We all know about the original Principles of Pilates : Centring, Control, Coordination, Breath, Flow, and Precision. A concept that was originally introduced in the 80’s by Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, authors of The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning.
A more popular version of the six principles is removing co-ordination and adding concentration instead. Today, many training schools have expanded the list to include elements of stabilisation, posture, Pilates foot position, core activation to name but a few. As the understanding of human anatomy and kinetics has developed, so has the modern foundation of Pilates. Yet Joseph Pilates books Return to Life through Contrology and Your Health do not directly refer to the six principles. He does cite their importance in `Your Health’ and with a simple Google search many of these references and quotes spring to your screen.
I took my first lesson in Pilates at the tender age of 18 back in the late eighties when only the ladies who lunched and dancers or actors had heard of it. I am still amazed today at how much the method has grown and how commercial it has become. When I read different Pilates forum and Facebook pages and the amount of useful but also misleading information out there, it makes me think of Joseph’s observation…..
“Daily, from sunrise to sunset, the radio, newspapers and magazines broadcast to the world how to maintain health, how to regain health… the conflicting information, expressive of the different opinions of these various health authorities, has proved to be nothing less than confusion…”
The truth of today can be the lie of tomorrow.
Nowadays it seems we have a check list of health and we just have to buy our way to it
Got the T-shirt
Got the leggings
Got my Pilates socks
Got my spikey ball
Pay for my Pilates classes
Drinking my coconut water in my eco friendly bottle
Got to de-tox then I can r-etox….. which celebrity diet shall I use this week?
The list goes on.
It makes me wonder about the lesser known wisdom of Joseph Pilates and some of the practices that Joseph followed in his life in his quest for ultimate health. He observed
“No man- no machine can correct or create vitality, power or health for you; everything comes from within, you have to unfold it.”
Have we got a bit lazy with our check lists? Are we working hard to buy our way to health instead of also looking within to create a more holistic balance in our lives?
Can the principles of Centering, Control, Coordination, Breath, Flow, and Precision be interpreted differently? To explore other ways of working on ourselves ? I invite you to consider this and find your own interpretations that will lead you to growth and development for you, your clients and your business.
Centering could be about our personal responsibility. To ourselves and to others and the planet we live on.
“Everyone is the architect of their own happiness” Joseph wrote and the truth of it is when we are centred in ourselves that is when the biggest changes in our lives occur. When we change, those around us change and our environment changes.
“Change happens through movement and movement heals” and those words of Joseph Pilates are as true now as they ever were. Through mindful practice of our movement we can heal the past to be in the present and move positively towards our future.
“It is the mind itself which builds the body” Joseph Pilates. Controlling what the Buddhists refer to as our monkey mind is a beautiful way to bring harmony to our mind and body. Through practices of meditation, mindfulness, positive thinking and practising gratitude; we can rid ourselves of toxic thinking and learn to control our minds as well as our core.
“ Contrology ( Pilates) is complete co-ordination of mind, body and spirit” noted Joseph Pilates. Yet do we ever consider Pilates could also be part of our Spiritual Practice? Am I suggesting we start the Church of Pilates with the Original Disciples ? No, just the simple act of bringing together those three elements of ourselves through the process of movement can take us to a whole new level. After all…
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Breathing is the first act of life and the last” is possibly one of the more famous Joseph quotes alongside “Above all learn how to breathe correctly”. Breathing well allows us to connect with life energy inside our bodies and outside. It replenishes us, revitalises us, calms our nervous system, aids our digestion and connects us to a deeper part of ourselves. The Yogis say that it helps the body to connect to its battery, the solar plexus where tremendous energy is stored. It creates a deep connection between mind, body and spirit.
Being in the now attracts a greater flow into our lives. The power of the moment moves us into a greater state of being and Joseph believed that “Every moment of our life can be the beginning of great things.”
When Joseph Pilates taught his method, Contrology he used to emphasise… “doing movements correctly lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits”. The precision of movement allows better neuromuscular facilitation which moves us towards better alignment, posture and creates greater efficiency of all of the systems of our body the tangible as well as the intangible.
I wonder what Joseph Pilates would say today if he saw all this hype and commercialism around his method. Would he be delighted or would he say we are still missing something…….
“The acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm and spiritual peace are priceless to their possessors if there be any such so fortunate living among us today”.
Joseph Pilates December 9, 1883 – October 9, 1967
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