There are six guiding principles of the Pilates method of exercise that can help you develop a solid workout. You might hear about these principles as you take a Pilates session and for a good reason, they do indeed, contribute to a powerful and effective workout.
Breathing - Without breath, you would not be alive. This is one of the most important principles of Pilates and exercise in general. Breathing helps us oxygenate our blood and increase circulation. In general, you inhale as you prepare to move, and exhale as you execute a movement. Not all Pilates exercises focus on deep breathing, but breath should be a part of all exercises. Go ahead, fill your lungs with a deep breath and empty the lungs, it feels good!
Concentration - Concentrate on you, while you workout. It's key to keep the mind focused and present to get your body to move effectively. Remember that mind-to-body connection and how powerful it is when used. Focus on you. Conversation can come later.
Control - Pilates was called "Contrology" or "The Art of Control" by its founder, Joseph Pilates. Years later it became known as Pilates. Contrology was developed on the idea of muscle control. By working with control, there should be no haphazard, or sloppy movements that often lead to injury, and instead you'll get positive results and stay injury free. Control also helps to develop consistency in your body, and that training will lead to effective workouts.
Centering - Your center, your core, your powerhouse, these are all the same thing. They are your foundation. Your center is where you have a large group of muscles, that if trained properly, will help develop stability and strength in your limbs.
Precision - When we move in Pilates, we move with purpose. There are no wasted movements, or half way done exercises. The more precise you make your movements, the more value you create in your exercises. Soon this will become natural, and especially when combined with the last principle, flow.
Rhythm & Flow - Rhythm and Flow is one of the principles that makes Pilates really work for me. It is a continuous movement, that is not fragmented or meant to be isolated. It is not just an abs workout, or just a leg or arm workout. The body should be working in many areas. If you bring a rhythm and flow to your workout by continuously moving, you will truly enjoy and reap the benefits of Pilates, in my opinion. Find a good flow, but remember to incorporate all the guiding principles as you do. Over time they will come together easily. "Rome was not built in a day." Keep it simple.