What does Teacher mean when she says NEUTRAL SPINE?
Neutral spine is the anatomical neutral position for your spine. That means, you should have an inward curve in your cervical spine (neck), an outward curve in your thoracic spine (upper/mid back), and another inward curve in your lumbar spine (lower back). When your spine is in neutral, it shouldn't feel like anything is over-agressively working.
We use NEUTRAL SPINE in Pilates because we want to teach our body how to turn on our core muscles without needing to TUCK. In other words, CORE ON while still in a good anatomically neutral position!
Try this. Lay on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Allow your ribs to settle downwards. Think about your hip bones (ASIS bones). Tip your pelvis/hips so that lower back gets closer to the floor. Now tip your pelvis in the opposite direction where your lower back gets further away from the floor. Find the spot in between those two positions where your hip bones become level with your pubic bone, and you'd be able to balance a full cup of tea between the hips and pelvis. Voila! You're in NEUTRAL!
But wait, why do we sometimes work in IMPRINTED SPINE?
Well dears, not everyone has the strength to do neutral ALL the time. Imprinted position helps us to develop strength as we work towards being able to stablize or work in a neutral position.
To imprint your spine means to posteriorly tilt your pelvis slightly.
It means to pull your abdominals in, in a way that decreases the lumbar curve of your lower back.
Still not following?!
If you were to lie on your back, you would imprint your spine by bringing your lower back towards the floor, by means of engaging your abs. Try not to clench your butt and make it all happen from the belly.