences I see between gym exercises and pilates exercises are the basic principles… well… and the general idea that we don’t have to grunt to vocalize how much brute strength we have.

In every exercise that is performed in pilates it is done with the basic principles in mind which heightens our focus of the exercise. This yields more results from each single exercise.

I find that I can do less exercises in the pilates method than I do in the gym and feel like I worked more muscles. How is that? The principles! They are involved in every exercise - this is not usually the case in the gym.

Pilates Basic Principles in Detail

Pilates Basic Principle - Breathing

Pilates Basic Principle - Pelvic Area

Pilates Basic Principle - Rib Cage Area

Pilates Basic Principle - Scapular Area and Movement

Pilates Basic Principle - Head and Cervical Area

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