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Uniform Development

healthy living philosophy pilates principle

Your Pilates Vase

I have no idea when you’re reading this but one Mother’s Day, the hubby gave me a bouquet of flowers, because I was already busy in the garden and couldn't arrange them he randomly shoved the whole bunch in a vase.

Once I saw his handiwork I was struck by how jumbled and crowded all of the stems looked and realised I needed to thin them and rearrange them so they could ‘breathe’.

I know, that’s a pretty random jumping off point for a post about Pilates but hey, I'm not claiming my brain makes any sense to me (let alone to you๐Ÿ˜ฌ )

Photo by Chris Curry 


Before I rearranged the flowers I got my inner florist on

Here’s what I did:

  • I changed the water
  • I stripped off the leaves that would be below the surface
  • I re-cut the stems so the blooms could flourish as long as possible

Afterwards I thought about the process of paring back and preparing before rebuilding something for the best possible outcome.

This I think is exactly what Pilates asks of us

Photo by Brooke Lark
Photo by Waldemar Brandt


Uniform Development is something that Joseph Pilates mentioned in his treatise from 1945, Return To Life:

"Accordingly, since we are living in this Modern Age we must of necessity devote more time and more thought to the important matter of acquiring physical fitness. This does not necessarily imply that we must devote ourselves on the the mere development of any particular pet set of muscles, but rather more rationally to the uniform development of our bodies as a whole" 


In our Pilates practice we strive to uniformly develop our bodies

  • up to down
  • right to left
  • in to out
  • mobile & strong

So how do we go about achieving this?

Well, first I think we have to be willing to strip ourselves back like I did with those flower stems.

Photo by Floreser 


When I first started my Pilates journey, I was still dancing full-time and I thought, hey I can do this Pilates stuff!

Because I was very adept at creating shapes with my body my Pilates looked good, I mean it really looked good. (even now, a full 20 years after my full time dancing career ended, my gym buddies make fun of my pointed feet - it seems I can't help myself)

Once I started my teacher training I soon realised I’d only been skimming the surface of the Pilates Method and whoa did it suck to realise that! 

The internal digging into mind and body that awaited me was intense.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev 


We all have strengths that we bring on to our mat, whether they’re physical or mental but we also all have things to work on.

You do get to embrace what you’re good at (for me it was flexibility, coordination, and yep, those pretty pointed feet, ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿฉฐ)

Exploring our weaknesses is hard (my body was definitely unbalanced side to side and and I hung down into my overstretched hip flexors and hyperextended knees๐Ÿ˜ฉ)

We also have to be okay with being unsure, looking silly while trying new things, and sometimes not being the best in class - it’s good to always feel like a beginner open to change.

After being a student of Pilates for over 20 years one of the things I continue to love about it is that every time I lie on my mat I have to pay attention to whether I’m embracing my weaknesses and/or over-relying on my strengths...

Am I continuing to strive for uniform development?



Okay, so now finally, back to the flower arranging:

Once we’ve stripped ourselves back and acknowledged what we need to focus on as we work, we need to add just enough to our arrangement to create a beautiful bouquet.

What simple things do we need to do when we practice Pilates so we don’t get an overstuffed, mishmashed vase again? (the vase being our body as well as our Pilates practice? - oh Lordy, I’m really sinking with this metaphor but I'm carrying on with it๐Ÿ™„ )


 Here are some of my thoughts:

๐Ÿ’ฆ First add fresh water to your vase with the ideas of:

Pilates’ overarching premise - MOVEMENT HEALS.

Pilates is movement based exercise.

Mr. Pilates dictum that above all we learn how to breathe correctly.

My mantra of “Breathe and Move and Move and Breathe”.


๐ŸŒฑNext add the greenery to anchor the arrangement:

Use the appropriate amount of energy for the task at hand, aka efficiency.

Sink into the repetitive nature of the work and find comfort there instead of complacency.

Use imagery to harness the power of our minds to effect change.

Pay attention to our body’s internal sensations versus what it looks like on the outside.


๐Ÿ’Finally let’s add the blooms:

The Pilates exercises, the choreography, aka WHAT we do.

Rounding, arching, twisting, side bending, aka HOW we accomplish the exercises.

Strengthening, lengthening, reaching, lifting, opening, mobilising, and breathing more fully, thereby increasing our circulation, oxygenating our cells to becoming healthier. The WHY!!!

Photo by Katherine Hanlon


With all that information I think all that's left is for you to hop down on your mat and start your journey towards Uniform Development

Be Well xBec


From Joe


From Me


The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and Rebecca Forde disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this post

cover & social photo by Laura Briedis

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