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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 Single Straight Leg Stretch. Pilates exercises focus on breathing, alignments of the spine & build strong torso muscles.
Setup for The Single Straight Leg Stretch:
* Lie on your back.
* Head up, eyes on your belly.
* Lengthen both legs long to the ceiling.
* Scoop your abs; clench your butt and roll your shoulder blades away from your ears.
Action for The Single Straight Leg Stretch:
* Grasp one leg just above the ankle, and pull it twice toward your shoulders, while letting the other leg lower half way to the floor.
* Switch and repeat for the opposite leg.
* Keep switching for a total of 16 to 20 switches.
* Breathe in for two switches and our for two switches.
Classic Pilates Cueing:
* Pull pull switch!
* Lengthen your head away from your shoulders and up off the floor.
* Teaches working the powerhouse and maintaining alignment.
* Stretches the hamstrings and works the long hip flexors.
* Keep a perfectly still torso.
* The feet brush past each other.
* Shoulders wide, blades down, tips on the 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!
* Tight hamstrings and/or weak and painful hip flexors (pain in the groin): Slow down! - Bend your knee, and grasp your thigh just below the knee. Two pulls, and at the same time, put effort into straightening the knee .
* Weak neck, use a pillow!