To make sure you are all as exercise conscious as possible I am adding more each week with a different flavour to keep your exercise taste buds active and raring to go! Remember the great thing is to take from each week a new exercise that challenges you a little and add it to your repertoire. Discard it in favour of another one when you have mastered it and need another challenge. Challenges are the way forward in maintaining a healthy exercise appetite.
So this week I am going to introduce you to some basic Pilates moves. Remember Pilates is a mixture of yoga, ballet, physio exercises, weight and circus (!)training and the combination works wonders for grumbling backs and poor posture.
Breathing, centering and rib cage
Repeat each exercise several times
I would emphasise that people get a bit preoccupied with the breathing. It comes with practice. Do not worry if initially you find it hard to combine it with the movements!
For all three of the above exercises, lie on your back with your hips and knees bent up and feet resting on a mat. Pop a folded towel under your head if you feel your chin is poking upwards. Place your hands on the lower half of your rib cage, with fingers slightly interlaced. Breathe in and allow your lower rib cage to expand widthways and imagine the back of your rib cage spreading wide into the mat beneath you. As you breathe out, your rib cage will sink downwards and inwards and your fingers may interlace again.
Next, try again in the same resting position try centering. Place your hands in a diamond shape: thumbs in naval and fingers down onto the pelvic bones. Tilt your spine, exaggerating the arch and then flatten your back a few times. Position your pelvic diamond in the middle of these two movements- this is neutral-spine position.
Next is finding your core or deep abdominal muscles, which form a natural corset, which have notches in them like a belt. By breathing in to prepare and then out, slowly draw in your corset some 3 notches. You will feel your abdominal muscles beneath your fingers slowly draw away. Hold this and continue breathing normally. This should be a very gentle exercise-don’t overdo it!
Here you are in the same resting position but arms are resting alongside your body. Breathe in to prepare and engage your core as you breathe out, lifting your arms up overhead whilst keeping the back of your rib cage on the mat underneath you. Continue breathing and lift your arms over your shoulders. Repeat, taking care not to lift your rib cage off your mat.
Again use the same resting position as above. Float your arms up vertically to the ceiling, then reach gently further upwards so that your shoulder blades glide apart from each other. Breathe out and allow your shoulder blades to draw back towards one another.
You can then try this exercise where your arms are resting by your side:- glide your shoulder blades upwards towards the ceiling and then gently downwards away from your ears. Remember to breathe in to prepare and out, as you begin the exercise.
Head and Neck (excellent for neck ache and headaches)
Again, lying in the resting position with arms by your side. Place a shiny magazine on top of the folded towel for the bony area at the back of your head to rest on.
Lengthen the bony part of your head away from the base of your neck. Hold for 2-3 seconds then relax. Alternatively imagine that your hair on the crown of your head is gently being pulled.
Try these very simple introductory exercises! I will add some more to add to your repertoire next week. Have a good Bank Holiday Weekend!