In observing classes during my training and teaching classes these past few months, I’ve come to realize that a Pilates class can be totally useless if your teacher does not explain basic Pilates terminology. As with any sport, hobby, or skill, there is a universal vocabulary that makes it easier for Pilates instructors and other folk to communicate.
Don’t worry, no need to take notes. A great instructor will be able to guide a beginner with excellent cueing and will continue to refine the advanced student, but I thought I would outline a few of these basics in layman’s terms for those looking to get the most out of class. See Part 1: The Spine.
It’s time to discuss the pelvis. Meant for more than birthing babies and rock and roll gyrations, this structure is a complex, important aspect of Pilates and any kind of movement.
I will be honest when I say, I am not an expert on the pelvis or pelvic floor (yet). But, training the pelvic floor has the power to hugely affect function in our breathing, balance, back, legs, posture and organs. I hope to write more about this later, but let’s stick to basics!
For the beginning Pilates student (and teacher), the position of the pelvis is important because it affects the shape of the spine. Here are some basic terms that may clear up your Pilates practice.
PARTS OF THE PELVIS (in a nutshell):
- Sits Bones- Exactly what they sound like; the two bones you feel coming into contact with the floor when you sit up tall
- Pubic Bone- Frontal, lower bone of the pelvis that makes up one of three frontal points with the ASIS (see below).
- ASIS- Two front hip bones.
- Sacrum- 5 fused vertebrae at the bottom of the lumbar spine, connected to the back of the pelvis.
- Coccyx/Tailbone- 4 fused vertebrae below the sacrum.
NEUTRAL: Your front hip bones are on the same plane as the pubic bone. Lying on your back, this plane is parallel to the floor. Sitting or standing up, this plane is parallel to the wall. Your lumbar spine is in a neutral position, which is curved.
SUPPORTED: You may have also heard this called “tucked” and definitions vary among instructors. In short, you will use your abs to slightly lengthen the lower back and tilt the pubic bone more forward than it was. Your lumbar spine is slightly flexed. (Get dirty. Think of a pelvic thrust.)