In Pilates, your alignment starts at your centre with your “Rib-Hip Connection”. Your Rib-Hip Connection is the distance between your ribcage and your pelvis, or from your lower ribs to your hip bones. When your rib-hip connection is in “neutral” your spine and pelvis are in neutral. Many Pilates exercises focus on maintaining neutral spine and pelvis whilst challenging this, for example by moving the legs independently from the pelvis. Of course, alignment of the neck (which is often not perceived as part of the spine due to its anatomy and use) and the limbs follow the alignment of the spine and pelvis. This is observed in any starting/finishing position such as supine (lying on your back), prone (lying on your front), four-point kneeling (all 4’s), side-lying, and in standing. Maintaining correct alignment allows you to balance with more stability, and co-ordinate movements with more control.
And why should you care? Well, if you’re aware of your neutral alignment in many of your everyday activities (or passivities, like staring at a screen for ages), your joints, muscles and organs can function at their best. You can balance when the bus starts to move whilst you’re standing or walking towards a seat, you can catch yourself quicker when you’re caught off guard, and you are pro-active in injury prevention.
For your Pilates practice, alignment is one of the corner stones which will allow you to progress in your exercises from beginner to advanced safely and effectively. That might not sound sexy but if you grasp the concept of your rib-hip connection you understand what to feel out for which will support you in in your journey from the pelvic tilt to the double leg stretch.
Here’s a short video about the rib hip connection:
PS: To find out how alignment with yourself can impact you, read on here.