LIFESTYLE

Pilates Exercises For Beginners To Try At Home, Including Pelvic Tilts And Reverse Hundreds

23/07/2015 15:33 BST | Updated 07/12/2015 10:59 GMT

"If Pilates is done correctly, it can be like DIY physiotherapy," says Sarah Tal from The Pilates Studio.

The exercise, which focuses on improving the body's core strength and posture through a series of conditioning exercises, was developed by Joseph Pilates - who dedicated his entire life to improving physical and mental health.

Pilates exercises are typically designed to improve the strength of your back, abdominal and pelvic muscles, while also increasing flexibility and agility. It can also help you when toning up.

"The stretches can be similar to yoga but the muscle work is not similar to gym work as it focuses on lengthening the muscles and strengthening the joints," adds Tal.

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Health benefits of Pilates include improving posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieving stress and tension.

According to the NHS, Pilates can complement elite athletes' training by developing whole body strength and flexibility, and helping reduce the risk of injury.

"The most effective Pilates exercises are done on a one-to-one basis," Tal tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "If you go to a group class, which is cheaper, it's not as effective as the teacher is then addressing everyone's injuries rather than yours.

"Pilates is also perfect to use as an enhancer to your gym work or any sport. I teach tennis players, golfers, dancers, joggers, actors, singers and dentists. It is ideal for anyone wanting to look after their posture and continue an active physical life."

pilates

Below are seven exercises to help get you started. Try each Pilates exercise 10 times for maximum results.

Disclaimer: Before you undertake any of these exercises please check with a health practitioner or GP that it's suitable. If anything hurts, stop immediately and seek advice.

Pelvic Tilts

"Lie on your back with your feet and knees together, but with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms at your side," says Tal.

"Breathe out. Draw your navel in towards your spine and draw your stomach muscles in.

"Begin to tilt your tail bone up off the floor, slowly peeling your pelvis up and then your lower ribs.

"Keeping the buttocks squeezed, breathe in and slide your arms up and over your head.

"As you breathe out again, slowly roll through your ribs and place the pelvis back down. Then as you inhale, bring the arms back to your sides again."

This exercise works the stomach muscles, buttocks, hamstrings, and gently stretches the spine.

Clams

"Lie on your side with your head on a pillow," says Tal. "Your knees should be bent and your feet need to be in line with your pelvis.

"Squeeze the top buttock - so if you're lying on your left side you would squeeze your right buttock.

"At the same time, push your right heel in towards your left heel and feel your buttock work hard as your right knee flows up towards the ceiling, while continuing to squeeze the buttock hard.

"Repeat on your other side."

This exercise works the buttocks.

Hundreds

"Lie on your back with your feet and knees together, feet flat on the floor and hands underneath your head. Do not arch the back, but do not flatten the back - you should just be in a natural, comfortable position," explains Tal.

"On your breath out, draw your stomach muscles in towards your spine and feel the weight of your head as you slowly lift your shoulders off the floor.

"Breathe in and come back down again.

"This exercise should be done slowly. Pay attention to your back to make sure no discomfort is felt whatsoever."

This exercise works the stomach muscles.

Hamstring Curls

"Lie on your stomach with a cushion underneath your pelvis, so that your lower back does not arch," says Tal.

"Draw the muscles in towards the spine, squeeze the right buttock and slowly curl the right heel up towards the right buttock - paying attention to use only the back of the leg (hamstrings) and not the front of the leg.

"Imagine that you're moving your heel through a sticky substance like treacle, to trigger the hamstring to work."

This exercise works the buttocks and hamstrings which are stabilising muscles when we walk. For women, it helps balance their legs out.

Lat Sliding

"Sit upright on a chair (or stool) with your arms either side of you," explains Tal.

"Imagine a wire is on the top of your head, pulling your head towards the ceiling continuously - don't let your spine concertina down, keep a long spine.

"Feel your shoulder blades in your back and slide them down the back of your ribs, creating what can only be described as a love handle in your back, and then release. But do not pinch the shoulder blades together."

This exercise works the latissimus dorsi which is a muscle for holding us upright and enabling good posture. It is especially useful for those who are desk bound.

Crisscross/Bicycle

"This is an amazing exercise to tone up those obliques and cinch in your waist," says Dawne Likhodedova, director of Be Pilates.

"Lie on your back, hands behind your lifted head with elbows visible in your periphery. Lift your feet so that your knees are bent into your chest.

"Reach your right leg out long at eye level as you twist your upper body and touch your right elbow to your left knee.

"Ensure you're lifting from above your bra line (or gents - use your imagination) and not simply twisting from your neck and shoulders. Take your gaze to your back elbow as you twist to get the most out of this move.

"Repeat on the other side. Complete 10 sets and then rest with your knees in at your chest."

This exercise tones up those obliques and cinches in your waist.

Reverse Hundred

"Start lying on your stomach, arms reaching long behind your body at your sides with palms facing the ceiling," says Likhodedova. "Your legs will be reaching long, flat on the floor, thighs squeezed together and toes pointed.

"Reach your arms towards your toes as you stretch your chest and lift your head and chest off the mat - careful that you are extending from your spine and not just your neck. It helps if you keep your gaze towards the mat just in front of you.

"Inhale as you pulse your arms 10 times to the ceiling (think of pulsing your upper arms, not your wrists!). Keep pulsing 10 more times as you exhale. Work up to completing 100 pulses."

This exercise is a must for those who sit at a desk all day or look at their smartphones too much, as it helps strengthen your back, stretch your chest and counterbalance your text neck.

Pilates Benefits