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The Franklin Method in the Pilates Studio

Insights Imagery and Exercises with Pat Guyton

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Updated March 02, 2013

franklin method

Pat Guyton shows the similarities in movement and form between the pelvic bowl and a tensegrity model

(c)2011, Marguerite Ogle

Part 1. Introduction to the Franklin Method

The Franklin Method is a system of working with imagery to facilitate better alignment and greater ease in movement. Developed by dancer, movement educator and author Eric Franklin, The Franklin Method is well-known in Europe and gaining momentum in the United States.

For Pilates practitioners, the Franklin Method offers a creative and individualized approach to working with posture, imagery and exercise that is very compatible with Pilates training.

Image-based cues are popular ways of communicating a lot of information in a holistic way, without having to use too many words. If I have the right image, my body naturally organizes itself in response to that image and I don't have to think so much about muscles and bones and their umpteen interrelated dynamics. But a refined sensibility around the cues and imagery we use is needed in order to provide a foundation for peak performance, whether it be in Pilates or any other body/mind endeavor.

In the Franklin Method, for an image to be useful it has to meet certain criteria. For example, it has to be functional, it has to be healthful and there has to be motivation to use it. An integral aspect in this method is that an image has to be anatomically correct. That doesn't mean it has to directly reference muscle, bones and planes of movement, but it does have to relate to how the human structure is set up and moves optimally. An image also needs to be specifically appropriate for the person who is going to use it. Though many common images are useful to a broad range of people, metaphors are not one size fits all.

Eric Franklin synthesized work from many leading-edge explorers in the worlds of ideokinesiology (ideo - image, kinesiology - movement) and somatic (of the body) disciplines to develop an his understanding of posture and how it relates to movement. What he brings forth is the idea that alignment is a play of balances and counter balances, and tension and compression. This is a significantly different view than the prevalent "stack the body parts and hold them along a plumb line" view. Combining this dynamic approach to alignment with the effective use of imagery is the basis of the Franklin Method. Franklin's book Dynamic Alignment through Imagery goes into these ideas in-depth. It is a treasure trove of information about working with images and alignment for those interested in movement arts like Pilates.

Next: Part 2. The Franklin Method in the Pilates Studio

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