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Pilates for Beginners – How to Engage your Core

Engage your Core!

Good evening and welcome to another episode of Pilates for Beginners. My name is Theresa and we have Moody here assisting me today and we will be displaying a couple of abdominal exercises that you can do at home, in a studio, in a gym. You will learn how to engage your core in this one. So we’ll be starting on the mat so we’ll be taking your head down on the mat, coming onto your back with your feet at hip-distance apart. OK.

Now that we’re on the mat, we want to make sure that we are in a neutral position. Our hips are heavy, tailbone is heavy and the spine is in neutral. There’s a nice natural curve of the low back. The shoulder blades are square and the back of the ribs are nice and heavy. Feet are at hip-distance apart, so sacrum nice and heavy. We’re going to exhale and bring your right leg up to tabletop position. Beautiful. So femur is dropping heavy into the hip here.

We’re going to exhale and bring your left leg up to 90 degrees. Lovely. I want you to squeeze the legs together, just like you have a piece of paper in between now. Inhale bring them away to each other. Exhale drawing them together. Inhale, bring them away from each other. And exhale drawing them together. Just a couple more times heavy through the sacrum, front rib to back rib, navel to spine as you’re exhaling. One last time.

So taking the legs at hip-distance apart. I want you to imagine that you have maybe a wall or a block in between the inner thighs, so just bringing them to hip-distance apart. Just a little bit away from each other, Lovely. So now you’re going to drop the right toe down in front of you onto the mat. Inhale and then exhale. Pull it up like it’s very heavy and start to activate through the abdominals, engage you core, lovely.

Beautiful job with engaging the core. Inhale. Dropping the left toe down now, so you’re going to alternate left toe. Exhale bring front rib to back rib, navel to spine, beautiful. So you’re just going to alternate one. And the other, right. You start to notice with your exhaled breath that the front of the shirt and the side of the shirt start to crinkle.

And this is a good thing because this tells you that you are activating you core. As you exhale, I want you to imagine drawing the pelvis up to where the center of the ribs and on the inhale, it slightly drops down. So we’re just going to do one last one. Inhale to lower and exhale to lift. Squeeze your legs together here and then pull them away from each other one last time.

Take one, leg down, take the other and relax the body for a second. OK, so next one we’re going to be taking the right leg up to table top and then left leg comes up again, activating through the low section of the abs between bellybutton and pelvis, drawn from front rib to back rib, shoulder blades. Back of the ribs heavy. Squeeze your legs together. Take your hands behind your head. Elbows nice and wide. And as you exhale you’re going to lift your shoulders off of the mat. And inhale, hold your head back down onto the mat. Exhale, bringing it up.

Breathing is Important Too!

Beautiful. And inhale to lower. You want to make sure that your lumbar spine is still in a nice neutral position. So you’re not imprinting the arch in your lower back. Your hips are heavy, your tailbone is heavy, and you think about lifting your sternum. Your sternum is where you would have a necklace jewel and you think about lifting it up toward the ceiling. And I can see that Moody’s abs are starting to shake.

So he’s getting deep into the core here. Now, as you’re pulling your head down, I want you to try to hinge your toes forward a bit. And so hand down, toes forward. And then exhale, bring everything up together. And this is a very small movement, but it’s a very powerful. Inhale. Exhale. That’s it. Beautiful job. Inhale to lower. Exhale to lift. You want to make this movement tiny. You do not need to touch the floor with your toes. I want this to be a tiny, tiny movement.

Elbows nice and wide. You just want to see the tips of them. One last time inhale. Exhale, lift you’re going to hold this here, but don’t hold your breath. Reach your legs up toward the ceiling, squeezing the legs together, reaching up to an excellent squeezing together. Bring your head back up. Squeezing your inner thighs together. Then you’re going to pull them away from each other again with resistance. Bring your right leg up. Now you’re beginning to understand how to engage your core!

You’re going to grab ahold of that right calf with your hands and lift up. Left leg is extended slowly. Catch the other leg. I want to be slow with no momentum and extend the right leg, inhaling. EXHALING So you’re holding your breath a bit, inhale. Exhale, switch it. Beautiful reach that leg up to where the ceiling is. You want to target the midsection of the abdominals, inhaling and exhaling. Beautiful job. This is nice [laughter].

Now that You’ve Learned how to Engage your Core

This is classical Theresa, sipping on my tea while watching my clients work out. Just a couple more inhaling, exhaling one last time. OK, now to top it all off. Bring your legs up toward the ceiling, squeeze them together, hands behind your head. Hold that there, now you’re  going to start to peel the lower back, the low spine off of the mat. Yes, you are. Lower the legs lines down [laughter] I think we’re done for today. Welcome to Pilates and Theresa. How do you feel? We hope you have a better idea now of how to engage your core!

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