They say knowledge is power.
The more knowledge you have about how your body works and the Pilates method the more effective your training will be.
Level 1 Pilates covers not only the fundamental exercises it reviews anatomy, alignment and breathing techniques. If you don’t understand how to identify and maintain neutral of the lumbar spine and pelvis then you definately should be in Level 1. If you haven’t taken a Pilates class before then Level 1 is recommended.
There are several principles which takes a little time to sink in:
- Connecting with your breath to activate the core, each exercise has an exhale and inhale phase, often beginners fail to breath effectively, even hold their breath;
- Knowing what navel to spine means – it doesn’t mean draw navel toward your back as this triggars a spinal imprint, it means meet your navel and anterior aspect of your spine opposite the navel (L3-4) in the middle of your body – this encourages neutral alignment and activates the transverse abdominus;
- How to move sequentially through the vertebrae – it’s surprising how most of us have chunks of spine that are stuck together, each vertebrae should move freely from it’s neighbour like a string of pearls;
- With the above point, most of us have very stiff necks, learning how to initiate an ab prep with a head nod – moving chin to chest, lifting the head first then the shoulder blades off the mat – is often really complicated;
- How to keep the ribcage and thoracic spine from ‘popping’ with arm/shoulder movements;
- Keeping the thoracic spine and ribcage quiet or not moving it to achieve neutral of the lumbar;
- Most of our shoulder blades or scapula are stuck from habitual posture and/or repetitive movements – getting the scapula to move, as well as, knowing how to anchor them so that the shoulder girdle is strong, properly aligned and stable takes a bit of time before attempting the advanced full body weight exercises;
- How to achieve the proper range of motion of the limbs for your body during the dynamic Pilate’s exercises – if you push beyond your body’s limit, alignement is compromised and the exercise is lost one doesn’t feel the proper stretch or muscle engagement – it’s all about method – not aimlessly following your neighbour or instructor – you gotta feel it;
- all of the above assists the body into achieving better agility (range of motion / flexibility) while holding and developing a rock solid core – we now know how and begin to move from a strong, stable center – flowing from one exercise to the other.
Once you understand the above and begin to move from a strong centered core then Level 2 is a snap! Even those with injuries or medical conditions can eventually progress in the Pilates repetoire – keeping the movements within their body’s ability. The point is if you’re not feeling it and Pilate’s is stressing your body instead of making it feel energized, just step it back and learn the fundamentals. It shouldn’t hurt – it should be challenging, gentle and mindful exercise for profound results.
For further explaination of the above principles (if you are one of those cognitive learners versus a kinesthetic one) read the Stott Pilates five basic principles attached pdf document:
To your health and wellness – Do Pilates – You will feel the difference.