How to Ease Into a Pilates Practice
Pilates is more than a series of powerful moves. It’s a full-body conditioning routine that builds core strength, flexibility, mobility, endurance and muscle strength in the legs, arms, hips and back. Yes, it helps just about anything! That’s not to mention its emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing, and improving coordination and balance.
Are you Pilates curious? Thought about it, but haven’t yet made the stretch toward joining a class? Rest assured, Pilates may look intimidating but it’s actually easy on the joints — and a regular practice can really pay off.
In addition to the physical benefits, Pilates can also improve your sleep. Habitual exercise has been proven to improve sleep, but Pilates is a particularly great option because of the focus on core strength. (A strong core leads to less back pain, which means much more comfortable sleep for many people.) Additionally, the focus required in performing Pilates exercises can have a meditative, calming effect.
As founder Joseph Pilates put it, "It is better to be tired from physical exertion than to be fatigued by the poisons generated by nervousness while lying awake."
In that spirit, we tapped Marina Kaydanova, founder and owner of BK Pilates — a top studio in Manhattan and Charlotte — to give tips for getting started. She offers three moves that you can do any time (even while in bed):
- Pelvic Lift. Lie supine on the bed or your mat with bent knees while maintaining a neutral pelvis and spine. Place your feet as wide as your shoulders, ensuring that knees are in line with the second toe. Articulate your pelvis off the mat or bed about four inches, keeping as much of the spine down as you can. Repeat 10 times.
- Single Leg Circles. Lie supine with arms by your side, one leg straight on the mat or bed with flexed foot, and the other leg straight up to the ceiling. Circle the top leg across the body, down and around while keeping the pelvis stable for five circles. Reverse the circle in the other direction, circling the leg away from the body, down and around. Repeat on the other leg. Inhale as you circle the leg inward towards your body and exhale as you bring your leg around.
- Double Leg Stretch. Curl your head and shoulders off the mat or bed, bringing both knees into your chest and placing one hand on each shin. As you inhale, reach your arms and legs out in opposite directions anywhere between a 45- and 90-degree angle. Keep arms shoulder-distance apart and legs together with neck and shoulders lifted off the mat throughout the exercise. Circle the arms around as you exhale, drawing the knees into your chest and catching onto your shins to return to starting position.
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