My latest article for the Stanly News and Press:
So far on the Pilates journey we have been on our backs and on our stomachs to strengthen and stretch the front and back of our bodies. Now it is time to roll on the side to create complete balance in the body through Pilates. Most of the Contrology exercises pull the body’s energy to the center, so I always enjoy this part of the practice because it allows me to open up laterally and strengthen the hips and waist.
Keeping the hips open and strong is a great way to keep sciatica, one of the most common pains I see in my students, at bay. In normal every day life, we sit in chairs, we walk or run forward, or we might even ride a bike by pedaling our feet front to back. There are few times in our day that we move from side to side or even sit on the floor with our legs crossed. This series is a great counter to the regular movement of life.
There are many exercises in the Side Lying Series, so I will offer the first one here to get you started. Find your starting position by lying on your right side with your torso lined up with the back of your mat and your legs extended forward at 45 degrees in front of you. You can place the right arm overhead and allow your head to relax on your arm, bend the elbow and rest the head in the hand or even lift your upper arm off of the floor to strengthen the latissimus dorsi muscle on that right side. You can place the left hand in front of your chest on the floor or, to challenge the core strength, place the left hand behind the head.
During the leg movements, be sure to keep your upper body completely still by engaging your abdominals for stability. Flex both feet and lift the left leg to hip height to begin the leg swings. Keeping the leg parallel to the floor and your foot flexed, bring the leg in front of you and pulse the foot forward while you inhale through the nose. Press the leg back as you point your foot to the back as you exhale through your mouth. Always utilize Pilates breaths by inhaling about fifty percent of your air in through the nose and exhaling one hundred percent of your air out through the mouth. Repeat this five to eight times on this side before rolling onto your left side and repeating the exercise with your right leg.
Performing the Hundred, Roll Up, Swan and Side Lying exercises each day will give you a nice feeling of balance in your entire body for strength, good posture and good health.