The 6 Principles of Pilates

By Farah Merani

A lot of people confuse some of the core principles of Pilates with those of Yoga. Although this is understandable—there are some very close similarities and shared concepts—there are some significant differences in approach that distinguish Pilates from its yogi cousin. Below are six principles that are Pilates-centric:

  • Centering

Most Pilates teachers will emphasize focusing your attention to the “belt line,” the imaginary band that wraps around your waist at navel level. This centered attention forces you to think and feel how your core muscles are being affected by every movement, whether it is a full leg lift or an intricate pelvic tilt.

  • Concentration

Each exercise requires dedicated focus, so you can really feel how your body is being challenged with every move. This will also help you to learn the difference between what feels right and what feels wrong, and then readjust yourself more readily.

  • Control

Unlike many forms of yoga, which often place less importance on controlled movements, Pilates encourages performing movements with control and fluidity. Practicing this kind of constant muscular control in conjunction with deep breathing can make you feel more graceful and poised.


While Pilates and yoga have similarities, some aspects are quite different

  • Precision

Pilates is great for detail-oriented minds! Some of the most important movements are tiny and quite subtle. With greater awareness of how your body moves and having a strong sense of the alignment of one body part relative to others, your strength and athleticism can develop.

  • Breathe

Yoga and Pilates both share this principle, but the techniques differ. In Pilates, the lips are open on the exhale whereas this is not the case in yoga. Focusing on full breaths throughout your exercises and on filling your lungs like balloons pumping air in and out helps to build strength through the activity and is also useful for stress relief during the rest of your life.

  • Flow

One of the reasons Pilates is so popular with dancers is the importance of fluidity through the movements. Nothing is ever static or jolting. This sense of flow serves to keep the heart rate up while improving coordination and muscular endurance.

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