Pilates Principles

  • Control
  • Concentration
  • Centering
  • Precision
  • Breathe
  • Flow

Practicing these six principles will get you the most benefit from the time you invest exercising.

More About Control

Much of the Pilates method is built on muscle control. Avoid sloppy, haphazard moves. Don’t approach any exercise by ramrodding through it. Be purposeful. For each movement work within your range, without straining, and do this consistently throughout the routine. That’s control.

Applying Pilates Concentration

As you listen to cues from a Pilates instructor, focus on your movements. Being mindful of what your body is doing—concentrating on it—teaches your body a better way to move, until it becomes automatic for you. How does it “teach?” By making “neuro-muscular connections,” which are direct lines from your brain telling your muscles what to move and how to move it.

Pilates Centering

This has to do with the center of your body’s framework–your abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks. These muscles together support your skeletal framework. This “core” is our body’s center of balance, like the foundation under a house keeps it level and upright.  

The Pilates method is a “whole-body” approach, meaning your whole body must be active during your workout. Each part of your body develops in balance with every other part, and they move in concert. This is the only way to achieve strong posture and fluid movements.

Precision in Pilates

To perform a movement in exactly the same way, every time you perform it, is precision.  This is a fancy way of saying “practice makes perfect.” Have you ever wondered why practice helps our bodies learn to do things like dancing, or riding a bike? It’s because moving precisely builds communication between our brains and muscles (neuromuscular connections). You might have heard it called “muscle memory.”

The precision in Pilates is what’s precise for you at this time.  Pilates starts with where you are and takes you forward.  It allows for the changes that have occurred over a lifetime of living.

The Pilates Breath

Joseph Pilates thought of breath as an “internal shower.”  Air breathed into our lungs brings oxygen our bodies need, and exhaled air takes out the garbage we don’t need. In most Pilates exercises you inhale to start the exercise and exhale to finish.  Inhale, “scoop” the belly and exhale fully, keeping the belly scooped.


Pilates exercises are meant to be performed fluidly, not with speed. One movement flows into another movement.

Flow can be the most challenging of all the Principles.  It ties together all the other Principles, and demands your whole neuromuscular system be engaged throughout your workout.


So these are the 6 Principles of Pilates. My podcasts will help you keep these principles in mind as you workout. Immersing yourself in these principles will make them an instinctive part of your Pilates sessions–and life in general.