Criss Cross / Bicycle
Start by lying on your back with hands behind your head, the head and upper body lifted off the mat, one leg bent in towards the chest and the other leg reaching out away from the body. The back is in imprint or supported neutral until you can keep the back absolutely still as the legs lower.
EXHALE – rotate the torso and reach the rib cage towards the opposite knee while keeping the elbows wide and the abdominals engaged. The lower abdomen stays still and both hips stay on the mat. No rock and roll!
INAHLE – as you switch sides.
Keep the lower abdomen and hips still while rotating the upper body as far as possible in each direction; lower the straight leg so it is on the same level as your eyes.
Do 8-12 sets!!!
Pilates is a full body workout that is low impact which makes it great for anyone, at any age. Pilates helps people to move better, feel better, and perform at their best. This wonderful exercise system was developed by Joseph Pilates helps people:
- Build strength and tone muscles
- Improve balance
- Increase flexibility and mobility
- Develop core strength
Joseph Pilates created Contrology which later turned into Pilates, over 80 years ago. Exercises are performed on a mat or a specially designed Pilates equipment including the Reformer, the Trapeze Table or Cadillac, the Wunda Chair, the Magic Circle, and Barrels. The Pilates system includes exercises for every part of the body and applications for every kind of activity. When Pilates was first created, it was so far ahead of its time that it did not begin to achieve popular recognition until the first few years of the 21st century. Over 10 million people are now practicing Pilates in the United States and numbers are growing every year.
People with back injuries may also benefit from practicing Pilates as the movements performed help to strengthen the back muscles without placing any pressure on them particularly on the Reformer or Cadillac.
So why not give Pilates a try!!!
Open Leg Rocker
Sit up and balance between the sits bones and the tailbone with the knees bent, the feet off the floor and the hands on the ankles, or as close as you can get. Open legs so the knees are pointing out and the feet are together.
INHALE: straighten one leg and balance
EXHALE: bend the knee to return to the starting position.
INHALE: straighten the other leg and balance.
EXHALE: bend the knee to return to the starting position
INHALE: straighten one leg then the other and balance with both legs open in a V position. (Image shown)
EXHALE: engage the abdominals and roll back, keeping the arms straight and the legs in a V. DO NOT roll past your shoulder blades.
INHALE: take a sip of air at the end of the roll.
EXHALE: pull the abdominals in and roll back up to the V position. Lengthen the spine in the V without arching the back.
Do 4-8 reps.
The purpose of this exercise is to develop pelvic stability, core control, coordination and balance. It also helps improve scapular stability.
I find this exercise challenging. But is it good to do things that challenge us because that is how we can improve. A great place to start or if you can’t roll, hold the pose in the above image to work on balance and core control.
The Pilates Roll Over
To start lie on your back with your hands at your sides, your legs together and your feet pointed.
Step 1: Exhale. Engage your core and lift the legs up toward the ceiling to prepare.
Step 2: Inhale. Roll your lower back off the mat reaching your legs overhead until they are parallel to the ground. Press your upper arms into the mat and roll up until you are balanced no higher than the top of your shoulder blades. Do not roll up onto your neck! (shown above)
Step 3: Continue to inhale and open your legs shoulder width apart and flex your feet.
Step 4: Exhale. Roll down, keeping the legs shoulder width apart, engaging your core and pressing the upper arms into the mat to make the roll smooth and steady. Keep the chest open and the back of the shoulders on the mat. Lower the legs as far as possible without letting the back arch off the mat.
Step 5: Continue to exhale and bring your legs back together and point the feet to start again.
Do 3 reps beginning with toes pointed then do 3 reps beginning with feet flexed and shoulder width apart.
Not only is this exercise fun it also helps you develop core strength and control, increases your flexibility, teaches you how to articulate the spine, and stabilize your shoulders.