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The Principles of Pilates

Do You know there are 6 principles that form the base of Pilates? Pilates when done properly and consistently within these key principles improves lifestyles and helps us feel great inside and out so read on.

BREATHING  Breathing is the fuel of the Powerhouse – the core – that drives Pilates. Coordination of breath and movement plays an important part in Pilates as proper, deep, consistent breathing is essential to flowing movement and overall health – this emphasis is one aspect of Pilates which sets it apart from other exercise methods: controlled breathing awakens your muscles, promotes effective oxygenation of the blood, keeps us focused on each exercise and helps to avoid unnecessary tension, to name but a few benefits. We typically focus on breathing out with every effort we make (in the Studio we often call it the double “E” mantra: Exhale with Effort) and then breath wide into the sides of the ribcage on the inhale. For example, when doing footwork on the reformer, we exhale to push the carriage away and inhale to drive the machine to the base. “Breathing is the first act of life, and the last… above all, learn how to breathe correctly” – Joseph Hubert Pilates.

Concentration refers to directing your effort and attention to mastering every exercise in accordance with your skills and ability. It is required for consistent breathing, knowing what muscles to activate, ensuring correct body alignment and stabilisation throughout every exercise. 

The centre refers to the core or the “Powerhouse” – it initiates all movements that flow out to the limbs. The core includes the area from the bottom of the rib cage to a line across the hips at the front of the body and to the base of the buttocks in the back. It assists the limbs to move in a coordinated, connected way, enabling us to move with precision, stability and control, which also includes being able to resist movement in one part of the body while being able to move other body parts.

Pilates was originally called Contrology, as one of its central principles is focus on proper and safe muscle control which will give you the most out of every exercise. Joseph Pilates placed great emphasis on the importance of body-mind control which is why we often refer to the method as the ‘mindful movement’. One of his original students, Romana Kryzanowska said, “Pilates is about stretch, strength and control. And control is most important because it uses your mind”.

In the Studio we often talk about Quality over Quantity, as performing an exercise with deliberate accuracy is more important and effective than doing many repetitions poorly. Precision involves initiating movements from the right part of your body and carrying them out with the appropriate level of effort. Precision comes with practice: the more you practice your Pilates exercises with concentration, control and awareness, the better the quality of your movement will become.

Our goal is to encourage your body to move smoothly and with ease through even the most challenging of movements, in and out of the Studio: continuous and fluid movement from one exercise to another helps increase your overall strength, control and encourages flexibility. When we move fluidly through exercises that involve the coordination of different body parts it tells us that our body knows what it is supposed to be doing (when to apply effort, when and where to initiate a movement, etc.). More importantly you can then do things outside of the Studio safely and with efficiency, whether that is gardening or lifting kids. It also shows us that our countless verbal and tactile cues work making us feel great too!

How Members integrate the principles into their Pilates practice and life is individual: someone prefers to focus more on the physical aspects, using the method to enhance muscle tone, other Members enjoy Pilates because of the mental aspects to reduce stress or improve focus.

Let us inspire you today in our magical space – book in a class to start enjoying  the benefits of the Pilates method with us.


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