What you could conquer with proper alignment?
Achieving good alignment is not easy. You’d think a professional ballet dancer would have no problem with alignment. Think again.
Just like everyone else, good alignment and pain-free movement is something that evolves over time. It can’t be “mastered” in a couple hours.
So, when professional dancer and Pilates instructor Demetria came to me with her story of finding her own alignment through Pilates, I had to share it with all of you!
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When I was 10, my ballet teacher took me to the basement of her house and set me up on a machine. At the time I was sure it was a torture device. Not just because of the way it looked but how it felt.
I left the experience thinking, “I’m never doing that again.”
Later I would not only learn that the spring loaded thigh busting machine was a Pilates Reformer, but that I wanted to teach others on it.
For dancers, the “line” and aesthetic they create is everything. As long as it looks good, it doesn’t matter how unpleasant it feels. And that’s exactly what I did. I spent years wrecking my body trying to be the best. Little did I know, my teacher all those years ago in her basement was trying to tell me something.
That there’s a healthy way to achieve any heights of physical fitness and beauty without the pain.
As my body grew older and forcing it into those unnatural positions became more and more agonizing, I looked to Pilates for help.
I started from the beginning and I’m still learning. The beginning was finding my alignment; realizing that just because I could do a movement, didn’t mean I was doing it from the right place.
Finding proper alignment can feel like a never-ending, fascinating journey.Seems like you get one thing right, than something else falls apart.
It takes years of dedication to really understand alignment. That’s why Pilates is a practice not just a workout. Understanding will continue to evolve overtime both in and outside the studio. And there’s another better then when you achieve proper form, even if it’s just for a second. You truly feel invincible.
Good alignment starts with our skeleton.
But the problem is often we “train” and “practice” ways to move throughout our day that actually do more harm than good.
So let’s dig into one of the principles of Pilates: Pelvic Placement.
Our pelvis is one of the most important parts of our body to maintain a healthy happy spine. Learning how to stabilize your pelvis throughout a workout will help you move through each day a little stronger, a little straighter each day.
When walking or sitting you want to be holding your pelvis in neutral. Think: vertical pelvis. When walking feel as if your tailbone is lengthening down to the floor rather than tipping forward or backward. It’s so easy to slouch when sitting but if you think about sitting right on top of your sits bones rather than rolling to the back pockets of your jeans, you’ll be able to achieve a more vertical, neutral pelvis.
Now that we’ve got our pelvic bones positioned, let’s talk about what muscles should be working to stabilize this alignment.
Alignment starts deep at the bones. Then we need to use the muscles closest to the bones to stabilize. These are hard to feel and take practice to engage. Strengthening these deep muscles in your body will support the alignment of your pelvis, spine, and hips.
Remember your Pilates teacher always talking about your transverse abdominis? Well, it’s for a reason. This is the deepest muscle that is part of the ab group and wraps around the torso like a corset. It not only aids in our respiration but it also is most effective in stabilizing the spine when in neutral. So next time you hear ‘engage your transverse’ think about gently drawing your waist in on all sides. Trust me, your spine will thank you.
The hard work comes when trying to maintain this alignment while moving throughout your day. But every time you make a conscious effort to give equal attention to the alignment of your pelvis and the muscles working around it, you achieve a little more endurance.
The Pilates “magic” is that eventually your body will automatically go to this good alignment without you having to think about it!
Remember, Pilates is a journey. If starts when you begin to translate small bits of what you learn in the studio to everyday life. You can start by imagining your Pilates instructor is following you down the street. How would they tell you to align? And what muscles would they want you to feel working?
We’re here to help you move through life with ease, health, and the grace of a dancer.