Pilates – a language and a grammar all its own
For Infinity Pilates, the language of movement is everywhere. It starts from the moment a client enters the studio and before a word is spoken. It expresses itself in gait, posture, stance, composure, and dozens of other terms that bear no immediate relation to the complex functionality of the human body.
Most of us speak and read a language or languages from early childhood. But it takes a rare skill to interpret and articulate a language that has an alphabet and grammar all its own.
Remembering that Pilates is a unique system—a complete coordination of the body, mind and spirit - its language, too, weaves within the three.
In fact, it’s almost like a script from a detective drama—discerning clues of strength and weakness, injury or illness, under-use or over-use—from the slightest scraps of physical evidence.
A broader vernacular
Language in Pilates breaks down into two categories: the formal terminology of the studio, and the broader vernacular of body language. Infinity Pilates believes the latter is as important as the former.
Infinity founder, Kerrie Murphy, has a dance background. A late entrant to the world of ballet, its vocabulary was initially a challenge she had to overcome to pass the necessary tests.
Vocabulary of ballet
As a dancer, and later a teacher, she recognised the universality of ballet’s terms. She saw how it united so many young students in a language that connected body movements through word, imagination and creative self-expression.
Over time, that same terminology began to attach itself to her growing fascination with all human movement, not just dance and its unique language.
She would ask her students to link their physical expressions and moves to imaginative scenarios using images from nature or everyday tasks that will bring the quality and depth of the movement to fruition.
A second component, and one just as essential to Pilates as to dance, is physical demonstration. Working, teaching, and learning in a productive Pilates partnerships demands openness and trust.
A hallmark of a great Pilates instructor is the ability to implement the science of the body and human movement with a deep understanding of the Pilates method to maximise full movement potential in each client.
Mostly conveyed through descriptive language, occasionally the fullest intent and purpose of an exercise is guided through defined hands on techniques.
Most students feedback that somatic touch, combined with the verbal cueing of Pilates, compounds and reinforces the verbal cues and makes learning easier and more enjoyable. Some even describe it as’ like learning an unspoken language’.
Complex … and simple
Today, with degrees in dance and advanced diplomas in Pilates practice as its foundation, the language of Infinity Pilates is paradoxically complex and simple.
Remembering that Pilates is a unique combination of body, mind, and spirit, its language too is interwoven within the three. So when we use a term like ‘alignment’, we mean more than parts of the body functioning in their correct relationships.
Alignment means not only the physical componentry of the body functioning harmoniously and with complete interconnection. Alignment also requires full awareness of posture, and breathing correctly.
The higher purpose of wellbeing
When these three work together in harmony, it enables you to reach to the higher purpose of not only achieving a well-executed movement but the combination of the mind and body creates the greater achievement of wellbeing.
Similarly when we talk about the ‘powerhouse’ we do not refer to a set of muscles. Instead we describe the concept as a central support network that involves the interaction and organisation of breath, muscles, fascia, ligaments, tendons and bones. When properly performed, with concentrated focus on the powerhouse, provides a sense of pivotal connections and radiating energy.
On similar lines, ‘articulation’ is the language of the spine. With practice, clients learn to stack and unstack, or roll out the spine one vertebra at a time, improving balance, fluidity, and flexibility.
Pilates - the universal language
Our clients tell us the physical language of Pilates brings them to a closer understanding of their bodies than any spoken or written word. It’s a universal language everybody can speak.