From flab to fab: Five pilates moves to do daily
As opposed to bulking up and gaining muscles, pilates helps to lengthen the body for a slimmer, flexible and mobile physique.
In the 1920s, Joseph Pilates founded his eponymous fitness system on the principle that the core is the powerhouse of the body
Pilates focuses on controlled movements, alignment, breathing, balance, and most importantly, developing the core
Pilates helps to lengthen the body for a slimmer, flexible and mobile physique
Sitting in office hoping your backache will miraculously disappear? Or worrying about your growing waistline and what it could mean for your heart health? The answer to these problems is nearly 100 years old. In the 1920s, Joseph Pilates founded his eponymous fitness system on the principle that the core is the powerhouse of the body.
Pilates focuses on controlled movements, alignment, breathing, balance, and most importantly, developing the core. In 2007, a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies reported pilates mat exercises could help women with a sedentary lifestyle build stronger abs and lower back muscles, increase endurance in the ab muscles and flexibility in the posterior trunk including the shoulders.
As opposed to bulking up and gaining muscles, pilates helps to lengthen the body for a slimmer, flexible and mobile physique. What’s more, you don’t need fancy equipment or a lot of space to start. All you need are these five moves, a half-hour of your time and a yoga mat.
- Lie down on your back
- Raise your legs, and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle; make sure to maintain this angle between the hips and knees throughout the exercise
- Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms touching the mat
- Breathe in, and slowly raise your arms straight up
- Breathe out, and bring your arms down to the floor
- Lift your head and shoulder blades slightly off the mat
- Move your arms up and down, in a controlled movement. Remember to breathe, and get into a rhythm with your arms
- Do this for 10 full breaths; remember that five beats are for inhalation and five beats for exhalation
- Lie down on your back
- Bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the mat. Keep them hip-distance apart
- Keep your arms straight alongside your body
- Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, lift your buttocks off the floor
- Try to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, with your hips in the air
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, while taking deep breaths
- Breathe out, and come back to the starting position
- Try to do 10 repetitions
- Lie down on your back
- Keep your arms on the floor with the palms facing downward
- Breathe in. Now, keeping your legs together, lift them towards the ceiling
- Breathe out, and lift your legs up a bit and take them over your head. Try to keep them straight, and parallel to the floor
- Use your hands to support this movement by pressing them against the mat
- Bring your legs back to form a 90-degree angle with your torso. Gently lower the legs to the floor, one at a time
- Repeat this sequence thrice
- Lie prone on the mat with your elbows bent and hands placed under your shoulders
- Keep your legs straight and together
- Taking in a deep breath, slowly lift your body off the mat by pushing your hands into the floor; elbows are to be kept close to the body
- Make sure to keep your head in line with the spine and tailbone pushing toward the floor
- With an exhalation, slowly bring your upper body down to the mat with your forehead touching the floor
- Do this four-five times following an even breath
- Lie facing downward on a mat
- Keep your arms stretched out in the front and legs at the back
- While breathing, raise your upper body off the floor along with your right arm and left leg
- With your butt squeezed in, switch your arms and legs beginning an even rhythm of swimming; left arm and right leg go up and down and vice versa
- Do this kind of swimming for 24 beats; aim to do four beats each for inhalation and exhalation
Doing these stretches will improve your flexibility, posture, body awareness, and stabilise your spine.
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