Centering refers to engaging the deep abdominal, back muscles and the pelvic floor at the same time whilst maintaining a neutral spine. A finely tuned and efficient centre is one of the fundamental requirements for a strong and stable spinal posture.
During pilates, you will be instructed to position your lower back and pelvis into the neutral spine position but what does this actually mean?
The lower back is naturally curved inwards due to the function of the vertebrae that make up your spinal posture. This curve can be exaggerated due to many factors in today's day and age considering our excessive use of computers and hand held devices. Therefore pilates simply aims to restore your body's awareness and restoration of this natural curve.
The Neutral Spine Position
Start in the pilates rest position laying on your back with your knees bend. Place your thumbs in your belly button and your fingertips resting below. Imagine your two hands are now forming a diamond shape.
Gently roll the bottom point of the diamond towards the floor (creating an arch in your lower back). Now gently roll the top point of the diamond towards the floor (flattening your back).
The neutral position is the position in the middle of these two extreme ranges where all points of the diamond rest level.