Pilates is a physical training method which inherently goes far beyond just being simple bodywork and strengthening of the muscles. It is a global body workout method that makes us change the whole perception we have of our own bodies – the way we “feel” about our body, the way we breath, walk, sleep, move and go about our lives. It’s especially focused on strengthening and toning the deep inner muscles, which give our physique greater balance, more efficiency in movement, and a more solid presence. It strengthens the entire core area, also known as the “power house”; working the abdominal wall with no comparison to any other method. Pilates is the search for fluent, precise and controlled motion with complete concentration on what you are doing, and moreover, how you are doing it. It’s a never ending journey towards ideal movement – the best you can achieve, today! During Pilates training there is an imperative presence in every fibre of the body, in every muscle, the mind is here-and-now, and the mind and body fuse into one powerful, dynamic and present entity. When practiced regularly, Pilates creates a body with high flexibility and coordination, it ingrains a new rhythm in movement and it elevates the very pleasure of it.
If you practice any sport on a regular basis, for example running, tennis or swimming, you will find that thanks to Pilates your own technique will have shifted to a whole new level. And that’s the very goal of Pilates – to rejuvenate the body completely, to redesign it, strengthen it, balance it, re-align it and make it ready and fit to face any challenge that might be waiting for us around the corner!
“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” Napoleon Hill
The fundamental principles of Pilates
It is the first and the last act of life; it is how it all starts and how it all finishes. It is the milestone of all relaxation techniques and exercises, of the ways to connect with oneself, of letting go of stress and filling us with peace, vitality, energy, consciousness and inner strength. When we breathe it is exactly that that happens – we let out what we don’t need, the carbon dioxide, the toxic matter, and we fill ourselves with what we do need, oxygen, which is life, health, purity, and presence. A Pilates session is based on that premise – it is training with deep, conscious, and active breathing. Pilates and breath are inseparable!
During Pilates training you are explicitly in the here-and-now state of being. Your thoughts become more focused on what you are doing, and how you are doing it. You are inside the movement you are performing, the body and mind fuse into one, and the exercise routine becomes a more profound expression of yourself.
Our body center anatomically consists of a great number of muscles: the diaphragm, the abdominal muscles: the transverse abdominal, the external and internal obliques, and the rectus abdominal; the muscles of the lumbar region: the multifidus and the quadratus lumborum, and those of the pelvic zone: the psoas, the pelvic floor and the glutes. Working from the center means that every movement is activated and controlled from that area. Through breath control and muscle contraction – pulling of that muscle group in and back – the impulse for the action is born here and it ensures a controlled, effective and balanced movement. The result of this technique is not only a toned and strong abdominal wall, but more important, the absence of injuries and tensions during the workout. Through “centering” body can find pleasure and levity of movement, lightness and elegance even in a challenging and demanding exercise, while feeling that a Pilates session is like a dance, a choreographed match, between our deeper self, our body, and our mind.
It is not the body that does what it can and you just observe it passively, but it is you, together with your teacher, that decide what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. It begins with breathing and activation of the core, and with your mind you accompany the body throughout the whole motion. There are no abrupt or hasty impulses, no brusque forcing. It’s like driving a car, it doesn’t go of its own accord, but you are guiding it.
Many Pilates exercises at first glance don’t differentiate from those of the other training methods. But once you start to practice them, under the supervision of an expert teacher, you discover a completely new world. You discover a primary objective, a true goal incorporated into each and every movement. And precision is a path that carries you to that goal.
Pilates aims high – to create a body with the capacity for graceful, controlled and competent movement, free from tension and stiffness; it is looking for deep original body harmony. So the fluidity between one exercise and the other, the fluency between one movement and the other, is the essential ingredient to get to the complete fulfillment of these goals.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!” Neal Walsch
When speaking about Pilates we often hear the expression classical or contemporary Pilates. What is the distinction?
The Pilates training method bears this name because of its creator, Joseph Pilates. So to practice classical Pilates means to practice the method as Joseph himself had created – exercises developed by him, in the order and intention he established. A classical Pilates teacher sees and accepts, that only through this original form of practicing Pilates, its true goal can be achieved – a strong, agile, balanced and flexible body. There is an inherent logic in first warming up the body, activating it, building it up, challenging it, and a very clever way to seemingly relax it between exercises, but without actually stopping. A class is an organized continuum between strengthening, stretching, challenging and breathing. All the planes of movement have been worked on, passing from one to another in a logical order. All these aspects are what make Pilates work. So to practice classical Pilates means to accept, with gratitude and awe, the highly developed ready-to-use instruction book that Joseph left us, and stay as faithful to his texts as possible!
Sanya practise and teaches classical Pilates.