The method, developed by the legendary German national Joseph Pilates, generally follows carefully laid out principles based on a well-constructed philosophical and theoretical foundation. Although it is considered throughout the world as a form of exercise, there is actually much more to the method than its being an exercise. It is not merely a collection of exercises but a method, developed and refined over more than eighty years of use and observation.
While Pilates draws from a number of diverse exercise styles, bringing the principles of yoga, Greek and Roman ideals and Zen together, there are basically certain ruling principles that are inherent to the method. These principles are the ones that bring all those ideals together under the Pilates name. These include centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing and flowing movement. Let’s take a look at these principles one by one.
The method called the group of muscles in our center or the core, also known as the “powerhouse”. This encompasses our abdomen, lower back, hips and buttocks. According to Pilates, all energy needed for the workouts start from the powerhouse, and then flows outward to the extremities. The physical energy is then exerted from the core to coordinate one’s movements. In this way, a strong and potent foundation is built upon which to rely in daily living.
Under this principle, the method requires you to concentrate on what you are doing, all the time. Along with this, you must also concentrate on your entire body. Once you start really to focus and concentrate to your body, you will find a movement which may have seemed simple at first glace, but actually quite complex.
On its most basic, the method teaches complete muscle control. Sloppy and haphazard movements are not included in this method. Instead, thorough concentration is requires so that you will be in control of every aspect of every movement. Also, it is important to note that this third principle does not only apply to the large motions of limbs, but also to the position of fingers, toes and head, even the degree of arching or flatness of the back, the turning in or out of the legs, and the rotation of the wrists.
Every movement involved in the method has a purpose. Thus, every instruction is critically important to the success of the whole. As what many experts often say, to leave out any detail is to abandon the intrinsic value of the method. The main focus here is on doing one precise and perfect movement, which may eventually become second nature and be carried over into everyday life as economy and grace of movement.
Full and thorough inhalation and exhalation are part of the method. Pilates, in the first place, saw forced exhalation as the key to full inhalation. However, breathing must be done with concentration, control and precision. It should be properly coordinated with movement.
Finally, the method is performed fluidly. There is no static, isolated movement for the fact that out bodies do not naturally function that way. Also, grace of motion must be emphasized over speed. Ultimately, Pilates movements should feel as fluid as a waltz or a long stride. As what the method maintains, uniformly developed muscles are the secret to good posture, natural grace and suppleness.