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If you are looking a for a quick pilates reference, take a look at this pilates animation. This a quick & easy, clearly explained diagram of the pilates mat exercise: Classical Pilates for Beginners:
The Double Leg Stretch. Pilates exercises focus on breathing, alignments of the spine & build strong torso muscles.
Setup for The Double Leg Stretch:
* Lie on your back.
* Head up, eyes on your belly.
* Hug both knees to your chest.
* Scoop your abs; clench your butt and roll your shoulder blades away from your ears.
Action for The Double Leg Stretch:
* Exhale into the hug.
* Exhale and lengthen your arms back and legs forward at an angle of 45 degrees
* Circle your arms around to the side, and exhale to hug (not pictured).
Classic Pilates Cueing:
* Zip up! Eyes on the belly!
* Exhale, hug it in!
* Inhale, long and thin!
* Builds abdominal endurance. Endurance is a very important factor in avoiding back pain.
* Teaches working the powerhouse and maintaining alignment.
* Perfectly still torso - no buckling, no side roll.
* The feet move in and out in a straight line- no side bending!
* Shoulders wide, blades down, tips on the mat.
* Eyes on the belly!
* Hug legs in strong, keep the sacrum on mat.
Don't let an injury or weakness stop you! There is always a modification. Take your time and find the right one for you. If in doubt, seek advice!
* Weak abdomen - extend both arms and legs up toward the ceiling.
* Back pain or pain in front of hip - place hands under pelvis, keep knees slightly bent.
* Weak neck - stacked hands, or a pillow underneath the head.