Pilates is for everyone. It can be modified and progressed to fit the needs of each individual’s body. I found Pilates after many years of sports, high intensity exercise, and lots of running. My body was in need of something a little more balancing that would focus on proper alignment, stretching, core strength, length, and better posture. Pilates is a perfect compliment to any exercise you are currently doing, and with these five powerful moves you can improve your overall posture and strength, and feel healthier and happier, too.
Plank: Come into a position with your hands directly under your shoulders, your focus slightly in front of your fingers, legs engaged, shoulders broad on your back and down away from your ears. Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing up and in towards your spine, keeping a flat back. Keep your body in one long line, reaching energy out through the crown of your head and through your heels. Hold strong through your core, and continue to breathe!
Swan: Begin by lying prone (on your belly) with your lower body relaxed, and your hands directly under your shoulders. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and engage your triceps. Then, lift your upper body by engaging your upper back muscles to extend the spine. If you feel compressive in your lumbar, lessen the range of motion. The purpose of swan is to engage the upper back and middle back muscles, and to stretch the front line of the body. Keep your head and neck in line with your spine, making sure not to strain your neck muscles.The
Saw: Begin by sitting up tall, right on top of your sitting bones, with your legs extended hip-width distance apart and feet flexed to stretch the back line of your legs. If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees to allow yourself to sit upright. Bring your arms out to a “T,” inhale turning to your right and exhaling to reach your left hand towards your right foot, while reaching your right hand behind you. Take a breath into your rotation. Inhale while rolling up in your rotation, and exhale return to center. Repeat on the other side. Make sure to take your gaze with you, and keep both hips heavy.
Pelvic Press: Begin with your feet hip-width distance apart, inner thighs engaged and upper body relaxed. Start by taking a pelvic tilt, and roll your lower back up towards you, rolling up all the way one vertebra at a time, and making sure to move through both sides of your spine evenly. Roll down, imagining your spine as a string of pearls, and place one vertebra down at a time. This is a nice stretch and massage for your entire spine.
HUNDRED: Start on your back with your knees in tabletop position (90/90). Reaching your arms along your sides, begin to curl up into an upper contraction. Begin to pump your arms, engaging your triceps, and breathing in for two counts, then out for two counts (for four counts); repeat 5x for a total of 20 counts, then extend your legs straight to the ceiling. Breathing just as you did for 20. Next, lower your legs a third of the way to the ground, and pump your arms for 20 counts. Then, lower another third for another 20 counts. Finally, lower the last third for 20 counts—for a total of 100! Only lower your legs as much as you can without feeling strain in your low back. You can complete this entire exercise with your head on the ground and your knees in tabletop if that feels better for you.
Ready to add these Pilates moves to your daily routine? Try them and tell us which one is your favorite!
Jacquelyn Brennan is a health and wellness expert who shares her knowledge daily at Fitsouffle. She holds a degree in kinesiology, and currently teaches Pilates, group exercise, and is a Certified Personal Trainer. Jacquelyn loves inspiring others to get moving, stay healthy, eat well, and learn how to exercise effectively.