Archive for June, 2010:

Sitting cross legged

Last winter I took a workshop on pregnancy and Pilates and it couldn’t have come at a better time. When springtime rolled around I found out that 5 of my clients were pregnant. The workshop just confirmed what I already knew, which is Pilates is great for pregnant women. The benefits are almost endless. However, I don’t recommend starting anything new once you become pregnant. So if you are thinking you want to do Pilates during pregnancy, make sure you start a few months before you become pregnant. The reason for this is pretty straightforward. As your pregnancy progresses exercises will begin to be modified and/or taken away. If you are starting with nothing, there isn’t much to take away from. If you are pregnant and have experience with Pilates, by all means continue. I had so much fun thinking of ways to move my clients’ bodies once working out the core took a backseat.

As your baby grows, lots of changes are going on in your body. A couple things you might notice are low back pain and loss of balance, which are caused by your growing belly. By having strong transverse abdominis (the deepest of the stomach muscles) you will find it easier to stand up taller, which gives the baby more room, and can help alleviate any back pain you might have. You also simply create more support for the baby and yourself. Once your bump starts to show though, you’ll want to back off of the core work. While you might recruit your deep core muscles for some everyday movements like walking, you don’t want to actively work the rectus (the six-pack muscles). The stomach needs to be able to stretch, and if the rectus muscles are too tight, they could rip apart. Your goal is to find some reprieve, not cause more discomfort.

As I have mentioned in other postings, Pilates isn’t just a core-based exercise. The strength comes from your core but you work your whole body. The amazing thing about Pilates is there are many variations and modifications, so as your body changes you make adjustments. There are plenty side lying, seated, and standing exercises that work your butt, arms and legs. Below are a few exercises that you can do at home. Remember to check with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program.

ARMS (2-3 lb weights optional)

Arm Circles: Stand up against a wall with your feet one foots distance away from the wall, legs hips width apart, and your knees slightly bent. With or without the weights do a big circle in one direction 5 times and then reverse the circle. Next, bring your arms inline with your shoulders (make a T) and do small circles, 10 in each direction.

Breath: Inhale to start the circle, exhale to finish

Bicep Curls: Bring your arms down by your side, palms facing forward, bend the elbows and straighten them. (3 sets of 10)

Breath: Inhale to bend the elbows, exhale to straighten

Hug a Tree: Bring your arms in line with your shoulders. You’re your elbows slightly bent begin to bring your fingertips towards one another, pretend you are hugging a big tree, then open up again. (3 sets of 10)

Breath: Inhale to hug the tree, exhale to open the arms

LEGS/BUTT

Side lying kicks: SET-UP-Line the right side of your body up with the back edge of your mat, and bring your legs forward to the front edge of the mat. Make sure your top hip is over your bottom hip. Prop your head up on your right hand, or lay your head down on your arm. Do whatever is more comfortable. Take your left hand and place it on the mat in front of your chest. PLEASE NOTE: As your pregnancy increases you may have to put a rolled up hand towel under the side of your stomach that is on the mat.

Forward/back: Lift your left leg as high as your hip, swing it forward for two counts and then back past your bottom leg for one long count. Make sure that you keep your torso still. (10 times)

Breath: Inhale the leg forward, exhale the leg back

Up/down: Lift your leg up towards the sky and lower it down. Focus more on length and resistance, and not so much on height. (10 times)

Breath: Inhale to lift the leg, exhale to lower

Circles: Draw small circles with your top leg in one direction then reverse. (10 in each direction) Focus again on the length reaching your top leg longer than your bottom leg.

Breath: Inhale to begin the circle, exhale to complete it

Clam: Bend your knees to create a 90-degree angle (knees inline with your hips and shins inline with the mat.) Keep your feet glued together while you lift and lower your knee (think of a clam). Work the length in your waist, and don’t worry about how high you get. You want to keep the pelvis still. (10 times)

Breath: Inhale to lift the knee, exhale to lower the knee

STRETCHES

Mermaid: Sit with your legs crossed. Bring your arms inline with your shoulders, creating a T. Take your right arm up towards your ear and reach your left hand towards the mat. While keeping your right arm blued to your ear, begin to walk your left hand away from your hip. Go to a place you feel a stretch and take 3 deep breaths. Then walk the left hand back towards your body and repeat on the other side.

CAT/COW: Bring yourself to your hands and knees, aligning your shoulders over your wrists and hips over knees. CAT: Let your belly go towards the floor as you lift your chest to the wall in front of you. COW: Now look towards the floor as you round your back. Do not put too much effort in this movement as the core begins to engage. Do this back and forth as many times as you please and enjoy!

Breath: Inhale on the Cat movement, exhale on the cow movement

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.