Alignment  Breathing  Centring

Alignment - Finding Neutral

First of the three essential steps to set you up before any move

Standing - stand up straight, put your feet together, now roll on to the balls of your feet and open your heels. Rock back and bring your toes in line, this puts your feet in alignment under your sits bones (I call this "heels and toes"). Ok soften your knees slightly, pick your chest up (imagine you have a piece of string on your breast bone and you pull it upwards), tuck your chin in which lengthens your neck (bringing your head above your body) and let your shoulder blades slide back and down. Now close your eyes and feel how your weight shifts on to the balls of your feet, your heels, the outside of your feet, the inside of your feet. Find your centre of gravity where you feel balanced.

Finding Neutral - With you finger tips on your public bone, make a triangle shape with your hands, thumbs just under your belly button, now rock your pelvis back and forth, watch your hands move, then let them rest when your hands are vertical and hold that position.

Supine (lying face up) - *You need to keep your neck lengthened, so use a support (Pilates block, folded towel or book) behind your head if you need to.

Excellent, now legs together bend your knees, bringing your heels towards your bottom and align them as above "heels and toes", arms by your side and "crawl" your hands towards your feet, puff your chest out, slide your shoulders back and down, lengthen your neck.

Finding Neutral  - Place your hands in a triangle shape on your hip bones with your finger tips on your pubic bone, now rock your pelvis back and forth (like a rocking horse), watch your hands move, then let them rest when your hands are horizontal (visualise a glass of water balanced and you don’t want to spill it).

Prone (lying face down) - Point your toes in and let your heels relax and roll out and make a capital E shape with your hands and head, you should look at little like this >-E 

Finding Neutral  - Slight posterior tilt, push your tail bone to your heels, this should draw your stomach up so there’s a small gap from the floor.

4 Point (box position) - On all fours ensure your knees are underneath your hips and your hands underneath your shoulders, keep your neck lengthened by looking at the floor, let your shoulders slide back and down, keep your back straight (imagine you have a bucket of water on your back....don't spill any).

Finding Neutral - Draw your stomach up without arching your back, again imagine there is a glass of water on your back and you don’t want to spill it.

Side Lying - Lie on your side with the arm you are lying on stretched out above your head, lay your head on your arm (you can use a block or folded towel for comfort should you need to), with straight legs stack your hips on top of each other, stack your knees and ankles the same way, now bend your top arm and rest your finger tips in front of you for a little stability (do not rely on this for balance).

Finding Neutral - Stretch your top leg away from you, you will feel your waist pick up slightly from the floor, this ensures you have the same distance between your ribs and hips on both sides.

Seated - Sit on your sits bones and either cross-legged, legs apart with bent knees or with your legs straight and split (not too wide). Whatever works for you, pick which leg position you can sit comfortably with a straight back keeping your neck lengthened.

Finding Neutral Sit tall and place your hands in a triangle shape on your hip bones with your finger tips on your pubic bone, now rock your pelvis back and forth (like a rocking horse), watch your hands move, then let them rest when your hands are vertical/straight.

Step 2

Breathing - Thoracic/ Lateral

WE BREATHE IN THROUGH THE NOSE AND OUT THROUGH THE MOUTH.

Thoracic or lateral breathing is a "wide" not deep breath meaning we breathe in to our ribs, this allows you to engage your core and still breathe through movements. This is different to yoga breathing if you've done that before.

 

After alignment, place your hands on your rib cage, breathe into your ribs so you can feel your hands moving out connecting you to your breathing, breathe out and your hands will move inward, feel your hands move. Repeat this and feel it, visualise* and get in touch with what your body is doing, this helps you to be mindful of your body’s actions.

*Visualisations

 Breath in -imagine there is a balloon inside your rib cage filling with air expanding and pushing your ribs out as you breathe in.

If in the supine position, also feel your ribs push into the floor underneath you when breathing in.

If standing, put a hand on the back of your rib cage to feel the expansion as you breathe in.

Breath out - imagine the balloon deflating as you breathe out and feel your hands move inward.

Step 3

Centring - Engaging your core

While in supine neutral position, place your hands 2 or 3 inches away from your waist and 2 or 3 inches down towards your pubic area, now push your fingers in to feel the muscle (Transverse Abdominus) around the lower abdomen. Cough to feel the muscle tense and relax quickly under your fingers, now cough and hold the tension, this is 100% or 10th notch.

Belt Method -

To activate your core, breathe in and imagine you have a hipster belt on with 10 notches, pull the belt in to the 10th notch (notice the feeling under your fingers), now breathe out slowly and release the belt to 0 (notice again the feeling under your fingers).

Bring your breathing back to its normal rate, then on an in breath tighten the belt to 10 and then release in to the 5th notch half way, (notice the feeling under your fingers as often feeling/touching helps the understanding) slowly release on the out breath to 0.

Bring breathing back to normal again, then on the in breath tighten the belt to 10, then release to 5 and then again to the 3rd notch (notice the feeling under your fingers). Now continue with wide lateral breathing whist holding the 3rd notch or 30%.

Place one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your rib cage to ensure you feel what is happening.

Pelvic Floor Method -

To activate your core, breath in and pull up your pelvic floor muscle to as far as it can (this is the same feeling as stopping mid flow when you're having a wee!), this would be the 10th floor of a lift (notice feeling under your fingers), now breathe out and release slowly down to 0 or ground floor.

Bring breathing back to its normal rate, breath in and pull your pelvic floor muscle up to 10 and then drop down to the 5th floor (again notice the feeling under your fingers), now breathe out and slowly release to 0 or ground floor.

Bring breathing back to normal, then on the in breath pull up your pelvic floor muscle to 10 then drop it down to 5 and then down again to the 3rd floor, hold there and continue to breathe laterally. You should notice under your fingers that the Transverse Abdominus will be tightening along with the pelvic floor muscle, this is two areas active at once and we only need one. Choose which is best for you and practice the one you prefer.

Practice this to ensure the movements/exercises can be carried out with precision (a principal in Pilates to target the right muscles most effectively).

Finally you must switch off your global muscles aaaaaaaand that's where I come in so navigate to the contacts page then give me a call or drop me a line.

 #everyoneshoulddopilates

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