These simple exercises can get you started at home—no gear and no equipment, just a mat and an iron will! Pilates exercises focus on your spine, abs, legs, and buttocks, aiming to tone up and strengthen these parts while improving flexibility and stamina.
Start lying on your back with your legs in tabletop position (hips and knees at right angles). Engage your deep abs to round your lower spine into the floor. Make sure you are not "pooching" your abs, which means you are just working the top layer of abs – a definite no-no in Pilates.
Exhale and lift your upper back off the floor, until the bottom tips of your shoulder blades are just off the floor. Reach your arms toward your feet. Your arms will be about two inches off the floor.
Pump your arms up and down with a small range of motion, keeping your elbows straight. Inhale for five arm pumps and exhale for five pumps. That completes one set or cycle. Repeat cycle nine more times for a total of 100 pumps.
Single Leg Circles
Lie on your back on the mat. Lay your arms palm-down by your sides.
Bend your left knee and keep your foot flat on the ground.
Anchor your pelvis by pulling your lower abdominals in, and anchor your shoulders. Your hips and shoulders should not “rock” or move from this position.
Raise your right leg toward the ceiling as far as you can – try to get your leg perpendicular to the floor. It’s okay to bend your right knee.
Move your raised right leg toward your left hip, then slowly lower it almost to the floor. (If this is too difficult, keep your foot higher off the floor.)
Sweep your foot slowly to the right, bringing your foot outward and pointing your leg out to the right.
Continue the circle and bring your leg up again to the starting position.
Put this all together to make a smooth, controlled circle in a counterclockwise direction.
Sit tall with knees at a 45-degree angle and inner thighs glued together.
Straighten one knee, and reach the arms long beside your ears. Your back forms a gentle C-curve.
Inhale and reach your arms to your feet.
Exhale to roll down
Just as your head approaches the mat, extend your arms behind you, and immediately
Inhale to roll up: Reach for your knee, your toe, then the sky.
Criss Cross exercise
Lie on your back, reach your hands behind your head.
Bring your legs up to the tabletop position, one at a time.
Squeeze your inner thighs together.
On the exhale, rotate your ribcage to the left.
Bend left knee and bring it toward your right arm.
Switch, bringing your right knee as close as you can to your left arm.
Sit in a cross-legged position with your arms at your sides and your fingertips resting on the floor.
Exhale in the start position.
Inhale into the side bend, reaching one arm overhead.
Side bend further until you feel an ideal stretch along the top side of the body.
Exhale and stay. Take one more deep inhale and exhale. Inhale and come back to a seated cross-legged position. Repeat on the other side.
Rolling like a Ball
Sit on the front end of your mat, with your knees and hips bent. Find your balance point. Inhale and exhale in the starting position. Inhale and lift your feet off the mat, exhale and perform the chin nod fundamental as you roll back.
Roll back in a controlled manner, keeping the same distance between your legs and your torso. Maintain the C-shape of your spine.
Exhale and come back up to your balance point, pausing for a moment. Strive to feel 100% in control of the movement.
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