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5 Pilates exercises to practice everyday!

The 100 

This is a breathing exercise. It is meant to circulate your blood and warm up the body to prepare for the exercises that follow. If done right, this practice turns on all the body systems in less than an instant. If done right, it will feel like a full-body exercise. 

BENEFITS:

  • Enhances breathing efficiency

  • Promotes a firm, flat and stable core

  • Strengthens and lengthens the spine

STEPS:

  1. Lay on your back with your knees folded into your chest or a table position. 

  2. Deeply inhale; as you exhale, lift your upper body off of the mat into an upper ab curl (make sure you are bending at your torso and not pulling your neck forward)

  3. Rise up until your shoulder blades are off the mat (you will be able to feel the tips of them on the mat still)

  4. Start beginning your pumps. Inhale for 5. Exhale for 5. 

  5. End by lowering your head and rest your feet on your mat

TIPS: 

  • Reduce the number of reps

  • Keep your feet on the mat

  • Lower your head between reps

  • Place your feet against a wall for support

 

 

Single Leg Circle

  • The single-leg circle connects, develops, and strengthens your leg within the hip joint. It will reveal asymmetries in the hips and hamstrings. Short and stiff hamstrings prevent you from reaching a full pelvic range of motion and stability. This is one of my favourite exercises for correcting hip issues.

 BENEFITS:

  • Increases hip joint movement

  • Strengthens muscles in the leg, hip, shoulder and torso

  • Teaches oppositional energy

  • Promotes uniform development in your legs

 

STEPS:

  • Lay on your back with your knees bent. Left one leg up on an angle so that both your knees are at the same height

  • Press your palms, firming into the mat to keep your collar bones broad and to allow a capacious breath. 

  • Begin by circling your leg across the body and down towards the floor and back up to the start position.

  • Do five circles in each direction. Inhale to begin and exhale to finish. 

  • Do the same thing on the opposite side.

  • Finish with both feet flat on the mat. 

TIPS:

  • If you find your quads take over, you can start with a bent knee to encourage a stronger connection to your center, or you can slightly turn your knee outward to find a better link to your outer hip muscles.

  • Maintain control of your hips throughout the exercise. 

  • Keep your pelvis level and stable.

 

Single Leg Stretch

This is one of the exercises in the "Stomach Series" and is considered a belly buster. This exercise focuses on building the strength and endurance of your abs and your powerhouse. You will notice this exercise increases the body's heat from the demand of coordinating your hands and legs and coordinating your breath and movement. 

 

BENEFITS:

  • Elongates the spine, strengthens the core

  • Develops coordination and mental concentration

  • Builds the powerhouse (hips, low back, abdomen)

  • Decompresses your spine through oppositional energy

  • Increases your mind/body connection

STEPS:

  1. Lay on your back with your upper body in the upper ab curl

  2. Draw one knee into your chest, holding onto it with both hands

  3. Reach the opposite leg away from you at an angle that allows your back to stay flat against the mat

  4. Switch your leg and hand positions: alternatively pull one leg into your chest as you reach the opposite leg away from your torso 

  5. Exhale to switch legs

  6. Repeat five sets! 

 

TIPS:

  • If you hear a clunk in the front of your hip as you extend your leg, your body is letting you know that you are overworking the front of your thigh muscles and not stabilizing your pelvis. 

 

 

Swan Prep

The swan stretches and strengthens all the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders. The spine is the body's central support system, and it depends upon the robust and active support of the powerhouse, shoulder, and thigh muscles to maintain its erect position. 

 

BENEFITS:

  • Extends the spine to decompress and articulate the vertebrae

  • It strengthens the powerhouse muscles

  • It stretches the tight abdominals, quads and hip flexors

  • Promotes flexibility throughout your spine

STEPS:

  1. Lay down on your stomach and place your hands under your forehead. Your legs will be together and extended behind you. 

  2. Inhale as you lift your head, neck and shoulders off the mat. You are keeping your hands glued to your forehead. 

  3. Inhale to rise and engage your abdominals

  4. Exhale as you lower your chest back down to the starting position.

TIPS:

  • Don't over-tighten your glutes. 

  • Keep your legs parallel.

  • The swan shouldn't cause any low back pain - listen to your body if this exercise feels uncomfortable. 

 

Side Leg Series 1

The side-lying leg series is especially effective at strengthening your outer hip muscles. This series also stretches tight leg muscles, such as your quads and hip flexors, hamstrings, and inner and outer thighs. Your focus will be on trying to stabilize your pelvis and spine in a side-lying position. This position also gives your core another opportunity to build strength. 

 

BENEFITS

  • Strengthens your outer hip muscles

  • Stretches the hip muscles 

STEPS

  • Lay on your side and line yourself up with the back seams of your mat

  • Angle your legs forward to the front seam of your mat

  • Lift your top leg to hip height and keep your leg slightly rotated outward

  • Inhale and kick your leg out to the front of your body

  • Exhale and allow your leg to pull back behind your hip

 

TIPS:

  • If you find your torso is rocking back and forth as you move your leg, shorten your range of motion and connect to your breath. 

 

So there you go, the 5 daily Pilates moves I would recommend that you do everyday!  CLICK HERE to download your free printable!

Let me know how your body feels after these 5 exercises in the comments below.

Hugs,

Sharon

 

 

 

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