The health benefits of Pilates are vast, not only does performing a daily dose of Pilates-based movements improve body functionality, but it also improves posture, mobility, and muscular strength.
There is no real need for a beautifully uncluttered room with all neutral coloured furniture to do your exercise. If you just collect your personal items or kids’ toys into one corner of the home, and roll up a rug or a Pilates mat, then you can simply start moving in your own home, no matter how small it is.
Here are my favourite mat-based movements that you can do anywhere:
1. Mermaid Stretch (Repeat 5 times on each side)
Start in a seated position, focus on lengthening the spine, and breathe! As you inhale, feel your rib cage expand and your belly sinking in. Take your right arm to the side and feel your spine lengthening and opening, with your arm. Repeat on the other side and come back to the centre.
2. Shoulder Bridge (Repeat 5 times)
This is great for your hips and building strength! Lay onto your back and bend your knees. As you let your feet press into the ground, inhale and flatten your spine and start rolling up one vertebra at a time, coming into a pelvic curl. Activate your glutes and hamstrings. As you come down slowly, articulate your spine one vertebra at a time, and softly roll down.
3. Spinal twist (Repeat 4 to 5 times on each side)
This is great for your thoracic spine. Remain seated upright, stay still, hold your core (you can hold a cushion, which will help you with maintaining stability in your shoulders) and rotate from side to side slowly. Keep sitting tall, still and remember to breathe whilst in this pose.
4. One Leg Circle (Repeat clockwise and anticlockwise 5 times on each leg)
This will improve your hip mobility and pelvic stability, it's also a great core workout. Stretch the legs long on one side and make a circle with your top foot, Keep your bottom leg straight or bent. Remember to keep still in your pelvis and hold your core.
5. Rolling like a Ball (Repeat 5 to 7 times)
Rolling like a ball gives you warmth, gets rid of tension and is a very energising movement. Come into a ‘C' curve and place your hands to the outside of your ankles. Tuck your tail bone-in and slowly roll back onto the upper back. Some people find this a nice massage on the spine. When you roll back up, feel your abdominals engage and don’t place your feet on the floor.
6. The Pilates roll-up (Repeat 5-7 times)
It has been said that one Pilates roll-up is equal to six regular sit-ups and is much better than crunches! Inhale and leave your scapula down as you bring your arms up overhead. Exhale and continue in one smooth motion to curl your body in an "up and over" motion toward your toes. Next, roll up further and then reach for your toes keeping the head tucked, the abdominals deep, and the back rounded. If it is hard to roll-up, try bending your knees or even pressing against the wall.
7. Cat Stretch (Repeat 5-7 times)
Go on your hands and knees with your arms under your shoulders and knees under your hips–this is called a tabletop position. Try to achieve flexion through the spine and maintain abdominal engagement to support the lumbar spine when it goes into extension. This is a great spinal articulation, where you feel your vertebra slowly mobilise, like a string of pearls. Try to relax when you move into a ‘C’ shape and come back to a neutral position (tabletop).
8. Shell Stretch (Repeat 3-4 times)
Fill your lungs with air to full capacity. Relax, keep breathing deep, and then release. Focus on your breathing as you inhale and exhale, sending oxygen to the back of your lungs and feel your rib cage expand. Then slowly come back to a seated position.
9. Hip Twist (Repeat 2-3 times on each side)
Place your hands like a 'V' shape under your glutes and keep your knees soft. Let the hips and knees go to one side, then to the other. You can lift your feet up, like a tabletop position if you like. Once finished, give your knees a big hug and massage your back into the mat.
You are finished, well done!
If you enjoyed this workout and would love more, or have any questions on how to perform the movements correctly, visit @Pilateswithmaha.