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How Pilates Can Improve Your Physical and Mental Health

Start your Pilates journey with these 5 easy exercises, and feel better in your body and mind.

Everyone is hopping on the Pilates bandwagon these days. But why has this movement practice become so beneficial to so many people in quarantine? 

Pilates is a movement practice focusing on controlled movements, specific muscle activation and strengthening. But more than that, it requires concentration and a connection with your body, forcing you to ask yourself – what am I feeling? By connecting with your body, you reap the benefits of meditative movement which can reduce stress and optimize productivity throughout the day. 

Plus, Pilates is hard! If you like that burn, you will certainly feel it as Pilates will improve the strength of the core stabilizing muscles all around the body. Expect improved postural alignment, stronger, more stable hips and shoulders, a deeper connection to your core abdominal muscles and a lengthened sensation in your spine. 

Exercise is an important outlet for so many people and with studios around the world closed, it’s imperative to prioritize movement at home. Live online Pilates classes are a great way to feel a connection with the community as you move altogether and hear corrections from your instructors in real time. Plus, it keeps you accountable to show up!

Are you ready to give it a go? Here are 5 Pilates exercises to do right now. Remember to slow down and tune into you.

Donkey Kick
  • Kneel with forearms down on the mat, elbows under shoulders and knees under hips. Keep a lengthened spine and neck. Press into the forearms to activate through the shoulder stabilizing muscles.
  • Maintaining a level pelvis, exhale and extend one leg up to the ceiling, with a bent knee.
  • Slowly, inhale and return the leg back down. 
  • Repeat 20 on each leg.
Knee Hovers
  • Find a quadruped position on hands and knees, hands under the shoulder and knees under the hips. Engage through the deep core muscles by pulling the belly button in toward the spine.
  • Inhale and tuck the toes under.
  • Exhale and hover the knees two inches above the mat, maintaining the same alignment through the body.
  • Inhale and lower the knees back down.
  • Repeat 15 times
Curl Ups
  • Lay on your back with your legs at table top, the knees will be above the hips. Interlace the hands behind the back of the head, cradling the head in the hands. Activate your deep core muscles by wrapping the belly button in towards the spine.
  • Exhale and curl the head and chest up slowly and with control.
  • Inhale and lower the head and chest back down to the mat. 
  • Repeat 15 times.
Bridges
  • Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat at about hip width distance apart.
  • Inhale through the nose.
  • Exhale and press the feet into the mat, allowing the body to peel off the mat from the tailbone, to the low back, mid and upper back and find yourself in a bridge position.
  • On the inhale, slowly lower the body back down to the mat, feeling the upper back lower first, followed by the mid and lower back and finally the pelvis. 
  • Repeat 20 times.
Squats
  • Stand with your feet hip width distance apart, weight in the heels and the balls of the feet.
  • Inhale and sit the hips back while reaching the arms forward, allowing the body to hinge forward at the hips. In your squat, your knees should align with the 3rd toes and should be stacked on top of the ankles.
  • Exhale and stand by pressing the hips forward and allow the hands to lower by your sides. Focus on maintaining a long and lengthened spine. 
  • Repeat 20 times and then pulse 20 times.
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