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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 Rest Position. Pilates exercises focus on breathing, alignments of the spine & build strong torso muscles.
Setup for Rest Position:
* From the "table top" position (knees slightly apart, or just wider than your hips), scoop your abs, anchor your shoulder blades to your ribs, and sit back on your heels.
* Lengthen your arms over your head.
Action for Rest Position.
* Scoop deep, and breathe normally for 3 breathes.
* Take the opportunity to check your alignment, and to experiment with using the position to stretch your buttocks, and the muscles around your shoulder joints.
Classic Pilates Cueing:
* Breathe into the sides of your ribs and upper back!
* Stretches the gluteal muscles and thus "makes space" behind the hip joint - corrects any tendency for the femoral head to move forward in its socket.
* Stretches the lower back & around the sacrum.
* Can be used as a stretch for the shoulder joints and/or the upper back.
* Stretches the shin muscles.
* Keep feet, knees and buttocks in alignment (diagram to right gives an example of poor alignment due to tightness in the left buttock).
* Work the "powerhouse" and keep the shoulder points back and shoulder blades down.