When you go to a Pilates class it can seem that you’ve stepped into a whole new world of language and instruction! But what is it all about-what do the terms we use in class mean?
The fundamentals of Pilates form the foundation of the practice and are essential for achieving proper alignment, control, and effectiveness in the exercises.
While different instructors or Pilates methods may have slight variations, the following are generally considered to be the core fundamentals used in Pilates:
Breathing: Proper breathing is crucial in Pilates. The emphasis is on lateral thoracic breathing, which involves inhaling through the nose, expanding the ribcage sideways, and exhaling through the mouth, engaging the deep abdominal muscles. This breathing technique helps engage the core and support movement.
Core Activation: The core, often referred to as the "powerhouse," consists of the deep abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor, your large breath muscle-the diaphragm-and muscles surrounding the spine. Activating the core provides stability and support for the spine and helps initiate controlled movement. Think of it as activating your internal corset! You will also hear this called “centering”
Pelvic Placement: Proper pelvic alignment is important for maintaining a stable base to work from. The two common positions used in Pilates are neutral pelvis, where the natural curves of the spine are maintained, and imprinting, where the lower back is gently pressed into the mat. Pelvic placement is chosen based on the exercise and individual needs.
Ribcage Placement: Proper alignment of the ribcage helps maintain length and openness through the torso. The ribs should be soft and relaxed, with a slight downward placement to avoid excessive arching of the upper back or collapsing of the chest. Without proper rib placement, its difficult to fully activate the core muscles needed for true stability.
Scapular Stability: The scapulae, or shoulder blades, play a crucial role in shoulder and upper body stability. Pilates focuses on achieving correct scapular alignment and stability to prevent unnecessary tension or strain in the neck and shoulders. It involves engaging the muscles around the upper and mid-back and maintaining a balanced position throughout movement. This is also crucial for good posture.
Head and Neck Alignment: Pilates emphasises maintaining a neutral position of the head and neck to support proper spinal alignment. The gaze is generally directed towards the centre or slightly upward, avoiding excessive tilting or straining of the neck. Head cushions can be used to help with this when you start Pilates or if your alignment requires it. Your instructor will help guide you.
Concentration and Mind-Body Connection: Pilates emphasises mindful movement and concentration. Each exercise requires mental focus to connect with the body, engage the appropriate muscles, and maintain proper form and alignment throughout the movement.
We can help you with this is our sessions and if you have any further questions, do ask: