Musings about Centring
Centring in Pilates is all to do with the engagement of the core muscles. These muscles are those that are located between the lower ribs and pubic bone. As you learn to engage (and release) these muscles you will be able to actively create a stable base from which to move.
Pilates is a mental as well as physical practice and the principle for centring can also apply to the mind. To fully benefit from the exercises, you really need to be 100% present. So, the first couple of exercises in any class are aimed at bringing you mind into the “room” to connect with your body, work out what it feels like today.
Did you know that 80% of the adult population will experiences lower back pain at some point in their lives? I didn’t until I took a course all about Low Back Pain [more on that in later weeks]. 80% that’s high, most of the causes are due to people twisting or reaching awkwardly. Or even just sitting in an unsupported way. You’ve deviated I hear you say – not really. Our core is what we use to support us even when sitting and we’ve all been doing far more of that in recent months.
Have a look at yourself now – are you using your core to support you? [I’ve just sat up a bit taller ?]
There is a phrase in my exercise manual that became a bit of a joke during my teacher training – the joke was if we said it for every exercise, we would gain a tick when we were assessed.
I didn’t fully understand how it applied to our movements during a class until earlier on this year as I’ve had more experience of verbally cueing students into moving. the phrase?
maintain a constant and appropriate level of connection with the deep abdominals and pelvic floor throughout
As I learn more about how our muscles work and what we need to do to make sure they work in the most efficient way I’ve grown to understand what this means.
whenever we do something, we need to use just the right amount of muscles. Our muscles are made up of lots of fibres just like a piece of rope is made up of lots of smaller strands twisted together. Unlike the rope we can activate each of these strands at will (very over simplified description). Imagine lifting your leg in a single knee fold – activate too many muscles and your leg will come flying towards your head rather fast – too few and it’s not going to get off the ground.
So back to centring – if we are just lying on the floor in the relaxation position we don’t need many of the muscles to be working, turn onto your side and in order to keep your spine in it’s neutral (horizontal) alignment we need to activate some more of our core muscles. that’s what I’m talking about when I get you to have a little space under your waist :-).
So, this week it’s all about the core and recruiting just enough of those muscles to do what we want to do….
Centring is one of the more complicated principles of Pilates to descibe as it relies on other definitions to be fully understood.
Joseph H Pilates used this word to dscribe what other exercise methods call core stability.