Toning and Strengthening Pilates Poses
Pilates is one of the most complex forms of exercise, because it is comprised of hundreds of exercises and routines which can be adapted to each person. There are Pilates poses for beginners, for the advanced, for seniors, for pregnant women, for children, for athletes, for people in recovery and so on. A certified Pilates trainer can customize a workout routine just for you, depending on what you and your body needs more. If you need to lose weight and strengthen your core, you can have a routine that does just that, but if you need something for back pains, there are plenty other exercises to remove that problem.
Some Pilates poses are more difficult than others; for example, on very advanced stages, you can perform exercises that strain all the muscles in your body, and which require a lot of strength, balance and concentration. At the same time, certain exercises are very easy to perform by anyone, but they still have a thorough positive effect on your mind and body. People must learn how to educate their bodies, and how to be in control of every limb, and every muscle. In this, many say Pilates resembles Yoga, excepting the fact that the latter actually involves meditation.
In what follows we are going to show you a few Pilates poses for the mat that anyone can perform with a little determination and practice. They are ideal for those who are just delving into this world, and who want to get accustomed with this type of exercising. Unlike on more advanced stages, you don’t need any special equipment such as benches, weights, balls, tables, resistance belts and so on. Here is what we propose you try at home:
- The hundred – Lie on your back on the mat, with your legs stretched and your arms on your sides, palms facing down. Inhale and then, as you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles, but the muscles in the rest of the body as well. Push your hands forward and lift your legs as much as you can, focusing on your breath and on your ab muscles. This exercise is called the hundred because you should be able to count to 100 in this position; it is impossible for a beginner so take your time and you will make progress.
- The roll-up – This is a difficult variation of the crunches. You’re in the same position as before; contract your muscles and push your arms forward, lifting your torso to a perpendicular position to the floor. Meantime you have to make sure your legs stay stuck to the floor, so all the hard work is done by your upper body. They say one roll-up counts as six crunches, so if you really want a flat ab you will include them in your routine.
- The roll-over – Lie back on the mat in the same position; focus on your breathing and contract your core; holding your palms planted on the floor, start lifting your legs, which have to be kept straight with toes pointed. Ideally, you will be able to lift all your body, including your torso, all the way up to your shoulders. This is a very difficult exercise, but it strengthens your abdomen and flexes your spine.
- Spine stretch – Sit on your bottom on the mat, with your legs stretched and toes pointed; lift your arms at shoulder height with palms facing down and try to touch your toes. Your legs must remain perfectly stretched and straight; this posture improves your flexibility, and it doesn’t work just your spine, but your hamstrings as well, allowing you to feel freer and lighter.
- Rolling like a ball – Sitting down on the mat, bend your knees and bring them to your chest, holding your legs tightly with your arms; curled up like a ball, start swinging on your spine up and down, from head to toes. This exercise is also good for stimulating your spine and improving your flexibility.
We hope you will find these Pilates poses to be fun and useful, and that they will help you start practicing this form of exercise. Remember to do ten minutes warm-up and stretching before this type of workout, but before any type of workout as well.