The Nine Key Principles of Pilates

Joseph Pilates thought of his method as a way to connect and develop the mind, body and spirit.
These are the nine principles of the Pilates Method.

  1. Breathing
    The breath is the essential link between the mind and the body. It draws our wandering mind back into our bodies and back to the task at hand. It is the foundation of our existence and the rhythm that accompanies us from birth to death. In Pilates the breath is integrated into every movement in order to keep our awareness on what we are doing, to improve the flow of oxygen throughout our tissues and to improve the capacity of our lungs.
  2. Concentration
    To concentrate is to pay attention to what it is that you are doing. To be present with and in control of the task at hand. Without concentration the exercise lose their form and their purpose. When teaching it is important to have a client do only as many repetitions as they can without losing their concentration. As Joe often said “It is better to do 5 reps perfectly than 20 without paying attention.”
  3. Control
    To be in control is to understand and maintain the proper form, alignment and effort during an entire exercise. Pilates exercises are never done without engaging the mind to control the movements and the efforts that the body is making.
  4. Centering
    In Pilates all movement radiates outward from the center or from the core (often called the “powerhouse” of your body). Developing a strong, stable and flexible center is one of the defining features of this form of exercise.
  5. Precision
    Understanding proper form and placement and being able to perform exercises with efficiency comes with practice. Precision is the end product of concentration, control , centering and practice.
  6. Balanced Muscle Development
    Understanding, developing and maintaining correct alignment and form is essential to Pilates. With practice these principles become second nature and lead to improved posture, increased comfort and enhanced physical abilities.
  7. Rhythm/ Flow
    All movements in Pilates are done with a sense of rhythm and flow. Flow creates smooth, graceful and functional movements. It decreases the amount of stress placed on our joints and develops movement patterns that integrate our body into a smoothly flowing whole.
  8. Whole Body Movement
    Pilates is fundamentally about integration; integrating movement into a flowing whole body experience, integrating the mind and body to create clarity and purpose, integrating mind, body and spirit to create a life of balance.
  9. Relaxation
    to be healthy in body and mind it is important to understand the balance between effort and relaxation. In Pilates we learn to use just the amount of effort needed to complete the exercise correctly, no more, no less. Learning to release unnecessary tension in our bodies helps us to find ease and flow in movement and in the rest of our lives.

1) Balanced Body University, learn more at /movement-principles.
2) Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology, by Joseph Pilates and William John Miller, First Published in 1945 by J.J. Augustin, republished in 1998 by Presentation Dynamics.