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Find your whole body core

Find your whole body core by Claire Sparrow

I hope you enjoyed the exercises that I introduced in my last blog based on the Pilates principle of breathing. This week we are going to skip ahead to the principles of Control and centring. People often ask if Pilates is good for your core? I usually follow up with a question of my own, what does core mean to you? I think often the media has made us think the core is all it’s about and all we need to improve and Pilates does so much more than improve this elusive wondrous core! So in this little blog, I’m going to explain a little bit more about what your core is and how Pilates can help you either it.

  • Breathing
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Centring
  • Precision
  • Flowing Movements

Those principles Control and Centring at their essence are what we at Chapel Allerton Pilates would consider your core and you won’t hear us using any of these words in the way that we teach you. The word core suggests some small area in the centre of you that media would lead you to believe is responsible for everything, it is its weakness that causes your low back pain, your pelvic floor dysfunction and so much more. This may or may not be the case and if we don’t truly know what it is then how can we be sure when we do Pilates class or any other exercise, if we are working this target area.

Your core is like a cylinder

It is believed that your core is like a cylinder and consists of your pelvic floor at the bottom, deep lower abdominal muscles, deep back muscles and your diaphragm at the top. It is often taught that you can consciously engage those muscles to create all the support you need to perform whatever activity whether it is Pilates, weight lifting or picking up your child. However, these muscles do not act alone. They also can not be controlled effectively and independently by your conscious mind. I know mic drop! Everything in our body is interconnected in a suspension system called fascia, rather than one part stacked on the other working independently. This means as the tai chi saying says “when one part moves all parts move.”

How do you activate and access your core?

Now that we have the basic science of your core clear how then do we activate it and access is it correctly when you do Pilates and how does this relate to the control and centring principles of Pilates? Control comes from your control centre, your brain to your suspension system, the fascia that controls what your muscles do. Centring is the feeling of being connected mind and body and finding length throughout your body rather than collapse. You could think of this as aligning to gravity.

At Chapel Allerton Pilates you will know you are being taught about and how to access your ‘core’ when we ask you to lengthen or reach bits of your body away from each other, when we ask you to meet your feet on the floor or the foot bar of the Reformer or use your exhale to lengthen.

So yes Pilates can help you access and strengthen your core and maybe your core is more than you thought it was. It is more about length than shortening or tightening. In Pilates you are working all of you all of the time and that’s fantastic because your core is all of you!

Next time you are in class think of these things to help you find your whole body core.

  1. Exhale to find more length
  2. Reaching your crown and tail away from each other
  3. Find length between your collar bones and pubic bone and maintain it whatever you are doing.
  4. Reach beyond the apparatus, mat or exercise you are doing.
  5. Smile, you will be amazed at home much more connection you have when you smile.
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