03 Sep Online Pilates Foundations Course: Day 7 of 10
Online Pilates Course: on the Mat day 7
“A Pelvic Clock & Sitting Up & Lying Down”
There’s lots of Pilates exercises that we do lying down (could that be the attraction of Pilates?) but there’s also a large number that we do in other positions and some of these we are exploring more today – specifically in the sitting upright. Most people rural cultures that don’t regularly sit in chairs are perfectly able to sit up with a straight spine directly on their sit bones… This is something that we’ve lost in our modern civilisation.
We’ve already started this “sitting up” journey with the Roll Ups and the Roll Downs, the Adductor Stretches and the Spine Stretch Forward. To this we now add: the Hamstring Stretch to further help us find those sit bones in sitting (and it makes many other exercises [Open Leg Rocker] more accessible too). The sitting up theme continues with the Single Lung Breathing. This helps us to get the most out of our Spine Stretch Side which in turn, helps us to find and lengthen our waist
But now we’re introducing more Pilates exercises from the traditional repertoire: Double Leg Stretch Prep; Rolling Like a Ball; Single Leg Stretch; Double Leg Stretch Prep. Just because we do these exercises lying down doesn’t mean that … :-)))
If you’ve missed previous lessons, or just want to check back for reference, here are handy links:
Day 1: Foundations – “Breathing, Deep Core Activation and Abdominal Strengthening” click here
Day 2: Foundations – “The Spine & Pelvis: position & control” click here
Day 3: Foundations – “Spinal Mobility & Strengthening” click here
Day 4: Foundations – “Shoulder Mobility and Stabilisation” click here
Day 5: Foundations – “Alignment & Standing” click here
Day 6: Starting Pilates & Extras – “Flow and Roll Ups & Downs” click here
Pilates in Flow
This is a “playlist” of the exercises arranged in a logical order for you to print off and practice as a work out.
The exercise sheet includes all the exercises already studied and these here: click here (PDF)
Exercise of the Week: Stomach Massage
To help get the connection to the sit bones, the Stomach Massage is excellent! Read the blog post click here.
This exercise demands great control of all the core muscle groups: the abdominals, the oblique abdominals, the spinals, the glutes. In fact it is a perfect exercise to demonstrate how The Sling System (first described by Andry Vleeming & Diane Lee) works!
If you are trying this for the first time, then I suggest that you start with Pelvic Rocking to find your 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock and then move onto practice side to side movement: from 3 to 9 o’clock and then, slowly fill in the numbers in between.
It’s a perfect exercise to feel how in Pilates we work from the “inside out and not the outside in” – so really focus on calming the rest of the body: keep your knees, shoulders and chest still!
Rolling Like a Ball
There are exercises called “spine massage”, although it has a different name, it really is a spinal massage. It’s a wonderful preparation for other, more demanding back rolling exercises (there are front rolling exercises too) that we’ll be learning later: the Seal Puppy, the Boomerang and the Crab.
The objective is to keep the distance between your heels and pelvis and head and knees the same throughout. To do this, you’ll find that you need great abdominal strength to maintain the curve of your spine. Because of this, I recommend Roll Downs off the Wall to build awareness of how the abdominals help create that forwards spine bending.
Single Leg Stretch
This exercise belongs to a group of exercises that promote abdominal strength in a stabilisation fashion (think isometric contraction of the abdominals). In other words: hold the truck and pelvis absolutely sill while the limbs move!
The Single Leg Stretch is an excellent preparation for the Double Leg Stretch in which both arms reach overhead as both legs reach out, thereby creating the “work in opposition”. As both arms and legs reach out simultaneously, the Double Leg Stretch represents a great er challenge to the stabilisation of the trunk and pelvis.
- keep the head aligned with the spine and supported so that it remains absolutely still;
- the pumping of the legs, which amplifies the abdominal work, should not affect the stability of the pelvis;
- press into the shin firmly so that you drive the hip deep onto the mat;
- keep the pelvis imprinted into the mat.
Optimal form: the feet, knees and eyes are all at the same height throughout!
Single Lung Breathing
Put your hands on the lower part of your ribcage. Draw in your abdominals and ribcage. Inhale by relaxing one side of your ribs. This will allow air to enter that side of your lungs. As you become more proficient,you’ll be able to aim the breath into one side of the lungs with ever greater force.
- Feel one side expand as you send the air into that side. Notice if one side is easier than the other.
- To increase the sensation, lie on your side with a pillow under one side of your rib cage. Breath into the top side. Place the pillow under the easier side in order to get the other side to work. With scoliosis, place the pillow under the convex side to try to open the concave side.
Single lung breathing is used to increase the expansion of the lungs in side bending exercises. If you suffer from scoliosis you can use one lung breathing on the concave side to increase the mobility of the spine and rib cage.
Spine Stretch Side: One Lung Breathing
Here’s a Simple Side Stretch exercise that shows you how single lung breathing can be used.
Think of lengthening the waist and keeping each sit bone equally weighted throughout. Open out the chest and breath into that stretch!
In Pilates, breathing is a tool, not a rule. Never forget this: don’t become a slave to your failure to get it, or obsessed by your success at it!
Here’s another video. ; Which do you like best?
Double Leg Stretch Prep.
In the traditional mat repertoire, th Double Leg Stretch follows the Single Leg Stretch. These are the first of five exercises that I like to call the “Five of Fire”! Each of these exercises follows the previous in a flowing, connected sequence that gets harder and harder as you work your way through it!
In the full exercise, we would be circling the arms from a reached out overhead position around the side (still reaching) and in to hug our knees. The objective is to control the trunk and pelvis while the limbs circle around!
Q. Will Pilates help me lose weight?
Yes, especially in the beginning. But, that’s because like any workout regime, it helps speed up your metabolism. If you want to lose more than a couple of kilos, I strongly recommend you work with a proper nutritionist (not one that’s done few days’ worth of training). Creating the habit of daily Pilates practice will help you no end in creating other new habits. With both nutrition and Pilates, you need to find a way of doing things that you can maintain for the long haul. There are no quick fixes to weight loss. Well there are, but they require going under the knife – is that what you really want? The amazing thing about creating new habits is that the befits are compounding as time moves forward.
Q. What are the benefits of Pilates?
– there are too many to list! Here are some of my favourites:
- Better Posture. This means that you look leaner, have better digestion, and you’ll not only look better, but this will translate into you feeling more confident.
- Increased flexibility
- Increased strength
- Balancing out your muscular asymmetries
- Hydrating your fascia and getting it more leastican mobile
- Improved coordination
- Decreased stress, it’s literally a movement meditation
- and much, much more!