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EXPLORING SPINE SHAPES IN PILATES

I first heard about the term Spine Shapes when going through The Work™ masters program with Pilates elder Jay Grimes in 2018.


The Work™ was a highly selective graduate program where Jay Grimes and Sandy Shimoda put 12 participants through a gruelling but unforgettable 12 months where we practiced and trained together the exercises that Jay Grimes remembered Joseph Pilates teaching in his original studio.




For those of you who don’t know who Joseph Pilates is, he invented the Pilates Method and I like to train with teachers closest to the source of the method.

My current teacher Samantha Whalley from Vital Balance Pilates explained that we are not really talking about the shapes of the spine, it is just a convenient term to talk about the shapes that the torso makes with the muscles that support the spine. This made a whole lot of sense to me as I started thinking more about the muscles and how they move around the spinal column.

Another important thing to note is that it is not just the back but the whole torso.

FRONT

BACK

SIDES

There are 5 basic shapes

TALL




ROUND




ARCHED




TWIST




SIDE BEND




Jay Grimes says

“ALL SPINE SHAPES ARE CREATED OUT OF A TALL BACK”

In a tall back it is easy to see that the front and back are the same length, when we are practicing Pilates our goal is to try to keep equal length in the front and the back as we move through the shapes.

FOR EXAMPLE

ROUND - DON’T COLLAPSE THE FRONT

ARCHED - DON’T COLLAPSE THE BACK

Another thing to note is that there are hybrids (a blend of more than one shape) that come out of these basic shapes.

Here are a few examples

CRISS CROSS




SAW




REFORMER


STOMACH MASSAGE

TWIST






SHORT BOX

TWIST/REACH




As a beginner to Pilates you will be trying to do the exercises without thinking too much about the shapes you are making, but as you improve and gain confidence it is helpful to think about the shapes when you are moving through them.

If you can teach these with a clear knowledge then the whole method opens up to you. In understanding the Spine Shapes of Pilates, it will help answer the often used quote

“If your spine is inflexible at 30 you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60 you are young” Joseph Pilates

I am teaching Part 2 of Exploring Spine Shapes at PI Studios, in Part One we looked at the basic shapes.


In Part 2 we will be looking at how we move through these shapes through some of the more advanced exercises.

Here is the link to book in.

https://piacademy.arlo.co/w/upcoming/

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