THE FIVE ESSENTIALS
Pilates warm-up exercises
The following exercises take place from the relaxation positioning on
an exercise mat. These five exercises can form the basis of a Pilates
warm-up at the start of a workout or can be used a small workout separately.
These exercises contain all the essential elements of a Pilates workout
which is, stretch, strength and mobility. Aim to perform 20-30mins of
Pilates between 3-5 times a week.
Take your first breath in to prepare, and then breathe out to roll your head to the side feeling a gentle stretch, breathe in to return head to start position. Repeat this each side four times and become aware of how the neck is feeling throughout the stretches.
Your arms are in the air above your shoulders, breathe in to prepare and imagine strings attached to fingers lifting your shoulders off the mat. As you breathe out, the strings are released so your shoulders fall onto the mat. Your head stays on the mat throughout the exercise. The releases can be practised with just one shoulder only lifting and releasing, alternating with each shoulder. Aim for 8-10 repetitions of either type.
Lengthen your arms on the mat, palms facing inwards towards the legs. Take the first breathe in to prepare and breathe out as you start moving your arms out along the floor. Your palms are facing upwards, as your arms circle towards your head. Lift your arms over towards your legs and take another breath in and continue the exercise completing between 6-8 repetitions.
Your first breath is in for preparation, as you breathe out, slide out one foot until you feel your leg stretching along the floor. Use the in breath to return the leg and foot back to the start position. Repeat this on the other leg and continue alternating with each leg 5 times each side. Your body must maintain the neutral spine alignment and focus on using the deep abdominal control throughout the exercise.
To create more challenge of holding the body's alignment, take your opposite arm away from the start position as you extend your leg, using the out breath to extend and the in breath to return. Practise 8-10 repetitions in total.
Check your feet are hip distance and that your heels are just in front
of the knees. Take your first breath in to prepare and breathing out start
by gently pressing your lower back into the mat, curling from the tailbone
and starting to roll and lift the back up.
When you are into the lifted position make sure that your knees, hips, shoulders in are in a line, think of a ski-slope from the knees to the shoulders.
Pause in the lifted position and take another breath in and then as you are breathing out start to roll the spine back down towards the mat. This time the focus is the top of the spine gently pressing or imprinting into the mat first and then all the way through the length of the spine, until you are returned into the neutral start position.
To create more challenge of co-ordination of movements, as you curl your spine, start to float the arms up in the air until they are over your shoulders. The arms return down with the return of your spine. The arms mirror the movement of the spine throughout.
To add extra challenge to your legs, lift your heels off the mat as your spine and arms reach the lifted position. The heels must return to the floor as you breathe in, before you start the return of your spine.
Practise 10 repetitions of either variation or 5 reps without the arms, then 5 reps with the arms included.