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Pilates Principle: Flow

The word Flow has become a very hot topic in the fitness industry. These flow video’s often consist of a person or people moving through fancy exercises, often in perfect unison, relativity quickly and with what seems is perfect ease — I feel like they’re always of smiling people too — and there might even be a #fridayfriendflow that insta everything is chasing.

Don’t get caught in the chase or the keeping up!

Instead remind yourself: these video’s are short moments of time capturing the end result of lot’s of practice and development of skill. They can be beautiful to watch and inspiring for your own workout however it is imperative to realize in a world of instant everything with short snippets of exciting moments there are hours of behind the scene dedicated efforts going on.

Traditionally, the principle of flow is when routines are completed through a gentle motion with grace, ease and fluidity. Continuous, smooth, and elegant movement is achieved as you transition from one pose to another. According to the principle of flow this will bring strength and stamina.

How to practice this principle effectively:

  • spend time in practice, slow intentional practice of the transitions
    • let’s use a golf swing as an example (a client Steve Knipping made the connection for me)
    • it’s not just the back swing, the follow through or finishing position that must be practiced, explained, or understood
    • instead it is the practice of how you transition from a back swing INTO the follow through INTO the finish position
    • this practice takes a SLOW centering, precision, concentration and control — the brain needs slow so it has time to interpret, repeat and learn new motion
      • as a side note have you noticed how the principles are coming together to achieve a method?

Before starting the practice of the flow between exercises, spend time with in the flow of one exercise. In other words, how do you use the space between the start and the end of one repetition of one movement and how do you use the space between one repetition and the next which creates your set.

Pilates Principle: Breath

#trainfromyourbrain

A hashtag trend I am 100% on!

I first came across it on instagram while following Physiyolates – Brain-Body Fitness and have become addicted to their posts feeling greedy to gather snippets of their insights and wisdom. Full transparency, my “damn I wish I had said that” gets triggered A LOT!

Their words resonate so fully within our philosophy of movement at the Art of Fitness that I feel compelled to share their wisdom via re-posting and now in this blog. I’ll come back to Physiyolates’ greatness in a moment.

 

But first, breath as a Pilates Principle.

Breathing properly promotes effective oxygenation of the blood, focuses the mind on each task and helps avoid unnecessary tension, particularly in the neck, shoulders and mid-back. Exhaling deeply can also help activate the deep support muscles of the body. Breath is brilliant, everything from it’s automatic nature, it’s absolutely life giving purpose, it’s mind, body and soul healing abilities, to the mechanical anatomical function.

 

Direct quote from Physiyolates Instragram post:

“Breathing is literally the most underrated performance tool we have as human beings! You can harness and unlock the power of the brain, the body and the nervous system simply by learning specific breathing techniques to help you to keep a cool head, promote relaxation and control, regulate and reduce physiological and psychological stress.”

 

Instagram: brain_body_performance                    Website: physiyolates.uk.com

 

 

 

Pilates Principle: Precision

Precision is NOT about perfection. Instead, the Pilates Principle of Precision is better described as excellence.

Source: https://www.excelatlife.com

We all get tempted to strive for perfection, because perfection is good, it pleases others. However, perfection will come at a cost, in this case it could cost you access to your body, your learning and your ability to move forward in your movement goals, whether they be to heal, improve or perform.

Precision is energizing and efficient which will leave a positive impact on your body, mind and spirit. Through precision there is an ability to reproduce the movement consistently, with ease of motion.

Your body has it’s own unique language, learn to listen, interpret and respond with precision. The practice of precision brings you into yourself and offers a space to better understand how YOU move and feel in your body.

Precision is where excellence can be found.

Pilates Principle: Concentration

At our studio we apply the principle of concentration as an awareness around what is, what can be and how you plan to move towards it. We do our best when teaching movement through Pilates to speak to what you are doing well, when you’re doing something well and how to do more of that instead of drawing your attention on what NOT to do.

This allows the principle of concentration to orchestrate beautiful strong movement patterns in many planes of space, creating a natural ability to access these patterns in real life.

The full article the next portion of this blog quotes is found at www.selfgrowth.com written by M. Tamsin Thoren.

“Rael Isacowitz, founder of Body Arts and Sciences International (BASI) divides this principle into two parts, awareness and concentration. He regards “awareness as a state of mind — of being mindful and feeling the movement” and concentration as “a more cognitive process of understanding the movement.” (Isacowitz, 9)

Awareness is the initial realization of the body, where it lies in space, how it moves, and any tightness, misalignment, weakness, habitual movement patterns or other imbalances that we may have developed throughout our lives. That initial awareness is critical to achieve a baseline from which to progress. Our muscles and joints contain proprioceptors that tell our brain where we are in space and how far a joint can move before injury. Over time, we train our proprioceptors to feel that misalignments and limited range of motion are correct and representative of our body’s full potential. In order to change those patterns, we must first become aware.

Concentration is viewed as the “bridge between awareness and movement” (Isacowitz, 9) Once you have established your baseline, it is essential to bring that same awareness into every movement. Checking in with your body periodically can help to develop your concentration. If you find yourself thinking about something other than your workout, scan your body, especially those places you are working to retrain, and notice if they are engaged, relaxed, stabilized, or moving as they should be in the exercise. By bringing your awareness and concentration to a particular muscle you facilitate the firing of that muscle. Where patterns exist, it can be difficult to work the correct muscle(s) even with intense concentration, but nearly impossible without that attention. If you don’t know what you should be focusing on in a particular exercise, ask your instructor.

Remember to keep it light, you can over-think things. If you become tense or frustrated, let it go.”

Pilates Principle: Control

As instructors, we guide you through movements, we are doing more then simply counting, some may even suggest we cannot count …

Here’s what we do instead: we are always observing what your body needs. 

We use other movements and equipment to introduce, correct, challenge or reinforce the specific movement patterns your body needs to create balance of strength, stretch and control.

Pilates Principle: Control

Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. No body part is left to its own devices. It is all a conscious, deliberate movement that the mind is controlling. Control is performing a movement with fluidity, which can teach you how to move more gracefully and efficiently.

Here are a few ways for you to utilize this principle in your Pilates Practice:

  1. Determine the objective of the exercise
    • practicing on your own? decide on what your intention is for moving through the exercise BEFORE you start, stay with that idea for the duration of the movement
    • practicing in a class? if it’s not been made clear, always feel welcome to clarify with your instructor where your mind is best served to attain control within the movement
    • practicing in a private or semi-private?  like in class if unsure ask ~ OR ~ if you have a specific focus or item of control let your instructor know, together amazing movements will take on new shape and purpose
  2. Quality not quantity
    • the concept of quality not quantity within the Pilates Principle of Control is that you need to wrap up the movement BEFORE your mind wanders. If you are going through the motions to check the movement off a list ~ OR ~ if  you become aware of your mind wandering simply bring it back to your original objective
  3. Focus on what you DO want
    • attempting to use the Principle of Control around what you do NOT want creates tension, restriction and movement that is a little staccato 
    • determine what you DO want use this positive mind centered action as your control

In summary, the Pilates Principle of Control is a conscious choice to practice, steady and hold the mind around a positive objective. Motion Meditation.

Pilates Principle: Centering

There are a few layers within this concept.

Traditionally, this concept of centering relates to the core and the muscles of the core, in Pilates this is referred to as the powerhouse, physically bringing the exercise focus to the center of the body. Centering can also refer  a feeling of balance within or the eternal spring of energy from which all movement emanates.

Energetically, Pilates exercises are sourced from the center.

Centering as a kinesthetic concept takes into consideration the fact that each person is built differently and has an individual center of gravity.

Taking away all other variables (lifestyle, injuries, goals, etc.) your build alone will distinctly affect how the exercise feels and how difficult or easy it is to execute. Sometimes receiving the label ‘lacking strength’ when unable to execute a movement is incorrect. The lack of success may have more to do with your distribution of body weight and build not so much your ability.

So, when unable to execute a movement right away, hold your judgements off.

Instead, stay curious and source which part of and how you could apply the principle of centering it a progress or helpful way. And as always ask for guidance from your instructor, remember Pilates is a practice.

Your Pilates Practice is Cross Training

for living your best life.

Through the Pilates approach to movement we can help you keep doing what you love best.

Not only can the Pilates approach to movement keep you doing what you love, through practice you can improve how you do what you love to do best.

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The foundation of the Pilates approach to movement is based within the abstract  concepts of six principles:

Precision ~ Centering ~ Control ~ Concentration ~ Flow ~ Breath

We will take each of these principles apart in separate blogs to express just how you can best utilize these principles in your Pilates Practice.

In the meantime, this is a fun article, found at www.verywellfit.com, to read How to use Pilates in Cross Training

“Contrology <Pilates> develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” Joseph Pilates

Understanding Spring Tension

The type of spring that is used on Pilates equipment is called a “tension/extension spring”. When this type of spring is stretched from its resting position, it exerts an opposing force proportional to its change in length. In other words, the more you stretch a spring, the more opposing force it provides.

Pilates Style Article by Rael Isacowitz

www.pilatesstyle.com

“In Pilates, sometimes less springs will translate to more load on the muscles and vice versa. For example, when doing the Side Split on the Reformer, one light spring means to a lot of load on the hip adductors (assuming the exercise is executed with the utmost precision and quality). If extra load is added, not only will the load on the hip adductors decrease, at some point, more work will transfer to the hip abductors.” Rael Isacowitz

Click the photo to read the full article by Rael Isacowitz, MA.

Rael has been practicing Pilates for more than 30 years and is recognized internationally as an expert in the field. In 1989, Rael founded BASI Pilates®, a comprehensive Pilates education organization represented throughout the world.

Merrithew Article by Sarah Baker

www.merrithew.com

“Spring tension will also allow for there to be tension through the full joint range, and on both the concentric and eccentric phases of the movement. In addition, unlike traditional weight training, some exercises can actually be made more challenging by decreasing the spring tension on the Reformer, rather than continually increasing it.” Sarah Baker

Click the photo to read the full article by Sara Baker, PT, MS, OCS

Sarah is president of Inspire Health, Atlanta, Ga, an organization providing physical therapy, Pilates, and wellness services with two locations in the Atlanta area. Baker received a bachelor of science in cellular biology from the University of Georgia, and a master of science in physical therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She specializes in spinal conditions and neuromuscular re-education. Inspire Health is a Merrithew Licensed Training Center and Baker is a STOTT PILATES Rehab Instructor Trainer.

Food for Thought

Tom Myers on exercise & Movement:

“If you can do it slowly, you can do it quickly; but just because you can do it quickly doesn’t mean you can do it slowly.”

Stay Curious. 

Slow

Sleep – #2019antiresolution

This month’s soap box we will be speaking to is a trend that has been taking shape over the years. We would like to suggest that before we get to deep into setting goals, let’s enjoy some time this year to understand our current baseline. What do you do already?

In January, we thought it may be fun to create a group sleep tracking event. It is meant to bring attention to a crucial yet often sacrificed part of what it takes to be our healthiest selves. Have you been adding your sleep hours to our wall?! If you haven’t start now!

Bringing your attention to your current sleep habits will give us an opportunity to contemplate how we may be helping or hindering all the other things we do to create a healthy quality of life.

sleep

Let’s pay attention to what we already do in order to give us an opportunity to contemplate how we may be helping or hindering all the other things we do to create a healthy quality of life.

Have you noticed over the last few weeks if your sleep was hindered by any of the following:

  • How much energy you had on average for the day
  • What time you consumed any alcohol, caffeine and tobacco (and the amounts) * any naps (and how long they were)
  • Any medications you took
  • Any stressful (out of the ordinary) events that happened that day
  • Time that you decided to go to bed for the night.

Other Options to Consider are:

  • Think about how you slept the night before
  • Estimate how long it took you to fall asleep
  • How many times you woke up in the middle of the night
  • How long you were up for each time
  • What time you woke up as well as what time you got out of bed * how you felt when you woke up

While you are on this journey with us, notice these things about your sleep patterns and maybe even make notes, it may help you sleep in the long run!