by Heather Burgoyne, Owner, Soar Pilates
Probably one of the most common Pilates sequences is the Series of Five. These core exercises not only give you a rocking six pack, but also build stability in the lower back and pelvis and help build coordination with mind and body movements.
At home aim for 8 to 10 reps each, building from there.
Remember to breathe (I typically cue exhale on contraction, inhale on extension). If you find tension in your neck, omit chest lift/ab curl and keep upper body flat on the mat, using your arms to ground and stabilize the torso (bonus here you should feel your mid back and triceps firing into the floor).
Single leg stretch — Curl head, neck and shoulders off the ground, drawing one knee into your chest placing both hands on shin. Extend opposite leg straight, maintaining both legs at eye level and begin to alternate leg while keeping the upper body lifted and stable.
Double leg stretch — Curl head, neck and shoulders off the ground and draw knees into chest placing hands on shins or ankles. Reach arms overhead (aim for biceps by ears) and extend both legs straight while maintaining the low back position feeling an overwhelming sense of stretch through the top side of the body. Recoil everything back into center and repeat.
Single straight leg stretch — Curl head, neck and shoulders off the ground and draw one leg straight up toward the sky, and bring both hands around calf or hamstring depending on reach and flexibility. Opposite leg extends straight out. Pulse top leg in toward chest two times and then switch other side.
Double straight leg stretch — Curl head, neck and shoulders off the ground, drawing legs straight up toward the sky (think toes over pubic bone/hips), and bring both hands behind head for support. Move both legs toward the floor only as far as you can keep the ribs drawn in and low back stable and supported.
Crisscross — Curl head, neck and shoulders off the ground and bring hands behind the head. Bend one knee into chest while the opposite leg extends. Rotate the torso toward the bent knee and hold for a 3 count. Switch the legs and rotate to the other side; hold. Continue slowly to maintain form and build your pace.