Pilates was originally called Contrololgy and was a regime of 34 exercises first published by Joseph Pilates and William John Miller in 1945 in a book called Return to Life Through Contrology. You will notice from the title of his book that Joseph Pilates was interested in ‘life’ and the connections between mind, body, and spirit. And the year it was printed? He was attempting to give hope and support to a broken world. Joseph Pilates was a man ahead of his time. 


The Eight Principles of Pilates were never actually listed by Pilates, but have been teased out of his writings, as fundamental to his method. As you read these, it’s interesting to see each principle as relevant not just to Pilates but to each movement you produce within other exercise, daily tasks or even as you walk down the stairs!


“to release unwanted tension from body – usually done in the relaxation position to prepare body and mind”.


“to clear your mind and focus your body while you exercise – concentrate on every movement to become totally aware of what you are doing”.


“by correctly aligning the body and bringing all the joints into their neutral zones, sound recruitment patterns are encouraged, and joints remain healthy”. 


“before movement, gently recruit from the back of pelvic floor and hollow lower abdominals towards spine, to engage deep postural muscles. This creates a strong centre as you move and breathe”.


“use lateral breathing, wide and full into sides and back. This allows you to centre and to use your stabilizing muscles effectively. As you breathe out, let ribs glide down, and breastbone soften”.


“jointly of your alignment, breathing and centering with your movements. This creates a girdle of strength and allows you to advance to more complex exercises whilst creating rhythm”.

Flowing Movements.

“control of movements lengthening away from a strong centre which keeps a rhythm and reduces chances of strain or stress”.


“work to build up stamina slowly to improve endurance”.

Building on these fundamentals and being more mindful about your movements undoubtedly creates control, precision, and balanced muscle development within the whole body. 


In the words of the man himself

“With body, mind, and spirit functioning perfectly as a coordinated whole, what else could reasonably be expected other than an active, alert, disciplined person? Moreover, such a body freed from nervous tension and over-fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well-balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.” Taken from Return to Life Through Contrology.

A more detailed explaination of the 8 principles can be found in our Virtual Studio along with a Pilates session to highlight how you incorporate them into your Pilates practice. 

Find out more about our Virtual Studio click on the button below.