Pilates Princples

Please read through this document to familiarize yourself with the principles of Pilates. Feel free to ask me any further questions to better understand the principles so you can benefit further from the classes you have invested your time & energy into. Please remember that this is a workout class & not an injury rehabilitation class. You must always work within your limits. Some exercises may have different levels, therefore it’s important to choose the level that’s right for you. If an exercise looks too hard, simply don't attempt it. Wait for easier variation or rest or find a suitable stretch.

You will feel the muscles working in your class but you should never feel any pain in the neck, back or any of the joints. If you do experience pain, either chose an easier level or stop the exercise & simply wait for the next one. Don’t feel pressured to perform each & every exercise just work at your own pace.

There will be several exercises with the head & shoulders lifting off the floor. If the neck is straining then place 1 or 2 hands behind the head to support the neck or simply keep the head on the mat. I’ll start by demonstrating & explaining the exercises so please watch & listen first then join in. Where possible I will walk around to monitor the class & correct where necessary. I’ll give you the breathing patterns for each exercise as we go along, the breathing is generally inhaling through the nose & exhale through the mouth on the harder phase of the movement. Use the breathing to maximise the effectiveness of each exercise.

We have neutral & an imprinted spine position when lying on our back. Neutral spine refers to keeping the natural curve in the lower back. Most of your exercises however you will do in the imprinted position especially when lifting the legs into the tabletop. The imprinted position simply refers to each one of the lower backbones drawing as close as possible towards the mat without lifting the tailbone off the mat. You’ll hear me refer to these positions throughout the class. To practice, these spinal positions lie on your back with the knees bent. Place your fingers underneath your kidneys & you should feel a small space between the floor & your back. Then flatten the lower back slightly keeping the tailbone on the floor. We also have a tabletop position. This is simply when the legs are bent up to 90 degrees. Next is the T-Zone which is short for the transverse abdominus & pelvic floor. These are deep stomach muscles that stabilize the lower back & flatten the stomach. Imagine you have the letter T drawn on the surface of the stomach. The horizontal line of the T connects both of the hip bones & the vertical line of the T starts at the pubic bone and comes up to meet the horizontal to form the letter T. You can gesture this T with your hands. To activate & feel for the T zone, simply place the fingertips just inside the hip bones & then focus on activating the vertical axis of the T by drawing up through the pelvic floor as if you are stopping from going to the bathroom, hold this & then focus on the horizontal line of the T drawing flat & tight towards the spine. You can also imagine the hip bones drawing towards each other along that horizontal line also. You may feel some tension under the fingers when the muscles engage & then disappear when you relax. If you don’t feel this sensation, don’t worry this comes with strength & practice. What you don’t want is the horizontal line popping outwards or upwards. You must concentrate on keeping that T Zone flat especially when we’re lifting the head & working the abdominals & remember to tighten & flatten the T zone each time I remind you as this is one of the most important parts of the workout.