The Basic 5
We are now a few days into March MATness and let me just say, so far I am LOVING it! I hope your mat work is feeling full of Zest and Pleasure! Whether you're a beginner or an advanced practitioner, we all need to revisit the basics and check into our foundation. After all, you cant build an empire on a cracked foundation. So lets give the basic 5 some love!
3. Single-leg circle
4. Roll like a ball
5. Spine stretch
Breath: Inhale for 5 counts, Exhale for 5 counts for 10 breaths total.
Lay down on your mat feeling tall and long, place your feet in Pilates V (heels together and toes apart) and squeeze! inhale as you unweighted your legs and curl your head and chest up off the mat. Reach your arms long down by your side and begin pumping your arms up and down. To modify, raise your legs higher or even bend your knees and come into tabletop or bring one hand behind your head to support your head and neck.
Remember to Exhale every last atom of air on all 10 exhales!
Breath: Inhale to start lifting your head and upper back up off the mat, and use your Exhale to flex your spine forward.
Lay yourself down on your mat, feet flexed and squeezing together. As you inhale you nod your chin towards your chest and peel yourself up off the mat one vertebrae at a time. This is the first more where we really focus on spinal articulation! Use your exhale to power through those sticky moments and recruit all of the deep layers of your core. To modify you can use a band. Hook the band around your feet and hold an end in each hand. You can also modify by reducing range, so instead of starting on the mat, start sitting and roll down until your feet start lifting, then come back up!
Single Leg Circle.
Reps: 5 Each direction and leg
Breath: Inhale for the first half of the circle and Exhale to return. (and pause at the top before your next rep!)
Lay down on the mat with one leg extended up at 90 degrees in turn out, and the bottom leg is going to be long on the mat with a flexed foot. The movement is initiated by picking the hip up and crossing the body. When we pick the hip up we are not crossing our midline. **Although this may not seem like a big deal, it means that people with hip replacements and other limiting injuries can still do the single leg circle without worry of contraindications!** As you twist through your spine, make sure to use your arms and triceps pressing down into the mat to keep both shoulders down on the mat at all times! To modify, reduce the range, by making your circle smaller, or weight by having a bend in your knee.
A side note, Single leg circle was my hardest move when starting Pilates, I always just wiped my leg around as fast as possible until I could be done with it, it wasn't until I learned to really reach my leg away from me did I find the good of this move. this is a skill that I learned through using leg springs on the Cadillac! So its always great to balance out your mat classes with Equipment classes!
Roll like a Ball.
Breath: Inhale to roll back, Exhale to roll forward.
Start sitting on the mat, hug your legs in nice and close, holding below the knee or onto your ankles with your elbows wide and high. From here curl your abs back into your spine and start inhaling so big that you roll backwards, never roll back to the point of leaning on your head (it will touch the mat and can be used to balance, but don't compress your neck!). The smaller the ball the harder it is! So to modify we can hold on behind the knee. Try not to kick, or reduce kicking to a minimum! If you find that you're turning as you roll, its a reflection of a tightness down that side of your back. ***Remember to have fun and just ROLL with it!***
Breath: Exhale to forward bend, and Inhale to re-stack spine
Sit straddling your mat, feet flexed and arms extended straight up towards the ceiling. As you exhale you will curl forward, ultimately pressing the crown of your head down to the mat. At all times your pelvis should be kept upright. Then use your breath, Inhale to re-stack your spine one vertebrae at a time. To modify, instead of having your arms up by your ears at the start, you can extend them out in front of you, keeping them parallel to the floor. Or, if you have tight hips or hamstrings, you can sit on a block or pillow to reduce the range.
I hope you liked this post! Leave a like or a comment below if you have any questions, or share to your friends and challenge them to try the basic 5! it should only take 5 minutes out of their day and help to improve flexibility, strength, and spinal decompression!