Principles of Pilates (2) – Pelvic Placement
The second of the Principles of Pilates is Pelvic Placement. The two positions used in Pilates to achieve stability of the pelvis are neutral (when beginning a practice this is mainly used in a lying down position when both feet are on the mat) and imprint (mainly used when the feet are raised off the mat with the back in contact with the mat). Neutral spine can be achieved by ensuring the hip bones and pubic bone are parallel to the Pilates mat. Allow the sacrum to rest on the mat as you engage the breath to recruit the deep abdominal muscles (see Principle (1) – breathing). As you breathe ensure there is no strain in the lower back. If there is any muscular strain, re-position the pelvis to a more imprinted position so you can maintain abdominal engagement – this is more important than achieving neutral spine at this stage. To find an imprinted position, position the pubic bone so it is slightly higher than the bony part of the hips but not to such an extent that the sacrum moves away from the mat. Be mindful not to overly tuck under by over using the superficial abdominal muscles or the gluteal muscles. Once a regular Pilates practice has been established and a degree of abdominal awareness and strength has been obtained, it will become easier to perform more of the exercises from a neutral spinal position. Test your neutral spine lying down on your mat with bent knees and rock your pelvis to explore the range of movement as you tilt the pelvis towards you and away from you. Neutral spine is somewhere between the two. Explore your imprint working with the breath – inhale and stay in neutral spine then exhale to shorten the sides of the body (keeping the gluteals relaxed) and then inhale to maintain your imprinted position, exhale to return to neutral spine. See the Obliques exercise below which is practised in imprint until the practitioner has the strength and ability to progress to neutral spine.