How you measure whether you are getting more advanced at Pilates depends where you start from – a stiff 50 year old man is going to look different from an injured female ballet dancer in the way that their physical training will develop. Nevertheless, there are certain more general aspects in common.
Pilates Improves Your Relationship With Your Body
When you start training you probably don’t have much powerhouse strength or alignment and we start by working on this and also by beginning to re-establish correct movement in the back. For some people that means the back needs to get stronger to stop slumping, while for others it is about loosening up so it can move naturally.
This initial stage of training will start to create changes in your body as well as alter your perception of your body. You may start to notice a difference in your body shape, become aware of your everyday posture and even get comments from people you know.
When Pilates gets out of the studio and into your body like this it is a sign that you are advancing. This may be that you no longer slump when watching TV, that you have more strength for golf or carrying the baby or that you just feel better and less achy.
Pilates Improves the Relationship Between Your Mind and Body
At the basic level we find your power house, at the intermediate level we deepen it and at the advanced level we increase its stamina. However, being advanced is not simply about being physically strong enough to sustain your power house for 55 minutes without interruption. It is as much about progress in the principles of pilates, so that you can keep your mind concentrated in your body for that long.
In terms of the “pilates principles” concentration is maintaining precision and control from the centre with increased flow and focus on the breath. This concentration is how the pilates method achieves the mind-body connection.
With increased concentration you become wholly focused on and committed to the present moment, moving without rushing or resting and with no thoughts beyond what you are doing. This “meditation in movement”, as our students will testify, does not have much of the airy float that the word “meditation” often suggests.
This complete coordination of body, mind and spirit is the sign of advanced pilates and when it becomes subconscious and its rhythm carries through to all your movements then you know that you have got better at pilates.