Evening Pilates routine for restful sleep

Release tension and prepare the body and mind for restful sleep.

Spine curls

Mobilises the spine and hips and strengthens the glutes – perfect at the end of a busy day!

  • 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) and then 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.
  • Repeat.

Add-on: spine curls with arms
Stretch into the back

  • 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) and then begin to roll the spine off the mat, vertebra by vertebra. Roll sequentially up to the tips of the shoulder blades.
  • Breathe in and float your arms up towards the ceiling – keeping the arms long and maintaining the connection of the shoulder blades on the back of the ribcage.
  • Breathe out and take the arms overhead.
  • Breathe in to hold – reaching long through the fingertips (but not elevating the shoulders)
  • Breathe out, sequentially roll your spine back down to the mat, softening the breastbone and returning vertebra by vertebra and enjoying the stretch!
  • Breathe in as you release the pelvis back to neutral.
  • Repeat
  • N.B when you are rolling back down, if you cannot get the back of the ribcage back on to the mat before the lower back then release the arms back up to the ceiling before rolling back down.
  • Hug the knees into the chest to release

Toe taps resting on elbows

Strengthen the shoulders and abdominals and mobilise the hips

  • Come up to resting on your elbows – forearms and finger tips pointing forwards.
  • Maintain a sense of lift through the breastbone and upper body. (You can rest the upper body back down to the mat to reduce the work if this is too challenging). Keep the pelvis neutral and the spine long.
  • Breathe in to prepare and on your out breath double knee fold the legs.
  • Breathe out and lower one leg until the toe gently taps the floor and breathe in to return it to its start position. Maintain a connection with your centre throughout and keep the pelvis and spine still and stable.
  • Repeat with the second leg.
  • Continue alternating legs – the slower your move the more work you will feel!

Spine stretch forward

A beautiful stretch for the back of the body!

  • Sit upright with your legs lengthened out in front of you slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your feet are flexed.
  • If the legs cannot be long in this position sit on a small block or have a soft bend at the knees.
  • Lengthen the arms out in front of you, just below shoulder height.
  • Breathe in and lengthen the crown of the head up the ceiling. Maintain your connection to your centre.
  • Breathe out and gently nod your head, and sequentially curl your spine forward, moving the spine vertebra by vertebra and drawing the abdominals back towards the spine. Move as far as you can without disturbing the pelvis.
  • Breathe in to hold.
  • Breathe out to sequentially return the spine to the start position.
  • Repeat

Bow and arrow, seated.

  • Sit upright with your legs bent, inner hip width apart and the soles of the feet on the floor.  Your pelvis and spine are in neutral. Sit on a small block if needed.  Maintain an appropriate level of connection with your centre.
  • Breathe in, lengthening the spine up.
  • Breath out as you bend your right elbow, drawing the arm towards your body and the hand in line with the shoulder. Simultaneously, turn your head, neck and upper spine to the right.
  • Breathe in as you lengthen the right arm, continue to focus on the spine lengthening up.
  • Breathe out as you rotate the spine back keeping, the arm straight and returning to your start position.
  • Repeat to the other side. Repeat the whole sequence. 

Roll-backs  

Mobilise the spine and strengthen the abdominals

  • Sit upright with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The legs are hip width apart.
  • Place your hands behind your thighs and breathe out and lengthen the spine – maintain a connection with your centre and a neutral spine.
  • Breathe in and gently tuck the chin and your pelvis to lengthen the spine into a C-curve – your shoulders are over your hips.
  • Breathe out and maintain the C-curve roll off your sit bones and let the hands move down the back of the thighs.
  • Breathe in to hold and breathe out to roll the curved spine forwards returning your shoulders over your hips.
Add-on: roll backs with arms raises
  • Perform the movement as above but instead of working with the hands behind the thighs start with the arms lengthened out in front of you, just below shoulder height.
  • Roll back with the arms out in front of you.
  • On your in breath raise the arms up – keeping them in front of the face and maintaining your C-curve,
  • Lower the arms and bring the C-curved spine forwards.
  • Lengthen the spine back to the start position.

Roll-ups

Mobilise the spine and challenge the abdominals
 
  • Sit upright with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The legs are hip width apart. The arms are lengthened out in front of you, just below shoulder height.
  • Breathe in and gently tuck the chin and your pelvis to lengthen the spine into a C-Curve – your shoulders are over your hips.
  • Breathe out and maintain the C-Curve roll off your sit bones and sequentially roll the spine down to the mat.
  • Breathe in and take the arms up to the ceiling and breathe out and take the arms overhead – to in line with the ears.
  • Breathe in to raise the arms back up and then follow by nodding the chin and raising the head and shoulders of the mat, rolling the spine back up. Lengthen the C-Curved spine forwards over your legs, drawing your tummy in and having your arms in line with your ears.
  • Re-stack the spine to its neutral start position.
  • Repeat.

If roll-ups are too challenging, continue with roll backs. 

Z-sit

Release tension in the body through flowing side-bending movement 

  • Sit with the left leg across in front of you and the right leg behind you – making a Z shape with the legs. The left toes are in line with the right knee.
  • Lengthen the spine and aim to sit with both sit bones in contact with the floor. You can sit on a small block to make this more accessible.
  • Rest the finger-tips on the mat beside you, in line with the torso.
  • Breathe in and float your right arm out to the side and above your head. Keep your shoulder down, away from your ear. Bring the inside of the arm as close to your ear as you can without hiking up the shoulder.
  • Keep your hip grounded as you lengthen your spine. Gently move the head towards the left shoulder and continue to bend to the side – maintain your connection with your centre. Your left hand moves away from your body and gently supports you.
  • Breathe in to hold. And Breathe out to return to spine to upright. 
  • Repeat the other side.
  • Repeat both sides again and then change the legs around to the other way and repeat for the other side.

Cobra

Strengthen and mobilise the back, opening 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). 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. Repeat
  • After 3 x repetitions – progress the movement:
  • 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. As you continue to wheel the spine off the mat the arms will straighten. 
  • 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 in to the back of the body.

Hip rolls 

Mobilise the lower spine and work into the waist

  • Lying on your back with your spine and pelvis in neutral.
  • Bring the legs in together, connecting the inner thighs. Reach your arms out to the sides, just lower than shoulder height with the palms facing upwards. Feel the connection of the shoulder blades to the back of the ribcage and allow them to settle into the mat.
  • Breathe in and begin to rotate your pelvis and legs to the left – keep the connection between the inner thighs and to your centre. Keep your shoulder blades resting quietly on the mat whilst the pelvis and legs rotate.
  • Breathe out to return to the start position.
  • Repeat the movement in the other direction.
  • Continue to repeat the whole sequence. 

Figure 4 stretch

Stretch the glutes

  • Lie on your back with your spine and pelvis in neutral. Legs are hip width apart.
  • Float your right leg into a single knee fold position, externally rotate the thigh and then bring the right ankle to rest on your left thigh with your knee out to the side. Your foot is flexed at the ankle.
  • The pelvis remains in neutral as you lift the left thigh in towards your torso.  Lift and lower the thigh times. Repeat on the other side. 

Lying down spine twist

  • Lying on your back with your spine and pelvis in neutral. Lengthen both legs away along the mat.
  • Knee fold the right leg in to a single knee fold. Take the left hand to the outside of the right knee and draw the leg across the midline.  Let the pelvis rotate. Reach the right arm out to your side in line with your shoulder. Breathe out and turn the head and neck to look down towards the right finger tips.
  • Hold for 3 breaths. Return the head to the centre and the leg to the start position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Legs to ceiling/against a wall

  • Lie on your back with the pelvis and spine in neutral and feet flat on the floor.
  • Fold one leg into a knee fold position, follow with the second leg. 
  • From here lengthen one leg and then the other.
  • Alternately point and flex the ankles.
  • Bring the feet to still and remain here and rest for as long as you need to, gently focussing on softly breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Hug and release

  • Draw both knees in towards the body, curl up the upper body and wrap the arms around the legs hugging the knees in. 
  • Hold here and squeeze as tightly as you can.
  • Release – let the legs come to rest long on the mat and the arms beside the body.
  • Bring a gentle focus to your breath and rest here as long as you need.
  • Have a restful night’s sleep

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