Unity/Healing Hands

inspiration & design...

"Work like you don't need the money;
dance like no one is watching;
sing like no one is listening;
love like you've never been hurt;
and live every day as if it were your last."

~ Old Irish Proverb ~ Author Unknown ~
~ Health in mind, body & soul.... Namaste. ~
~ Dolphin. ~

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Introduction to the Principles of Pilates Workshop Series" (Preliminary Info/Working Title)

Preliminary information from my:

"Introduction to the Principles of Pilates Workshop Series"

(Under design still...

I.e. I will be expanding this information & over time & changing the order of how the principles are explored.

I will post update info as I go.. for this is being shared as a work in progress.

ALL information is copy write!)

Pilates Principles

Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.

"To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life we must constantly strive to acquire strong healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limit of our ability."

So begins Joseph Pilates, in his book " Return To Life Through Contrology" , outlining the fundamental goal of his technique.
He intended this technique to be not only about muscular strength or cardiovascular fitness, but as a movement regime for the whole body.

In designing this body of work, Joe began with the philosophical stance and built the approach and exercises to fulfill the purpose of serving the principles of:

- Full Body Health:
Joe emphasizes the unity of the whole body, mind, and spirit.

This includes physical activity, good diet, and cleanliness.
Joe speaks really of the attainment of a way of life.

He doesn’t simply talk about exercise from a structural, physical stance. He speaks of how this allows you to achieve a whole, disciplined body that can move efficiently with spirit through the life you choose to live.

- Full Body Commitment:
To achieve whole body health requires commitment and discipline.

First and foremost is a commitment to a healthy lifestyle! Patience, persistence, and diligence to yourself and to the exercises.

The exercises themselves have no importance. (I disagree w/the statement to some degree, but that is what Joe believed). But, the intention of how to move to accomplish that movement skill/ability is of paramount importance. This requires whole body involvement and integration.

- Breathing:
This is the starting point for life.

Breathing is essential for life from the physiological perspective. It is the connection of mind and spirit from the "yogic" perspective.

The action of breathing is the most immediate connection into our Core and hence becomes the starting point for movement. In the exercises, the breath informs the movement and regulates the rhythm of the movement.


These are the principles identified by Phillip Friedman & Gail Eisen in "The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning" ,
first published in 1980.

These principles can be considered as subsets of the guiding principles from which Joe worked. These apply more directly to the technique of the exercise system that is the Pilates Method.

It is important to remember that there is a difference between philosophy and technique: the philosophy is there to inform the technique; the technique is there to serve the philosophy.

Without teaching the philosophy along with the technique, all you are teaching is the exercises. The goal is to provide for uniform, balanced whole body development.

1. Concentration:

You must learn to pay attention to every part of the body and all parts at the same time. To do this, you must first learn to pay attention - recognize incoming information so to learn to accept, evaluate and respond.

I.e. Develop kinesthetic awareness
Eventually, through the conscious control, the neuromuscular patterning becomes embodied, becoming automatic, thus allowing freedom, ease and efficiency of movement.

This concept is also about being present in the moment to experience the movement in your body.

- Accepting incoming information from the body
- If a person cannot assess what is going on in the body, they cannot send a clear message from the brain to the body

Concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value. ~Joe Pilates

2. Control:

You must be in control of the whole body, all of the time.

Every exercise of the classical repertoire involves the whole body - what is actively moving, what is actively stabilizing, what is actively releasing. This control provides increased feeling of power.

Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex action of our muscles. ~Joe Pilates

As a client, you need to accept responsibility for yourself, and/or your body! ~ME! (& well.. sorta Joe)

Pilates On The Chief

3. Centering:

The starting place that supports the body and from which all movement begins.

Joe’s designation: The Girdle of Strength
• The front and Back of the body between the ribs and the top of the pelvis.

The contemporary Pilates designation:
• The front and back of the body extending between the floating ribs and the top of the pelvis.
• This area is crucial for supporting the spine (and the CNS).
• This area has no bone except the spine. If this area is not stable, it is difficult for any other part of the body to move efficiently and effectively.

Stabilization of the core, both in movement and in stillness!

4. Precision:

Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance in your routine and activities. ~Joe Pilates

Pilates is about effective and efficient movement throughout the body. To develop this requires a balance and coordination of all the muscular systems throughout the body.

For new participants, they often begin with well-ingrained, imbalanced muscular patterns.

Is there any point to mimicking through a movement or exercise without conscious effort to correct these imbalances?

By learning the wrong way, you only reinforce bad habits.

This requires self-discipline --> can you commit to disciplining your body?

There is no bad movement, just movement done badly ~Eve Gentry

Image of an old watch - if all the little parts are working properly, the watch works perfectly. ~Kathy Grant

Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect ~Joseph Pilates

If you do not put your bones in the right positions, your muscles can’t pull on them properly, and so your joints are out of position. This means you cannot strengthen the muscles properly because they are not in the right position. You also can’t release the other side properly, and you can’t build a balanced relationship between muscles.

5. Flowing Movement:

The Pilates system is about movement!

When you put these principles together, you get balanced muscle development with the knowledge of how the body parts move in relation to each other, and as such efficiency of movement. All this leads to natural movement and natural rhythm (pace).

The body learns through movement, not through stillness and the best way to learn strength, efficiency, etc. is through movement. There is no end point for the movements, they are cyclical and flowing in sequence. Pilates exercises are designed to increase the range of motion with progression of/through the exercises.

If you go at a very slow, or a very fast pace, you are going to be using too much muscle and not allowing your body’s rhythm to be normal. The brain will not (can not) learn properly at a slow or fast pace. For example, when you work too slow, the brain will segment the movements and it will not be able to put them together as efficient movement.

6. Breathing:

Breathing is important in many ways:

It is the life force!

It is essential to life - to bring in O2 and remove CO2 from the body
It facilitates circulation of cerebral-spinal fluid through the central nervous system. It has a profound effect on posture. Inhaling into the ribs takes pressure off the discs.

But, if you inhale into the abdominals, you pull the spine forward, bringing the vertebrae together and putting pressure on the discs. Correct breathing will move the ribs and use the intercostals. As you lift and separate the ribs, you lift and separate the vertebrae. Everything falls back together on the exhale.

Pilates with "Cat"
(I've actually put vertebrae back into place just by breathing.. so much for needing that Chiropractor appointment?!

And let me tell you.. does it EVER feel good when it happens! :)

Each exercise in Pilates has a specific breathing pattern that directs the movement, designed to allow easier movement through the exercise.

You have got to OUT the air to IN the air! ~Joseph Pilates


Pilates Principles Handout Client Version

Modified and Compiled by Michelle Marcicki
~ Unity Integration Studios ~ Vancouver, BC
~ Email: UnityIntegration@shaw.ca ~

(Original Compilation/Creation by:
Steve Bryson ~ Bodyworks Pilates Studio ~ Edmonton, AB)

~ Last Edited: January 28, 2009
~ Last Update (major): January 28, 2009
~ Created: July 09, 2007

Copyright: Michelle Marcicki ~ Unity Integration Studios
(And Steve Bryson ~ Bodyworks Pilates Studio)



~ Return To Life Through Contrology ; Pilates, Joseph H. (Joe); First published in 1945
~ "The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning" ; Eisen, Gail & Friedman, Phillip; First published in 1980

More to come (for various other quotes & information).
~ Kathy Grant
~ Eve Gentry


*New*-ish blog feature!
Songs listened to while writing (in this case editing/publishing)...

~ Sinéad O'Connor - Troy

Also.. related "articles" I'm working on:

~ Cross-lateral movement - Article review/assessment & beyond
~ How long does it take to build muscle? - Article review/assessment & beyond

~ For the weekend warriors.. why you ICE (not heat)! - A snippet from the world of my first aid, massage therapy, Pilates & other fitness & Kinesiology training/knowledge!

~ Anatomy Books (aka Sexy Reading ;) - What's hot, what's awesome, what's for the layperson, the dancer, the weekend warrior, the athlete..

~ Neural Pathways... a.k.a. How the Mind Works - fascinating stuff..

~ Why We Breathe... (How we breathe) - Breathe in, Breathe out.. a little poetry.. a little A&P.. just for fun ;)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

NIA (Integration of heart, mind, body and soul...)

(Integration of heart, mind, body and soul...)

~ barefoot beauty
pleasure in senses,
dancing between the lines
outside the boundaries,
beyond the mind

~ pure joy
sensations merging,
empowering to the point of tears
of release,
of hope

~ dancing dreams
of passion,
of connection
amalgamation of heart, mind, body and soul
bliss and wonderment

~ tapestry
collection of hearts beating in time
in rhythm
explosion of expression
a spark,
a moment
a deepening,
a release
breaking free

~ awareness
of the soles of my feet,
my breath,
every fibre of my being

~ integration
from the ground up
energy from the earth
feel your feet
feel your body
beyond time

~ barefoot beauty
pleasure in sensation
dancing beyond the lines
inside the body
inside the mind


Copyright: Michelle L. Marcicki (Dolphin)
Written: January 4-7, 2010
Updated: February 11, 2010
Edited: March 6, 2010

*New* blog feature!
Songs listened to while writing...
~ Sway - Michael Bublé
~ Lost - Michael Bublé
~ Bring it on home to me - Wilson Pickett
~ Downtown Train - Tom Waits
~ Just Like Heaven - The Watson Twins
~ You Send Me - Sam Cooke
~ No Woman, No Cry - Bob Marley