As with any new hobby or sport, there seems to be a whole ‘other language’ to learn. I’m conscious of how intimidating it can be in class, ‘bracing your abs’, ‘engaging your glutes’, ‘wearing your crown’, breathing!’, ‘check your alignment’, it can seem endless.
With a little bit of practice and knowledge, your confidence with Pilates will grow, enabling you to fully focus and improve throughout your Pilates class.
I’ve found this great piece By Marguerite Ogle from verywellfit
Neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when all 3 curves of the spine—cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower)—are present and in good alignment. This is the strongest position for the spine when we are standing or sitting, and the one that we are made to move from.
Use the following exercise to help you find the neutral position for your spine;
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your legs are parallel with your heels, toes, knees, and hips all in one line. Let your arms rest at your sides.
Relax your body, including your shoulders, neck, and jaw. Allow your back to rest on the floor, without effort. Your rib cage is dropped with the lower ribs released to the floor as well.
Bring your breath all the way into your body, allowing it to move into your back and the sides of your rib cage, and all the way down to the pelvis.
Exhale and use your abs to press your lower spine into the floor in a pelvic tuck. Inhale to release.Exhale and pull your lower spine up, away from the floor creating a pelvic tilt. Inhale to release.
Remember…during Pilates we don’t use excess energy or tension. Be sure that, as you do this exercise, your shoulders, neck, and legs are relaxed and not getting involved in the movement.
Imagine that there is a cup of water sitting on your lower abdomen, just a couple of inches below your belly button. Allow your abdominals to drop in toward your spine, making your belly flatter. Remember that you don’t want the water to spill, so your pelvis cannot be tipped forward or tucked under.
You should now be relaxed with your body in a balanced alignment on the floor. Your breath is deep and full, and your abdominals drop toward the floor. The natural curves of the neck and lumbar (lower) spine, however, are away from the floor. Be sure that your lower spine is not pressed into the floor. That would be a pelvic tilt.
Once you stand up, you are more challenged without the sensory cue of the floor beneath you to show you where the curves of your spine should be. Use a wall to do the same drill as before by standing with your back to wall, and your feet directly under your hips in parallel with soft knees. As if someone were pressing a hand down onto the crown of your head, push into the imaginary hand and try to grow another inch. That decompression of your spine will lace up the multifidi muscles around the spine, another of your deep core muscles responsible for supporting neutral.
Now the big trick is to be to maintain this spinal position as you begin your moves.
Start by lifting your right leg up and placing it back down without letting your hips move. Then repeat the motion with the left leg. Engage the abdominal muscles to help stabilise the pelvis making sure it doesn’t move.
Finally…simply ask, if ever you have any doubt about your posture or alignment or carrying tension. I’ll gladly spend time with you.