Pilates Students' Manual

Control and Precision - The Six Pilates Principles

August 13, 2020 Olivia Bioni Season 1 Episode 11
Pilates Students' Manual
Control and Precision - The Six Pilates Principles
Chapters
0:00
Welcome
1:35
Control
6:05
Autonomy
10:53
Precision
18:16
Coming Up Next Week
Pilates Students' Manual
Control and Precision - The Six Pilates Principles
Aug 13, 2020 Season 1 Episode 11
Olivia Bioni

The next installment of The Six Pilates Principles explores the principles of control and precision! Both principles are extremely important to the practice of Pilates. Listen in and learn more about what they are and why they matter! 

Follow the podcast on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual and on the web here: https://bit.ly/PilatesStudentsManual for the latest! 

Email [email protected] with your feedback. 

Show Notes: 

Hear it straight from Joe's mouth in his books Your Health *https://bit.ly/YourHealthPilates* and Return to Life Through Contrology *https://bit.ly/JoeReturntoLife

Support the podcast:    


Boka toothpaste: 15% off of your first order! *http://bit.ly/bokaPTM*  


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Kencko smoothies: $10 off your first purchase of this delicious, portable smoothie subscription! *http://bit.ly/kenckoPTM

Misfits Market: Take 25% off of your first order of organic groceries! Visit *http://bit.ly/misfitsPTM* and enter code COOKWME-QO3TQM


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Ritual multivitamin: $15 off your first month of minty vitamins! First 10 sign ups only! *http://bit.ly/ritualPTM


Winc wine subscription: $22 off your first order of wine! *https://bit.ly/wincPSM

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Syn Cole - Gizmo [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/pZzSq8WfsKo
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/Gizmo

Track: Syn Cole - Feel Good [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/q1ULJ92aldE
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/feelgood

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The next installment of The Six Pilates Principles explores the principles of control and precision! Both principles are extremely important to the practice of Pilates. Listen in and learn more about what they are and why they matter! 

Follow the podcast on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual and on the web here: https://bit.ly/PilatesStudentsManual for the latest! 

Email [email protected] with your feedback. 

Show Notes: 

Hear it straight from Joe's mouth in his books Your Health *https://bit.ly/YourHealthPilates* and Return to Life Through Contrology *https://bit.ly/JoeReturntoLife

Support the podcast:    


Boka toothpaste: 15% off of your first order! *http://bit.ly/bokaPTM*  


Fabletics activewear: Get your first two pairs of leggings for $24! *http://bit.ly/fableticsPTM*   

Kencko smoothies: $10 off your first purchase of this delicious, portable smoothie subscription! *http://bit.ly/kenckoPTM

Misfits Market: Take 25% off of your first order of organic groceries! Visit *http://bit.ly/misfitsPTM* and enter code COOKWME-QO3TQM


Package Free Shop zero waste shopping: $10 off your first order and go green! *http://bit.ly/packagefreePTM*  


Ritual multivitamin: $15 off your first month of minty vitamins! First 10 sign ups only! *http://bit.ly/ritualPTM


Winc wine subscription: $22 off your first order of wine! *https://bit.ly/wincPSM

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Syn Cole - Gizmo [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/pZzSq8WfsKo
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/Gizmo

Track: Syn Cole - Feel Good [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/q1ULJ92aldE
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/feelgood

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, everything you want to know about Pilates in one place. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Jump in the conversation on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual, and be sure to subscribe for updates on new episodes. Let's learn something new together.

Hello, hello everybody. How are we doing? It is a fine, fresh, fabulous day over here in Chicago. Today we're going to be continuing our discussion of the six Pilates principles, today focusing on precision and control. Once again, those six Pilates [00:01:00] principles, the mnemonic I have for them is B triple C, P R. And we have done B and two of the Cs, that would be breathing and concentration and centering. 

Today we'll be adding the third C, control, and the P of precision. I think these are another two principles, just like last week when we talked about centering and concentration at the same time, I do think that these are another two principles that just go really well together. So let's dive in. Let's talk about what these two principles are, how you embody them in your practice, and why it's important. 

Control seems obvious. If you've ever done Pilates, and if you love Pilates, there is a huge element of control to it, so much so that when Joe was actually creating his system, it wasn't called Pilates. Like Pilates is his name and that's what it's known as now, but Joe originally called it contrology. And, you know, using our Latin roots and stuff, contrology would be the study of [00:02:00] control. 

Joe talks a lot in his books, which again, I will link in the show notes for you, about the complete coordination of mind, body, and spirit. That that's what he hoped you would achieve through his system. One of my favorite quotes from Joe, he says, "to be in control of your body and not at its mercy." And I just think that that's such an incredible image. If you've ever been in pain or had an injury, or, you know, had an experience where your body isn't doing what you would like it to do, that it can be really powerful to be in control of your body and not subject to your body's whims, feelings, and things. 

He has a really great quote in Return to Life. He says, "One of the major results of contrology is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control of your body. How many beginners are amazed [00:03:00] and chagrined, even trained athletes in the public eye, to discover how few, if any, contrology exercises they are able to execute properly. Their previous failure to exercise regularly and properly, or their method of training, has not helped them." 

Return to Life is an amazing book for a lot of reasons. One, it's like an instruction manual for the mat Pilates exercises. So that's super cool. And secondly, you do kind of get a window into Joe's thinking about the exercises and you can tell through passages like that, that control's going to be at the forefront.

And a lot of other systems, a lot of other ways of moving and being do not emphasize control to the degree that he does in his system. Every movement and every exercise, whether you're on the mat or on the reformer on the Cadillac, is asking for this degree of control over your body and over the movement.

If you think about footwork, maybe [00:04:00] the first phase or the first step towards control is not banging the bumper every time you bend your knees, right? If you allow the carriage to close and you don't stop the carriage from closing, at a certain point, it's going to hit the bumper at the end, and you'll kind of bounce back a little bit.

And when you're first getting started, there's the control. Like how big is this reformer? How much do I have to bend my knees? If the footbar is at a different position, how does that change it? You know, you're going to be making these little adjustments as you're moving. As you get more in depth into your Pilates practice, what you're controlling is going to change slightly.

So now you have a very good awareness of your body and space and where the bumper is when you're doing footwork. So the control aspect of footwork becomes about lengthening against the resistance and keeping that length and activating your posterior chain to pull the carriage closed and [00:05:00] resist the springs as you're closing the carriage so that you are controlling your body and the spring resistance, right? Those are both elements of control. One is not better than the other. It really just depends where you are in your journey and what your body is up to, what your brain is up to, at any given day. 

If you take an exercise on the mat, like the roll up. The first part of control, maybe, as you're doing the roll up is just figuring out what muscles to be activated for you to get up there. And maybe you're using your arms or you're using momentum to go from lying on your back too upright. That's fine. If that's where you are, as you master controlling those aspects, then it becomes, how can I articulate through the spine evenly without out using momentum? How do I control the movement using just my muscles and not, you know, that big ugh that we use to bring ourselves upright, that flailing forward aspect. [00:06:00] Both are control. It's about controlling your muscles, controlling the environment, controlling the movement. 

I also see control as a really important principle because it gives you again, that sense of autonomy and agency, and that you are in control of what's going on in the exercise, regardless of what the equipment is doing, that you are the boss of your body. I'll say that a lot in my classes, and that you are also the boss of the equipment. It doesn't get to boss you around. It can give you feedback, but you need to be in control in any situation where you're using equipment. 

Joe is also big on responsibility where he's talking about, you know, you should do these exercises four times a week, and it's really up to you to set your mind to it and to follow through. That you're responsible for your health and that you can do this, but you have to do it and you have to do it for yourself.

His Return to Life book is assuming that you may not have a teacher. It's just [00:07:00] following these exercises. And that's how you're going to do Pilates the same way you would like if you had a Pilates DVD and you're watching that. And maybe there's a teacher telling you, but they're not seeing you, it's not happening in real time, so that you are in control of that as well.

Control really fits into the previous principles we've talked about because when we talked about breathing, you're controlling your breath. You're inhaling at a certain speed, you're inhaling through your nose. You're exhaling at a certain speed, you're exhaling through your mouth. You're already controlling your breath to support you in the exercise. So we've already experienced some of that control. 

For centering, whenever you are controlling a movement you need to be stable and strong from the center, or you cannot control the movement. You will be very unstable and the control is going to be more like damage control in terms of controlling that movement, instead of really executing it with control, if that makes sense. 

[00:08:00] For concentration again, in order to control these movements, you need to first be aware of what you're doing, aware of what parts of the body are working, what parts of the body are stabilizing. When you have that laser focus on what's going on, you can control those exercises. You definitely can't control something if you're not focusing on it, it's not how it works. You've got to pay attention to what's going on in order to execute an exercise with control. So when we're controlling our bodies, we're controlling our breath. We're controlling the speed at which we move the range of movement that we're moving in, what is working, what isn't working. Can we let go of those unnecessary holding patterns, those parts of our body that are overworking, that don't need to be working as hard or working at all as we perform an exercise? 

You get better at it. I've talked about, you know, in footwork in a roll up, but the more you practice working with it, you're going to be able to control more things. And you're [00:09:00] going to have a greater degree of control of the things that you're working with and that you're working on. You become more sensitive, more aware, and your control just gets more controlling, just gets more precise, which is why I've linked this one with precision. 

Likely you're already doing this. If you are at all interested in Pilates, you know that we're trying to control the movements and we're trying to move precisely. But I think it's important to remind us all that there isn't a finish line. You're not going to get a certificate of achievement that's like, Oh, you can control a roll up, because every day is different. How you're transitioning between exercises is different, how your body is feeling is different. What makes sense in your brain that day is going to be different. So it's really a journey and even when you unlock an achievement and you're like, Oh yeah, I nailed that roll up. That's amazing. But it doesn't stop there.

You are constantly growing and you'll [00:10:00] notice new things and try to control new things and hopefully when you're taking classes, you're getting to explore new things in new ways as well. 

Coming up after the break, I'll be talking more about precision, how precision and control really fit together. And I'll give you a little preview into the last principle in next week's episode. That's coming up next.

Hey, there. Enjoying the episode? Me too. You should definitely subscribe so you get notifications about new episodes. And if you love it, maybe leave me a review. And that would be awesome. Thanks for sharing the Pilates love. Now back to the show.

You can see the importance of precision in Joe's system in Return to Life, because [00:11:00] Return to Life is basically an instruction manual for the Pilates mat exercises. He has clearly enumerated all of the steps and all of the things that are going on. He's literally written you like from a lab report, the procedure section, of how you're going to do every single thing in this exercise.

For example, I'm going to read to you the way he describes the hundred. All right, here we go. The hundred. 

Instructions for the hundred. 

Pose 1

 a) take position illustrated 

B) lie flat with body resting on mat or floor 

C) stretch, arms, shoulder wide, touching body, palms down, straight forward 

D) stretch legs close together, knees locked, straight forward

E) stretch toes pointed forward and downward 

Pose 2 

A) inhale slowly. 

B) lift both feet about two inches above mat or [00:12:00] floor. 

C) raise head with eyes focused on toes. 

D) raise both arms about six to eight inches above thighs 

Pose 3

A) exhale slowly, 

B) raise and lower both arms, tensed.

C) from shoulders only 

D) without touching body 

E) within a radius of six inches to eight inches 

F) mentally counting five movements while 

G) exhaling slowly. 

H) alternating with five similar movements while 

I) inhaling slowly, 

J) begin with only 20 movements and 

K) gradually increase them in units of 

L) five additional movements each time until a 

M) maximum of 100 movements is reached 

N) [00:13:00] never exceed 100 movements 

Pose 4 

A) relax completely.

That's intense. That is a lot of instruction for the hundred. And if you think about it, a lot of those things are happening quite quickly. Joe was very precise in what he wanted you to do to get the most benefit of the exercise. He actually has remarks about the exercise and, like, notes for the exercises as well. So like more things for you to think about while you're doing it. Joe had very clear ideas about his exercise and what they were and what to do for them. 

Precision is something that I really loved about Pilates because there is that kind of Type A to do list feel. And it really satisfies that part of me to have a list of things that I need to do to do this exercise. It gives your mind something to focus on. So it does help with that concentration and centering, and it gives you almost a safety net that you know [00:14:00] what to do. And when you're with a teacher, they're telling you pretty much that laundry list of things so that you know that you're doing it. 

You'll see that precision in your teacher's cuing, where they're going through a bunch of things that may be going on at a time. You see that precision in the small, subtle movements that we're doing that smaller range of movement meant that really focused attention on those small all are things before we go into those bigger things. 

I think that in Pilates, when you're just getting started, a lot of it is about gross movements, like really big movements, like where is my body in space movements? It's like "bend your knee." It would be a cue when you're just getting started. But it gets more precise as your awareness increases, as your control increases, you can get even more fine tuned about it. 

Take feet in straps. You're lying on the reformer. You've got the straps over your arches. Maybe you're doing a lower lift with legs in [00:15:00] parallel. The first thing is like, can you get the straps on your feet? And that is a thing. And then can you lower and lift the legs at the same time, lowering a certain amount, lifting a certain amount. First it's just getting that choreography down.

But if you think of the first time, if you can remember the first time, you found neutral in your spine while you were in feet and straps, and you realize that you can move your legs without moving your pelvis, you can move your legs without changing the shape of your spine. Suddenly a whole new world of precision opens, that you now can feel what your range of movement is on any given day, because through concentration, through practice, you found what it feels like for your pelvis to stay grounded and not move. You found the hip hinge and there's a great deal of precision that comes with that. 

Healthy movement is defined as the absence of the presence of uncontrolled movements. So in that example [00:16:00] of feet and straps, if you were tucking your tailbone every time your legs lifted and then arching your spine every time your legs lowered, those would be considered an uncontrolled movement. You may not have known that you were doing them, and they were like a compensation for what you were trying to do. Precision is about releasing those unnecessary movements and really getting to the very idea of what needs to be working. 

Sometimes joke in my classes, things like, it's all about doing it with the minimal amount of effort. So whether you were aware or not in feet in straps, if your spine was changing shape, you're actually working harder to lose neutral and then find neutral over and over again. If you were just in neutral, you would actually be conserving energy. So what's the least amount of work you can do to do this exercise? It would be to stay in neutral, which, ironically, doing less is actually doing more in terms of precision. 

Control and precision, I'd say are teammates and the principles that they [00:17:00] really work together and support each other. That the more control you have over a movement, the more precise you can be about it. And as you are precise, you are controlling the exercise to a greater degree. I see them working together to help you identify your movement habits and the way that you move that may have led to an injury, or maybe if you're recovering from an injury, and preventative, if you don't have an injury, but you know that there's some kind of tweaky things, like how can we stop them from getting to the point where there's an injury?

So identifying those movement habits, those holding patterns, and then building and maintaining new habits, new movement patterns that are more efficient, that are better in the long term for our body and ourselves. 

I feel like if I had to pick two principles, only two, which would be sad, but if I could only pick two principles to share what is important about Pilates or what makes Pilates different, I think that [00:18:00] this precision and control duo really gets to the heart of what the exercises are like. It's not going to be showy, flamboyant, or mindless movements. It's going to be precise and it's going to be controlled the whole time that you're doing it. 

Next week will be the last episode in this series and we're going to be talking about flow, or rhythm. In the pneumonic B triple C PR, it's rhythm. I also call it flow pretty much interchangeably. It's probably my favorite principle. So get really excited for next week if you weren't already. We'll be talking about the importance of rhythm or flow in the exercises and really why it's my favorite. In teacher training, we had to write a paper about one of the principles and flow is the one that I picked. And you'll get to hear all about that next week. 

If you're enjoying this series, if you're learning new things or looking at the principles in a new way, I'd love to hear about it. Reach out on Instagram [00:19:00] @pilatesstudentsmanual. Share your thoughts, share your opinions. I'd love to chat with you in our Pilates community on Instagram. It's a good time. I hope you have a fantastic week and I'll talk to you again soon.

Thanks for stopping by for today's episode of Pilates Students' Manual. Subscribe to follow the podcast and join the community of Pilates lovers on Instagram @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can reach out to me there with questions, comments, or feedback, or send me an email at  [email protected]

If you learned something new today, share this episode and the Pilates love. The adventure continues. Until next time. [00:20:00]



Welcome
Control
Autonomy
Precision
Coming Up Next Week