Try these Pilates mat movements at home, and then conquer the Reformer versions in class! Start with 5-10 reps of each, and then slowly increase. Make sure to listen to your body and don't do anything that hurts. (Being sore and being in pain are two different things.) For extra help with form, or added movements, ask your instructor next time you're in the studio!
The 100s is an exercise that challenges the abdominals, gives length to the upper back, and reminds our body of the importance of breath. It starts on your back in a supine position, legs up and straight at a forty-five-degree angle, arms straight by your sides hovering an inch off of the ground, and the chest and head lifted forward. The arms pump with small, purposeful beats using an inhale breath for every five pumps and an exhale for the next five pumps. While the arms are in motion, the spine stays still. The 100 enables the upper spine and neck to gain length, destress the shoulders, strengthens the core, and uses the breath to create more mobility and strength for any busy schedule.
The Bridge exercise concentrates on the importance of opening up the hips and strengthening the glutes and hamstrings to destress the low back. Start lying on your back in a supine position, knees bent with feet hip-distance apart, and arms straight down on the floor. Begin by lifting the hips off of the floor up to a point that fires up the glutes but does not strain the low spine, and then return back down to start. This can be done with a flat back or by rounding the spine. Allowing our body time to lengthen overused muscles and strengthen underused muscles relieves pain in the joints.
The Mermaid moves the body in a side bending motion to lengthen the spine in a position where many injuries occur. Begin by coming into a seated position with the legs in a z-position or crisscrossed. Reach one arm overhead and to the side while keeping the glutes anchored down. Then switch to the other side. Busy schedules require heavy demands on the body. Keeping mobility to the spine in all ranges of motion prevents injury or pain allowing individuals to enjoy their good tidings with ease!
Swimming demonstrates the foundations of a healthy back. So many of our everyday motions lead us into a forward rounded position. This exercise begins lying down prone facing the ground. Arms are straight overhead hovering off the ground, and the legs are lifted to a hover fully extended. The motion requires one arm to lift with the opposite leg and then switching. The motion comes from the shoulder and hip joints while the spine stays still. Providing strength to the back improves posture, relieves stress, and provides more efficiency to a busy day.
Start seated with the legs out in front of you in a V position and arms out to a T. Twist the spine, and reach opposite fingers to opposite toes by rounding forward. Then repeat on the other side. Picking up heavy groceries, participating in sports, and lifting heavy luggage while traveling all forces unwarranted rotation on the spine that could create strain. Creating space and length while strengthening the core muscles trains the torso to handle daily demands.
Self-care is not selfish. Consider these 5 Pilates moves as the perfect sweet treat that your body actually needs.
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