SomaEnergio Wellness


1. Where is the "Point of Control"?

A. The point of control is the Pilates concept and practice of pressing the muscles between the navel and the pubic bone against the inside of the lumbar spine. By doing that you are  engaging  the multifidus,   the connecting muscle between the  anterior  sacrum and lower lumbar, the quadratum lumborum, which connects the pelvis crest with the lumbar spine and the iliopsoas, which connects the anterior part of the lumbar spine, goes across the inside of the pelvis and ends at the inside of the thigh bone. All that connects with the muscle groups of the abdomen.

The point of control is also the ability to feel the shoulder blades, back of the ribs, and sacrum/pelvis on the floor, honoring the lumbar spine curve and keeping a steady contact with your mat while moving.

This is why Mr. Pilates initially called this technique the method of "Contrology" , Because he believed that if one can control the center of the body, one can control everything else.



2. What is the Preparation Breath ? Jackeline D.

A. This is an important question. The preparation breath “prepares" your muscles and body during warm ups and facilitates the ability to control your core and middle abdominals right before each Pilates exercises.

The breathing goes as follow:

a) You inhale and fill your lungs allowing your viscera and soft organs to be push towards the abdominal area (this action is also known as belly breath).

b) Then, when you exhale you press on the point of control, your belly (the area between your navel and pubic bone) and allow the diaphragm to work by pushing the air out. 

At the very beginning of the class I will instruct you to repeatedly do it with the warm up exercises.

As the class continues you will notice that right before we start a new move I cue you "preparation breath in" and you perform the preparation breath, get into the starting position to perform the moves.  

Once you start your Pilates movements you keep (ideally) the point of control on your lower abdominals and breathe in and out with the rest of your upper cavities. 

NOTE TO THE PERFECTIONISTS OF THE CLASS: YES I mean you! I am not going to pretend you get this right a way. If you loose "your point of control" during an exercise you won't be penalized. It is my hope that eventually you are able to control the abdominal muscles at will. That is the reason of these exercises; you'll be surprise be the end of the term how much you can do with your belly muscles.


3. What kind of breath one performs during the Pilates exercises? Carla G.

A. You keep pressing on the point of control and inhale/exhale normally allowing the air to fill the lungs, front and back of your trunk. 

4. What do you mean when you say "enlongating the spine?" - Mary M.

A. What I mean is that you inhale, then press into the point of control, feel the sacrum (lower back) on the mat.  As you exhale, imagine the air coming out as you elongate and narrow the muscles of your waist (Iliopsoas, and core muscles of the spine). As the diaphragm pushes the air out of your mouth, feel the back of the neck stretching so the head tilts in front of your neck and later your chest.

What this does is it engages the core muscles of your pelvis and spine while at the same time, honors the four curves of the spine. Which means that you don't push and pressure the entire spine on the floor, you keep the curves of the spine working for you in a dynamic way (stretching and contracting without pressing against the floor). 

5. Do I need to tilt the pelvis against the floor at all times? - J. D.

 A. Absolutely not! In the past some teachers allowed novice students to do that in order to facilitate the point of control -which is the ability to press the muscles between the navel and the pubic  bone. However, it has been my experience that it's harder for students to get rid of that habit once they master those muscles that, in the long run, provoke lower back and hip pain. I suggest that you be aware that the pelvis must be placed in a neutral position (you will know because the lumbar side of the spine is off the mat or barely touching! ).


Remember:  The spine has four curves, only two are touching the mat completely, the thoraxic (between the shoulder blades) and the sacral (pelvis) curves. The back of your head is also touching. Everything else is off or barely touching the floor, depending on bone structure and body shape. 

6. What are the 4 corners of the back? Harold I.

A. "The four corners of the back" are none other than what is known in classical Pilates as "the box". This is a term I coined to more organically describe what Mr. Pilates referred to as the right and left shoulder blades, the back of the ribs and the right and left sides of the pelvis touching the mat before starting any movement.

It is essential to have those landmarks touching the mat in order to acquire better control and prevent injuries.



7. Why do you make us enlongate the spine while doing "rolling like a ball"? - Ann C.

A. This is a question of style. There is nothing wrong with doing rolling like a ball with the head down or up. When the head is down one feels the stretch on the lower spine. When one enlongates the neck and head, it allows the shoulders to relax and feel the awareness on the stomach muscles. 

Because most of our existence is in front of a computer, driving a car or at a desk,  I like to elongate head and neck. It improves posture and allows the chest and upper back muscles to relax so you can go back to your office or home a little taller, stretched and relaxed!

8. Which muscles are we using when arms are extended on the "Superman/WonderWoman" exercise? Alex D.

A. Your body is in prone position (facing down) and the arms are extended.

When one lifts the upper body off the floor with the arms rotated (little finger toward the inside), one is activating the muscles of the arms such as the radio-ulnar joint, triceps, latissimus dorsi (underarms),the intercostal muscles (anterior and posterior serratus) and the quadratum Lumborum that attach to the hip crest and the anterior part of the lumbar spine, making the peripheral as well as the core muscles of the spine work at the same time.


9. Which is better: the mat workouts or the Pilates machines? -Michelle N.

A. Both! One is not better than the other. I see them as different ways to work out the body and address different needs at different stages of a person's fitness journey. The advantage of the mat is that one can do it anywhere whereas working on the Pilates aparatus restricts one's settings. The advantage of the Pilates aparatus (the reformer, the chair, the cadillac, to mention a few) is that you can isolate parts of the body and concentrate on the muscles one wants to work on. The machines are also great if one is suffering from injuries or training for something specific. It is great!

However, there is freedom in doing the mat because once you know the sequences you can work anywhere, anytime. I love my mat!    

10. What are the advantages of using props? Audrey B.

A. The advantages of using props are that they give you more awareness of the muscle groups you are working, and they challenge the muscles in different ways. For some students its deepened the work out in order to go to the next level.
The props also prepare students to work on the Pilates apparatus and is an affordable and portable alternative when practicing on the go.

Some students love the small balls, while others prefer the big physioballs. Others prefer  belts vs. the surgical/thera
bands or small free weights.

However, some prefer nothing at all because it distracts from concentrating on the exercises. If you prefer to work without props just simply put them aside, and continue with the practice.

Remember, all these exercises can be done without the props.

11. What do you mean by "somatization"? Barbara M.

A. Somatization is the conscious action of activating a body part or muscle group. This is done by gentle touch, massage (to activate the kinetic sense), visual imagery and small movement explorations.

When I go around the room adjusting people, that is what I am doing. Doing this on your own or with a partner facilitates and accelerates the way you engage the muscles and use your body efficiently for an effective work out.

Remember "Soma" is the Greek term for body-mind as a whole, "tization" means action. Somatization means the active effort of body-mind awareness.

12. why is so hard to get rid of the middle fat?

A. Because as we age the middle fat is caused by the hormone cortisol which is located on top of the kidneys. Cortisol hormone releases due to the fight-fly response our bodies experience from daily stress. Adding stress management techniques is part of the recipe that helps you decrease the fat around your back and waist. The combination of exercises such as Pilates, a diet low in sugars, and stress management techniques such as Yoga and/or meditation will help to achieve that goal easily. 

I understand that for some of you changing your life style that includes more yoga, Pilates and no sugar could be overwhelming. So, I suggest you start with small steps such as using this class to be aware of the possibilities for you. Some of the steps you can take during class are: 

1. Proper breathing techniques.

2. Awareness on the muscle groups your want to target will enhance the ability for the body to shape the waist the way you want.

3. While in class pay attention to the beginning part of class is regenerative and healing for your body. 

4. Pay attention to the exercises on the stomach.

5. Check yourself the next day, you will feel the difference. 



13. It is good to over arch your back whle doing cat or preparation for swiming stretches? Jane E.

A. This is an important question for those of you with back conditions. Do not over arch the back if you are experiencing pain. Over arching the back slowly to study how far you can go safetly is another matter. Over the years I have seen experts saying different things about this. My take on it is that if one over arches to experience the strech of the anterior (front of the spine) is actualy a good thing. However, one should do it carefully and slowly. Any sudden moves are not conducive to increase spinal flexibility. If the rhythm is fast paced then you must not  over arch the back.



In this picture Carla is carefully overarching after a series of stretches. Notice she is stretching her leg from the hip joint and her arm from the shoulder joint and she did it very slowly!

"Remember, a relax muscle

is strong muscle"

Dr Joan Paul

Anatomy and Kinesiology of movement

University of Tennessee



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