When performing Pilates exercises, there are a number of positions used to help align the body properly for the actions about to be performed. These positions are mostly about the alignment of the body, including the spine, the feet and the angle of the hips and torso. Pilates instructors use these positions to help direct students into the correct positions. Understanding basic Pilates positions is important when exercising to make sure the motions do not cause undue strain or damage.
The most basic Pilates position is called the Pilates stance. This involves first pressing the legs together while straight. The feet are then rotated slightly outward. The heels should be touching at this point, with the toes facing away from each other just a little.
Many Pilates positions involve the alignment of the spine. One of these is called the C curve. This position involves bending the torso so the spine takes on the shape of the letter C. The hunched position is used in exercises that help to develop the abdominal muscles.
Another Pilates position that involves the spine is called the neutral spine. This is the position from which most exercises begin. The concept is to align the sections of the spine as they are naturally intended to be. One of the methods for finding the neutral spine position is to tilt the pelvis so the front bone ridges are aligned. When standing in the neutral spine position, the body appears to be at attention with the chest slightly out and abdomen pulled in. It is important to be able to find the neutral spine position, because it is used frequently.
The imprinted spine position is used when working on a mat. It involves pushing the lower portion of the spine, called the lumbar region, downward into the floor while lying down. Although that area of the spine might not be able to actually touch the mat, the idea is to use the muscles needed to move just that area.
Two other Pilates positions that involve the spine are the spinal flexion and the spinal extension. These involve moving the entire torso to change the alignment of the spine. Spinal flexion is when a person bends forward at the waist. Spinal extension is when a person reach backward, arching his or her back.
There are two important Pilates positions that involve the alignment of the legs. The first is called the parallel. This is where the feet, knees and hips are in alignment. The legs are together and toes are facing forward.
The table top is another Pilates position that involves the legs. From a position of lying on the back, the legs are raised straight up, perpendicular to the body. The knees are then bent so they are parallel with the floor while in the air.