Foundational Fridays: "Back" to the Beginning

 "Back" to the Beginning

By Diane Adams-Strickland

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
-C.S. Lewis
Welcome to the first installment of Foundational Fridays.

I was motivated to begin this series after watching many of my clients become frustrated as they struggled to advance in their practice. It is hard to advance in any practice, let alone Pilates, unless you have fully mastered the basics. By recognizing that Pilates is a system in which many of the exercises and shapes reappear in different ways, it is easy to see that a full grasp of the foundational elements will ensure a strong and evolving practice.
 In Pilates, the initiation of every movement comes from the center. The center includes the abdominals (to include the obliques), the glutes, the inner thighs, and the low back. Often, the importance of the connection to the back is overlooked. 
Let’s first look at what the back muscles do to figure out why we need that area engaged. The back has many purposes, to include: movements/stabilization of the shoulders, movements of the arms, movements of the spinal column (what?!?!?!), trunk support, and holding our body upright. Having all of this knowledge, why is it so difficult to find our back connection in an exercise? One word: arms. The body looks for the easiest way to do something; you hear your teacher say, “Reach with your spine,” but your body hears, “Reach those arms as far as you can.”
Some of the most common exercises where I see the arms take over the job of the back is in The Rollup and Spine Stretch Forward. How many times have you heard your teacher tell you during these exercises to bring your shoulders back? That is because you are reaching forward with your arms rather than reaching through the sides of your lower back to extend your spine.
The next couple of weeks through EPA’s Instagram and Facebook posts, we will explore the back connection, and how to access It. But if you want a head start, go grab your Magic Circle and practice the arm series, which really is about your back.
Meet you at the Mat!