Hey gang! It's Hump Day, and that means we have another W.O.W. for ya! This one is brought to you by Barbara Purcell, our wonderful yoga and Pilates instructor. You can catch her at the studio Sundays for yoga, and Tuesday mornings for small group personal training in Pilates. Barbara, take it away!...

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Hey guys! Pilates Mat exercises strengthen your powerhouse muscles (abdominals, back, hips, and booty) while creating a lengthening effect (increased flexibility) to get you lean and mean. Pilates helps people move with as much efficiency as possible from their core, eliminating over-usage of other muscle groups, reducing risk of injury, and improving overall posture. You’ll also look better naked. 

Pilates Mat is all about clear, precise movement that relies on the resistance of gravity and the leverage of your own body for a full-on workout that doesn’t require much more than a mat. (And in this sequence’s case, a yoga block.) By breathing well and moving articulately, you will discover muscles you didn’t know you had! Doing Pilates at least twice a week will sculpt and refine your bod faster than you can say rectus abdominis. (That’s Latin for “hottie with the killer abs.”)

What you’ll need: Yoga Mat (double up if on a hard surface) & a Yoga Block

How much time it’ll take: 20 minutes (Quick tip: always inhale through the nose and exhale through your mouth throughout the sequence)

 

Warmup: Sit on your mat with your soles on pressing into the floor in front of you, knees piked up to ceiling, hands on your hamstrings, block between your thighs.

                 Inhale to lengthen your spine and gently squeeze block. Exhale to round spine, chin to chest, leaning back holding onto hamstrings. (5x)

                 Remove block, walk your feet close to your sitting bones and wrap your arms around your shins. Pull your chest toward your thighs, drop your chin to chest and gently sway head from side to side (5x in each direction).

                 Extend legs long onto mat. Sit tall on inhale while extending arms in front of you and exhale to roll one vertebra at a time onto mat. (10 counts to roll down with control).

Workout: Bridge Pose 5x

Pilates Tabletop Sit-Up 10x

Toe Dips 10x

Release soles to mat, lift hips and remove block from thighs and place underneath sacrum (not lumbar). Lengthen legs onto mat and bring arms into W shape with palms up. Splay ribs and breath into hip flexors 3x

Criss-Cross alternating 10x

Hug knees into chest and roll head from side to side to release neck.

Rolling Like a Ball 6x

Boat Pose for 5 breaths

Cross ankles, place feet on mat. Stack spine and sit tall with hands resting on knees.

 

Bridge Pose: Place block between thighs and walk soles toward sitting bones until you can touch  your heels with your fingers. Arms resting on mat on either side of torso, palms pressing into ground. Inhale to expand ribs and exhale through the mouth, tucking tailbone and peeling spine off the floor. Inhale with hips evenly lifted toward ceiling and exhale to roll spine down to mat one bone at a time.

Pilates Tabletop Sit-Up: Squeeze block between thighs and draw knees (bent at 90 degrees) directly over hips with shins parallel to floor. Hands clasped underneath head, exhale to peel shoulders and head off the mat and inhale to release them back down: do not move your legs at all.

Toe Dips: With block still squeezed by inner thighs, begin with knees (bent at 90 degrees) directly over hips with shins parallel to floor. Press shoulder blades and palms into the mat as you inhale your toes (without changing the bend in your knees), toward the floor. Pause the minute your lower back peels away from the mat! Exhale to slowly draw the knees back over the hips. Try to eliminate momentum, the movement should feel mechanical.

Criss-Cross: Begin with knees (bent at 90 degrees) directly over hips with shins parallel to floor (no block). Hands clasped underneath head and inhale to lift head and shoulders off mat. Exhale to cross left elbow toward right bent knee while extending left leg out to 45 degree angle. Inhale come back to center (both knees bent 90 degrees over hips with head / shoulders still lifted off mat, chin to chest). Exhale right elbow to left knee extending right leg out at 45 degree angle. Inhale back though center. Keep head and shoulders lifted off the mat the whole time. 

Rolling Like a Ball With knees drawn into chest, wrap arms around shins and bring chin to chest, heels toward sitting bones. Begin rocking along spine until you roll like a ball and balance on your tailbone. Stay balanced and slowly inhale to roll back like a ball (without head touching mat) exhale to roll up (without toes touching mat). Roll like a ball as slowly as possible, to tap deep into abdominals.

Boat Pose: While balanced on tailbone, transfer hands to hamstrings squeeze knees together (shins parallel to floor), lengthen spine and draw shoulders onto back. Extend arms forward, balancing on tailbone (avoid rounding spine)

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