Welcome to this series of intermediate Pilates exercises for all Pilates practitioners / people who have exercised regularly and are strong enough to take them to the next level. Remember to keep the Pilates basics active during these exercises. Stick with just a few reps, but in great shape instead of many hasty, random, but in less than perfect shape. Happy Pilates exercise!
Lie on your stomach with your legs together and straight. Keep your shoulder blades stretched towards your hips, shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms above your head. Pull your abs in to lift your belly button off the floor. Reach out from the center of you, extend your arms and legs so far in opposite directions that they naturally lift off the floor. Achieve length in your spine by lifting your head off the mat while keeping your face looking down at the mat. Alternate the right arm / left leg, then the left arm / right leg is raised on a count of 5 inhales and 5 exhales. Move continuously in this way, as if you were swimming on the mat.
Start on your knees and walk with your hands on the floor, allowing your legs to stretch out behind you. Place your forearms parallel to each other on the floor, hands in fists. Your shoulders should be directly over your elbows. Lift your belly off the ground as you extend your spine to make it very long. It is important to keep pressure off the lower back by pulling up on the lower abs. Keep your shoulders broad and make sure your shoulders are away from your ears. Your neck is a long extension of your spine, so your head does not tilt or lean upward. Breathe in fully while holding the pose for 30 seconds.
The Roll Up
Lie on your back with your legs straight. Relax your shoulders and keep them away from your ears. Put your arms up over your head and back so that your fingertips point to the wall behind you. Inhale as you bring your arms over your head past your ears, allowing your chin to drop toward your chest, your head, and your upper spine curving up and off the mat. As you exhale, continue in a gentle motion to bend your entire body in an “up and down” motion toward your toes. Stretch your abs inward and deepen the curve of your spine as you reach for your toes with your fingertips. To reverse the curl, inhale as you pull your lower abs up to the tailbone and unroll yourself, vertebra by vertebra. About halfway through, exhale to continue laying one vertebra after another on the mat. Maintain the curve of your upper body as you lower slowly, with control. The arms are still extended and follow the natural movement of the shoulders as you roll down.
Open leg rocker
Sit upright on the bones of your seat with your knees bent so you can grip your ankles. While balancing your shoulder bones and rump, keep your abs engaged as you lift and extend one leg, then the other, shoulder-width apart in front of you. On the inhale, use a deeper scoop from your abs and the fullness of your inhale to propel your roll back over your shoulders. Stay in your C-curve as you roll, keeping your head and neck off the mat. Pause before exhaling and re-use your abdominal muscles to return to an upright position.