If you have ever taken a pilates class you have probably heard talk of the basic principles. Even if an instructor hasn’t called them that, they have probably told you to “engage your core,” “pull your belly button to your spine,” “engage your kegels,” “relax your shoulders,” “tilt your chin up or down,” or “knit your ribs.” There are thousands of ways to get people thinking about the basic principles of pilates, but the question really is do you consider them outside of pilates class?

Here are a few ways to start incorporating the basic principles into your day:

1) Engage your lower abdominals and kegel muscles at every red light, stop sign, when you touch a door knob, or while you are waiting for your Keurig Coffee.

2) When you are tense or cold, notice if your shoulders are shrugging up to your ears and try to relax them.

3) When sitting for long periods of time (in the car or at the office) do some pelvic tilts—rock your pelvis back and forth just a little to lengthen the low back and then return to a neutral spine.

4) Check in with your breath a couple of times a day. How many seconds can you inhale? How many seconds can you exhale? Can you practice for a week, or two, or three and improve your time?

5) Can you direct your breath to your low back instead of your stomach or chest? Practice next time you are standing in line somewhere. Not only will it help you pass the time, but it might help you distress if you’re in a rush.

This is only the beginning. You can think about the basic principles, which all help improve balance within the body, when you are cooking, eating a meal, doing yard work or house work, at a football game, in the movies, or in the shower.

Joe Pilates wanted people to think about how they moved in daily life to keep their bodies in better form. You have the power and ability to build a stronger, safer body. And you can incorporate pilates into everything you do. Think about as a New Year’s Resolution!