Friday, July 19, 2019

Beginner Pilates

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This Pilates guide for Beginners will help you learn the basic information of Pilates and the principles it was founded on.

Getting started can sometimes be frustrating when you’re not sure what to look for.

This page will help you understand more about this type of exercise and how it works. So welcome to the…

Pilates Beginners Guide

Depending on who you talk to, the suggestion for learning this exercise properly is dependent on taking classes.

Although I agree taking classes gives you some great advantages with the hands-on training of an instructor, today’s world does provide excellent CDs and DVDs for beginners if you prefer to learn at home.

What Pilates Really Is

Pilates is a form of exercise that was developed by Joseph Pilates back in the 1920s.

It was originally used as a rehabilitation program for prisoners of war. It was found to be a great benefit to anyone who was seeking higher levels of fitness.

We are all aware that fitness trends come and go.

Some remain with us for a great length of time, such as aerobics, and then there are certain trends such as the slide, that fade away.

Well nowadays the trend is to focus upon the body and mind with activities such as Pilates.

Many people ask “What is Pilates?”

Pilates class teaching proper form

Pilates is a cross between yoga, calisthenics and stretching. Pilates is undertaken to:

  • Enhance body alignment
  • Strengthen the abs, back and stabilizer muscles
  • Stretch, strengthen and relax the body

Pilates is gentle enough for pregnant women, when it has been modified, while at the same time being challenging enough for advanced exercisers. It incorporates exercises that target the abs, back and legs which results in the body becoming stronger and more
flexible
.

Pilates is not a great cardio or strength training workout, so it should be used as an add-on to a regular routine.

Pilates is a fantastic, dynamic exercise routine. Many moves require that you hold your torso in place while you undertake to move your limbs in different directions. This is obviously a great challenge for your balance, along with core strength, stability and flexibility.

Pilates is very often included in an aerobics schedule at health clubs. It is even common for many cities to have Pilates studios, whereby you will either perform your workout on specially designed equipment or on a mat.

A majority of Pilates classes have been adapted nowadays to take place on a mat, which may include using equipment such as a ring, ball, or band.

If you do not live in an area whereby Pilates is available, then videos and DVDs are available so that you can undertake the exercise in the comfort of your own home.

Pilates can be easily adapted to suit everyone. All exercises are modified to make the workout safe and challenging for a person at any level of fitness.

Core Strength in Pilates

Core strength is the main basis of Pilates. The core muscles are the internal muscles that are deep in the abdomen and back. Pilates will train the core muscles to become strong whereby they will then work together with the surface muscles of the trunk in order to support the spine and movement.

As the core strength is developed, the stability throughout the entire torso will also be developed. Pressure on the back will be relieved when the trunk is correctly stabilized, and the body will be able to move freely and efficiently.

The Pilates Principles include Mind over Matter, Breathing, Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision, Fluidity, and Integration.

Mind over Matter

One of the most important Pilates principles is mind over matter.

Practitioners believe that the main aim of Pilates is for the creation of a fusion of mind and body, so that the body, without thinking about it, will move with economy, balance and grace.

The final result is to produce an attention-free union of mind and body. It is believed by practitioners that one should use the body to the greatest advantage, which means making the most of its strengths, counteracting its weaknesses, and correcting imbalances.

It is required that one pays constant attention to the body while undertaking the movements. It is vital that close attention is paid to the movement, more so than any other aspect of the movement.

Breathing

Another one of the Pilates principles which is of great importance is breathing. As mentioned above, Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates. He was a great believer in the circulation of the blood in order to wake up all of the cells in the body and remove any waste that was related to fatigue.

He maintained that for the blood to do its work correctly, it needed to be charged with oxygen and cleansed of waste gases through the correct breathing techniques. Part of every Pilates exercise is the full and thorough inhalation and exhalation.

It is known for him to state squeeze the lungs out, just as you would wring out a wet towel. He would also state learn to breathe correctly, even if you do not follow other instructions.

Centering

Pilates refers to the large group of muscles that are situated in the center of the body surrounding the abdomen, lower back, hips and buttock as powerhouse.

The powerhouse is where all energy for Pilates exercises begins, then flowing outwards to the extremities. Pilates believed that it was essential to build a strong powerhouse so that it could be relied upon for normal daily living. The powerhouse is named the core by modern instructors.

Concentration

An intense focus is demanded when undertaking Pilates. For example, the pelvic floor and inner thighs may be assessed when undertaking a standing exercise which tones the triceps.

Careful attention is paid by beginners to their bodies, building on small, gentle movements and controlled breathing.

Control

Muscle control is essential in Pilates. This means no uncontrolled movements. Each and every exercise in Pilates must be performed with the greatest control in order to avoid injury and to produce positive results.

Precision

There is a purpose behind every movement in the method of Pilates. Every instruction is highly important to receive success of the whole. It is important to focus on completing one movement perfectly, rather than complete many unenthusiastic movements.

This precision will eventually become second nature, and carry over into everyday life as grace and economy of movement.

Fluidity

It is important, when undertaking any Pilates exercise, that a smooth, continuous motion is carried out, rather than jarring repetitions.

Integration

Several different groups of muscles are used at the same time in order to control and support movement.

It is when all of these Pilates principles are brought together that you will perform a holistic mind-body workout and you’ll understand what Pilates really is.

Benefits of Pilates

Pilates exercise is packed with benefits that benefit everyone from mom’s to high performance sports athletes. It really has something from everyone!

Various types of people with different levels of fitness that have undertaken Pilates exercises state that they have seen major improvement.

The improvements are in their range of motion, circulation, posture, flexibility, as well as seeing a reduction in back, neck and joint pain.

Pilates was developed by a gentleman by the name of Joseph Pilates, and forty years after his death, Pilates still remains to be in demand.

There are some great benefits of Pilates such as body awareness, a stronger core and body control.

Body Awareness

Fitness - Pilates Half Rollback with Obliques

Celebrity Pilates teacher Siri Dharma Galliano, who owns Live Art Pilates studio in Los Angeles, states that Pilates changes your shape by educating you in daily life.

You learn to hold your stomach in and pull your shoulders down whether you are brushing your teeth, cooking or walking the dog. When undertaking Pilates exercises, there is a certain amount of attention required which alters your awareness, even when the class has ended.

Pilates teaches you to educate your mind and create balance and coordination in the body. You are practicing determination when you are in control of little things.

It is the opinion of Aliesa George, another Pilates teacher, situated in Wichita, Kansas, that the biggest benefits of Pilates is personal awareness.

Being aware of how you sit and stand, or how you move is of great importance. It better allows you to relate those habits to the aches, pains and injuries that you may have, or that you had in the past.

You can become aware of that irritable sensation that you continuously have in your neck from sitting at the computer all day long while you are holding your posture with rounded shoulders and a telephone held to your ear by your shoulder.

Dan Westerhold, a Pilates-trained physical therapist, states that he witnesses many people with injuries or weaknesses of the postural muscles, which is a result of different things including lifestyle, work, or simply by not exercising in the correct manner.

It is common knowledge that people tend to sit in a slouched position at computers all day, then visit the gym and work their extremities. They do not use their core.

It is a case of thinking about a tree. A tree does not possess all of its strength in its limbs. The tree is only as strong as its trunk and roots. If the tree were not to have a strong trunk, then it would fall over.

Well, exactly the same applies to human beings. If the core of our bodies is not concentrated upon, then this results in our bodies becoming tight in certain places and weak in others. This will result in injuries due to the drawbacks of certain occupations or our chosen form of exercise.

A Stronger Core

Many people ask the question of whether it is possible to get flat abs when undertaking Pilates. It is recommended by experts not to associate a stronger core with a flatter stomach.

If you wish to receive a flat stomach, then you usually need to start a weight loss program, not abdominal strength and core support. Pilates is more about receiving a stronger, healthier back and body.

Of course, if you start other forms of fitness regimes in order to trim down and tone up the body as well as Pilates, then the results will most certainly be a flatter stomach.

Body Control

Siri Dharma Galliano, who has sculpted the bodies of many famous stars including Cameron Diaz, Sting, Madonna, Uma Thurman, and Carrie-Anne Moss, states that Pilates works because of the fact that it teaches you how to move.

If you do not learn how to move and determine with your teacher as to what is blocking you, for instance, maintaining your shoulders too high, then you will never accomplish body symmetry. You will receive a great deal of satisfaction when you begin to gain control of your body and reap the benefits of Pilates.

It has been said by Little Rock, Arkansas, Internist Hoyte Pyle, MD, who has been practicing Pilates for the past five years, that rather than working major muscle groups in isolation, Pilates works the entire body in synergy, and this is how we should be moving on a daily basis.

How to Learn Pilates

You can learn Pilates in three different ways. These include attending private lessons, attending a group class. and learning at home

Whichever decision you make in beginning Pilates, there is one thing that applies to all methods. You are a beginner if you have never undertaken Pilates before.

Under no circumstances should you attend an advanced class because:

This means that you must attend a beginners class.

  •      You are not fully aware of Pilates.
  •      The beginner classes include vital information, which could result in injury if you skip this.
  •      It is essential to learn the basics in order to be successful in the practice and obtain the benefits from the exercises.

Under no circumstances does a beginner class mean that there is no or slow improvement. Studying the practices of Pilates will ensure that you thrive.

Pilates Swan Dive

Pilates Swan Dive

Learn Pilates with Private Lessons at a Pilates Studio

If you opt to learn Pilates by attending a private lesson at a Pilates studio, then all you need to take along with you is your body and concentration.

The studio that you attend will be in ownership of all necessary equipment such as mats and props. You may wish to take along some water.

Private lessons can vary in price from $50 to $90, depending on the studio and the instructor’s experience. A majority of Pilates studios offer a discount if you purchase a package, which of course means that you have several sessions that are paid for in advance.

There are also certain Pilates studios that offer duets or trios, which of course, reduces the individual cost. You can select friends to be your Pilates partners.

When doing this, attempt to select friends that are reliable and who are at the same level of fitness as yourself, as this will eliminate frustrations in the class.

Learn Pilates with Group Classes

Group classes can be taken in either a Pilates studio or a large gym.

When undertaking a group class at a Pilates studio, they will provide all of the equipment that is required. A majority of Pilates studios clean the equipment after every use, so you do not need to be highly concerned about germs. If you are concerned about this however, then it may be worth considering the purchase of a Pilates mat.

Always remember to take along some water with you. Certain Pilates studios provide water and some sell water or have a drinking fountain. If you do not wish to purchase expensive water then take your own.

Always inquire as to whether the Pilates studio has a beginner series. This is usually a four or five week session, which you attend once a week. It is geared at teaching the principles and their combination into various Pilates exercises.

Each class builds on the previous class, which is great for getting to know the Pilates basic principles. Group classes usually costs between $12 and $15 at a Pilates studio.

When attending Pilates group classes at a gym, the mats are usually workout mats rather than Pilates mats. However, these are necessary in order to protect the bones in the spine, as the floor is extremely hard. These mats are a little shorter than those of Pilates or Yoga mats. However, there is sufficient space for you to move around.

The downside to using the mats that are supplied by the gym, is that they are not cleaned after every use. Therefore, if you wish to ensure that the mat you are using is clean, then it may be worthwhile you purchasing a Pilates or Yoga mat and taking it with you.

There are certain gyms that offer free Pilates classes to their members, so it is always worth inquiring as to the gyms policy.

Learn Pilates at Home

It is relatively simple to begin Pilates in the comfort of your own home. Of course it is necessary that you plan a little ahead of time and purchase a few products. There are a few things that are needed when beginning Pilates at home.

Pilates Mat
A Pilates mat will need to be purchased. The choice of mat will depend entirely upon the type of surface that you will be working on. A thick mat is not necessary if you are working on a carpet. However, if you are working on a hard surface, such as a wood floor, then a thicker mat will be required in order to protect your spine.

Workout Space
You must ensure that you have sufficient space when lying down on your mat on the floor, so that you can raise your arms next to your ears. You will also need to ensure that you have sufficient space in your room to lye on your side and swing your leg to the front in a 90 degree angle.

Pilates Video
A Pilates video will be necessary in order to guide you through the journey of Pilates. It is when you begin to feel comfortable with the basic beginner movements that you can then proceed to purchase the videos with small props for an extra challenge and variation. You will enjoy it so much that you will soon be progressing to the intermediate and advanced levels.

Ensure that you purchase a video that is informative of the Pilates basic principles and of the position of each and every exercise. Do not purchase videos that contain anything other than just Pilates. These particular videos are very often not effective.

Pilates Equipment
Once you have become accustomed and comfortable with the basic principles of Pilates, you can proceed to use props to increase the challenge. The most common props are generally reasonably priced and do not require a great deal of space.

These props include:

  •      Flex-band
  •      Pilates ring
  •      Pilates ball
  •      Foam roller

Once you have made the decision of exactly how and where you are going to begin your Pilates classes, then all you need to do is find the concentration and begin.

Basic Pilates Moves

In this section you will learn all about the basic moves that you can start practicing at home to learn Pilates.

Abdominal Exercises

What are Pilates abdominal exercises?

If you’re involved in Pilates, one of the phrases you hear often in relation to Pilates is pull in your abs.

In fact, this is one of the core focuses and benefits of Pilates, but it’s not really understood that well.

You have to pull in your abdominal muscles as part of the Pilates abdominal exercises you do.

It’s done for strength training, physical therapy, and in other disciplines of physical fitness because it stabilizes your spine.

If you do this properly, training your abdominal muscles with this kind of focus gives you core strength that both supports your back and creates stability and ease of motion throughout your body.

What does it mean, though, to “pull in your abs” effectively, and how is this different from doing something as innocuous and ineffective as sucking in your gut?

Pilates abdominal exercises are among the basic Pilates moves. They seek to give you a stable foundation. In effect, you are developing movement from the inside out.

You use the muscles of your pelvic floor and your abdominal muscles, helping them work in tandem with your back muscles to both avoid injury and increase strength and flexibility.

In fact, Pilates focuses on the deeper abdominal muscles, such as the transverse abdominis, and it also focuses on the muscles of the pelvic floor. This is very different than other types of core training.

And in fact, these muscles themselves are often underdeveloped and not pulling their weight along with the surface muscles, such as the rectus abdominis, or the six pack that so often touted as beneficial to have. Of course, it is, but it has to work in tandem with all muscle groups.

Oftentimes, practitioners of other types of exercise or therapists encourage patients and participants to pull your belly button up to your spine, or to think as though you got punched in the stomach. Of course, this facilitates you to pull in your abdominal muscles.

But these activities are erroneous and have no benefit, because they only facilitate “looking” like you’re focusing on your core muscles instead of working from the inside out. In fact, they encourage a weakening of posture, in that you slump forward from your upper torso doing this, as well is tucking your pelvis in.

This is the exact opposite of what you want with a stable core. In fact, what you want to work on is not in the area of your belly button, but with the muscles of the pelvic floor.

You often hear of muscles in the pelvic floor being in great focus for women who have just been pregnant, or for women in general. When you hear of Kegel exercises, for example, this is very similar to what you want to do with Pilates for the pelvic floor.

However, it means so much more than simply having some control in that area. It means that you have a stable base from which to work. If you work from the pelvic floor up and in at the same time, this is more accurate as to the image of what you want to achieve.

And in general, Kegels are much more intense and focused entirely on the pelvic floor, whereas in Pilates, it’s much more generalized.

With Pilates abdominal exercises, you engage the pelvic floor and then “pull in” just above your pubic bone, which eventually progresses to a deep pulling-in of your lower abdominal muscles.

You keep going until you in effect pull the bellybutton toward the spine, and then continue upward to the upper abdominal area. If you’re like some people, you may even be able to continue a bit further and do an extra upward lift of the abdominal muscles.

This is what is called a pull in and scoop of the abdominal muscles. And in addition, you’re not just pulling in from front to back, but also concentrating on the sides of your abdominal area.

It’s important to remember that when you’re doing a pulling-in of the abdominal muscles, you are not utilizing your spine but you are keeping it neutral. The pulling-in you create does not flex the upper spine forward, nor does it tuck the pelvis in as with the previously mentioned examples.

As you pull in your abdominal muscles, maintain a long back, as well as the width. What you want to do is counter the pull of your abdominal muscles. Even though Pilates does use exercises with your spine flexed forward or a flat or curved back, these are for specific exercises and not for just an intention to pull in your abs.

You want to maintain a neutral spine because this is your strongest position and it needs to be your basic position, in part because it’s most effective in everyday life.

When you do abdominal work with these types of basic Pilates moves, you should remember that your breathing is not to be impeded. You only use a very small amount of breath capacity to focus on this part of your body. In fact, breathing fully expands into your sides and down your back, as visualized. This can also further help open and lengthen your back.

When you do an abdominal pull in with Pilates abdominal exercises, you can do it intensely while training so that the muscles themselves become stronger. In other words, this is a specific effect when you are focusing on strengthening your abdominal.

In turn, when you do this type of focus, you learn to integrate the use of all of your abdominal muscles so that everything from everyday movement to athletic pursuits are performed more effectively and efficiently, without a thought after a while.

In other words, you’re not going to use a strong pull-in all the time as you move through your life. Instead, as your core becomes stronger, the muscles themselves become stronger as well and are able to handle the job you need to do. However, you shouldn’t need to concentrate on pulling in your abdominal muscles constantly.

With practice you’ll find doing the Pilates abdominal exercises get easier and become more natural and enjoyable.

When you do the Pilates abdominal exercises, that’s just part of it. Pilates focuses on the entire body as a whole, and on its alignment. In addition, you want to fully utilize breath, and have focused awareness as you move through each exercise, so that you achieve full benefits.

Breathing Exercises

This breathing exercise is part of the basic Pilate moves.

Many people do not realize that there is a right way to breathe and a wrong way. The majority of people breathe the wrong way. Many of us tend to breath in a shallow fashion, only using the upper part of our lungs.

Proper breathing techniques help the lungs function efficiently and help our body get the oxygen it needs more effectively. Breathing the correct way is especially important when it comes to exercising.

Proper breathing is a key part of many exercise programs such as yoga and Pilates.

Pilates actually teaches you how to breath with each of the different moves. It is important, to get the full benefit of Pilates that you are breathing the proper way.

Your breathing should move all the way down your lungs and into your lower abdomen. It should feel as though you are filling the pelvic bowl with air. Expanding the ribs out sideways to allow for more air is also important.

If you are watching a Pilates video or in a Pilates class and you’re told to expand laterally with your breathing, what they want you to do is fill your lower ribs with air as you breathe.

The proper breathing exercise and techniques will help you with the Pilates moves that simply want you to pull in your front muscles.

The proper way to breathe is as follows:

woman doing breathing exercise
  •   Relax your shoulders, let them drop below you ears.
  •   Allow your throat to be open and relaxed.
  •   Let your spine be naturally straight. Our spine has a natural curve to it, allow that curve to be there. As you sit there with relaxed shoulders and naturally straight spine it should feel as if your weight is falling on the bones where you are sitting and that your head is afloat towards the heavens.
  •   Now begin to breathe in slowly. Feel the air fill the upper part of your chest and lungs, keep inhaling feeling the air fill the lower ribs and expanding the sides of your rib cage, filling the diaphragm, through to the back, the lower back all the way down to the pelvic bowl.
  •   Now exhale, breathing out in a reverse manner of how you inhaled. Let the air move out from the lower abdomen, to the belly, pull your ribs in, in the front and then let your chest drop as you completely expel the air you have taken in.

Repeat this process a few times, so that you are familiar with the sensations of properly filling your lungs and breathing the right way.

This is how we should be breathing, everyday, regardless of what we are doing. It is especially important during Pilates.

Spend a few moments a couple times a day practicing the Pilates breathing exercise until it becomes second nature to you. You will begin to feel the difference by having proper oxygenation for your body.

C-Curve

The C-Curve is one of the most beneficial positions that you can learn in Pilates. This position will help you get the maximum benefit out of you efforts as you do Pilates.

The C curve is the starting position for many of the Pilates moves, especially those that focus on flattening the abdomen and stretching the spine.

Here we are going to tell you how to master this position.

You will want to sit on the floor with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure that you have a good position on your sit bones. The sit bones are the bony parts that you feel under you.

You should be in a perched position. Make sure that your feet are far enough away from your hips so that you are able to sit up straight.

Your head should be reaching towards the sky and your shoulders should be relaxed. Put your head behind the knees with your elbows by your side.

Now take a couple of deep breaths while you are in this position. Breathe deeply, down the spine into your pelvic bowl.

(Remember proper breathing techniques.) As you exhale you should feel your ribs closing in in the front. Keeping your shoulders down and leave your chest open.

Inhale again, and as you exhale pull your abdomen in so that they form a deep scoop. Imagine that someone has a string and it is tied to your belly button and they are pulling your belly button up and back towards the very top of the wall behind you.

As your abs deepen in to your spine, make sure that you are keeping your neck long and your shoulders down and relaxed so that the base of your sternum can move towards the top of your pubic bone.

You don’t want you body to collapse. The purpose here is to elongate your back and abdomen. Your shoulders should be over you, just in front of your hips. Your back is formed into a long C shape so that the abdomen is scooped in.

You should be focusing on your navel as your neck curves gracefully as it is an extension of your spine.

It is a good idea to practice the C curve and proper breathing techniques together until you are comfortable doing them together.

Learning how to do the C curve properly is important before you attempt any of the rolling exercises in Pilates.

Neutral Spine Exercise

This is the foundation for many of the Pilates exercises. This position is considered the natural shape of the spine, the S shape.

You will find it very common that these terms are used interchangeably.

Many people though do not keep themselves in this position.

The reasons for that vary, either they genetically are unable or simply because their daily movement has taught their body to align itself differently.

When it comes to Pilates though, it is essential that you are able to train your body to align with the neutral spine.

To do so, there are a few simple steps to follow:

  •   First, you will need to lie down on the floor in a semi supine position, with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
  •   Make sure that your feet are hip distance apart and that they are placed a comfortable distance from your body.
  •   Secondly you need to put your pelvis in a neutral position. To do this pretend that there are lines that connect your pubic bone and your hip bones and it sticks out in the front. These lines will form a triangle. When you pelvis is in the neutral position that triangle should be parallel to the floor.
  •   Now that your pelvis is in the neutral position, the small of your back should curve a small distance away from the mat or the floor. You should be able to feel a gap there if you were to place your hand under your spine there. You should be able to slid your hand just half way through that space.
  •  Now you need to relax your rib cage so that the back of your ribs rest on the floor. As you do this, you should notice that the front of your rib cage flattens into your body.
  • If you find that your ribs are sticking out take a few deep breaths. It is important that your ribs in front are flat. With each exhale your ribs should relax and settle into your body.
  •   Your shoulders now should be drawn down and away from your ears. Relax your shoulders, feel them become heavy as they sink into the floor.
  •   Let your arms lay by your sides, with your hands down by your hips and your palms are facing the ceiling.
  •   Make sure that you head is in the center of your body and not off to one side or the other.
  •   Very gently move your chin a small distance towards your chest to elongate your neck.
  •   If need be place a thin pillow under you heard if your neck is feeling strained.
  •   Congratulations, you have found your neutral spine position.

This position may be uncomfortable at first. But this is the natural curvature of the spine.

As your body gets used to being properly aligned this position will get easier and you will be more comfortable in this position.

Pilates Balls

Pilates balls, otherwise known as exercise balls, fitness balls and Swiss balls are large balls that run from 55 cm to 75 cm in size.

They are used for many types of fitness programs such as regular exercise, physical therapy, yoga and of course Pilates.

This type of exercise ball is widely used in Pilates classes all over the world. Even though Joseph Pilates did not invent the exercise ball it is certainly used quite frequently with his exercise program.

There are many different types of exercises that can be performed on the Pilates balls. Some of the most common ones would be the pelvic curl and spinal stretch.

People use the exercise ball as a balance ball, to teach stability and it is used as a court challenge. When people use this ball for the first time they feel unstable on it as well as off-balance.

You have to use all of your core muscles in order to be able to stay on the ball maintaining smooth movements.

It can be quite a challenge for people when they sit upon the ball to try to balance themselves, then to add exercise with it can really spice things up.

You can actually test your own core strengths when using the Pilates ball to do such exercises that involve your hips and legs on the ball. Trying to keep the rest of your body stable on the mat helps for you to increase the difficulty there for giving you a better workout.

There are many ways for you to use an exercise ball:

  •   By squeezing the most lately you can use it for resistance exercises.
  •   It’s easy to increase the difficulty of your exercises just by simply adding leverage or balance challenges.
  •   It is easy to use all of their floor muscles in a subtle way to help keep your balance on the ball.
  •   Many instructors use these types of balls to help with neuromuscular feedback.
  •   You can even use an exercise or Pilates ball right at your task. More and more people are finding they like to use them in place of chairs as it helps to keep their spine active as well as her abdominal muscles tight.

How to use the Pilates Ball for Leverage and Balance

There is virtually an unlimited amount of ways to incorporate the use of the fitness ball into your Pilates workout.

It is very important to stay focused on what the end result does. You can add your own personal twist to your exercises by simply experimenting with instability of the ball. You can use the instability of the ball to your advantage as it will help you, giving you leverage challenges.

Let us take a look at the Pilates exercise called The Hundred. To incorporate balance into your this exercise you can prop your legs up on the ball. To give yourself leverage you can hold the ball in between both of your ankles.

Some examples of how to incorporate the exercise ball bodies are listed below going from easy to difficult:

Easy
     Do a spinal stretch exercise while your hands or waste on the ball. Allow the ball to roll out with the movement of the exercise.
     Do a pelvic curl with your legs on top of the ball and a tabletop position.

Moderate:
     For a more moderate effect you can do The Hundred exercise with your legs bowl propped up on top of the ball.
     You can also do the plank exercise with the ball by balancing your hips on the ball.

Difficult:
     To make your workouts more difficult you can do an open leg rocker with the Pilates ball, trying to keep the ball in between your ankles.
     Another difficult challenge would be to do a roll up while holding the Pilates ball in your hands.

How to do a Spinal Stretch with Pilates Balls

This final stretch is a great exercise will help you coordinate your movement and briefing which makes for better overall exercise experience. The spinal stretch is used as a subtle way to warm up your abdominal muscles as well as your spine.

The difficulty level on this exercise is considered to be easy. It takes about five minutes to do.

To begin this exercise you want to lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. You want to be sure to keep your knees, feet and ankles all aligned and about as far apart as your hips.

You will start this exercise in neutral spine. That is where the natural curvature of your spine is used so that you are not pressing your lower back into the mat.

Next you’ll want to start with sequential breathing. When you inhale you want to bring in the air into your chest first then move to your stomach ending at the pelvic floor. Then you will exhale by releasing the air out from the bowel of your pelvic then up through your stomach, finishing off through the chest.

Next you want to inhale and while you’re exhaling you will start the pelvic tilts by using your abdominal muscles, pulling the center of your stomach down into your spine. You want to continue at this action so your abdominal muscles will be pressing the lower spine into the floor while in his pelvic tilt position you want to keep your pubic bone a bit higher than your hip bones. You can do this by keeping your back against the floor and your pelvis tilted.

While inhaling, you want to press down with your feet which will allow you to start a tailbone curling up towards the ceiling. You’ll start by raising your hips, lowering your spine next and finishing off with the middle of your spine.

You’ll be resting on your shoulders, even with your shoulder blades. You will find that between your hips and your shoulders you have formed a beautiful straight-line.

Be sure not to arch past this point and use your hamstrings and abdominals to help support this movement. When you exhale again concentrate on using your stomach to control how you roll your spine back down to the floor.

You want to start with your upper back working your way down. Concentrate on each vertebrae until finally your lower spine is on the floor. When you inhale again get ready to repeat the exercise by starting the pelvic tilts on your next exhale.

This exercise is good to be repeated at least three to five times.

Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On CleansePlan.com you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on [email protected]

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