The A-Z of Pilates - P is for Posture (of course!)

Posture - my favourite!


Posture and body alignment (see Pilates A-Z - A is for Alignment) is so important to us all and I am sure that any one of us is able to recognise great posture when we see it. Somebody with great posture has an openness and freedom about their natural movement patterns; they are lengthened and poised, well toned and always seems to project a wonderful inner confidence to the world around. 


I have to say that am always particularly delighted if I happen to see one of my class participants with great posture when I am out and about in my local area. It is truly inspirational, especially if when they first came along to Pilates classes they were struggling with aches and pains in the back, neck or shoulders or were suffering with lack of mobility, stiffness or core strength. These types of niggles really do tend to manifest themselves in the way that we move and stand. They affect our overall body alignment and posture such, that without taking any positive action, the resulting compensatory movement patterns that we develop only become worse and can cause a myriad of postural imbalances. 


Pilates exercise is renowned to correct postural imbalances as the exercises are designed to develop and strengthen all of the important deep core stability and postural muscles that we need to support our bodies properly. With consistent exercise over time, the back becomes more mobile, the core is stronger and more supportive of the spine, the shoulders tend to relax, the neck and head start to move more freely, and stress is relieved in the hips, legs and feet. The transformation is fantastic to see, but it also common for people to report how well they feel, how much trimmer and toned they seem to look in the mirror, and how much those previous niggling aches and pains are alleviated or have disappeared altogether.


There are many beneficial postural exercises in Pilates and a good balanced class will encompass a whole range.  If you would like to have a go at one, you will find a brilliant one below for starters. It is called The Dart, and I think that is a great all rounder for strengthening the deep core and stability muscles of the body, as well as the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, inner thigh and glutes. You don't need to do many, as if you do the exercise properly you will find it sneakily and quite surprisingly strenuous! As always, please make sure that you take appropriate medical advice if you have any existing medical condition which may affect your ability to perform the exercise.


How to perform The Dart


Set up:
  • Lie down on your front on a mat or soft carpet. 
  • Place your forehead down and position your arms down along the sides of your body with the palms facing upwards to the ceiling.  
  • Your legs should be relaxed and your heels should be dropped outwards with your toes touching. 


  • Lengthen your tail-bone at the same time as engaging and having a sense of drawing your lower abdominals away from the mat.
  • Bring your legs and heels together to connect your inner thighs and activate your glute (bottom) muscles. 
  • Lift your neck and head and then the chest and upper spine away from the floor, keeping your neck long by looking towards the floor.
  • Turn your palms to face your thighs and lengthen your fingers towards the feet drawing your shoulders down your back.
  •  Feel the top of your head reaching away from your toes so that you are long and strong.
  • Return your upper body and head to the floor sequentially, whilst at the same time releasing the legs and arms back to their starting position. 


Hints and Tips:
  • Keep drawing the abdominals gently away from the mat to avoid any compression of the spine and keep the length in the body as it returns to the floor with control. 
  • Keep your feet in contact with the mat throughout the exercise.
  • Take a good deep breath before you start so that you can then exhale as you perform the actual Dart movement, and then inhale again to relax and lower the body to the floor.
  • Place a mat beneath your hips for comfort or to support your lower back.

“The Pilates method of body conditioning develops the body uniformly, corrects posture, restores vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit” Joseph Pilates

This entry was posted on May 22, 2018