Modern lifestyle has brought in many posture-related health issues. Pilates though sounds a little complex, it is one of the most convenient techniques that one can use to build strength in core muscles to achieve better posture, balance and flexibility.
Here are six principles of Pilates:
Concentration: You need to concentrate on your movements all the time and your entire body. In pilates, the way exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves.
Control: In pilates, you need to concentrate on your movement and bring control in movement.
Centering: For control in movement, there should be a start place and that is ‘Center’. You must start working the group of muscles in the centre of your body – abdominal, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks and inner thigh and flow outwards to the limbs.
Efficiency of Movement: Pilates aims creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions. The exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina.
Precision: Pilates requires focus on the correct movements each time exercise is done. “You will gain more strength from a few energetic, concentrated efforts than from a thousand listless, sluggish movements”.
Breathing: Inhale – breath in air into lungs and Exhale- breath out air from lungs. ”Forced exhalation is the Key to Full inhalation”, one must breathe deep into the back and sides of his or her rib cage. When one exhales, they should note the engagement of their deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and maintain this engagement as they inhale.
Keep these six principles in mind and you can get started with few pilates basic exercises at home:
Rolling (like a Ball)
Come into a seated position, knees bent, feet pointed, with just your toes touching the floor
(a). Grasp the back of each thigh with each hand, and lift your legs up. Keep your knees shoulder-distance apart, and lower your head between your knees
(b). Inhale, exhale, deepening your abdominals, practicing your balance, for 2 breaths
(c). Rock back to your shoulder tips (never onto your head or neck), then back up, finding your balance for a moment.
(d). Repeat five times
- Exhale to roll back to the balance position.
- Do not release the abs during the entire exercise.
- Change the breath to exhale to roll, inhale to pause and exhale to return once strength develops.
Draw both legs towards your chest, hold on to your legs, and curl your head and chest up
(a). Send your legs out to a neutral or tabletop position with your knee directly above your hip, shins parallel to the floor. Hold on behind your thighs and actively curl up, deepening and hollowing out your abdominal
(b). Hover your arms right above your abdominal wall and start to pump your arms 6 to 8 inches up and down, taking deep breaths, inhaling for 5 counts, exhaling for 5 counts
(c). Repeat 10 times, without taking a break. Rest your head flat on the floor, rather than curling it up, if the movement feels too difficult.
- Focus on how much your abdominals are engaging and breathe.
- If you cannot do 100, do 50 counts instead. In this case, inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts. Do for five times.
Single Leg Circle
Lay down on the mat, shoulders down, ribs down, and extend your right leg straight up to the sky, with the left leg bent, foot flat on the floor.
(a). Circle your right leg across your body to your left shoulder, than back around to your right shoulder, stop at your nose. Focus on keeping abdominals scooped in.
(b). Repeat five times, then reverse, and switch legs.
- Maintain a neutral or slight imprint with the spine.
- If strength in muscles is less you can flex the non-working leg, once strength develops, keep it extended.
Lay on your back, knees pulled into your chest, hands supporting the base of your head
(a). Extend your right leg straight in front of you, left leg remains bent. Twist towards your left leg, holding for three counts
(b). Switch, extending your left leg straight, pulling your right knee into your body. Spiral your chest towards the right knee, holding for three counts.
(c). Repeat twice. Then, do the movement faster for four more full rotations (once on each side).
- Exhale to rotate the left armpit to the right leg while extending the left leg and vice versa.
- Inhale to return to center maintaining the abdominal preparation position.
- Do not allow the elbows to creep towards the knees or the shoulders to rest down.
Sit up, legs spread as wide as the yoga mat
(a). With your arms straight out to your sides, twist to your left
(b). Stretch your right hand towards your left foot, pulsing three times(c). Roll up in the twist, untwist, and return to center. Repeat on the opposite side. Repeat once more on each side.
- This is a must-do for beginners because it establishes a proper base and form for the body.
- Exhale to rotate and flex the spine forward to reach the right arm towards the little toe on the left foot.
- Inhale to return and straighten.
- Keep shoulder blades from hunching, look back at the back hand.
- Do not allow the pelvis to move.