"After 10 hours, you feel the difference, after 20 hours you see the difference, and after 30 hours you have a whole new body."
The Pilates method is a mind-body conditioning program which optimizes movements, thus requiring less effort, and allowing for flowing, balanced movement. We strive to access our body's full potential, utilizing its own strength, muscle flexibility and coordination. The method requires us to pay close attention to our POSTURE and BODY MECHANICS. In order to achieve these goals, the principles of CONTROL, CENTERING, CONCENTRATION, PRECISION, FLOWING MOVEMENTS, and OPTIMAL BREATHING form the main components of our work.
Throughout a Pilates workout, the main stabilizer muscles of the trunk, referred to as the 'POWERHOUSE', are specifically focused on and activated before any movement is initialized. The 'POWERHOUSE' is formed like a box of a number of stabilizing muscles between and around the spine, between the lower section of the ribs and the line across the hips, the most important of which being the transversus abdominis and also including, among others, the multifidus, diaphragm, intercostals, obliques, gluteal group and pelvic floor. This concept, when properly utilized in each Pilates exercise, achieves a stable base from which to work, enhances coordination between core areas, and supports the spine during movement. The shoulder girdle receives special focus in order to properly stabilize and enhance quality movement around the upper limbs. In Pilates Class verbal and tactile cues are used to help locate and work with these important muscles. Visualisation helps access trunk-body alignment and symmetry.
The main emphasis of a particular movement can be allocated between core control, isolated movement, articulation of the spine and shoulder girdle organization. Most Pilates exercises work on two or more of these themes simultaneously.
In Pilates practice, we strive to work within our individual ability, never forcing a movement using momentum. Strenuous moves using arms, legs or both, originate in the Powerhouse, incorporating an effective breathing pattern to aid us. We learn to listen to our body and avoid excessive tension. Efficiency in movement improves.
Active inhalation and exhalation correlates directly to trunk stability as the muscles of respiration are connected to the ribs and spine and also play a large role in postural control. Correct breathing is a foundation of all Pilates exercises. As a general rule, we use the exhalation phase of the breathing pattern on the work (effort) part of the exercise and the inhalation phase on the less strenuous part.
The general breathing pattern for Pilates exercises is lateral costal breathing, drawing in long, deep breaths to expand the rib cage to capacity, followed by active exhalation to more effectively empty the lungs and create even more space for your next breath.