Principles of Pilates (5) Head & Cervical Placement
This fifth (and final) principle of Pilates enables the skull to balance directly above the shoulders whether we are in seated or standing Pilates exercises by enabling the cervical spine (back of the neck) to maintain its natural curve. We allow this part of the spine to follow the movement of the upper and mid back (thoracic spine) in all our exercises (forward bending, backward bending, stretching to the side and twisting).
Before we begin our Pilates workout we can set this up from a supine position lying down, feet flat on the floor. If your head feels at an angle in this position, try a head pad or block. Notice that your pelvis and spine are also in neutral alignment (see principle 2) and bring some awareness to the back of the head and cervical spine – lengthen the back of the neck and then inhaling tip the head very slightly forwards but leaving the back of the head on your mat or block. Exhale return to neutral. Repeat that practice a few times thinking of it as a movement of the eyeline as though you were watching clouds float past on an exotic beach without lifting your head. This movement is used to initiate Pilates exercises whenever we lift the upper body from his supine position and we ensure not to jam the chin onto the chest. This method of working helps stabilise the back of the neck avoiding strain.
Enjoy your practice!
You can set up your head and cervical placement in supine (shown below).