Book Review: Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery, Eric Franklin

Franklin, Eric. Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery, (3rd Edition). Human Kinetics Publishers, 2022.

During December PAA Members gain an extra 20% off the already discounted price of the print edition of this book from (log into your membership & check Resources/Member Benefits for the code).

As a recent Pilates graduate, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book about imagery. In my course, we were taught about imagery cues and how useful they can be, and maybe I misinterpreted a lack of emphasis on it because in my mind it was almost the ‘back-up’ cue, when all else fails and direct cues don’t land, try some imagery! Imagery was used perhaps for a little variety in teaching classes, you could throw in imagery cues to keep clients inspired and thinking differently about movement, all great reasons! Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery has opened my eyes to how much more there is to imagery cueing.

The book starts off with an assortment of science and history about imagery. I am immediately fascinated, not only because it is a relatively new concept to me, but because there are 498 pages on the matter, how much is there to say about imagery? As I found out, quite a bit!

Who is this book for?

As a book about the use of the imagination probably should, there are many images to facilitate your learning process and (the irony was not lost on me) provide different ways to understand the subject matter. There is heavy anatomical and physiological dialogue so a Pilates or allied health practitioner would gain the most use of the book, but I am certain a keen and interested Pilates attendee would also take many great points away with them if they were to give it a read. There are countless ways to think about movement and everyone will take different things from this book, depending on our individual challenges either finding movement within ourselves or explaining a particular movement to a client.

One thing I didn’t expect from Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery was the incorporation of a great deal of physics amongst the anatomical terminology, I’d almost like to refer to the science of imagery as the ‘engineering’ of imagery, it is that technical. If you are a well-established instructor, I am confident there will still be many new things to discover, and if you are a recent graduate like me, there will probably be a lot to take away, and it may change the way that you look at movement entirely (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).


“Imagine you are standing on a tripod. The legs of the tripod are your legs plus your tail extended downward to the floor. Put equal weight on all points of the tripod and experience their balanced support.”

I tried this one while reading it and said ‘wow’ out loud. The amount of times I’ve cued this (in direct terminology) and sometimes it only lands for some, what an amazing way to catch the rest of the group who might need a slightly different perspective!

Breathing through layers (standing, sitting, supine):

“Focus on the layers of your body. Think of your inhalation originating at your center. As you inhale, watch your breath spread radially out through the consecutive layers to the final layer, your skin. As you exhale, watch your breath fall back toward your center.”

I personally have been learning more and working on my posterior breathing within my own body after three different practitioners helping me with lower back pain (Osteopath and Pilates instructors) noticed a theme with my lack of posterior breathing in the same week. I love this cue, it’s something that I think will work brilliantly for myself, and if I find it useful, I am definitely going to incorporate this cue into my sessions.

Regaining good sitting posture:

“Starting from your head, roll your spine forward and down until your head is hanging over your legs. Now bring your head back up until you feel you have found good alignment. Roll down your spine once again and try an image to help you regain your upright sitting posture: Think of the pelvic floor dropping down through the chair toward the floor as you bring your head back up. How does this method compare to the original way of coming up? Now try again, but push the pelvic floor down to bring you up. Practice visualizing the pelvic floor dropping and pushing down on an exhalation or an inhalation to bring you back up.”

This is an example of a cue that requires a little prior anatomical knowledge, your client will need to know a little bit about where the pelvic floor is and how to activate it (perhaps that’s another conversation to have before this), it’s also more direct so perhaps a good transitioning cue if you have primarily been using direct cues in the past and would like to branch out a little more.

My favourite chapters

Some of my favourite chapters in the book: “Brain, consciousness and imagery”, “Imagery exercise for left brain and right brain”, “Problems and opportunities when cueing imagery”, “imagining friction”, and the subsections within the “exercises for anatomical imagery” chapter, as it goes through specific muscles in the pelvis, sit bones, sacrum, lower limbs, spine, upper limbs, head, neck and rib cage in great detail, everything feels so amazingly relevant and you really are getting much more than just imagery cues in terms of bang for your buck. It’s worth sitting down and taking the time to go through each chapter, it’s not a light weekend read, but it’s worth the pursuit.

Imagery in practice

I have a client who responds amazingly to imagery cues, and I would never have known if I hadn’t used one, one day. Her face lights up when I talk about ‘rainbows’ and ‘pulling strings’ out the top of her head – as if I’m literally pulling a string out the top of her head, she has started to participate with excellence ever since. Her movement has improved drastically in the last few months by being taught in a way that she best responds to.

I feel grateful now to have many more prompts up my sleeve, and who knows which other clients will discover their imagination again in my classes. Fortunately, there is a range of cues from locating and activating specific muscles to gentle non-specific alignment cues so anyone from an advanced mover to a complete beginner has the right cue waiting for them in this book. I can’t wait to go through Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery again in more detail and see what I can retain the second time around.


Natalie Ryan, PAA Marketing Assistant


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