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"What is balance of body and mind? It is the conscious control of all muscular movements of the body." Joseph H. Pilates

Principles of Pilates

Without breath, there can be no life. An obvious statement, yet frequently ignored. In Pilates, breathing is the adhesive which binds all the other principles together. Our overall health relies on our ability to breath efficiently. Proper breathing reduces stress, promotes relaxation, improves circulation and is essential in the elimination of toxins from the body. Breathing is used in Pilates to aid in the performance of the exercises.
Pilates is as challenging mentally as it is physically. Pilates works the body as a whole and complete unit; nothing is just “hanging out” while other parts are working. Not only must we perform the movement, we must mentally inhabit each and every aspect of it. Few exercise systems require this level of coordination. When the mind and body work together, the movement comes to life and we, in turn, live in the movement.
Here we see the martial arts influence in the idea of the balance of forces; strength and speed without control is next to useless. Exercising without control leads to haphazard and counter-productive movement which ultimately increases risk of injury. Control over each and every detail is what makes Pilates one of the safest training methods possible. Having control over our bodies has the added benefit of instilling confidence in ourselves and our ability to handle whatever life may send our way.
Just as a house needs a solid foundation in order to stand, so too do our bodies. Our foundation consists of the muscles of the lower half of the torso; the core or powerhouse. By centering our bodies, we establish a strong anchor and support system that allows us to perform everyday movements such as reaching, stretching, bending and twisting without risk of pain or injury. Centering is the building block upon which we establish proper alignment and posture which in turn allows us to safely achieve greater balance, mobility and flexibility.
In Pilates, “close” is not good enough. Precision, performing each exercise as perfectly as possible, is the element that truly adds intensity to the workout. As you gain proficiency in your practice, this one aspect will continue to "up the bar" and allow you to find ever new challenges in even the most basic exercises. Precision also has the added benefit of allowing quick identification of muscular imbalances that can lead to injury.
Flowing Motion
We recognize it instantly when we see it; the grace of a dancer or a cat. It is something we all want to feel in the movements of our own body. One movement flowing into the next with effortless ease. Pilates works to develop this fluid coordination by transitioning seamlessly from one movement to the next. Each exercise flows to the next exercise without breaking rhythm.
Although it is not one of the six principles of Pilates, flexibility is a tremendously important component. As a dancer, I believe flexibility is an aspect of physical health that is of equal worth to any of the basic principles. This belief has gained recognition from a growing number of sports and fitness professionals. Muscular tightness is a common factor in misalignment's and joint pain. While Pilates does have a degree of flexibility built into it, in my view, it is insufficient for today's modern culture of inactivity and sitting. As a result, I have incorporated my knowledge of stretching into the Pilates curriculum.