Morning Pilates routine for energy to start the day well
Featuring Jane Lefever at Pilates2thecore.
Start your day with mobilising the spine, hips and pelvis. Focus on the breath and movement working together.
- Begin in 4-point kneeling with the hands under the shoulders, and the knees under the hips. The spine is in its neutral alignment and gently supported by a good abdominal connection.
- Breathe in to prepare.
- Breathe out and roll your pelvis under, tucking your bottom underneath you and opening the front of the hip joints, as you do so your lower back will gently round and flex. Allow this flexion to come up all the way through your back and gently nod your head forwards creating an even balanced C-curve.
- Breathe in wide to the lower ribcage to help maintain this lengthened C-curve.
- Breathe out as you simultaneously roll the head and the pelvis back to the neutral starting position.
- Repeat the movement – this time once you’ve returned the spine and pelvis to neutral move the spine into gentle extension, drawing the breastbone forwards and looking ahead.
- Return back to neutral.
- Repeat the whole sequence.
Challenge the stability of the spine and shoulder girdle and work into the core.
- Start in the 4-point kneeling position (as for cat).
- Breathe in to prepare and breathe out slide one leg behind you, with the toes in contact with the floor and then lift it to hip height, simultaneously take the opposite arm away along the floor and then lift, ideally to shoulder height. Maintain a still and stable spine as the limbs move. Breathe in and return the arm and leg back to the start position, maintaining neutral pelvis and spine.
- Repeat, alternating the starting arm and leg.
Swimming add on: elbow to knee
To challenge the core and your balance further you can add on to the swimming exercise:
- Extend the opposite arm and leg away as for swimming. From here round the spine in to its even C shape, bringing the elbow and knee in towards each other (they do not need to touch) and then take them back to their lengthened position before returning them to the start position. Maintain a stable spine and pelvis and appropriate level of abdominal connection throughout.
- Alternate sides.
- Release to child’s pose.
An isometric hold to strengthen the front of the body
- Begin in 4-point kneeling.
- Breathe in to prepare. Breathe out and step one foot back in line with the hip, resting on the toes.
- Breathe in to hold. Breathe out and step the second leg back. Hold the position with the shoulders over the hands. Do not let the hips drop. Lengthen the legs. Focus on your breath.
- Alternative: come down to resting on the knees and forearms.
- Release to child’s pose.
Seated waist twist
Promotes spinal mobility and works into the waist
- Sit upright. If you can, take the legs out long in front of you about shoulder width apart. If this causes any rounding in the spine, bend the knees as much as is needed so you are able to sit tall. Alternatively, you can bring the soles of the feet in together and sit with the legs bent and turned out, or sit on a small block if it isn’t possible to sit tall with the legs out long.
- Take the fingers to touching the sides of the head.
- Breathe in to prepare and lengthen up through the crown of the head.
- Breathe out and initiate with a turn of the head to rotate the torso to the right. Keep your pelvis still and stable.
- Breathe in and return to the centre; continue to lengthen your spine throughout the movement.
- Repeat to the other side. Continue rotating from one side to the other.
Back extension (plus breaststroke arms)
Strengthen and mobilise the upper and mid-back and open the front of the body
- Lie on your front. Align your pelvis and spine in neutral and rest your head on the mat. Your legs are straight, slightly wider than hip width apart and turned out from the hips. Bend your elbows and position your hands slightly wider than and above your shoulders (fingertips in line with your eyebrows). Your forearms rest on the floor. Maintain an appropriate level of connection to your centre throughout.
- Breathe in to prepare and exhale as you as you begin to gently lengthen the front of the neck to roll and lift your head and continue to peel the breastbone off the mat. The forearms remain on the floor.
- Breathe in to hold and breathe out to sequentially return the spine to the start position.
The movement is as above but as you bring the head off the mat lift the forearms off the floor to be in line with the shoulders, as you peel the breastbone off the mat the forearms stay lifted.
As above but at the top, reach the arms forward, palms facing down, then turning the palms out take the arms wide to the sides in a breast-stroke movement. Return the hands to the start position and sequentially lower the spine back down. Rest the upper body and forearms down before repeating the movement.
To finish, press up on to your hands and knees and sit back bottom to heels with the knees wide, into a child’s pose. Breathe into the back of the body
Strengthen the abdominals
- Lie on your back and align the head, spine and pelvis into neutral. The knees are bent, and the feet are flat on the floor with the hips, knees and ankles in one line.
- Lightly clasp both hands behind your head, keeping the elbows open and positioned just in front of your ears.
- Breathe in to prepare.
- Breathe out as you lengthen the back of your neck, gently nod your head and start to sequentially curl the upper body off the mat, keeping the lower ribs in contact with the mat. Keep your head heavy into your hands. The pelvis remains still, and level and the abdominals gently draw in.
- Breathe in to hold at the top
- Breathe out to roll the spine back down to the mat with control.
Single Leg Stretch
Develop stamina in the abdominals and mobilise the hips
- Begin lying on your back in the neutral starting position.
- Breathe out and knee fold one leg at a time into the double knee fold position.
- Breathe in to prepare and breathe out to curl up the head neck and shoulders and place the hands on to the top of your left shin. Maintain an appropriate level of connection to your centre throughout.
- Breathe in to hold
- Breathe out and lengthen the right leg away from you, simultaneously gently draw the left knee in towards you.
- Breathe in as the legs swap.
Develops strength in the oblique abdominals
- Begin lying on your back, in neutral spine position.
- Fold one leg and then the other into the double knee fold position.
- Lightly clasp both hands behind your head keeping the elbows gently softened in (in your peripheral vision).
- Breathe out and curl up the head neck and upper spine into the curl up position.
- Breathe in to hold the curl up position.
- Breath out and straighten and stretch the left leg away from you, simultaneously rotating your head and upper body to the right and drawing your right leg into towards your torso.
- Breathe in and draw your left leg back, whilst simultaneously rotating your upper body to the right.
- Stay curled up. Repeat.
Spine curls with knee drops
Mobilises the spine and hips and strengthens the glutes
- Start lying on your back in neutral spine position, lengthening your arms alongside you along the mat.
- Maintain an appropriate level of connection to your centre throughout.
- Breathe in to prepare.
- Breathe out and roll your pelvis towards you (your lower back gently flattens into the mat) before you begin to roll the spine off the mat, vertebra by vertebra. Roll sequentially up to the tips of the shoulder blades.
- Breathe in to hold.
- Breathe out, sequentially roll your spine back down to the mat, softening the breast bone and returning vertebra by vertebra.
- Breathe in as you release the pelvis back to neutral.
Add-on: knee drops
Roll up the as above, to the tips of the shoulder blades. Hold this position.
Breathe out and let the right thigh bone move out to the side, rolling on to the edge of the right foot. Keep the pelvis level and stable and the left thigh bone still. Breathe in and return the right thigh bone to the centre and move the left thigh bone out rolling on to the left side of the foot. Breathe in and return to the centre. Breathe out and roll the spine back down to the mat.
Side reach, seated
Release tension in the body by releasing along the sides of the body and mobilise the spine in a side-bending motion
- Sit upright with your legs bent and the soles of the feet connected. Your feet are a good distance from the body, to allow space in the hip joints. Your pelvis and spine are in neutral. Fingertips rest on the mat either side of you.
- Maintaining an appropriate level of connection to your centre throughout, breathe in and raise your right arm out to the side and overhead.
- Breathe out as your reach up and over, leading with your head, sequentially bending your spine to the left. Allow your left arm to slide further along the mat as you bend.
- Breathe into the sides of the ribcage to hold.
- Breathe out return the spine to vertical and lower the arm down by your side.
- Repeat on the other side.
Stretch into the back of the body
- Sit upright with the legs out in front of you and together. Have a slight bend at the knees if this is needed to sit tall.
- Breathe in and reach both arms up the celling.
- Breathe out and fold forwards allowing the hands to come to rest on the legs. Breathe into the back of the body and hold.
- Breathe out and re-stack the spine.