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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 Spine Stretch Forward. Pilates exercises focus on breathing, alignments of the spine & build strong torso muscles.
Setup for Spine Stretch Forward:
* Inhale and sit tall on your sit bones with your back against an imaginary wall.
* Legs slightly wider than your shoulders, knees pointing to the ceiling and heels lengthening away.
* Arms straight out in front, palms down.
* Roll your shoulder blades away from your ears.
Action for Spine Stretch Forward.
* Exhale, hollow your abdomen and peel off an imaginary wall vertebra by vertebra.
* Reach forward "up and over a barrel", and stretch forward.
* Inhale as you roll back up: your sacrum, your low back, your mid back, your upper back, and finally your neck and head.
Classic Pilates Cueing:
* Peel off the wall.
* Exhale and reach over a barrel.
* Stretches the spine vertebra by vertebra, and stretches the hamstrings
* Teaches how to sit tall on the sit bones (so you don't slump at your desk).
* Align your back and head against an imaginery wall.
* Don't muscle into the C-curve, but rather scoop deeply inward and upward, and relax into it with the help of your powerhouse.
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!
* If your back is sore, bend the knees slightly and ease forward a minimal (even 2 inches is OK)distance, staying within your pain free or minimal pain range.
* Pelvis tilts backward when you are sitting tall? - Bend your knees slightly until pelvis is vertical.