Pilates is not just exercise
Grab a drink and sit down.
You are about to be amazed!
You are unique. Your body has carried you through your life until this point and along the way you have learned many things, some of them adaptive and some of them are not so useful. Whatever your reasons for signing up to Pilates at Umoya, take a moment to appreciate this amazing vessel that has brought you to this point in your life here and now. We are about to KonMari your body and your brain!
When it comes to Pilates the magic is really in the method. Hayley and I are here to facilitate and guide you, but the true magic happens inside you. Through movement we can knit new neural pathways, unlearn bad habits and create new ones, speak and listen to our bodies, unlock pent up stress and get rid of useless or maladaptive patterns. How this happens is though the philosophy of Pilates. Like many of the greatest philosophers Joseph Pilates was Greek - so he must be right... right? He created six Pilates principles to encapsulate the broader concepts of his method.
Inhale through your nose - exhale out of your mouth.
In Pilates our breath sets a rhythm and a pace for movement. Through breath we can increase and also decrease our heart rate.
A strong exhale allows us to recruit the deep "core" muscles we all love as well as release tension in strung out muscles like the shoulders and neck, bringing strength back to our base of support or powerhouse.
With each inhale and exhale we engage and release our pelvic floor. The reasons here are endless but basically the pelvic floor is part of a larger system of muscles which could be better known or referred to as the Core.
You'll know you're doing it right when like the earth you can feel a sense of heat generating inside your body.
Breathing with rhythm and co-ordination can be the most challenging part of Pilates. Dont stress if you're not getting it right as long as you are breathing - your doing great! With practice it gets easier and feels more natural.
We all have a certain amount of control over bodies and their movements, I mean we're not reaching for the salt and then suddenly hitting our partner in the face, are we? Sometimes. :)
Control in Pilates is in reference to movement and the mind.
Your mind needs to overcome and challenge old habits in terms of a movement or even in terms of what you think is possible for you. "It's the mastery over "I can't do that" to become" I can't do it yet" or even "I trust my body to do that to the best of my ability".
You also need to have control over you physicality. The challenge in Pilates is not allowing your body to run away from you without your mind. We've all done a sit up at some point in our lives, the Pilates challenge is to do it with conscious awareness and control over the exact muscles being used to achieve the movement. We know sit ups are designed to work out our abs, but if you are not in control of the movement we might start using our neck, thighs or back to actually do the exercise and we wonder why that 6 pack is eluding us and our neck hurts.
The definition of Flow is to move along in a steady continuous stream.
Hearing dumbells crash to floor is a Pilates instructors nightmare! Imagine we treated our grocery shopping, kids or crockery like that?
The fact is that in life we flow between tasks; from the computer screen to the filing tray, from the stovetop to the low cupboard holding the heavy pots and pans. In between each movement we do not stop for prolonged breaths and stretches or to situate ourselves in the perfect position to perform the task. We duck and weave and spiral through life. Why not find a way to do this with efficiency, easy and grace?
Pilates classes flow like a symphony from almost easy into a crescendo of intensity and difficulty and back down again, or they start with an erruption and cascade down to soft stretches. It's all different and dynamic, ebbing and flowing - just like life.
As instructors we try to bring a focussed awareness to muscle groups or movements and that is where we find the meditative effect of Pilates. We become so engrossed in the movement that we subtly turn off our mind and tap into our soul. We start to move from a very inner quiet place where we are whole with ourselves. Sometimes this is short lived, sometimes you can be in this zen for the whole class. Sometimes you're not even aware that you're there until you reach the side walk.
Some days are easier to find this place and some days are harder, but either way as with any movement, it is always better than none.
Concentrating on all the essential elements of a movement ensures you'll get a full, deep and rich work out. Like a cordial the more concentrated it is, the sweeter the result!
The Centre. The Powerhouse. The Core. The Deep Abdominals.The Chakras.
To me, Centring is discovering an internal lift. It begins in the seat (literally where you sit) and grows upward beyond the crown of the head towards the sky, creating an equal amount of space in the front, sides and back of the body. Allowing all the organs and structures to exist in their own space. I believe what Pilates was trying put forth with the word centring is more modern concept of Biotensegrity.
Sometimes we use the imagery of a corset which can give to a visual idea of what we mean.
Without naming individual muscles the basic structure of The Centre includes (in layman's terms):
the inner thigh
the butt and deep muscles of the hip joint
the pelvic floor
All the abdominal (deep ones, 6 pack, obliques)
the muscles surrounding the lungs including the diaphragm
the muscles of the back
All movement starts at the Centre and radiates outward like the ripples when a pebble is thrown into still water.
Precision has become synonymous with alignment in terms of Pilates. We do not want to sacrifice one element of posture in order to achieve another. Only do what you can, but do it with precision.
Someone said we're all dying to be unique except when it comes to our health. Each person has had a unique journey through their whole lives to this point and with it along the way your body has adapted based on your lifestyle, experiences and participation in the world. You will never look or move the same as anybody else. By embracing this notion you can do the best by YOUR body.Pilates is a personal practice. We are not competitive in Pilates, except with ourselves. It's the ideal opportunity to mind your own business and it is the epitome of self care.
As instructors we are only here to facilitate and help you work to the best of your ability. We do not profess to know it all or to have all the answers. Like disciples we are here to share our knowledge and to guide you on your path and towards a better understanding, and deeper appreciation of your body and the amazing things it has and will achieve throughout your lifetime.