Side Leg Kicks

Pre-Pilates “Matwork C” (v1) – Hints and Tips

Pre-Pilates “Matwork C”: The Foundations

This series: Pre-pilates A, B & C is designed for beginners, to help you get started with Pilates.  It includes:

  • exercises that demonstrate the Foundations of Pilates: :re-Pilates exercises that help us better understand how Pilates works) and exercises that help us on our way to learning more difficult Pilates exercises.


Pre-Pilates to learn The Foundations of Movement

  • We learn the basic positions; simple transitions; types of breathing, pelvic position & stability, scapular mobility & stability and abdominal work & spinal rotation.
  • We use all the body positions but for standing: supine, sitting, quadruped, side lying. For the sake of ease of making the video, I’ve omitted standing.
  • The Foundations of Movement:
    • Breathing
    • Deep Core Activation
    • Optiminal lumbo-pelvic position
    • Lumbo-pelvic stabilisation
    • Spinal mobility and strengthening
    • Abdominal strengthening
    • Shoulder mobility
    • Shoulder stabillisation


New Pre-Pilates & Pilates exercises to help learn Pilates

  • Angels in the Snow
  • One Hundred (Pilates)
  • Partial Roll Downs & Arm Lifts
  • Double Leg Stretch Prep
  • Double Leg Stretch (Pilates)
  • The Saw (Pilates)
  • Recovery: lower spine / shoulder stretch
  • Side Kicks (Pilates)
  • Leg Circles (Pilates)
  • Arm / Elbow Orientation
  • Pregnant Cat
  • Pawing Cat
  • Opposite Arm / Leg Lifts
  • Knees Off & Knees Off With Sternum Drops
  • Plank prep
  • Plank with Sternum Drops
  • Transition to Standing (Downward Dog)
  • Seal Puppy & Transition to Standing! (Pilates)


If you want more help with the Pre-Pilates exercises, go to the Resources Page: click here. Use your password to access the pages


Pre-Pilates: The Workout

For the previous exercises, visit the

– Matwork A blog post: click here.

– Mtwork B blog post: click here.


Supine: lying face up

Pelvic Rocking

Previously covered in Matwork A.  Click here.

Pelvic Clock

Lie supine with the feet on the floor and the knees bent, imagine you have a clock face on the back of your sacrum. Gently tilt the pelvis in the direction of the different hours on the clock face until you are balanced on the center of the sacrum and feel equal effort through the muscles of the hips, abdomen and lower back.

  • Move from 12 (at the waist) to 6 (at the tailbone) to establish the balance between the spinal flexors (abdominals) and extensors (low back muscles).  This is just like Pelvic Rocking.
  • Move from 3 (on the left hip) – 9 (on the right hip) to establish that you are feeling equal pressure on both buttocks.  Just like Hip Dips in the Bridging exercises.
  • Full circles – Move the pelvis from 12 to 1 to 2 and all around the clock finding as smooth a flow from point to point and as round a circle as possible.

Imagine you are have a bowl of water on your pelvis and you are tipping the water over the lip in each direction.

This exercise is used for locating a neutral lumbopelvic position and releasing tension in the back and hips. The pelvic clock is a very effective exercise for establishing the sensation of equal muscle engagement around the spine and pelvis and for feeling any imbalances that are present.

Bridging / Pelvic Curl – Typewriter – Hip Dips

Previously covered in Matwork A.  Click here.



Roll Up to sitting


Sitting: Breathing in Pilates

Adductor Stretch

To help us to  sit upright on our sit bones.  Previously covered in Matwork A.  Click here.

Diaphragmatic Breathing – Posterio-Lateral breathing

Matwork B.  Click here.

Kathy’s Accordion

Matwork A.  Click here.


All Fours

Cat/Cow (Camels), Hip Circles (Poodle Tail), Tail Wag

Matwork A.  Click here.

Shoulder & Hip Circles

Matwork B.  Click here.


Side Lying

Telescope & Pinwheeel 

Matwork B.  Click here.

Angels in the Snow (new)

This exercise improves the mobility of the shoulder blades and and helps co-ordinate movements of the spine, shoulder, arm and head.

Lie with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Open your arms out forming a “T” shape.

  1. As one arms slides towards your hips, slide the other arm towards your head.
  2. Move the head towards the arm that is approaching it.
  3. Keeping them stacked, drop your knees in the opposite direction.

Move slowly through the full range of motion and coordinate the rotation of the hips, torso and head.


Abdominal Curls & Abdominal Curls with Obliques

Previously covered in Matwork B.  Click here.

Fingertip Abdominals

Previously covered in Matwork A.  Click here.

Toe Taps

Matwork A.  Click here.

One Hundred Preparation

Matwork B.  Click here.

One Hundred (new)

Set up: lie with your arms reaching toward the ceiling and legs in table top position.

  • Exhale as you engage the abdominals, lengthening the arms and drawing the rib cage toward the hips to lift the head and lower the arms until they are horizontal.
  • Pump your arms in a small arc as you exhale for five pumps and immediately inhale for five pumps.  Do 100 pumps, that is ten sets of ten.

You can breathe percussively with each beat of the arms: five exhalations and five inhalations, or in continuous breaths.

Spine Twist Supine

Matwork A.  Click here.

Transition: Roll-up to sitting

Keep practicing those Roll Ups – use one of the modifications we looked at in the previous session / blog post!  Click here.

Partial Roll Downs & Partial Roll Downs & Obliques

Matwork B.  Click here.

Partial Roll Downs & Arm Lifts (new)

This is an additional variation on the Partial Roll Downs which only work our spine into flexion.  Here, as you raise your arms, feel the connections around your shoulder blades as they slide down your back and get your spine as flat as possible in order to lean forwards: try to find your Sit Bones.


Transition: Roll Down to Supine

Hamstring Stretch, Rolling Like a Ball, Single Leg Stretch

Previously covered in Matwork A. Click here.

Double Leg Stretch Prep (new)

For most people starting off, it’s best to imprint your spine, or use a supported spine because we really want to engage the abdominals and maintain control of the spine so that it doesn’t pop off the mat in an uncontrolled fashion.  Maintain that connection with the mat.

Set up: hug your knees with your hands, elbows out.

  • Inhale to extend the legs out, maintaining you hollowed out abdominals.  Allow your hands to slide down your thighs as your knees straighten.
  • Exhale to bring your knees back in to the starting position.

Double Leg Stretch (new)

This is the full variation of the exercise.  If you have difficulties, continue the prep version until you’re stronger!

  • Inhale to reach the legs and arms out, maintaining you hollowed out abdominals and without changing the shape of the curve of the upper body or the position of the lower back.
  • Exhale: Circle your arms around and as they reach a “T” position and draw your legs into your chest.


Transition:  Roll up to … Sitting

Adductor Stretch, Spine Stretch Side & Spine Stretch Forward

Previously covered in Matwork A.  Click here.

The Saw (new)

Sit with legs straight and open to shoulder width apart.  Reach the arms out to the sides level with the shoulders.  Find your sit bones, but don’t lean forwards or slouch!

  • Inhale: rotate your torso to the right  and reach the left arm towards the left foot.
  • Exhale: engage the abdominals and roll the head and torso forward toward the little toe on the right foot.
  • Inhale: return to the starting position with the weight centered on the sit bones and the arms out to the sides.  Rotate the torso to the left and reach the right arm toward the left foot.

Try reversing the breathing to see how that changes the stretch of the back.



Baby Swan 

Matwork A.  Click here.

Alan Herdman’s Rockets

Matwork B.  Click here.

Single Leg Kicks

Matwork A.  Click here.

Recovery: lower spine / shoulder stretch (new)

Leaning into the stretch with a flat back will stretch your shoulders, with a curved spine (due to curling in to your sit bones) will stretch your lower back.


Side Lying

All these side ling exercises are powerful tools to develop stability of the torso in side lying.  They strengthen:

  • hip abductors: gluteus maximus, medius and minimus and tensor fascia lata.
  • hip external rotators: gluteus maximus, piriformis, obturator internus, and externus gemellus inferior, and quadratus femoris.
  • the lateral torso: latissimus dorsi, internal and external obliques and quadratus lumborum.

Pelvic Pushes & Side Leg Lifts

Previously covered in Matwork A.  Click here.

Side Legs Kicks (new)

Set up: Lie on your side with your torso and head lied up along the back edge of the mat.  Flex your hips slightly to brig your feet toward the front corner of the mat.  enlace the fingers together andplance your head into your hands pressing your head into your hands and your hands into your head.  This activates your shoulders and helps to stabilise the body.  Keep the shoulders and pelvis stacked with the bottom leg turned our (or parallel) with the bottom foot flexed and the toes tucked under.

Inhale: Kick the top leg forward, with a flexed foot and pulse it twice.  Use a shiffing breath for the pulses.  Keep the hips and shoulders stacked and legs straiight.

exhale Kick the top leg back with pointed foot.  Don’t disturb the torso.

Leg Circles (new)

Set up: as per Side Leg Kicks.

Inhale: Circle the top leg forwards and up to the high point in line with the torso.

Exhale: circle the top leg from the midpoint backwards and around to the starting position.


Matwork B.  Click here.



Piriformis Stretch  & Seal Puppy

Matwork A.  Click here.

All Fours

Sternum Drops

Matwork A.  Click here.

Arm / Elbow Orientation (new)

While in all fours position become aware of the rotation of your arms.  Notice the creases of the insides of your elbow.  Which way are they pointing?  Forwards Or inwards towards each other?  In Pilates we always work from the inside out, so try to create this rotation from the shoulder blades.  What effect does this have on your performance of the following exercises?

If you hyperextend your elbows, keep them soft so that you are not relying on connective issue to support you.

Pregnant Cat (new)

This exercise is used to identify and engage the transversus abdominis and identify neutral spine: vital for the following Plank preparation exercises.

From a neutral all fours position,

  • Exhale, pull the abdominals up and in toward the spine without changing the position of the back.
  • Inhale and allow the abdominals to expand.

Imagine you are a pregnant cat and pull your kittens up on the exhale.
Pull the abdominals in without changing the angle / shape of the back.

Pawing Cat (new)

Thanks to Miriam Friedrich Honorio.  Activate the abdominals as in the Pregnant Cat and,like a cat, knead the mat by lift, very slightly, one hand off themat and then the other.  Feel how the adominal activation increases each time.

Opposite Arm / Leg Lifts (new)

This exercise is used for developing awareness and strength for lumbopelvic stabilization.

Level 1: lift one hand off the floor and replace it without changing the position of the back. Alternate hands until you can do this easily.
Level 2: add the legs by sliding one leg along the floor and then lifting it to the level of the hips without changing the position of the back.
Level 3: The final step is to reach one arm and the opposite leg away from the center of the body at the same time while maintaining the position of the spine.

Have a partner place a roller or dowel along the spine and perform the exercise without disturbing the roller.
Focus on the reach out of the arms and legs rather than the lift to optimize the stability of the torso.

Knees Off & Knees Off With Sternum Drops (new)

Matwork A.  Click here.

Plank prep (new)

Place your knees on the ground rather than your feet.  Use your abdominals, spinals and glutes of maintain a straight line from the back of the head, shoulders and knees.

If you have wrist discomfort, use Push Up Handles, hexagonal weight blocks or place you forearms on on a sittin box or yoga blocks.,

Plank with Sternum Drops (new)

Add Sternum Drops to the Plank Prep exercise

Transition to Standing: Push Up & Downward Dog (new)

From the plank position, walk your hands towards your feet, push your heels down and try to get you back as straight as you possibly can!

To get back into all fours position from standing:

Inhale: Roll down from the top of the spine as if you were diving over the top of a Beach Ball until your hands are o the mat.

Exhale: Walk the hands out along the mat until your wrists are under your shoulders and your body is straight from head to feet.

Inhale for the Push Up: bend the elbows backwards, keeping everything in line.

Exhale: straighten you elbows ad walk the hands back to the feet and roll up.


Seal Puppy & Transition to Standing! (new)

Perform the Seal Puppy and as you come over to the sitting position for the last time, cross over your ankles and come straight into standing!  Well done!


The List of Exercises


Here’s a pdf listing all the exercises in the video:

Matwork C v1

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