Pilates On the Go: Double Leg Stretch
|The Roll-Up||Single Leg
|Crisscross||Side Kick Series|
It’s the month of love… time to give those abdominals some extra love and attention! Continuing on with our stomach series is a great way to give yourself some tender loving care.
Find a quiet room, and allow yourself 5 -15 minutes to rejuvenate the mind and body with a few Pilates exercises. If you are feeling stress, anxiety, or maybe, that afternoon sugar low…STOP…before you grab that cup of coffee or soda, take a few sips of cool, refreshing water, and try something new from your daily routine. Pilates is a great way to get your circulation flowing without the traditional caffeine and sugar substitutes.
Begin with a few cleansing breaths, to relax the mind and body, and allow yourself to focus on being in the present moment. Inhale through the nose, exhale out the mouth. Fully fill the lungs with air, connecting your mind and body through your breath. Put aside all the days’ challenges, past or future, and allow yourself to enjoy this moment. Right here, right now.
On your mat, begin warming the body and getting your circulation flowing with the One Hundred. Continue to flow through the series with The Roll-Up, moving into to Single Leg Circles, then massaging the spine with Rolling Like a Ball. Begin the stomach series with the Single Leg Stretch. All the rules that apply to the Single Leg Stretch apply to the Double Leg Stretch, which is the second exercise in the stomach series. If you are short on time, begin with the Hundred and move into the stomach series from there, starting with the Single Leg Stretch. After you have completed the Ssingle Leg Sretch, bend both knees and bring them into the chest, moving right into the Double Leg Stretch…
THE DOUBLE LEG STRETCH
- Begin with knees bent into the chest, hands on the shins and elbows reaching out wide towards opposite sides of the room. Chin is tucked towards the chest, and you are lifting forward from the back of the chest and upper abdominals. The chest is open, the bottom of the shoulder blades are pressing into the mat, and the shoulders are off the mat. Be mindful that you are not sinking into the neck and shouders.
- Imagine you have a heavy anchor or weight attached to the navel, and the anchor is sinking through the floor, causing you to scoop the abdominals deeply toward the spine throughout the exercise. Resist the abdominals from releasing as the arms and legs extend.
- Inhale and extend the arms in line with the ears, and the legs up to the ceiling at a 90 degree angle. Imagine you are taking a big stretch as you wake up in the morning, and your torso and navel are anchored to the floor. Feel as though your arms and legs are being pulled in opposite directions.
- As you exhale reach the arms out wide towards opposite sides of the room (resisting them from coming back into your sides). Keep the legs extended until the arms meet your sides, then bend the knees into the chest and press the palms of the hands against your shins (at the same time pressing the shins up into the hands), scooping the navel deeper to the spine. Think of compressing air out of the lungs.
- Repeat the movement five to ten times. Remain still in your torso as you inhale to stetch out, and exhale to pull back in.
- Keep the neck and head supported by keeping the chin tucked toward the chest (as though you are gently holding an apple or small ball), while keeping the eyes focused on the navel. If your eyes shift to the ceiling, your head will begin to fall back, and may cause strain on the neck. If your neck is fatigued, or you feel pain, place the head and neck on the mat and perform the exercise with the head resting on the mat (or folded towel).
- Engage the buttocks and the backs of the upper thighs together (in the Pilates stance), so no light is coming through the top of the legs. Imagine you are squeezing a tennis ball . This will help keep the abdominals scooping, and protect the lower back.
- As you stretch the body long, reaching the arms in line with your ears, try to keep the upper body lifting forward, so that the chest, neck and head do not fall back. This will also allow you to keep the upper and lower abdominals engaged. Do not let the head fall back.
- When finishing a repetition, pressing the shins up into the palms of the hands, and increasing the distance between your chest and thighs, may allow you to feel a nice release in the upper back and neck.
Extend the legs at a 45 degree angle, or as low as hip height (never lower). Try to find as much length in the legs as possible. The lower back should remain on the floor, and the navel scooping deeply to the spine. Really think of engaging a tennis ball between the buttocks and upper inner thighs.
You can do it! Maybe the best treat this month is giving yourself more love and attention so you are empowered to spread more love and affection.