My Tips for Preparing to Teach the STOTT PILATES® Basic Principles


I consider the five Basic Principles the essence of STOTT PILATES; what distinguishes the STOTT PILATES brand from all other Pilates methods. As a trainee, if you are going to learn one single thing from our training courses, learn the Basic Principles. Then apply them to whatever exercise or functional tasks you are teaching or doing. Integrating the biomechanical principles and improving your kinesthetic awareness of how and what you are moving will establish the groundwork for ensuring safe and effective movement.

Because we will apply them to every movement and exercise, the Basic Principles are one of the first things that you are taught and expected to teach when you enter one of our STOTT PILATES  professional courses. They are taught in a specific order for a reason, organized from the pelvis to the head, with the Breathing Principle first.

When it comes to memorizing the five Basic Principles, I realize that it can be overwhelming to tackle the Breathing Principle first because it has the most information to memorize and to teach. If you are getting “stuck” or frustrated trying to memorize the Basic Principles, try starting with a less complex Basic Principle such as the Rib Cage Stabilization Principle. Once you have mastered one principle, enjoy the fact that you have completed one-fifth of the material and memorize another principle. While we will expect you to teach them in the correct order during your practical exam, you are building your confidence by creating opportunities for success. It is very similar to selecting exercises for your clients; start with something that your believe that they will be able to achieve and then progressively challenge them.

Eventually, you will need to memorize the Breathing Principle, I recently realized that it can be somewhat simplified by organizing it into three “chunks” of material:

  1. Three-Dimensional Breath Pattern
    • Breathe in through the nose, out through slightly pursed lips sending the breath to posterior and lateral aspects of the rib cage because these tend to be the most underutilized areas of the lungs
    • This breath pattern promotes relaxation and helps avoid unnecessary tension in the neck and shoulder areas
  2. Transverse Abdominis & Pelvic Floor
    • Exhaling deeply can also help activate the deep support muscles by engaging the Transverse abdominis, which helps to stabilize the lumbopelvic region, especially in neutral position
    • The gentle contraction of the pelvic floor also aids in firing the transverse abdominis
  3. Facilitates movement
    • The rib cage opens out and up during an inhale, promoting spinal extension and closes in and down during exhale promoting spinal flexion

I hope that you find these two tips helpful. I have found that as a STOTT PILATES Instructor, I am constantly learning; learning about teaching, learning new exercises, learning new cues. It is a very humbling experience and I am thrilled that you have chosen to join us in this journey, or that you considering joining the STOTT PILATES community.

- Amy Slowik, STOTT PILATES ® Instructor Trainer