In the spirit of “the beginning”, we thought it would be appropriate to begin the new year with Centering Body, Mind, and Spirit. Centering is the first of the six Pilates principles and it is the focus point of the Pilates method. Similarly, January is the beginning of a new year, and this year, a new decade! January is often a time of self-reflection and setting new goals and intentions. So, while we are all focusing to work from our center physically, let us also go inward to our “core” to discover where we want life to take us in the new year.
Joe referred to the “center” as the Powerhouse, but you will also hear it referred to by other names, such as the “Core” and the “Box.” They are all defined slightly differently, but the concept is the same.
The Powerhouse is defined as the area between the lower ribs and the pelvic floor.
The Box is defined by two horizontal lines running across the top of the shoulders and from one hip across to the other. It encompasses the entire pelvis and trunk of the body.
Centering refers to strengthening the center of the body. From our center we support our spine and major organs, strengthen the back and improve alignment and posture. When strengthened, it serves as the foundation from where all movement comes from and we become less vulnerable to injury and constrictions caused by modern living, working, and aging.
Joe considered mental discipline to be the prime essence of the Pilates system. When we “center” ourselves both physically and spiritually we activate our mind first. It is with mental discipline that we gain mastery or control over our physical and spiritual body. Physically this transcends into moving from our central body or our Powerhouse, removing the burden from our limbs, heart and lungs. Spiritually this transcends into focusing our thoughts and quieting our minds, which changes our emotions and how we feel and respond to life. Mentally this transcends into a highly efficient and instantly responsive instrument of the human spirit. Thus, the principle of centering can be used in Pilates and into everyday life. From the Hundred on your mat or apparatus, to sitting in your car, to helping you stay present in the moment and feeling connected to the earth, ultimately creating a mentally disciplined body.
Consider the ways in which you can “center” and find a deeper connection to each exercise:
• Breathing – the simple act of taking a moment, closing your eyes and settling into your practice.
• Moving with intention – using your alerted intelligence before and during movement.
• Imagery – pulling belly button to spine, wearing a corset, you have no arms or legs only a spine, the list is endless.
• The Hundred – the perfect example of centering. From the initial setup you are initially bringing focus to your center by centering your body on the mat and then, by deepening your abdominals into the mat.
• Homework idea - when you are sitting in your car center your body on your seat, draw your center into the back of the seat. By engaging your abdominals in toward the back of the seat you create a mind-body connection locating your body in space and creating a stable and strong foundation.
Effects of Centering:
• Posterior tilt of the pelvis
• Strengthened, stretched, and lengthened spine
• Toned abdominopelvic cavity
• Changed emotions and mental clarity
Pilates…first it changes your body. Then it changes your life.