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Basic Pilates movements

The second in a series of Pilates moves to help you reach your health and fitness goals for the new year. We are already in February 2012! A month has passed in the blink of an eye! Let’s not procrastinate or make more excuses. Let’s start together! Here are four basic Pilates moves for beginners to exercise. We’ll help you achieve your new fit and fabulous body in no time!

The hundred

Lie on your back with your knees bent, bring your legs up to the table position (shins and ankles are parallel to the height of the knees). Your arms placed on the mat at your sides. Inhale to start. As you exhale, lift your head off the mat, lower your chin toward your chest, and use your abdominal muscles to bend your upper spine off the floor. Keep your shoulders hooked into your back as you extend your arms off the mat with your fingertips reaching toward your toes. Your gaze is on the sphere of your abs. While you are here, you will inhale five times and exhale five times. While inhaling and exhaling for a count of five, move your arms in a controlled way up and down (arm pumping). Make sure to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed while keeping your abdominal muscles working to keep your upper back lifted. A cycle of 10 full breaths will get you to one hundred.

One leg kick

Lie on your stomach with both legs together, extended behind you. Activate your inner thighs and hamstrings to keep your legs from spreading. Raise your upper body so that it is supported by your forearms. Keep shoulders down, chest broad. Your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Your hands are together on the floor in front of you while keeping your neck long and forward. Inhale to start. As you exhale, bend your right leg at a 90-degree angle, pressing twice towards your butt with your slightly pointed foot. Inhale to switch legs, extending your right leg as you bend your left. Exhale and double tap with your left leg now.

Swan

Lie on the mat on your stomach, keep your arms close to your body as you bend your elbows to bring your hands under your shoulders. Spread your shoulders away from the ears. Keep your legs together while activating your abdominal muscles, lifting your belly button and away from the mat. As you inhale, lengthen your spine, sending energy through the top of your head while pressing your forearms and hands against the mat to sustain a long upward arc of your upper body. The elbows are close to the body, the head is kept in line with the spine, and the hips remain on the mat. On the exhale, release the arch, lengthening your spine as your torso returns to the mat sequentially (lower belly, mid belly, lower ribs until you are back in the prone position).

Spinal stretch

Sit upright on the bones of your seat, spread your legs about shoulder-width apart, flex your feet. Bring the top of your head toward the ceiling while your shoulders remain relaxed. Inhale and extend your arms in front of you, at shoulder height. Exhale as you lengthen your spine so that it curves forward. You will perform a deep C-bend that extends forward with your arms as much as is comfortable for you. Keep your shoulders down while reaching for your toes with your fingertips. Begin your return by using your lower abs to bring your pelvis into an upright position. Roll through the spine to a sitting position.

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