The Basic Pilates Mat

5 Apr

Here are 8 Pilates exercises to get you started on the road to lean and strong muscles!

The Hundred – Lie on you back; bring your knees to your chest; slowly extend your legs towards the ceiling; lift your head and with your arms reaching long, pump them while breathing (through your nose), in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts. Repeat this 10 times.

The Hundred

The Roll Up – Make your body is as long as possible by lying on back, with your arms and feet stretched out as far as possible; slowly raise your arms to the ceiling; bring your head between your arms and roll up one vertebra at a time and stretch long over your legs; roll back down; inhale as you roll up; exhale over your legs; inhale as you roll back, and exhale as you reach your arms up towards the ceiling. Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times.

The Roll Up

Leg Circles – Begin by lying on your back; bend one knee into your chest and extend it towards the ceiling; bonus: you can reach up toward your ankle and give yourself a stretch; keeping your powerhouse (core muscles) engaged and anchored into the mat, make small circles with your leg. Complete 5 circles each way, change legs, and repeat. Afterwards, slowly roll up to a sitting position.

Leg Circles

Single Bent Leg Stretch – Begin by lying on your back and bend both knees into your chest; extend your right leg towards the ceiling; lift your head and place your left hand on your left knee and right hand on your left ankle; gently pull twice on your left leg; change and extend your left leg towards the ceiling; place you right hand on your right knee and left hand on your right ankle; gently pull twice on your right leg. Repeat this exercise 8 to 10 times on each leg.

Single Bent Leg Stretch

Double Bent Leg – Begin by lying on your back and bend both knees into your chest; lift your head and place your hands on your ankles; inhale as you bring your legs and arms towards the ceiling; hold your breath and open your arms to a T; exhale as you bend your knees and reach your hands to your ankles. Repeat this exercise 8 to 10 times.

Double Bent Leg

Single Straight Leg Stretch – Begin by lying on your back with your legs towards the ceiling; lift your head and place your hands on your left ankle; gently pull your left leg towards you twice while lowering your right leg away towards the floor; switch legs and pull your right leg. Complete this exercise 8 to 10 times on each leg.

Single Straight Leg Stretch

Double Straight Leg Stretch – Lie on your back with your legs to the ceiling; lift your head and place your hands one on top of the other at the nape of your neck; zip your legs together while engaging your powerhouse and lower your legs away from you; do not go any further than you can while keeping your back against the mat. 8 to 10 times each leg.

Double Straight Leg Stretch

Criss Cross – Lie on your back and bend both knees into your chest; place your hands behind your neck one on top of the other; lift your head and shoulders off of the mat; take your left elbow to your right knee and hold for three counts; lift up to center and change taking your right elbow to your left knee; hold for three counts. Repeat this exercise for 1 to 3 sets.

Criss Cross

Want to learn more? Check out the Brooke Siler’s book entitled The Pilates Body

Written by Mira Stylists Hannah Blackwell and Nicole Fetsis

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