Pilates is a fitness system that targets the abdominal muscles. It’s similar to yoga, but not as episodic or smooth. During a Pilates workout, exercises focus on holding a stretch the usually benefits the abs, and sometimes other muscles as well. Using the Pilates system regularly improves physical strength, flexibility, and posture. As a beginner, it’s important to learn the correct breathing technique that accompanies each exercise, and also not to hyperextend any movements. These are some beginner exercises that are effective and easy to do at home:
Start by lying flat on the back, with legs bent, feet parallel on the floor. Inhale slowly, then exhale while lifting the head from the floor. The chin should be pulled towards the chest. Continue lifting the head, then curl the spine upwards, using the abs to support the movement. Stop and hold the lift with the shoulder blades off of the floor. Inhale, exhale and straighten and lift the legs to about a foot from the floor. The arms should also be extended a few inches off of the floor, palms down. Hold this position, which deepens the abs stretch, and take five slow breaths in and out. The last step is the hardest. Pump the arms up and down while taking 10 more breaths, short this time. Keeping the spine curved, lower the legs back to the ground, knees bent.
Another similar exercise involves rolling the back into a full sitting position. Start by lying flat on the floor, arms outstretched towards the wall behind the head and palms facing up. Inhale and lift the arms over the head, moving towards the toes. Lift the head and then the back off of the floor, being sure to keep the hips firmly grounded and using the abs as support. After reaching the upright position, exhale and continue to bend forward towards the knees. Hold this for a moment, and then inhale and begin to curl back towards the floor slowly making sure to keep the hips grounded and the legs on the floor. Exhale as the back continues to uncurl, returning the torso to the floor. Throughout this exercise, keep control of the body and complete the full motion with fluidity. Try doing 6 repetitions and focus on the abs muscles and correct breathing.
There are other Pilates exercises that are suitable for beginners, but these are just two examples of the intensity of each exercise.