Guest Author - Terri Johansen
The Pilates workout at home includes 10 exercises from Joseph H. Pilate’s original mat series. The Pilates Method was developed over 90 years ago with the goal of working the deepest inner layer of muscle in the abdomen. This will allow your body to realign, improving your posture, providing flexibility and balance and developing a lean toned body.
Here is the Pilates Workout for Home:
If you feel dizzy, nauseous or discomfort in a pose, stop immediately. If your neck feels strained from holding your head up for all the repetitions, then relax your head to the floor and continue. If that doesn’t bring relief then stop and work up to full count gradually.
1. Breathing The first and most important thing you need to know is the proper Pilates breathing technique.
•Practice this breath for awhile until you feel you can apply it to each exercise. This breath requires intense focus and will take some practice, but soon it will become natural.
•Lie down on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Relax your shoulders down and away from your ears. Take a few deep breaths and relax your face and throat.
•Inhale slowly and feel the breath lift through your body. Your abdomen will expand and the breath travels to the ribs and upper chest.
•During this breath you will draw your navel towards your spine, this is called engaging your abdominals and you will maintain it throuout all the exercises.
•Exhale releasing your breath slowly while continuing to draw your navel towards your spine. Press your lower back flat against the floor and feel your pelvis lift slightly; this is a pelvic lift.
2. The Hundred This exercise is the first in the Pilate mat series and is considered a warm-up and a challenge.
•Begin on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor then bring your knees into a table top position.
•Lift your head and shoulders while lowering your chin so that your gaze is toward your abs.
•Place your arms at your side and lift them about 6 inches from the floor reaching through your fingertips. Use the Pilates breath and engage your abdominals.
•Face your palms up and begin to flutter them as you draw in 5 small quick breaths, like sniffing. Turn your palms to face the floor and exhale 5 quick breaths puffing the air out. This is one round.
•Repeat the 5 inhales and 5 exhales and continue this rotation 10 times, therefore reaching a total count of 100.
•Don’t rush the movement keep it slow and steady. Remember to draw your navel towards the spine as you breathe.
•Right now your legs are still in table top position. If you want to make the pose harder extend your legs straight out at 45 degree angle.
•If your neck feels strained you can continue the exercise with your head on the floor or discontinue and work up to 100 gradually.
3. Leg Circles This exercise requires concentration as you use your abdominals to keep both hips on the floor when circling the leg. Repeat 5 times in each direction and repeat on other leg.
•Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out on the floor. If you have a back problem it is okay to bend the knees with feet flat on the floor.
•Lift one leg straight up extending through your toes. Inhale and circle the leg wide to the side and at the end of the circle exhale and draw the leg straight up the center.
•Continue the pattern of inhaling and circling the leg then exhaling the leg straight up the middle for 5 circles then switch directions for a total of 10 circles. Repeat with other leg. Remember that as you are circling your leg you are engaging your abdominals to keep your pelvis steady.
4. Single Leg Stretch Repeat 8 times on each side.
•Lie on your back with your legs in a tabletop position.
•Lift your head and shoulders dropping the chin slightly.
•Draw one knee closer towards the chest and place both hands on it. Extend the other leg straight out at a 45 degree angle.
•Now switch legs drawing the extended leg in close to the body with both hands on the knee and extend the opposite leg straight out. Continue switching the legs in a slow fluid motion.
•Concentrate on your breath and engaging your abdominals.
5. Spine Stretch This is a nice counter pose to relax the back after the above exercises. Repeat 6 to 8 times.
•Sit up straight and tall on your sit bones.
•Extend your legs straight out shoulder width apart.
•Inhale and extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder height.
•Exhale and round your upper back keeping your lower back flat as if it were against a wall.
•Stretch forward as far as comfortable then roll yourself up to the original position.
6. Single Leg Kicks Repeat 8 times.
•Lie on your stomach with legs extended straight out behind you. Engage the muscles in your legs and butt for the entire exercise.
•Lift your upper body and support yourself on your forearms keeping your chest lifted. Look towards the floor with your neck in a neutral position.
•Press your pelvic bones into the floor and engage the abdominals.
•Inhale and on your exhale bend your right leg drawing your foot towards your butt pulsing it twice while keeping your toes pointed.
•Inhale and switch legs, extend the right leg as you bend the left towards your butt for 2 quick pulses.
•Keep your leg and butt muscles engaged and don’t kick too hard.
7. Swimming Repeat 2 to 3 cycles.
•Lie on your stomach with legs extended straight out behind you and toes pointed.
•Stretch your arms straight out in front of you keeping your shoulders away from your ears.
•Press your pelvic bones into the floor and engage the abdominals. Then lift your left arm and right leg off the floor, stretching them far away from each other.
•Pulse the lifted arm and leg for a count of 5 then switch lifting the right arm and left leg for 5 small pulses. This is one cycle.
•Coordinate your breath inhaling for a count of five and exhaling for the next count of five.
8. The Saw Repeat 3 times to each side.
•Sit up tall in your sit bones with your legs extended straight out, shoulder width apart.
•Put your arms in a T position even with your shoulders. Inhale lifting and turn your whole torso to the right using your abs to keep both hips steady.
•Exhale and bend over your right leg extending the left arm to cross over your ankle.
•Inhale coming back to center, arms still in a T with your spine and head lifted tall.
•Exhale and bend over your left leg extending the right arm to cross over your ankle.
Pilates is a safe and effective exercise, just remember to stay focused; move slow and steady; and practice the Pilates breath keeping the abdominals engaged.
As always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan. Be healthy, be happy!
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