The 6 Guiding Principles Of Pilates
Though most people think Pilates is merely a form of exercise, it's actually based upon 6 principles that encourage the harmony between a person's mind and body. Joseph Pilates, the creator, explored several disciplines that focused on physical and intellectual development. Over decades of experimentation, he pursued boxing and gymnastics while also practicing yoga and meditation. Over time, he conceived a system that leveraged the best parts of these disciplines. His exercise program, called Pilates, would eventually use 6 principles as its foundation. We'll describe each below.
Principle #1: Concentration
Because Pilates focuses on the natural connection between your mind and body, it encourages intense concentration. At any point during the exercises, you should be intensely focused on how your body reacts to them. According to Pilates, performing the exercises by rote memory dilutes their potency. Deep concentration helps your body and mind work in unison.
Principle #2: Breathing
According to Joseph Pilates, proper breathing is crucial to long-lasting health. He claimed that blood circulation was closely linked to breathing. Specifically, deep inhalation and complete exhalation helped the blood's circulation remove waste gases from your body. Further, he insisted that you could not achieve full inhalation without forcing the air from your body through focused exhalation. Like any exercise, breathing should be done with control and precision, helping you to hone your concentration while performing your entire routine.
Principle #3: Control
Consistent with the other principles, Pilates encourages absolute control when performing the exercises. Each breath and movement of your limbs should be devoid of sloppiness. Joseph Pilates believed that controlled muscle movement was the key to leveraging your muscles' development. Rather than focusing on the number of times an exercise was performed, he felt it was more worthwhile to maintain the proper form through absolute muscular control.
Principle #4: Precision
The Pilates exercises encourage an economy of movement. There are few moves without a purpose. Because of this, the exercises should be performed with precision. The alignment of your body, the direction your limbs point and your breathing throughout influence the efficiency of your body.
Principle #5: Centering
Joseph Pilates relentlessly promoted the idea that your body's energy and vitality sprung from what he called the "powerhouse." This powerhouse included the lower back, the area under the lower ribs, the abdomen and the hips. Today, most people refer to this area as the core muscles. An important component of the Pilates system, developing core muscle strength is critical to moving with efficiency, energy and balance.
Principle #6: Flow
The last of the 6 guiding principles of Pilates, each exercise in the program should be done in a flowing movement. Doing so helps the body and mind tap into the energy emanating from the core (or "powerhouse") and allows it to flow evenly throughout the body to the extremities. Flow is considered the cornerstone of Joseph Pilates's idea that the body should move naturally with grace and balance.
Putting The Principles Into Practice
Often, people are surprised that Pilates is so rigidly focused on the principles above. They think that it's simply a way to lose weight, get into shape and stay fit. In reality, the discipline focuses on establishing and maintaining the natural connection between your mind and body. By following the principles above, Pilates encourages the energy within your core to develop and flow outward through your entire body. Each of the 6 principles combine to create a cohesive, fluid exercise program that promotes lifelong health.