Meet your powerhouse, the center of the body: the core. Deep core engagement allows one to move with both grace and strength. When you move from your center, you remain grounded, steady, and balanced.
Let’s test the steadiness of your core.
If you were standing in Warrior 3 and someone poked the side of your body, would you remain steadily grounded or would your body give way to the external force? If you wobble, chances are your core could use some extra activation. Pilates can help build strength, deepen your yoga practice, and keep you free from injury.
Finding Deeper Core Activation
In Pilates, you are often activating the deep muscles of your abdomen, and from that place of stability, finding the healthy and integrated movement of your limbs. The core becomes the center of strength and the limbs learn to move separately from the center. How deep is the core activation? One way to intuit if you are fully accessing the power of the abdomen is by bringing your awareness into your Pilates exercises. If you feel the work transfer into the hip flexors, you need to go deeper. It doesn’t mean your core isn’t already strong; sometimes we’re not properly using our strength to its highest potential. Other times, certain muscles are stronger and overcompensating for weaker ones that need to be honed in on and trained.
Your core plays a role in every move you make. By consciously creating more strength and awareness, you are creating a healthier foundation for your body to move from.
By recruiting your core muscles, you increase your balance and stability. Mat Pilates specifically can help to identify instability in the body because of the stable nature of the ground and is regarded as the safest exploration of Pilates when building your balance and stability. It has been scientifically proven that Mat Pilates increases the dynamic and static balance in a group of women ages 65 and older.
Have you tried online Pilates on YogaToday?
Check out this class for balance and stability.
A Healthier Back
Practicing Pilates increases awareness of posture and spinal alignment. The movement patterns in Pilates help to lengthen and strengthen core postural muscles to bring the body back into healthy alignment. By working with deeper core activation, you can find a finer articulation of spinal movement. Your awareness grows to include where the spine is flexible and mobile and where the spine is more stiff and tense.
New to Pilates?
Begin with the fundamental movements of Pilates with YogaToday Instructor Nikki Beck. If you’re working with lower back pain, connecting to your core and finding more mobility in your spine can help.
Have 5 Minutes? Try a Pilates Roll-Up
What is the most popular pose for the core? Well, with such an intentional focus on the core in Pilates, there is a lot to choose from! If you have the time to put just one to the test, try the roll-up, an essential Pilates movement.
Begin laying on your back with your belly up and reach your hands towards the ceiling, directly above the line of the shoulders. Begin to reach through the fingertips, activating your core and curling your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat. Continue to articulate the lift of your spine off the mat, until your hands are reaching towards your toes. Restack the spine, bringing the shoulders over the hips, and reach your hands forward, hands again in line with the shoulders. Tuck your tail, rocking off your seat, slowly articulate the movement of your spine back down to the mat.