PILATES and lifestyle w/ and emphasis on food and DRINK

Beginner Mat Pilates (injury mat Pilates in my case)

My back has been feeling much better. I will still have moments of, “oh, that didn’t feel so good,” but mostly when sitting on the couch or not watching my posture while driving. Why do they make car seats the most uncomfortable chair in the entire world? Why must my head be thrust so far forward?! I’m going to assume the shape is for safety purposes, but I’m not entirely convinced.

I was reading  Andrea Maida’s amazing Pilates blog this past week and saw this awesome article on Basic Pilates exercises. Her blog is great for beginner and advanced Pilates practitioners alike. She has such a great understanding of the body and so much enthusiasm for Pilates you can feel it in her writing. Her post on Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced exercises on both the mat and the reformer is a great place to start. She explains that we, as teachers, cannot categorize every student into these 3 categories. We have to look at the body in front of us and determine which exercises they may need. Someone could be a beginner, but has practiced sports all their life and have an okay understanding of the body and we may be able to throw in a couple of (intermediate) exercises. Or someone who has been practicing Pliates for years, but perhaps wasn’t really paying attention that whole time and needs to start at the beginning. Andrea points out that…

1. Basic exercises are straight forward and simple. Nothing too crazy is happening here. You are also fully supported by the mat.

2. A basic body shape is consistent through out the exercises. Everything has a rounded spine with a focus on scooping in the abdominals and keeping the spine LONG!

Now in my case, I used this reference to slowly bring my body back into exercise after my short, but mighty lower back pain.

Hundreds: I kept my legs up at 90 degrees. My back felt good during this exercise. Regardless of the 6:45am start. Thanks, Delilah! I kept the reach of my arms coming from my back and made sure the pumping was a result of my upper back and not my shoulders. Even though the legs are up to the ceiling I tried to keep my glutes and inner thighs engaged. And as always, pulling my lower abdominals in AND up.

Roll Up: This one was a little trickier. I went for it, but I definitely felt the tightness in my back and the instability. Since I do not have a proper mat, I did not have the strap to go over my feet, which would have helped me out a great deal. This was a little sloppier than I wanted, but I felt like it got a little easier as I did them. I focused on my seat (not gripping, seeing as that’s what got me in trouble in the first place), lower belly in and heels reaching. I tried to keep an eye on my shoulders and made sure to articulate as much as my tight back could on the way up and down.

Single Leg Circles: I started these out bigger and realized part way through, smaller was better for me at the moment. Quieter hips helped my lower back to feel stronger and safer. I felt a little more tightness when my left leg was raised so I was sure to focus on not moving from the leg, but from the stomach.

Rolling like a ball: Now this was a mess. My lower back was wobbling in and out of a round shape, my balance was off and my abs were fighting to stay on during the rolling up process. This exercise showed me that I need to keep with these exercises for a couple more days before moving on.

Single and Double Leg Pull: These felt great. Having the support of the mat under my back and really finding my abdominals gave me some courage after the rolling like a ball mess. Again, I kept my legs higher during the double leg pull for safety. The couch was getting in the way of my arm circles, but with not much space to film, it will have to do. And Delilah loves to be on camera!

Spine stretch: Here you can really see how tight my lower back is. There is almost no curve going on. The exercise felt good to perform, but I felt stiff. I keep trying to use my abdominals to help form the curve of my lower back but it’s going to be a work in progress.

Swan Prep: While this probably wouldn’t be featured in the basic exercises, I felt that I needed a little back extension in my life. I’ve had two chiropractors tell me I could use a little more lordosis in my lower back, meaning it’s a little flatter than they would like. While I kept this exercise tiny, it felt needed. I made sure I wasn’t only bending from the lower back, but getting some upper back extension as well.

Just keep moving.


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