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Pilates for Beginners

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Pilates for Beginners

Pilates integrates the body as a whole and focuses on core strength and stability-building strong abdominal and low back muscles. It involves proper body alignment, controlled speed of movement, appropriate joint range of motion, making correct muscle connections, and modifying movements when needed.

Pilates integrates the body as a whole and focuses on core strength and stability-building strong abdominal and low back muscles. The deep stabilizers of the body are worked, rather than only surface muscles. It involves proper body alignment, controlled speed of movement, appropriate joint range of motion, making correct muscle connections, and modifying movements when needed.

Here are the five basic principles of the Stott Pilates™ method:

1. Breathing

Proper breathing focuses the mind, releases tension, and encourages engagement of deep support muscles. Allow the rib cage to expand backward and sideways (lateral rib cage breathing).

Exercise: Breathing

Sit (on a mat) with knees bent, arms hugging knees, head down, and neck relaxed.
Inhale: Breathing into the back and sides of the rib cage. Imagine the rib cage like an accordion, expanding sideways to inhale and relaxing inward while exhaling.
Complete 5 to 10 repetitions.

2. Pelvic placement
In neutral position, lie face up. The triangle formed by the hip bones and the pubic bone should be parallel to the mat, leaving a slight space between the lower back and the mat. An imprinted position is used when neutral alignment cannot be maintained. Neutral pelvis is used when feet are in contact with something stable (e.g., the floor) and an imprinted pelvis when the legs are elevated.

Exercise: Rocking pelvis

Lie face up with knees bent and hip-distance apart. Rest arms by your sides. Rock the pelvis through a flattened position in the lower spine to an arched position in the spine. Neutral position is the middle point between these two extremes.

Exercise: Neutral to imprint

Lie face up with knees bent and hip-distance apart. Rest arms by your sides.
Inhale: Maintain position.
Exhale: Contract the abdominal muscles by pulling the navel toward the spine and slightly flatten the lower back toward the mat without jamming it down.
Inhale: Maintain position.
Exhale: Return to neutral spine.
Complete 5 to 10 repetitions.

3. Rib cage placement

When lying face up, encourage the back of the rib cage to gently rest on the mat and engage the abdominal wall to prevent the ribs from “popping” up to the ceiling.

Exercise: Arm raises

Lie face up with knees bent and hip-distance apart. Rest arms by your sides.
Inhale: Reach arms straight up to ceiling, palms facing each other.
Exhale: Engage abdominal muscles as arms move overhead. Only go as far as you can while keeping rib cage in contact with the mat.
Inhale: Reach arms up to ceiling.
Exhale: Lower arms back to starting position.
Complete 5 to 10 repetitions.

4. Scapular (shoulder blade) movement and stabilization

Shoulder joint stability is important for releasing upper body tension and for avoiding overworking muscles around the neck and shoulders. Shoulders shouldn’t be rounded forward or elevated, and the shoulder blades should lie flat on the rib cage.

Exercise: Protraction/retraction

Sit (in a chair) with arms lifted forward at shoulder height.
Inhale: Reach forward, allowing shoulder blades to separate.
Exhale: Gently squeeze shoulder blades together.

Exercise: Elevation/depression

Sitting up, dangle arms by sides.
Inhale: Shrug shoulders up toward the ears.
Exhale: Slide shoulders away from the ears.
Complete 5 to 10 repetitions.

5. Head and neck placement

The deep muscles of the neck provide stability and assist with supporting the weight of the head. It’s important to position the neck in the most stable and shock-absorbing posture.

Exercise: Head nods

Lie face up with head resting comfortably. The spine should be in a comfortable neutral position.
Inhale: With head on the mat, gently nod the chin down toward the chest.
Exhale: Return the head back to start position.
Complete 5 to 10 repetitions.

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