The A - Z of Pilates - A for Alignment

A for Alignment (Postural)


When it comes to exercise Pilates can sometimes be misunderstood. There are many who are not too sure of it, many who have never really heard of Joseph Pilates, some are not ever so sure how Pilates is different from Yoga, lots of gentlemen out there who think it is only for ladies of a certain age, and many who think that it is 'a bit quiet' or 'too gentle' and therefore will not be beneficial. 

The truth is that Pilates is actually beneficial for almost everyone, all the way through from a very young age to a much older age, as one of the best things about the Pilates method is that it works so well for such a wide range of people. The key to it being the most beneficial is to be able to understand its principles, and how to apply these principles to be able to perform it with the correct technique. 



All Pilates exercises start with ensuring the body has the correct postural alignment, so that the core or 'centre' is connected and the spine is in a neutral position. This can be when standing, sitting, four point kneeling, or lying down on your back. Take a look through my standing postural alignment below to practice and then apply the same principals in any of the


Good postural alignment/neutral spine checklist:


  • Feet and legs: Place your feet, ankles and knees facing forward in a parallel position. Your knees are straight but not locked.​ Ensure that your weight is evenly balanced between your big toe, little toe and heel. If you are lying down on your back, bend your knees so that, along with your feet, they are hip width apart and your toes are pointing directly forward.
  • Length through the body: Imagine that there is energy channeling up through your body  lengthening through the hips and up the sides of your body to the tops of your ears and beyond.
  • Neck and head: As you lengthen, feel the back of the neck lengthening away from the shoulders and ensure your head is relaxed and sitting freely on its axis. Your gaze is straight and your chin is in a natural position.
  • Shoulders: Make sure that the tips of your shoulder blades glide down your back so that there is plenty of space between your ears and the top of the shoulders. Your ribcage is soft and 'closed' so that it does not flare open or thrust outwards.
  • Core connection. Gently pull your lower abdominal muscles backwards and then think of them drawing and 'scooping' upwards under your ribs. By doing this you should automatically engage and 'zip up' your pelvic floor muscles at the same are aiming to make your waistband feel a little bit loose and have a sense of aliveness in your core area.
  • Neutral Spine: Activating your core connection should drop your tailbone down towards the floor to bring your back into a neutral spine position. This is where your pelvis is neither tucked under or arched backwards and is just sitting in the natural curve of the spine.
  • Arms: Your arms are long by your side and relaxed.


Once you have mastered your good postural alignment you could practice going through the above checklist as many times as you can during your day. You can apply the principals when sitting down or engaged in other activities, such as at work or even just watching the television. The more you practice, the more in tune you and aware you will become. You will start to look and feel taller, more poise, relaxed...and more confident. Good luck and enjoy......think 'Posture'!


Next up in my A-Z of Pilates will be B for breathing.


This entry was posted on September 26, 2017