We’ve all done it before: snapped at a loved one who was only trying to help, yell at a stranger for some minor slight, or berated the family dog for acting like — well — a dog. You were stressed out. You weren’t feeling well. You had a bad day at work. Make all the excuses you want, but the truth is: you lost control.

For me, losing control is one of the most unsettling feelings. Being fully in charge of your emotions and your actions is something we all should strive towards. That’s why “Control” is one of the Body Mason pillars.

When it comes to Pilates, control is both body and mind. To get the most out of Pilates, you need to move with intention and stay in charge of your movement. When I ask you to “maintain a neutral pelvis,” if you let the stabilizing muscles go, you’ve lost control. Often, an instructor will ask you to “move slower.” Like when we’re doing ab work, and you’re on your back and we’re asking you to slowly move your legs up and down for thigh arcs. If you are focused and in control of your body and going through each step with intention you’ll get much more out of the exercise than if you’re just flopping your limbs up and down and losing stability in your pelvis.

Sometimes when things get hard, people tend to speed up. And that’s giving over control. In those challenging moments, what we all need to do is take a breath, find your intention and take control of the situation. You’re the boss of your abs! Tell them what to do! Hold that crunch! Pulse 10 more times! You’re in charge!

This is a skill you can apply to all aspects of your life. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, when you’re starting to feel that command slip, take a breath, step back and remind yourself that you’re the one calling the shots.