6 Fundamentals of Pilates

with Dr. Kyle Vincent

In these classes, you’ll learn the six principles of pilates and some easy and helpful exercises to do at home. You’ll be given helpful tips and demonstrations by our very own Dr. Kyle Vincent. Jamie, with Control Pilates in Temecula, will walk you through some basic exercises and principles of pilates to implement into your everyday life.

Course 1: Breathing

            One of the most important techniques to take away from this course is proper breathing. In our everyday postures, from sitting in an office to driving in a car, we are in a position of flexion which does not allow for full expansion of the rib cage, lungs, and diaphragm. In this course, Jamie walks through the proper positioning and techniques that allow for a deep, restorative breath. Joseph Pilates compares stale oxygen in our lungs and bloodstream to a murky stream that has not been replenished with new water to flush it. When breathing, draw the air through your nose, allowing your lungs to expand laterally, stretching the intercostal muscles that support each of the lungs, and contract to drain them. Breathe into the side of ribs and back. Avoid slouching and think of stacking your spine for proper posture when breathing. This technique allows you to cleanse your lungs of old, dirty air and replenish them with life-giving breath. When first practicing deep breath, you may feel slightly lightheaded at first. Jamie recommends sitting and taking just a few breaths at a time until you get past the initial dizziness. Practicing proper breathing a couple times a day will allow your body to replenish itself, maintain a healthy posture, and will eventually become subconscious in everyday life.

Course 2: Centering

         Centering is drawing everything into the powerhouse of your body, the mid-section. This includes everything from the rib cage down to your hips, pelvic floor, lower back muscles, and upper back muscles. The mid-section should be engaged when you go to do any form of movement. Proper breathing and concentration allow you to focus and take control of your body. While sitting, place your hands over your abdomen and focus on breathing into your hands as exampled by Janet in Course 1. Inhale through your nose, filling your lungs with air. As you exhale, engage your abdominal muscles and contract everything, slowly lifting your leg. As you inhale once again, place your foot back on the ground. Centering yourself helps you avoid straining muscles when making movements in Pilates and even throughout everyday life. This technique eliminates overworking your major muscles that can lead to pain and allows your intrinsic, smaller muscles to support the major muscles in your body.

Course 3: Control

   Control is the process of using your mind to focus down into your body and choosing to control the muscles after your muscles have chosen what to do on their own. For the exercise, sit with your legs bent on a mat. Extend your arms straight out and the control comes into your shoulder girdle. Inhale, sending your shoulders up and back, and as you exhale, drop your shoulders back and down. Keep your spine stable as you control the movement of your shoulder girdle. For a controlled crunch, follow Jamie’s instructions in the video. If you have lower back pain, make sure to use the modified version of the exercise until you have strengthened your pelvic floor. Putting conscious thought into your movements helps you to focus on your muscles and avoid pulled muscles and unnecessary tension.

Course 4: Precision

         Precision in Pilates allows for the proper placement of your body when completing movements. For the exercise, stand with your arms down by your side and make sure your shoulders are stacked above your hips and your spine is straight. For a modification, stand next to a chair for balance. Engage your abs and lift your foot slowly while resisting gravity. This uses your pelvic floor and lateral chain while maintaining precision in balancing your weight on the opposite leg while inhaling. As you exhale, flex the foot and slowly draw the knee up, and inhale while slowly taking the leg back down. Using precision, it is a more concise and controlled movement where you are fighting gravity and creating resistance with your own body weight. Precision allows you to engage all the other elements of Pilates in order to gain the most benefits from the exercises.

Course 5: Flow

Flow creates a smooth transition from one movement to another. To practice flow, sit on a mat with your knees bent and your spine aligned. Inhale through your nose and through the back. As you exhale, slowly round your back down, reaching through the fingers with your arms extended in front of you. Begin inhaling and create length through extending your arms behind you as you lay down. Exhale and lower your arms down. Inhale and exhale while imprinting the lumbar spine into the mat which wakes up your pelvic floor, back extensors and integrates your breath. To continue with the rest of the flow, extend your legs straight out, and inhale while drawing your arms straight up over your head. Inhale to prepare, then exhale while bringing your hands up over the head straight up above your gaze. Begin tucking your chin while exhaling from your mouth throughout the way and round up while keeping your legs extended. Inhale once more and exhale while controlling back down one vertebra at a time. This completes your first roll up, and as you follow Jamie’s instructions, you can further continue Pilates movements that can help you strengthen your flow in exercises.

Course 6: Concentration

         Concentration helps you develop focus in movements and allows you to pay more attention to the way you are moving throughout exercises.  In a roll down exercise, you will expand the space between each of your vertebra and concentrate on keeping your hips stable and in alignment. Stand with your legs hip-width apart while keeping them straight but not locked. Keep your arms at your sides with thumbs facing forward. Inhale while drawing your shoulders up, and exhale bringing them back and down while not allowing your ribs to flair out. Inhale once more and exhale while bringing your chin to your chest with eyes on your belly button. Slowly roll down one vertebra at a time. Send glutes to the ceiling and push your heels to the floor. Inhale through the nose, then exhale and restack your spine one vertebra at a time. This exercise helps you develop focus on your movements and strengthen your Pilates technique.

Any doctor at RFMG would recommend movement to optimize your overall health! We have created a 6 Lesson Pilates Crash Course specifically designed to keep our seniors healthy while staying safe at home. Visit us at www.youcanchoosehealth.com to jump start your fitness and health now!