Introduction to Pilates – Workout 1 | NHS

Hi, welcome to InstructorLive My name is Sam and this is Introduction to Pilates

Basically, we're just going to cover for those of you who have never done Pilates before We're gonna start with some real basic exercises just so that you get a little bit more familiar Also, if you haven't been doing exercise for a long period of time this is also an ideal class to get started on, so that you just get reconnected to your body So, we're going to start and always a good place to start is in standing So, we're going to have our feet in parallel To get that, we're going to bring our feet together open the toes and then open the heels so that you've got a nice parallel alignment, so the hips are nicely relaxed and the knees are softened

Draw your abs into the spine relax the shoulders from the ears, and draw the chin so the back of the neck is long So when we're beginning exercise, and especially Pilates, we really want to focus on posture So, we're going to talk a lot about the posture in different areas and different positions today So let's start by loosening up the shoulders We're going to shrug the shoulders up to the ears and then just drop them back down Breathing in to lift and then breathing out to release back

And two more Lift and lower Last one Getting all the blood flow and then just releasing the tension We're going to do nice little shoulder rolls, just releasing any tension there

Again, for those of you that get lots of tension in your neck and your shoulders always, whenever you can, remember to do a few little shoulder rolls Then we're going to take it into an arm circle looking up to the ceiling, then down to the floor Breathing in and breathing out, lengthening up to the ceiling, opening up, stretching across the chest as the arms go back Then I'm gonna give you the side version We're going to link the hands behind the back

Lift the arms up and then we're going to sigh forward If you're finding you've got a little bit of a tight back you can bend your knees a little bit Just getting a nice stretch there Otherwise you should also feel a nice stretch behind your thighs or what we call the hamstrings And then slowly coming back up and then give those arms a bit of a shake

So, we're doing a warm-up now which is really important to get the body mobile especially if you haven't done much exercise recently You're going to bend one leg, straighten the other leg and rest the hands on to the bent leg We're going to sigh forward as far as you feel you can get that stretch in the straight leg and then just holding it there for a few seconds let the blood flow to that area Then slowly coming up, changing over to the other side, stepping forward into that stretch breathing into it, noticing and this is when the awareness starts to come back into the body Compare both sides and you may find one side's a little bit tighter than the other

Start to take notes of these differences in the body because then you can start to progress through your exercise plan So we're going to open the legs a little bit wider now and I want to really loosen up the hip so we're gonna place the hands onto the hips and we're just going to circle around, keeping your legs straight and just moving however the body feels comfortable doing Then, we're gonna change direction, we're gonna roll through the pelvis, moving and loosening up any tight muscles around those hips and last one and then standing tall Hand comes up to the ceiling, we're going to tuck our ribcage in because I'll show you the side version If you're flaring your ribcage up you're overarching that back and we want to try to get the posture of the spine better and use those abdominals a little bit more, which we'll talk about a bit later

We're going to reach the arm up, tuck the ribcage in and then just side bending over lengthening the arm away, stretching from that hip and then coming back up Other side, big breath in, opening out the side of the body Notice how this side compares to the other side If you have a tighter side always hold it for a little bit longer on your tighter side Once more, each side breathing in and breathing out

Use your hand on the leg for support if it's easier to bend the knee slightly you can and then coming back up Last one, big breath in and big breath out Opening out the side of that rib cage, breathing into the ribs and then slowly coming up and just give the legs a good shake Right, now, especially for those of you get really tight in the neck and shoulders often you'll find there's a lot of tension between your shoulder blades So we're going to cross and I'm giving you the side version

We're going to cross the elbows, one underneath the other, and then if your hands can touch that's great don't worry if you can't, but you're going to try keep your shoulders away from the ears as the hands reach up to the ceiling Take a big breath in Whenever you're doing stretches you want to breathe into the stretch It helps to bring all that oxygen and fresh blood to the area and then just helps with flushing out any toxins there, and then slowly release down Cross the arms the other way

Again, you may find there's a slight difference in flexibility from one side to the other Take note of it, take a deep breath in and then slowly releasing down Now, we're going to do a really good exercise in Pilates called 'The Roll Down' It's there to basically assess the body see where the tightness is, also improve the flexibility of the spine So we're going to have our feet in parallel again

So, remember we open the toes, open the heels and then take a big breath in to prepare As you breathe out you're going to nod the head to the chest so you're stretching the back of the neck Then, imagine you've got a little ball attached to your tummy and then you're slowly rolling over that ball, one vertebra at a time, assessing the spine assessing where any tightness lives in that back If you're finding you're a little bit tight in the back or it's straining a bit just bend your knees Just go as low as you feel comfortable

If you can't reach the floor don't worry At the bottom, you're going to roll your shoulders Let gravity help release any tension and then starting with your glutes, which are your bum cheeks, you're going to squeeze them together Start dropping the tailbone down to the floor as you roll back up One vertebrae at a time and lengthening up nice and tall

We're going to do three more like that and nodding the head, rolling the shoulders Again, tuck the ribs in Try not to push your bum backwards and just hang from the hips and the back I want you to use your abs These warm-up the abs, as well as stretch the spine

Rolling down one vertebra at a time At the bottom you're going to bend one leg and just resting and flopping towards that bent knee and then you're going to change Again, always think about drawing the abs into the spine and then straighten both the legs, squeeze the gluts, drop the tailbone and start to re-stack that spine Lengthening up tall Two more

Rolling through So for those of you who need a little bit of a routine in the mornings, this is a really good way to wake up the body Do a few roll downs, get the whole body warmed up and then again, you can just circle your arms Roll your shoulders, do whatever release work feels good at the bottom and then rolling back up, re-stacking one vertebra at a time and lengthening up tall Now we're going to go into a little bit of rotation

If you don't have the flexibility and can't reach the floor, then just rest your elbow onto your bent knee So you're going to bend one leg, straighten the other leg but first rolling down one vertebra at a time Bend one leg, straighten the other leg Lift up through the chest so you're creating length through the spine and then lift that hand up to the ceiling Again, if you can't touch the floor and need the back support, rest your hand onto the bent knee like this

So we're stretching, we're moving our rib cage, warming up the muscles that wrap around the rib cage called your oblique muscles and then changing over to the other side You want to make sure your body is nice and mobile so that you can move in all ranges of movements and once more each side Lift and open through Again, notice if there's any tightness on one side compared to the other Hopefully you feel quite symmetrical but this is again another assessment exercise and then slowly coming back to centre

Staying in this position, now you're going to walk your hands forward so we're in kind of an upside-down V position and you're going to now stretch out the calves So, reaching the heel towards the floor as you bend one leg Keeping both feet next to each other so you're not moving one foot forward Just stretching through the calf and then changing through to the other side Again, a really good stretch to do on a daily basis and then over just changing again

Straighten both of those legs Look up to your hands, bend your knees, sit back over those legs and get a good stretch Breathing into the back of the ribcage and then coming into 4-point kneeling So we're going to do some nice upper body work as well as some abdominal and back strengthening exercises So are we going to make sure, in Pilates it's all about those finer details

So you want to make sure you're nicely aligned in the joints of the shoulder, elbow and wrist They're all in line with each other and your knees are in line with your hips So we're going to talk a little bit about neutral pelvis It's a really important concept in Pilates and quite specific to Pilates as well So, what we want to do is we're going to do some pelvic tilts

Okay? So imagine you've got a drink of water balancing on the, on the back of your pelvis Now, you're going to slowly, by squeezing your sitting bones together, you're going to now drop and then if the bottle of water or the glass of water was on your pelvis, it would fall to the floor and then release back into that position So you want to, and let's play around with the full range of the pelvis This is a really important concept to get your head around So we're going to tilt the pelvis, so you're gonna scoop it in

So you bring your pubic bone in towards your belly button and then release your tailbone out So go with the full range as much as you can So you'll collapse a little bit in that lower back and then we're gonna go all the way again into that curve and then release to the full extension So this is what we call 'flexion' as we bring the pelvis into the belly button and then extension as we release the tailbone away Now, neutral pelvis is basically between those two extremes

Okay? So let's try tilt the pelvis underneath us and then go all the way into an extension and then go almost halfway back to a full flexion so that little curved pelvis and that's what you call neutral In this position you should be able to balance a glass of water on your pelvis It's quite flat in that lower back and you've got your abdominals supporting into that spine Now we're going to go into a deeper stretch Let's see, let's use the rest of the spine too

So starting with the pelvic tilt, we're gonna come all the way into what we call cat stretch Again, another very good way of releasing any tension in that spine and then starting from the pelvis again, we're going to release the tailbone, re-stack the spine and coming into a nice flat back position Make sure you're also thinking about your upper body in this movement You don't want to be collapsing down Lift up through the chest a little bit and then we're going to do two more like that going into the cat stretch

So starting with the pelvic tilt, then going deeper and deeper so that you end up scooping into a lovely arch, and then slowly from the pelvis releasing back, and last one We're going to scoop up to the ceiling Now in this position, you're going to bend one elbow – if you're not sure, just have a look at me first You're going to bend one elbow, take the other arm and thread the arms through, as far as you can, resting the shoulder on to the floor So this is what we call 'Threading the Needle

' Okay? So this is supposed to be the eye of the needle and this is the thread that comes through You're going to stretch Try get your shoulder on to the floor and then lifting up, hand reaches up to the ceiling on the other side and release down So let's try that We're going to come up into a cat stretch

Then going into a Threading the Needle Bending one elbow, threading the arms through Rest the shoulder onto the floor Breathing into it and then coming up Hand comes up to the ceiling and release back down

Again, a really nice release movement for that torso Now we're going to do a little bit of upper body work Now lots of people don't like doing push-ups, especially for women who tend to generally on the whole be quite weaker in their upper body, but it's really important to have a nice strong upper body It helps with your posture and if you've got a good posture, it helps to relieve all those little aches and pains that we get from bad posture So we're just going to do some very simple ones on the knees

Take a big step forward with the hands Now you're going to lean forward so that your shoulders are over your wrists Very important is that you're not collapsing into that lower back You want to imagine you've got a little hammock underneath your belly button and it's pulling you up to the ceiling Then keeping in that position, without dropping the head down to the floor, you're going to bend the elbows just a few centimeters and then pushing back up

So if you can go all the way down to the floor, that's great, but otherwise just go as low as you can bring yourself back up So, we're just going to do five of those We're going to breathe in, bend the elbows Don't just drop the head Keep the head lifted

Keep the pelvis lifted, and just bend the elbows and then pushing back up Now, something else to add, so that we're working a little bit more into the back of the arms We're going to try, as we go down, instead of pushing our elbows out to the side, we're going to try bring it next to the ribcage and then coming back up Let's do two more like that Breathing in and breathing out and last one! Big breath in and big breath out

Come off those wrists and give them a little bit of a stretch Circle those wrists around, make sure that they've just relieving any tension You'll find that over time especially if you're not used to this position, the wrists might get a little bit uncomfortable at first, but over time they will start to strengthen You'll get a lot more used to it, so it's always good to practice that Okay, now we're going to do just one more and this is to help strengthen up the back, okay? Very simple exercise

If you're finding it's a bit much on the wrists now, you're more than welcome to go into a really tight fist So you're gonna curl those fingers into a tight fist and then place them down like that Or if you'd prefer, just coming on to the elbows is fine I'm going to have a nice flat palm on the floor Curl my toes

Lift up through the chest So again, think about that neutral pelvis, abs drawing in You're not into a full curve or into a full extension You're kind of halfway between Then lift up through the chest, push into your toes as you hover your knees off the floor and then slowly release back down

We're going to do six of those so we're going to use our breath now as we do it So we're going to breathe out as we lift the knees, even if it's just a centimetre, and then slowly release back down So that action, and keep going as I talk, that action of lifting the knees off the floor helped to work your abdominal muscles especially there for the lower back because you imagine that your legs are the weights for your abs, so as you lift the legs off the floor, your abs are having to lift and hold as well as those back muscles, and then slowly release back down Very good, and I give it to all my people with bad back This is a really quick way to get those abs nice and strong

Let's do two more and, breathing out to lift Keep the head lifted and then release back down Last one, we're gonna try hold it up there for five seconds Don't worry if you can't do five and you can only do two seconds That's fine but we're gonna hold and we're gonna continue breathing throughout this hold, and another three seconds

Two, one and slowly release down Come off those wrists and give it a good little circle there In both directions and just give it a good shake Right Enough of that, we're going to now move on to, and I'll swing my legs round, we're going to move on to our backs

Okay? So, sometimes people need a hand getting down to the floor In which case I'll just show you a move that you can do, because it is quite useful, especially if you've had issues in the past You take one step forward, rest your hands onto that front leg and then bend the leg Bend the other leg, rest the knee on to the floor Bring the other knee to meet it and then you're a lot closer to the mat, and then coming all the way down

Okay all do what we did with the roll down Coming into four-point kneeling and then just making your way onto your back So in this position, you're going to have, this is what we call 'Supine Position' It's basically the head is relaxed on the floor, the feet are on the mat with the legs bent Again you want that nice parallel alignment, so do the same thing we did in standing

We're going to open the toes, open the heels and then it should be in line with your hip joints Now, when we talk again about neutral pelvis, in this position I want you to really get a sense of what's going on in your spine So lying on your back in this position, your head should be touching the floor Your shoulders should be touching the floor, as well as your ribcage Your pelvis should be touching the floor but there should be a little gap underneath your lower back if you pop your hand there, and a little gap underneath your neck

Those are all following the natural curves of the spine because your spine isn't actually completely flat, it's an s-shaped curve So you want to really kind of get used to that movement If you're finding that your lower back is imprinted into the floor, this could be because of various issues You might find you're very tight in your hip flexors, you might find you don't actually have that range through the pelvis That's fine, just try get it into as neutral pelvis as possible

We're going to now, just like we did in four-point kneeling, we're going to do the same thing but in lying in supine So, we're going to do pelvic tilts I want you to imagine you've got a little clock face on your tummy or on your pelvis Your belly button is twelve Six is your pubic bone, and three and nine is each hip bone

Now we're going to rock the pelvis from twelve to six So pop your hands onto your hips and I want you to actually have a feeling of pulling your belly button down to the mat, squeezing your sitting bones together and then imprinting the lower back into the mat, and then releasing back down and we're going to do just a few like that We're going to breathe out as we tilt the pelvis up to twelve and then breathing in, releasing down to six Again, these are those two extreme movements that we did in four-point kneeling, but now we've got a lot more feedback from the floor So we imprint the back to the mat, belly button draws down

Pubic bone comes to the belly button and then we go down to the tail bone Last one We're going to scoop up again This is also really good for anybody who's gets, suffers from lower back issues and then coming back to a nice mid position between those two extremes and that's what we call neutral pelvis You should still feel a slight little gap under the lower back

Now we're going to go into a bridge, a shoulder bridge or an ab-prep one – there's different names but they're the same exercise We're going to now tilt the pelvis, so now our lower back is touching the floor Then we're going to squeeze our bum cheeks together, cuz they're gonna help to lift the pelvis off the floor, and we start to peel the spine off the mat one vertebra at a time, so we resting onto the shoulders Then big breath in We're going to bring the arms up above the head

If they can reach the floor behind you, that's great If you don't have the mobility in the shoulders, you can just keep the hands to the ceiling Leaving the arms there, we're now going to hollow the chest and start to bring the spine back down Through your centre line, down along the spine Back to your neutral position of the pelvis and then bring the arms back down

Let's do two more like that So, tilt the pelvis Lift the pelvis onto the shoulders Big breath in, arms come above the head and then sighing back down One vertebra at a time

Again, assessing the spine – is there any tightness anywhere? And then bring the arms back down Right Now, we're going to add a little bit more on to that So we're going to tilt the pelvis, lifting up onto the shoulders Big breath in, arms come above the head and then slowly, and with control, we're going to lift one leg up into what we call 'Tabletop Position' and then slowly release back down

If you're finding it's a bit uncomfortable on the shoulders, just bring your hands up to the ceiling or onto the floor for a little extra stability I'll leave them on the floor We're going to pick the other leg up into tabletop and then slowly release back down In fact, pop your hands on your hips and I want you to think about your pelvis in this position Don't let it dip to one side whenever you lift a leg up

You want to keep it level so that you're not twisting in your lower back, and this is really important for posture as well Sometimes you'll find one bum cheek might feel a little bit weaker than the other That's fine, it's perfectly normal What you want to do is to start trying to build up the strength in your weaker glute So this is again a very good assessment exercise of those gluts

If you're finding that when you lift one leg up, the leg that's still on the floor, that bum cheek, feels a little bit weaker All you do, is you do a few extra leg lifts on that side just to start bringing up that symmetry So let's just do once more each side Breathing out to lift, breathing into lower and other side Again, focus on that level pelvis

Focus on the alignments of the leg and then slowly ripple back down to the mat Hug the legs into the chest Stretching the lower back breathing in, knees come into the chest, and then breathing out to release back down, and two more Big breath in

You can do this before you even get out of bed in the morning, and this will really help just to mobilize the spine, get the blood flowing through the body Last one and release the legs down to that mat Right Now, we're going to go into some abdominal exercise Often a lot of people get really freaked out by the ab exercises but if you've correctly set up, there's no reason why you can't do an ab curl

So I'll teach you two of the things that people do wrong when they do an ab curl One: they, when their hands are underneath the head and they curl up, they pull on the neck and it causes a lot of strain and tension in the neck and shoulders So you want to imagine your hands are linked underneath your head, your shoulders are relaxed away from the ears, and your elbows are up in your sideline view So when, do this with me You take a breath in, I want you just to hover the head, just an inch off the floor

Imagine you've got a little, small orange underneath your chin and between the chin and the chest, and you're holding that orange Then using your ribcage, you're going to pull yourself up So again, a really good way to practice that head placement, is even when you're walking around the house, popping an orange, it looks a little bit silly, but if you pop an orange underneath your chin and try to walk around with that and holding it there It's that same distance that you want in your ab kill, so you don't put all that tension in the neck The second thing people do wrong when they do an ab curl, and this is when that neutral pelvis comes into play

When they come up, they push their tummy out and they imprint their back into the floor What that does is, and why Pilates is known for such good abdominal work, is because we keep a neutral pelvis So we've been doing the pelvic tilts, it's that neutral pelvis So you have the slight natural gap underneath your lower back and you're using the full length of your abdominals If your lower back is imprinting when you're coming up, you're shortening your abs and you're pushing, putting pressure into your lower back

So you don't want to be doing that, especially if you're doing lots of repetitions and you're constantly forcing that weight into your lower back rather than keeping in its natural anatomical position So also when you come up, you don't want to be pushing your tummy out and kind of jarring into all the organs and their intestines that's living, and in the torso So you want to just make it a nice smooth movement, so let's do a few of those Hands underneath the head, big breath in to prepare Elbows up in your side line view

Keep that neutral pelvis So maybe do the pelvic rock, find the midpoint between those extremes and that's neutral So breathing in, we're going to hover the head Feel the weight of the head relaxed in the hands Then breathing out, we're going to curl up

Lifting the shoulders off the floor if you can, without pulling the neck into the chest and then slowly lower the shoulder blades down but keep the head hovering up Let's do another five like that So, breathing out curling up, keep your neutral pelvis If you've made an imprint, just try release it and then going back down a couple of inches and curling back up, and inhale to go back Exhale to come back up and last one

We're going to come up and we're going to hold that position and we're going to continue breathing for five, four Building up that muscle stamina in those abs and then slowly releasing back down Okay, let's leave it at that for today because it's quite a lot to absorb, especially if this is your first time doing Pilates We're going to come up into a sitting position If you can cross your legs, that's great

Don't worry if you can't, you can always bring your legs in front of you and you can just sit like this I'm going to cross my legs We're just going to stretch out a little bit Make sure, see how the body's feeling from side to side again We're going to take a big breath in, arm reaches up to the ceiling and then using the other hand, you're going to rest it on the floor and then do a nice side bend again, and then coming back up

Other side Big breath in, and big breath out and then coming back to centre Slowly making your way up into standing Now you can again come into this position, lift yourself up onto your knees Pick one leg up

Use your hands for support and then coming up into a standing position So today, we only had half an hour There's loads to still learn in this whole series of classes, but I really wanted you to understand the concept of neutral pelvis today and practice it at home Doing that pelvic tilt in the four-point kneeling, in the lying on the back position, because it's gonna be really important when we start to progress and get a little bit more into the Pilates practice I hope it's been useful, have a lovely day and then I'll see you next time

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