Come with an Empty Cup
All signs point to Fall - football season is in full swing, pumpkin flavored everything is back, and heaven forbid, there are Christmas decorations in the stores already! This time of year always brings a lot of new people into the Studio, generating buzz and excitement. We're into the second week of our "Great Start" Introductory Group Reformer series, where we focus on helping new clients establish a solid foundation for their Pilates practice. Each week we focus on one of the six Pilates Principles - Concentration, Centering, Control, Breathing, Precision & Flowing Movement. Whether you're new to Pilates or have been practicing for many years, it's nice to re-visit these Principles periodically as a reminder of why we do some of the things we do. I invite you to come with an empty cup and fill it with fresh knowledge to deepen your practice... and maybe some pumpkin spice latte to enjoy while you read.
Each of the six Principles are equally important, and they are all interrelated, so there's really no "order" to them, however in the first week of the "Great Start" series, we started with Control. Joseph Pilates published a book in 1945 titled Pilates' Return to Life Through Contrology, which is what he called the movement system we now call simply "Pilates". In that book, he states that "Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit", and goes on to say that one of the results of Contrology is "gaining mastery of your mind over the complete control of your body". Interesting, but what does that really mean?
When I think of control, I think of stabilization. One of the things that makes Pilates different from other forms of movement is the focus on what's not moving. Can you hold your pelvis still while your leg is circling in the air in one-legged circle? Can you keep your arms plugged into your shoulders when doing arm series on the reformer? Can you keep from doing the "Elvis pelvis" during running? It's the ability to consciously direct which parts of your body are moving and which parts are not.
Control also relates to the quality & rhythm of each movement. Our goal is to perform each exercise (and each transition, see my earlier post :-) in a rhythmical, controlled manner. Moving with control means minimizing momentum. It means being in control of the springs on the reformer, vs. letting the springs drive the movement. You, not the springs, are in control!
Exploring the Principle of Control means moving deliberately, with intent, and with minimum extraneous movement. From the moment you lower yourself onto the carriage of the reformer or onto the mat, each movement has a purpose and you are controlling your body by focusing your mind. Training your mind to have control over your body then expands beyond the exercise into your life, affecting how you respond to stress, preventing injury, and allowing you to perform your daily activities with ease. Then connecting that Control to the Breathing, which we will explore in the next segment.
Until then, happy Fall. Only 97 days to Christmas!