By Chere Di Boscio
It’s a simple thing, but few of us do it, and it’s a shame: sitting up straight does so much good for your body. Without proper alignment, we get back and muscle aches, headaches, and less mobility. As the founder of the exercises, Joseph Pilates said: ‘If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old, if it completely flexible at 60, you are young.’
There’s a bit of apprehension by some to do Pilates: they believe that you need a Reformer machine or an instructor to give you some help. While these things are useful, they’re not necessary – you can easily do Pilates posture poses yourself, and with regularity, you will see results within three weeks.
No matter what age you are, Lynne Robinson of the Body Control Pilates has come up with 5 essential Pilates moves that will improve posture. Practiced regularly, Pilates gives you both the strength and endurance to stand, sit and walk tall. Not only will you feel better and move better, you will look taller, thinner and more elegant. Lynne is wearing Asquith Pilates gear (they also do great yoga clothing!) and advises it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before exercising.
Lynne says that for each exercise, breathe in wide to the lower ribs to prepare and moving on the out breath. Use your deep core muscles gently as needed to control your movements.
#1 Relaxation Position
This wonderful position can be used to check your alignment, breathing and centering at the start and end of a session. Or you can simply use it for a rejuvenating relaxation when you need to recharge your batteries.
Lie on the floor with knees bent and the entire shoulder blade and lower back resting on the floor. Ensure there is no gap between your shoulder blades and the floor. Hold for one minute, pressing the shoulders into the ground.
#2 Spine Curls
Stay in position 1, then raise your bum off the ground slowly, vertebra by vertebra, lengthening, lengthening… Tighten your rear end and hold for five seconds, then release the spine back down slowly, vertebra by vertebra. Repeat five times.
#3 Single Leg Kick
A fabulous exercise to prevent poor posture it also strengthens the buttocks, legs and spine. Lie on your stomach, then raise yourself slowly on your elbows. Whilst there, tighten your core and bend your left leg. Point the toes to the sky and lift your knee off the ground slightly, tensing the rear end. Hold for 30 seconds then switch legs. Repeat 5 times on each side.
#4 Side Reach
Kneel with the legs about one foot apart. Put your left arm straight down your side and raise your right arm. Bend gently from the waist whilst keeping the spine straight and the head up, as though being pulled up by a string. Switch sides. Repeat 5 times. This is a feel good stretch that both works and strengthens the waist.
#5 Waist Twist
The ability to rotate the spine with length is vital to good posture and movement. Stand up with legs slightly parted. Bend your arms at the elbow with the left arm atop the right. Keeping the spine straight and the hips squared, twist to the left and to the right slowly five times. Spiral upwards as you twist. Switch the position of the arms and repeat.
You can learn more about Pilates at the Body Control Pilates studio website or on one of Lynne Robinson’s DVDs or free YouTube videos. With these simple Pilates exercises to help with posture, you’ll be standing tall in no time!
*Lynne is wearing Asquith Flow With It Leggings in Snakeskin (& black piping) with the Smooth You Tee in Azure over the Layering Vest in Cornflower/Ice. Looking for great deals on yoga and Pilates wear? Try ChameleonJohn.
All images courtesy Asquith.