If you've ever taken a Pilates class you know there is a lot of attention to detail when it comes to the Pilates
exercises. Pull your belly in, keep your shoulders down, engage your inner thighs....breathe! Pilates instructors are notorious for giving lots of corrections and sometimes it can be confusing as a client. You want to be doing it correctly right?
Your instructor's corrections and cues are really meant to help you fine tune your own practice, stay safe and get the most out of each exercise. Sometimes, especially if you are just starting off, all of the helpful advice can be a little overwhelming.
A very common question I hear is: Am I doing it right?
Unless you are doing a movement that is causing your body pain or is unsafe- the answer is almost always: Yes, you are doing it correctly! I think the real question people want to ask is: am I doing it like you do it or is this what it looks like when Madonna does it? That answer would be no and should be no! You see, as long as you are paying attention to your body and doing your best to follow the instructions your instructor is giving you, you are doing it perfectly in your body (no matter what the exercise "looks like" in your body). It is more important how the movement feels in your body rather than how it looks. The next time you do the same exercise, it may feel totally different. You may feel something you've never felt before, move differently than last week, or have a different range of motion. That's OK and to be expected. As you start to fine tune your paying attention to your body skills, you will find yourself self-correcting to create more balance in your body and fine tuning to maximize the benefits of each exercise in your body.
The real "magic" of Pilates starts to happen when you start increasing your own body awareness and ability to just be present in your body and notice what is going on. You start to be your own teacher in many ways. The doing part of the exercise, the paying attention to your body and noticing how it feels part is sooo much more important than what it looks like on the outside.
The next time you find yourself wondering if you are doing it correctly, just focus on what's going on in your body and trust that your efforts at that moment in that exercise are perfect! Of course if you have questions on the exercise technique itself be sure to ask your instructor and they can give you a more detailed explanation that can aid in your understanding!