Pilates has been a constant evolution for me. Just when I think I’m really getting it I discover there is something else to learn. And now I’ve come to realize, Pilates is a skill that will never be perfected, at least for me.
When I first started doing Pilates without having trained, I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be stabilizing parts of my body. I thought the entire workout should be done in imprint. I now know that sometimes you hold a neutral pelvis (and, at times, that is more challenging).
Once I learned to stabilize I was a stabilization fanatic. I worked so hard at stabilizing that I was finding Pilates almost frustrating. It’s the Type-A in me. I had to relearn the lesson I always have to learn. I needed to relax. See in Pilates, you need to stabilize the pelvis or the shoulder girdle or the ribs, but you need to learn to do that without tension. And that can be hard. Engaging a muscle gently, quietly, without cramming or forcing is a unique challenge. Activating a muscle so that it feels like a supportive sling for the rest of your movement without restricting your movement (although perhaps limiting movement) can be hard to comprehend.
It was a really hard concept and lesson for me to learn. Stabilizing and relaxing at the same time seemed impossible. At times this is still a concept I struggle with. But this was a really important epiphany for me. Because when I was stabilizing with force, I just felt tense all the time.
I often think of Pilates as a type of dance, gymnastics or a Cirque du Soleil show. What professional dancers, gymnasts, skaters, athletes, etc. do is really hard, but they make it look easy. That is the job of the excelling Pilates practitioner.
You need to learn the basics. Practice. Practice. Practice. And then when you’re really good at it, you’ll make it look easy. You’ve started to really “get” Pilates when you are stable and supple at the same time.
Check in tomorrow for tips on how to stabilize and stay relaxed at the same time!