Thursday, December 3, 2020

Let's talk props!

I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to continue to teach Pilates ONLINE!
One problem we face, however, is the inability for me to be able to share my props with you.
There is no need to go out and buy something if you do not choose to, and often we can use regular stuff that is sitting around the house, a pillow, a towel or even a cloth grocery bag in replace of a ball or resistance band.
But for those that would like to, I promised I would share some Amazon links to find the props we use in a usual class. (using Amazon Smile is a great way to give back while getting the convenience of Amazon).
The two main props we use in class are the small stability ball and the resistance band.

I am going to share a few links for each prop, the brands may be a bit different from what I buy in bulk but they will work still fantastic.
Small Stability Ball
The Overball is the ball we use in class - https://amzn.to/2XuOIcx
The Stott brand ball is fantastic as well, the 7.5 inch is the correct size - https://amzn.to/2xtQT5n
The Nononfish Mini Exercise Ball is also a good choice at a better price and you can pick your color! - https://amzn.to/2yYeBY0

Resistance Band - One note is that Amazon does not sell many options for single resistance bands, they do have many three packs, which is not a bad deal and having different resistance weights is a great way to build endurance.  
Theraband (we use these too) does sell single bands! - https://amzn.to/2wC6NKJ 
They also sell a three pack! - https://amzn.to/2V3WaK6
Gaiam sells a great three pack as well, and is a brand I trust - https://amzn.to/2RCgiRj 
Benificer also makes a nice three pack, I've never used this brand but the reviews look good - https://amzn.to/34zmRt0

Again, please do not feel obligated to buy anything, but if you fancy yourself a ball, band or both while we Stay Home, I hope this is helpful! Please feel free to contact me with any questions! 

Stay Healthy
Stay Positive




STOTT PILATES® Five Basic Principles

Using Contemporary Pilates Principles to Achieve Optimal Fitness
Article by Moira Merrithew, STOTT PILATES® Executive Director, Education

The Introduction of the Five Basic Principles
Principal 1 Breathing
Principal 2 Pelvic Placement
Principal 3 Rib Cage Placement
Principal 4 Scapular Stabilization
Principal 5 Head and Cervical Placement

Five Basic Principles
The aim of contemporary, anatomically-based Pilates training, such as STOTT PILATES,® is to develop optimal neuromuscular performance by focusing on core stability, while safely balancing muscular strength with flexibility. Whether performed on a mat or on specialized equipment, Pilates that incorporates modern theories of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation should
involve the following biomechanical principles: breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement and stabilization, and head and cervical placement.

By introducing these principles and reinforcing them over time, awareness of how the body moves is developed. This mind-body awareness ensures focus on precision and control to realize the full benefits of any exercise program.

Visit each one of the The Five Basic Principles accompanied by simple exercises to help illustrate them.

Principal 1 Breathing
Principal 2 Pelvic Placement
Principal 3 Rib Cage Placement
Principal 4 Scapular Stabilization
Principal 5 Head and Cervical Placement

Article by Moira Merrithew, STOTT PILATES® Executive Director, Education

Monday, October 26, 2020

Monday Motivation!! OMG Stay standing in October SNOW and ICE! Pilates Clam Series ­čŽ¬

 

Pilates Clam Series ­čŽ¬­čĺŚ
It's early in the year for this much snow and ice in Minnesota, but hey, it's 2020 and we're rolling with the punches!
Gaining strength and flexibility in the hip stabilizers will help to keep us standing, walking and safe on icy sidewalks!
 
The hip stabilizer muscles include the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, piriformis and deep core muscles (the transversus abdominis, multifidus, and pelvic floor).
The side lying Pilates Clam Series is one heck of an exercise series to aid in strengthening the gluteus medius, which lays on the outer edge of the buttocks and is responsible for stabilizing your pelvis! So think about when you're trying to stay upright while walking on a slippery surface, besides your core strength helping to maintain balance it's your hip stabilizers that will help to keep your feet from flying out from underneath you!
 
The clam series is said to be one of the best for strengthening the hips, glutes, and pelvis. The pilates clam can also help to prevent injury and ease lower back tension as well aid in physical therapy to help sciatica, reducing pain by strengthening the core and lower back muscles.
 
To set up, make sure your head is comfortably supported with your bottom arm, neck should be in neutral with stacked shoulders. Maintain a neutral ribcage and pelvis, the knees are bent at approximately a right angle with the heels in line with the tailbone.
 
It's important to maintain torso stability (shoulders, ribcage and pelvis) to get the most out of this series. Avoid letting the top hip roll forward or backwards as the legs move, avoid going too fast or straining in the shoulders or neck. REMEMBER TO BREATHE your Pilates breath, use your exhale to aid in your stability. If you're doing it correctly you will feel your core working as well as the legs!
Make sure to do both sides ­čśü­čś╣

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#MondayMotivation­čĺ¬ Pilates Clam Series ­čŽ¬❤ It's early in the year for this much snow and ice in Minnesota, but hey, it's 2020 and we're rolling with the punches ! Gaining strength and flexibility in the hip stabilizers will help to keep us standing, walking and safe on icy sidewalks ! The hip stabilizer muscles include the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, piriformis and deep core muscles (the transversus abdominis, multifidus, and pelvic floor) . The side lying #pilatesclamseries is one heck of an exercise series to aid in strengthening the gluteus medius, which lays on the outer edge of the buttocks and is responsible for stabilizing your pelvis! So think about when you're trying to stay upright while walking on a slippery surface, besides your core strength helping to maintain balance it's your hip stabilizers that will help to keep your feet from flying out from underneath you ! The clam series is said to be one of the best for strengthening the hips, glutes, and pelvis. The pilates clam can also help to prevent injury and ease lower back tension as well aid in physical therapy to help sciatica, reducing pain by strengthening the core and lower back muscles . To set up, make sure your head is comfortably supported with your bottom arm, neck should be in neutral. Maintain a neutral ribcage and pelvis, the knees are bent at approximately a right angle with the heels in line with the tailbone . It's important to maintain torso stability (shoulders, ribcage and pelvis) to get the most out of this series. Avoid letting the top hip roll forward or backwards as the legs move, avoid going too fast or straining in the shoulders or neck. REMEMBER TO BREATHE your Pilates breath, use your exhale to aid in your stability. If you're doing it correctly you will feel your core working as well as the legs ! Make sure to do both sides ­čśü­čś╣ #MondayMotivation #pilatesclam #clamshell #dopilates #dopilatesyoullfeelbetter #dopilatesanywhere Also we're still in the middle of a pandemic so make sure to always #wearyourmask and #sociallydistance in public but if you can #StayHome as much as possible ! #StayHealthy #StayPositive #StaySafe

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Monday Motivation!! The Pilates Magic Circle!

 Two Videos using the incredible Magic Circle!

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#MondayMotivation­čĺ¬ Magic Circle day!!! TWO videos! The Magic Circle is a tool or prop created by #JosephPilates intended to help people practicing #Pilates boost their practice, add resistance and find their deeper centers . Also referred to as the Pilates Circle or Pilates, exercise, or fitness Ring; this tool is made of flexible metal (or more commonly today) rubber, about 13 inches in diameter with pads on either side. The Magic Circle is a traditional, inexpensive, light weight pilates resistance prop that can easily be integrated into mat Pilates at home as well as with Pilates machines such as the Reformer . Using resistance props, utilizing ones own body weight, in your Pilates workout will help to build muscle tone, allows one to target multiple areas of the body, adds to stability, improves balance and enhances many mat Pilates exercises! Another amazing benefit is being able to imitate, to a certain extent, larger resistance equipment that not everyone is able to have at home, the Reformer, Cadillac, or Chair . In my first #MondayMotivation video I incorporate the circle into a common mat exercise, the Hip Roll + leg lift increasing the intensity of the hip roll and demanding stabilization of shoulders, ribcage and pelvis to maintain the straight line of the body during the roll up, leg lift, especially since the ring is flexible, and roll down. In my second video I mimic the Monkey footwork and stretch, a Cadillac exercise, transitioning into the Teaser combined again with the Monkey footwork to increase the demand for balance and sequencing . Enjoy!! #dopilates #dopilatesyoullfeelbetter #dopilatesanywhere #pilatesmagiccircle #pilatesring #pilatescircle #pilateshiprolls #pilatesmonkey #pilatesteaser #StayHome #StayHealthy #StayPositive #StaySafe

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Monday, October 5, 2020

Motivation Monday in THREE PARTS with the Big Ball!!

Many people have a big ball laying around but it may be stuffed in a corner or a closet, it may be thrown off to the side of a desk having been briefly used as a chair, maybe it's covered with discarded clothing. So let's get it out and USE it!
The first video integrates the Pilates Teaser prep with the big ball enhancing focus, coordination, sequencing and balance.

The second video goes over Hip/Pelvic release & mobilization, this is especially important for runners and dedicated athletes, but everyone will benefit from mobilizing!

Ramping it up a bit in the third video, I demonstrate using the big ball, side plank, plank, declined push-up and pike!! Challenge yourself and do not forget to BREATH and use your ALIGNMENT PRINCIPLES!!

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#MondayMotivation­čĺ¬ Part 1 . Here we are still stuck in a pandemic, trying to make the most of it. From my side, finding my own motivation has been tough, when everything feels heavy it takes extra strength just to get going. I KNOW for me, when the going gets tough I HAVE to keep on moving, it is the only way out of the perpetual cycle of sadness and anxiety. I've missed a couple of #MondayMotivation (s) working on myself so that I could give more to others . Thinking about continuing to move even when we are stuck at home can be hard so today I am going to post a 3 part #motivationmonday utilizing the large stability ball in 3 different ways. Many people have a big ball laying around but it may be stuffed in a corner or a closet, it may be thrown off to the side of a desk having been briefly used as a chair, maybe it's covered with discarded clothing. So let's get it out and USE it! My first video today integrates the Pilates Teaser prep with the big ball enhancing focus, coordination, sequencing and balance. The #PilatesTeaser takes the full range of body engagement including breath targeting the transverse abdominis, deep pelvic floor, scapular stabilizers as well as the rectus abdominis and obliques concentrically and eccentrically rolling up and rolling down. So girl (and boys) put your records on and let's get moving- TOGETHER! #tictokmusic And as much as you can continue to keep yourself and others safe and healthy! #StayHome #StayHealthy #StayPositive #StaySafe and please always #wearyourmask­čśĚ in public!! #dopilates #dopilatesyoullfeelbetter #dopilatesanywhere #bigballpilates #pilatesteaserprep #pilatesteaser #bigballteaser

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#MondayMotivation­čĺ¬ Part 2 . Hip/Pelvic release & mobilization!! Tight hips are such a pain! Literally! Practicing release, mobilization and stabilization is incredibly important to restore and maintain flexibility and strength . In this video, using the big ball I run through parallel alignment, medial rotation (turn inward), lateral rotation (turn outward) and stabilization! The advantages of hip/pelvic release are incredible targeting the muscles and tendon of the hip and glutes, including the tensor fascia latae and glutes attaching to the IT band. Athletes, especially runners, benefit greatly from these movements !! #MondayMotivation #dopilates #dopilatesyoullfeelbetter #dopilatesanywhere #pilateshiprelease #bigballpilates #StayHome #StayHealthy #StayPositive #StaySafe

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Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Importance of Using Your Pilates Breath

     The first Pilates principal is BREATHING and I do believe it is the most overlooked Pilates principal by Pilates students.  When I say I want to hear everyone exhale, this is no joke. It sometimes feels like a bribe when I tell my students that they will have stronger cores if they truly use their Pilates breath, however it is not a bribe but the honest to god truth.  This Article Optimal Breathing: Pilates Breathwork By Brian Alger has many great points to help further convince you of the importance of using your Pilates breath with your Pilates exercises. Read On!

Optimal Breathing: Pilates Breathwork
by Brian Alger
http://exploring-life.ca/1181/optimal-breathing-pilates-breathwork/

[Exploring Life] Correct breathing is a primary goal and basic fundamental in the Pilates method. Practicing Pilates exercises while using abnormal breathing patterns can be very detrimental to both the body and mind. Unless a student is capable of breathing correctly under normal conditions, the probability of breathing correctly during exercises is poor. Breathwork is therefore the first component of Pilates training.

Pilates’ Original Principles of Breathing
In Contrology and Your Health [1], Joseph Pilates emphasizes the importance and elements of proper breathing. He viewed correct breathing as an essential element in health and well being. Pilates also viewed breathing as a neglected aspect of exercise, and poor breathing habits as a root cause of poor health of body and mind.
"Lazy breathing converts the lungs, figuratively speaking, into a cemetery for the deposition of diseased, dying, and dead germs as well as supplying an ideal haven for the multiplication of other harmful germs. Therefore, above all, learn how to breathe correctly. (Pilates 1934) 
Pilates emphasized the need for practicing and developing the maximum capacity of the lungs. In other words, the student was taught to breathe to their maximum capacity. Special emphasis is placed on the exhalation:
 "To breathe correctly you must completely exhale and inhale, always trying to squeeze every atom of impure air from your lungs in much the same manner that you would wring every drop of water from a wet cloth… SQUEEZE EVERY ATOM OF AIR FROM YOUR LUNGS UNTIL THEY ARE ALMOST AS FREE OF AIR AS IS A VACUUM" (Pilates 1934)
In educating children Pilates stated that the first lesson is that of correct breathing. (Pilates 1945) He reiterated the basic importance of learning to take a full breath that emphasized a complete exhalation. 
"The lungs cannot be completely deflated at first without considerable effort. With perseverance, however, the desired results can be accomplished and with increasing power, gradually and progressively develop the lungs to their maximum capacity. That will actually cause the chest to balloon and at the same time bring practically every other muscle into play. Thus the child’s posture will then be normal" (natural). 
"With proper breathing and correct posture, the child has no need for artificial exercise."(Pilates 1945) 
Correct breathing is intimately connected with correct posture, since full activation of the breathing muscles also stimulate postural alignment and strength. With correct breathing and posture in place, a child can then simple enjoy the act of playing (walking, running, jumping, tumbling, climbing, etc.) as a natural and normal means of exercise.

Pilates Breathwork 
Timing of the Breath: Throughout the thirty-four mat exercises that form the foundation of Contrology, Pilates precisely coordinated a series of movements with an inhalation or exhalation. Breathing was a focus of conscious control and attention and is required to be accurately timed to specific kinds of movements within an exercise. In this sense, the rhythm of breathing is linked to and inseparable from the specific body movements being made. Thus, the Pilates method integrates the benefits of conscious breathing [2] with postural integrity and body mechanics[3].
In my own training, breathwork usually occupies the first couple minutes of a session and is focused on taking a deep, full breath. However, learning an unfamiliar exercise usually focuses on specific kinds of movements. In the early stages of learning a new exercise, I think it is important to first establish the breath relative to the movements, without being overly concerned, at least in the beginning, with precise body mechanics. The reason for this is simple, if the student gets the breathing rhythm wrong in the beginning, it can be very hard to change later on. 
"Breathwork Principle 1: Establish correct breathing in all exercises is of primary importance. In training students, the first and most important aspect to teach them is how inhalations and exhalations are timed to specific sequences of movements in an exercise. Correctly visualizing and achieving the correct flow of breath is more important that making precise body adjustments in the early stages of learning the exercise. Once breath is under control, then precise body mechanics can be focused on."(Daniel Lyon- Pilates for Men) 
Breathing the Mantra – Pull the Navel to the Spine (pull in the powerhouse): The core abdominal area (a.k.a. the powerhouse) begins at the base of the pelvic floor and moves up to the bottom of the diaphragm. [4] On of the most common mantras in Pilates is the command, “Pull your navel to your spine.” This really means contract the powerhouse or core area of the body, since you need to engage the complete range of muscles within the core. 
This can making breathing feel somewhat awkward since the natural motion of the diaphragm is restricted by the contracted core. Daniel Lyon sorts this issue out nicely for us: 
"Breathwork Principle 2: When drawing your navel to your spine during an exercise, sucking in your stomach in such a way that makes you hold your breath will only weaken your powerhouse… Do not hollow out your midsection. Instead, hold the abdominals in so that the stomach doesn’t expand on the inhale but rather remains firm and hourglass shaped at the waistline… Anything that hinders your breathing, such as sucking in your gut, will consequently slow or stop your movement." (Daniel Lyon- Pilates for Men) [5]
Pilates teaches us to breath while the abdominals are engaged. A common example given is to have someone place downward pressure on your stomach while lying on the floor, and learning to inhale and exhale.
Another exercise is to inhale, hold the breath while moving the core area in and out. This also helps to isolate the feeling of the core muscles acting independently from breathing.

Breathwork and the Core: 
The Pilates method focuses on the development of the core area of the body. The mat exercises require constant control and contraction of the core area. Because of this, it is crucial to learn correct breathing and regularly practice breathwork. It is all to easy to fall into abnormal breathing patterns [6], which in turn have very negative effects on body and mind.

Pilates: Breathing and Breathwork – Key Points
The foundation of Pilates is conscious controlled breathing. 
-Practicing the full (maximum capacity) breath is essential to physical and mental development. 
-The rhythm of inhalations and exhalations throughout the Pilates exercises is where training begins. Once breath is under control, more attention can be given to body mechanics and precision. 
Learning to breath while maintaining a firm core area is a primary skill used in all exercises.
   
Notes
[1] Joseph Pilates published two books, Contrology (1934) and Your Health (1945). Both of these important publications are available in A Pilates’ Primer: The Millennium Edition (1998). For quotations I refer to Pilates 1934 or 1945.
[2] See Breathing: Conscious Breathing.
[3] See Themes: Body – Posture.
[4.] See Posture: The Core Area.
[5.] Lyon, Daniel. Pilates for Men.
[6.] See Breathing: Abnormal Breathing.

by Brian Alger

Find This Article Here - http://exploring-life.ca/1181/optimal-breathing-pilates-breathwork/