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Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Morning Pilates Mat Routine

In Pilates--at least in what is now called classical Pilates--the mat exercises are typically practiced in the same order from class to class. Pilates schools and instructors may differ slightly on the correct order of certain exercises with some incorporating modern modifications based on new understandings of the body, but in general classical Pilates teachers stick to the tried-and-true sequencing. Once you come to class a few times you'll begin to remember the order and can start to flow naturally from one move to another both in class and at home. But many of us are crunched for time when it comes to our home practice and clients often ask me, "What exercises should I be doing if I only have 15 minutes?"
     The answer will depend greatly on the individual (Pilates, despite it's formulaic structure, really is so personal!), their experience level, knowledge of the exercises, and points of weakness. Individual adjustments aside, the following routine is a quick 15 - 20 minute sequence I love to do first thing in the morning. This sequence will increase the flow of oxygen to your muscles, elevate your heart rate to warm-up the body, and give you a nice burst of energy to start your day.

Disclaimer: Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, particularly if you have any underlying medical conditions or injuries. For optimal results and safety, I recommend you first learn these exercises in a Pilates class under the instruction of a knowledgeable teacher. 



Morning Mat Pilates 
For this workout you only need an exercise mat! If you don't have one, a thin blanket or towel on a non-skid surface will work as well.

Before you begin:
Focus on body awareness and breath. Lay on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet placed on the mat about hip-width apart. Reach your palms onto the mat right next to your legs. Imagine lengthening your fingertips toward the edge of the mat as you sink your shoulders away from your ears. Take a deep breath in through your nose and let it out through your mouth as you feel your navel draw toward your spine. Repeat the inhale and, on your next exhale, soften the curve of your lower back toward the mat keeping the navel drawn toward your spine. Make sure you are not tensing your gluteus or shoving your lower back down. Take a few more breaths here, focusing on keeping the abdominals engaged and the shoulders down. For more on the neutral spine position and a few helpful body awareness exercises, click here. 

Links to descriptions and demonstrations of each exercise are included!

Happy Pilates-ing! 


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