Hooray for summer! While this season is all about kicking back and enjoying the sunshine, for most this time of the year packs even busier schedules. There are weddings to attend, school holidays to plan, outdoor activities to organise, and those trips aren’t going to happen without you!
When life gets busy it’s even more important to find some well-deserved ‘me-time’. Pilates is a great exercise for strengthening the body, but did you know the foundation is based on relaxation? The importance of breath is one of the core components of Pilates because it helps to release tension from head to toe. All in all, it’s a great way to take care of yourself this summer.
We asked the experts at Form Body Lab in Vancouver to share one of their favourite sequences that challenges the body while also promoting relaxation. This series goes through a warm-up, abs, glutes and back workout, as well as a stretching cool down. The best part? All it takes is #my15minutes!
Our warm-up starts with a posture check and roll down. Start standing at the back of your mat with your feet parallel, knees slightly bent, shoulders relaxed, collar bone wide and ears over top of your shoulders. Engage your pelvic floor while narrowing your waist. Inhale through the ribs, exhale to engage your abs a little bit more.
For the roll down soften your chin and start to roll down to the floor leading with the top of your head. Go down as far as you can reach, inhale to bend your knees about 3 inches so you feel your belly on your thighs. The inhale breath expands your rib cage and intercostals (this should feel great!). Your head and neck are relaxed. Exhale to stretch your knees, bringing your sits bones to the sky and head to the floor. Repeat three times.
Walk the plank:
1) Stabilize your pelvis and walk your hands out away from your feet, taking six steps with your hands to come into a plank position. Draw your shoulder blades away from your ears, pull your belly button up to the sky. Reach your head and your heels as far away from each other as possible, so you body becomes long and strong.
2) Inhale to hold, exhale to hold. Repeat 3 to 10 times, depending on your fitness level. If your lower back starts to hurt, engage your abs more or put your knees down on the ground.
1) Lie flat on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you, and your legs outstretched behind you, slightly turned out.
2) Breathing continuously, pull your navel up off the mat slightly as you inhale, simultaneously lifting your right arm and left leg off the mat.
3) On the exhale, switch your arms and legs, and begin an even rhythm of swimming, alternating arms and legs.
4) Repeat this continuously for 10 to 20 reps, breathing throughout. Keep in mind that your lower back should never hurt. If it does, take a break. A painful lower back means that your abs have stopped working.
5) Finish by pressing back into child’s pose, sitting on your heels to release your back.
1) Start on all fours, and check to make sure that your shoulders are down, your abs are engaged and your spine is neutral.
2) Keeping your right leg parallel to the ground, flex your foot, keep your abs strong, and hinge at the hips to lift the heel up to the sky.
3) Lower and lift your heel 8 to 30 times, depending on your fitness level. Remember to maintain a steady breathing pattern.
4) Alternate legs, and repeat on the opposite side. Do three sets on each side.
5) Finish by pressing back into child’s pose, sitting on your heels to release your back
1) Lie on your back with your knees bent and up in the air, your knees and hips forming 90 degree angles. Place your arms behind your head and keep your spine in a neutral position.
2) Inhale: Draw your chin towards your neck.
3) Exhale: As you reach your arms back down to the floor, lift your head and roll up with your shoulder blades just off the mat.
4) Inhale: Inhale 5 sips of air, expanding only the diaphragm (keep the rhythm with your arms).
5) Exhale: Exhale for 5 sips of air, squeezing the abs even tighter.
6) Repeat 10 times.
7) After your last set, exhale, placing your head back on the floor. Pull both knees in to your chest.
The key themes of your warm down are awareness and relaxation. While sitting on your mat, reach your legs out on the floor so they are fully extended and windshield wiper your feet in and out, rocking your legs in and out. Leave your hands by your side and close your eyes. Inhale deeply into your ribs and belly and exhale all of the air out of your body. Take the time to notice the difference of how you feel now from when you started, and give yourself a mental pat on the back for taking care of number 1.
Thanks for working out with us! We hope these 15 minutes we’ve shared have you feeling great every time you work through these exercises.
How are you staying relaxed and balanced this summer? Tweet us at @mynakedsnacks. We’d love to hear your story.