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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!

Stretch for Strength – Release for Range

Last week, we hosted a workshop on stretching for strength. For those of you who missed it, here are a few takeaways:

Pain: Observing someone else – which is the constant job of a manual or movement therapist – how am I to know when things are unpleasant and emotional or too much? How do you know when sensations are going to far?

“A sensation accompanied by the motor intention to withdraw” Tom Myers

Pain consists of three types: “pain that enters the body”, “pain stored in the body”, and “pain leaving the body”.

Muscle Spindle

What’s in a feeling?

Muscle Spindle: is a proprioceptor, a sense organ that receives information from muscle, it senses STRETCH and the SPEED of the stretch.

When you stretch and feel the message that you are at the ENDPOINT of your stretch the spindle is sending a reflex arc signal to your spinal column telling you not to stretch any further. This sense organ protects you from over stretching or stretching too fast and hurting yourself.

Golgi Tendon Organ

Golgi Tendon Organ: is a proprioceptor, sense organ that receives information from the tendon, that senses TENSION.

When you lift weights, the Golgi tendon organ is the sense organ that tells you how much tension the muscle is exerting. If there is too much muscle tension the Golgi tendon organ will inhibit the muscle from creating any force (via a reflex arc), thus protecting you from injuring yourself.

Cerebellum: (latin for ‘little brain’) receives information from the sensory systems, the spinal cord, and other parts of the brain and then regulates motor movements. The cerebellum coordinates voluntary movements such as posture, balance, coordination, and speech, resulting in smooth and balanced muscular activity.

So What? Your neurological system can get it’s wires crossed and you can ‘feel tight’ and not be tight, you can feel restricted not because the joint’s in danger but because the Golgi tendon THINKS/FEELS it’s in danger because the muscle spindle and or Golgi tendon never returned to it’s “happy” shape.

Release for Range

• Gives the body a space and time to recalibrate it’s systems and or to regain their structure
• The cerebellum needs you to pay attention, investigate, it needs to be fed information
• Allows the body to take in and establish the changes movement & manual therapists give
• Release is developed in the space between how far and how much — in other words before the muscle spindle or Golgi tendon needs to shut you down

Creating release in your body takes an investigators mind.

Dynamic Neutral: Learning how to experience where a joint can create motion without influencing how your body weight sits in space before you started the motion We can’t teach you what to feel we can only teach you how to feel. Instructors try to find words that give you opportunity to explore how to weight sense, find fluidity and or focus on the space between where the motion begins and how the motion travels through you

Body Weight: ‘The force exerted on a body by a gravitational field’; ’our ability to stand upright depends on the tension between the force of the body and the pull of gravity’ (Laban)

Space: When we move we ‘push some space out of the way’ and the area we just vacated is filled with more space. (Laban)

Gather and Scatter: (Newlove, Dalby, 2004:112)
• Gather: taking up the least amount of space possible; this consists of ‘bending all of our joints and curling up into a ball’.
• Scatter: when we can stretch all of our limbs into a star like position, stretching even our fingers, to extend our Kinesphere
• It is important to remember that we don’t only gather or scatter our whole body but individual body parts as well
• Generally in movement we are doing both, using opposition to create stability in order to increase mobility and balance

Kinesphere: “The sphere around the body whose periphery can be reached by easily extended limbs without stepping away from that place which is the point of support when standing on one foot” (1966, Laban p.10) (visual image: DaVinci ‘)

Kinetic Force: how much energy is required to move in space

Vitruvian Man

Conclusion:

• Find time to investigate what midrange is in your body.
• Before you move, create a sense of ready throughout the entire body, gradually build up the sense of ready until you have gathered your weight and then move.
• Remember coordinating your body actually takes a great deal of intelligence, skill, patience and investigation, avoid taking it for granted or relaying on others

The Potency of ‘just’ Being

Words are powerful. However – just for the record – lets remember that we make them up, along with all of the stories we then create around these words. But are they an expression of anything authentically our truth?

One of our greatest gifts is our imagination – to make things up. Just watch any child at ‘play’. This capacity was hard-wired for all of us when we arrived, created and creative. The rest is merely conditioning. Anything that removes us from a sense that life is wondrous, though not without the inevitable scrapes and bruises, is simply not our truth – merely inherited knowledge of what life ‘should’ be.

Create 
If your life isn’t working for you, check in with yourself and listen closely to the words you are telling yourself – both about yourself as well as about other. Take time to simply be with what is really happening – it takes courage to be vulnerable. But in being openly honest (vulnerability) with ourselves, we gain access to our only true power.

Do you ever wonder? Yes, simply just be with and muse, wonder, get Zen. It is like a cat merely resting languorously in the sun. Can you imagine if you were to establish a practice of ‘no word’ and just listen, without attachment, to the sound of silence? If there is speaking, still listen for the breaks in the flow of words. Like music, the meaning is established or discerned in the ‘no sound’ as much as in ‘the sound’.

Although words are powerful, it is equally true that the space of ‘no words’ or silence, or truly listening is also profound. We are always so busy – not only speaking or listening to others speak – that we too often forget to allow for the space of no words. Just listen.

Why do you make words mean so little or so much?

What might our world be like if we spent more time communing in silence and ‘listening’?

Begin

Light has a different quality at the beginning of day in the early winter morning than in summer. Have you noticed? Nature sounds different in spring than in winter – have you noticed? What is the sound of silence to you? There is beauty, magic in this kind of attention – an attention that does not rush in to describe, or worse, ignore altogether.

Words are powerful but so is the sound and healing presence of silence. Have you tried it?

 

                                             You, Darkness

                             You, darkness, that I come from

                             I love you more than all the fires

                           That fence in the world,

                           For the fire makes a circle of light for everyone

                           And then no one outside learns of you.

                           But the darkness pulls in everything-

 

This poem by Rainer Maria Rilke reminds me also of words, like the fires in this poem – and ‘no words’/silence – being like an enveloping darkness.

I love the melodies of words, ‘tis true. However, I fear that we miss the beauty that waits in silence. This is especially so if we get caught up in a mindless barrage of words, labels, and a need to be the gong or in a throng, absent of silence and listening.

What if we could speak mindfully, listen for the music, making space for, at the risk of being vulnerable, silence.

What if our true power – vulnerability – lays in our willingness to be with the no words, or silence as much as in the spoken words?

 

                   Silence sounds like the space between night and day,

                 The glance of love that needs no words,

                 The full moon rising over the lake,

                 The morning dew on the quiet grass,

                 The first rays of the new day’s sunlight,

                 A mystery too deep for words.

 

Forgive me…I believe this is a stanza from a poem by Mary Oliver; I neglected to cite its origin. But it is too beautiful to not close with the beckoning sounds of silence.

— Judith
Judithlharrison.com