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It’s Pilates Mat Movement time!

March 19, 2020

Pilates is a low-impact method of mind-body exercise developed by Joseph H. Pilates.  His founding principles still guide this popular form of exercise that aims to optimize strength, flexibility and muscular endurance.  If you’ve never tried Pilates this is your chance to give it a “go”.  We think you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn about your own strength and the connection between your mind and body.

There are five basic principles of Pilates which are a series of biomechanical body awareness issues that provide the foundation for all exercises in Mat Pilates.  Each of these guiding principles - breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, shoulder blade movement and stabilization, plus head and neck placement – work together in every exercise to create a stable and strong yet supple body.  Learning the basic principles of Pilates is like learning the basics in any sport.  These five concepts serve as the stepping stones into more complex and challenging exercises which will enhance the experience and increase the benefits of spending time on the mat.

The first basic principle is breathing.  In Pilates an inhale through the nose deep into the back and sides of the lungs and an exhale through pursed lips is used throughout class.  The repetition of this breath pattern allows the mind to concentrate on each movement along with creating a deep connection to the stabilizing muscles of the torso while avoiding unnecessary tension in other parts of the body.

The second basic principle is pelvic placement.  Throughout a Pilates class the instructor will cue participants to use a neutral position or imprinted position of the pelvis and lower back.  Imprint refers to tilting the pelvis towards the rib cage by engaging the abdominals.  Neutral position refers to the body’s natural resting position of the pelvis and lower back.  When the abdominals are engaged this is the most stable and optimal position for the spine and pelvis during most daily movements.  All of our certified Pilates teachers at TC Fit agree that this principle is best learned at an in-person Mat class.  Feeling or finding imprint versus a neutral position is central to getting the most out of any Mat Pilates class.

The third basic principle is rib cage placement.  It’s helpful to have a bit of background in anatomy to understand the reasoning behind most, if not all, of the basic principles and rib cage placement is no exception.  The abdominal wall attaches to the bottom of the rib cage and the rib cage attaches to the middle twelve vertebrae of the spine.  Due to this set-up the abdominal muscles must be recruited to maintain rib cage placement and thus mid-back alignment during movement.
The fourth basic principle of Mat Pilates is shoulder blade movement and stabilization.  The shoulder blades glide around on the back of the rib cage and their lack of bony attachment to the skeleton means they need muscular control for optimal stability and movement.  Proper movement and positioning of the shoulder blades during Pilates lends to better posture and shoulder health off the mat.

The fifth and final Pilates principle is head and neck placement.  When lying face up, anytime the trunk of the body flexes or crunches forward the head and neck should follow the line that is created by the mid-back.  This alignment begins with a small head nod which lengthens the first two vertebrae at the base of the skull and top of the neck.  The same concept of neck alignment is true when the body is prone or lying belly side down.  

Pilates is a skill-based exercise method with a foundation rooted in understanding the five basic principles.  Nearly everyone who practices Pilates with our TC Fit Pilates instructors walks away with more body awareness, improved core strength, and a better understanding of how their bodies work. Check out some video tutorials on TC Fit YouTube.  We hope to see you at our studio locations soon for a one-on-one Pilates lesson. Message us at for pricing and availability.