So you come to your first Pilates class and all of a sudden you start an inner dialogue that goes something like this:
What the hell are they talking about?
CV connection, is that a STD? Crap, will I catch it from the mat?
Pelvic floor, I have one?
What in the world have I gotten myself into?
Foundation? Why would my body need a foundation, I am not building a house!
Don’t worry, at some point or another we have all been there. Overwhelmed with the anatomy talk, confused by the choreography of movement, and dumbfounded by how difficult it is to do something that looks so easy.
Pilates is not a treadmill, you can’t just jump on and go for quick run or figure it out by pushing a few buttons. Pilates is a forward and evolved way of thinking about functional performance and movement. Once you surrender yourself to the vocabulary, choreography and breathing you will begin to see your body move and work more like a top notch machine rather than an everyday humanoid. (Not only are we anatomy nerds, but we wouldn’t mind going to a comic-con convention either!)
You hear Khristen and Carissa say it all the time “Just let it marinate, only focus on one thing today!” If you try to focus on all aspects in a reformer or mat class chances are you will become mentally and physically exhausted and that leads to defeat. We don’t want you feeling defeated, we want you to feel empowered and recharged. So……let it all marinate and choose to focus on only one thing at a time in class.
Not sure where that focus should be? As a general rule and the foundation for all Pilates exercises, choose one of the 5 Basic Principles! If you choose to focus on one of the 5 principles listed below during each class, you will never go wrong. Before you know it your gonna be a Pilates Rockstar or a Twisted Groupie like Eleana and Kayla!
- Inhale and Exhale allowing the rib cage to expand in all directions. Think about the inhale filling the backs of the lungs against the mat and then radiating to the remainder of the rib cage. Exhale when you flex your spine and inhale when you extend, now your breath is assisting the movement. The breath should come IN through the nose and OUT through the mouth, as if you were blowing into a straw. WE SHOULD HEAR YOU BREATHING! But, not in an annoying Darth Vader way.
- PELVIC PLACEMENT
- Stabilize before you mobilize! Work on finding stability in both neutral pelvis placement and imprint. Neutral is the position in which your pelvis has a natural curve at the lumbar spine region and the sacrum resting on the mat. Transversus engaged! You will never escape that, sorry folks! Imprint happens when you bring the pelvis into a slight tilt, sacrum still on the mat with the pubic symphysis reaching back toward the belly button. DO NOT press the lower back to the mat!!! Imprint is often used during the hundred and other exercises where the feet are off the floor. Imprint helps most people find better core stability!
- RIB CAGE PLACEMENT
- The rib cage often wants to lift off the mat extending to the ceiling. We are not twerking the chest people! Utilize your obliques to draw the rib cage toward the hips slightly. Allow the back of the ribs to soften toward the mat. The sides of the ribs should expand and contract on the inhale and exhale with out the ribs lifting off or pressing into the mat. Save the chest popping for MTV music videos!
- SCAPULAR MOVEMENT & STABILIZATION
- Stabilization, your gonna hear that a lot! When you lose stability you tend to overwork the muscles around the neck and shoulders. We love our massage therapist Carrie Zala, and we want to keep her in business, but let’s do it for the right reasons instead of the wrong reasons. Find a neutral position with your scapula and shoulders. First reach your shoulders up to your ears and then press them down as far as you can, do this several times and then allow them to rest somewhere in the middle. Next, squeeze your shoulder blades together like your squeezing a coke can, then draw the shoulders together in front, again several times until your find a middle range. Shoulders should be relaxed, broad and tension free, allowing for greater stability.
- HEAD & CERVICAL PLACEMENT
- Cervical spine placement is the placement of your neck. Laying on your back your eye gaze should be straight up to the ceiling, not behind you and not forward in front of you. Your neck should hold it’s natural curve while supporting the head. The head is heavy people, don’t give yourself more work than necessary. Some people may need a small pad or two…or three….or more to keep the head and neck neutral. When you begin to come into a flexed position, like in the hundred make sure to nod that head first. HEAD NOD HEAD NOD HEAD NOD, you will hear us say that a million times just like TRANSVERSUS! You are not jamming the chin to the chest or reaching the chin forward. You are simply lengthening the neck to tilt the head slightly before lifting it off the mat.
Because only you have the power to be great! Or to prevent forrest fires…..your choice!