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Pilates Principles

The Main Two Principles of Pilates - Control and Breathing

When you consider starting pilates practice, remember to keep these two main principles in order to get the best results.     

Control “Contrology”

An essential term, since Joseph Pilates called his art of movement, is "Contrology". When performing Pilates exercises, nothing is left to chance. 

You decide to do an exercise within a certain setup, then you perform it, and do so for a corresponding number of repetitions.

Meanwhile, you constantly stay in control of your own body and the Pilates apparatus and its springs. Romana Kryzanowska said: 

"You can say what Pilates is in these words: Stretch with strength and control. And the control part is the most important because it makes you use your mind."


While Joseph Pilates indicates an exact breathing pattern for each exercise in his book on mat exercises, he was not clear enough on the subject of breathing for a whole breathing methodology to be deduced from them. Teachers and clients who were in his studio reported that he usually used "out with the air"as an instruction.

He also sometimes said: 

"Squeeze out your lungs as you would wring a wet towel dry"

So, his main idea was to empty the lungs entirely, and then to refill them with fresh air. It was so important to him that he even invented his own device to train this, the Breath-a-cizer. In the book by Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, Pilates' student Romana Kryzanowska is quoted with the general breathing rule:

"Breathe into the point of effort, and out when returning or relaxing"

as well as the modification:

"If you're doing something that squeezes your body tight, use the motion to squeeze air out of your lungs and inhale when you straighten up."

In her DVD series "Romana on Pilates: The Legacy Edition" she distinguishes between specific "breathing exercises," i.e., exercises in which breathing is focused upon and in which a particular breathing pattern should be used, and exercises in which breathing is simply allowed to flow. 

What is certain is that the breath is not held during Pilates and that it is precisely controlled to prevent the pressure of the diaphragm from bulging the abdomen outward.