Pilates is based on a few “core” ideas which are called basic principles. Different instructors or pilates methods might teach slightly different principles. The five that yours truly teaches are:
- Pelvic area
- Rib cage area
- Scapular area and movement
- Head and cervical area
Why Have Pilates Principles?
The idea is that we have five different areas of focus that do not work separately, but together! This is in sync with how our body naturally acts. When we lift a forearm we are not just using the muscles of the forearm but also the muscles of the upper arm and maybe the torso (depending on position and weight of the object.)
As you can see, other parts of our body help out whether it is in a stabilizing action or an assisting action. So… we focus on five different principle areas so that they can assist, one way or another, in each exercise. Assist in this context can mean support, stabilize, counter-act, or aid.
Often you will hear a pilates instructor talk about maintaining the principle area in neutral.
What is Neutral Position - Why do we need it in pilates?
Within these principle areas we often talk about a neutral alignment. A neutral alignment is what is anatomically best for our bodies. For instance, the neutral position for the pelvic area is one that is the most shock absorbing for the large weight load that is carried there.
In our daily lives we often do certain motions that steer our bodies away from neutral. It may be schlepping the kids from school to soccer practice, carrying a purse or bag on the same shoulder, doing repetitive motions the same direction (like golf), or sitting at a computer all day long like I am right now! Our bodies can also create certain patterns due to stress.
In pilates we try to restore these neutral positions to maintain or regain strength and mobility in the most efficient way that is free of injury and pain. The goal is a healthy, pain-free, mobile, and strong body that works in the most efficient way possible.