In this video, you’ll learn all the spaces in your body, all points of contact with the floor, and the neutral position. These are fundamental to pilates for beginners – they’ll help you understand how to activate your core and spine, control the movement of your shoulder blades, and incorporate proper breathing in all of your movements.
This video is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of pilates. These beginner Pilates movements will enable you to try other more difficult pilates movements in the future. Theresa does a great job of describing exactly how you’re supposed to move by giving examples of different objects and fruits. She also explains how the body parts should relate with one another, as well as how they should move in space to get into correct positions.
The following is her explanation of all the movements in the video:
Good afternoon, my name is Theresa and this is Moody, my assistant today. We’ll be displaying a few “Pilates for beginners” techniques that you can do at your home. I’m going to ask Moody to lay down on the mat with his feet at half distance apart. OK. All right. Coming right onto your back with your feet. At hip distance apart, you want to track the knees, right over top of the heels. All right.
[00:00:37] And so I just want you to come onto your back like this and feel the points of contact between your body and the mat. Just getting to know all the spaces, the heavy points of contact, maybe the glutes and shoulder blades, the feet. So now we’re going to get the body into a neutral position. We talk a lot about a neutral position in Pilates for beginners, so we’re going to start by raising the arms up toward the ceiling, taking the palms to face each other.
[00:01:09] All right, so you could feel this shoulder blades on the mat. I’m going to ask you to inhale and reach the fingertips up toward the ceiling, so the shoulder blades come off the mat, the head remains on the mat. And then exhale and allow the shoulders to drop down into the mat. Inhale, reaching the arms up and exhale dropping them down.
[00:01:32] So this is bringing the shoulder blades off the mat and then it’s drawing them down into the mat, pressing them into the mat, just a couple more of these inhaling and exhaling, you want to integrate the breath into the movement. One last time. Perfect. And now find the medium of those two extremes. Just feeling that in your body. Good. So now bring the arms back down to the sides of the body, palms facing the hips. Perfect.
[00:02:02] So now we’re going to take the nose and trace it along the ceiling, drawing your chin back behind you. And then doing the opposite, bringing the chin down to where the throat is. Just tracing the nose on the ceiling, bringing the chin all the way back and bringing it all the way down toward the chest. Perfect. Just one last time.
[00:02:28] Excellent. And so now bringing the head and chin in a neutral position. In a neutral position, there is a slight curve in the back of the neck. It shouldn’t be all the way back or all the way forward. It’s a natural curve. You want to imagine a grapefruit between the chin and the throat here. And that’s a nice position for the neck.
[00:02:49] So now we’re going to come into the hip alignment. The pelvis. You want to imagine two handles on your hips like a rolling pin. And what we’re going to do is called pelvic tilting. This is a fundamental movement in Pilates for beginners that we use to bring the spine into a neutral position. As you exhale, I want you to leave your hips heavy to the mat and tilt the tailbone towards your head or toward the ceiling.
[00:03:18] So this allows the arch in the low back to meet the mat of the inhale, taking the tailbone forward to where the heel is, arch in the low back rises up. Exhale. Tilts in the tailbone toward the head and then inhale releasing it. Beautiful. The head remains in the neutral position. Shoulder blades remain in neutral. And now we’re bringing a breath into this pelvic tilt.
[00:03:43] This is called flexion and extension of the spine. Flexion of the spine is when the back is rounded, when the arch in the low back is curved. Extension of the spine is when the arch in the lower back is pretty dominant. As we’re bringing yourself into this movement, you want to exhale to draw that back in a rounded position. And then inhaling to release it.
[00:04:14] As you’re doing this position, we want to think about the muscles between the belly button and the pelvis. If you were to place your hands in a triangle just below the belly button, you want to be able to feel the muscles activate in between that triangle. And sometimes you might not feel it. You just want to think about it.
[00:04:37] We’re not only thinking about the muscles between the belly button and the pelvis, but also right up to the rib cage. You want to think about all this is zipping the abdominal muscles up from the pelvic floor right up to the center of the ribs. Then you’re continuing this movement, just imagining the tailbone like a heavy marble rolling back and forth along the mat, continuing this movement.
[00:05:08] We’re going to now find the medium of the two extremes just feeling that in your body feeling the hips heavy, tailbone heavy. Beautiful. So now the back is in a neutral position. There’s a natural curve in the lumber spine which is about the size of a marble. His shoulder blades are square and there’s a natural position in the neck, chin. And our arms are to the side. Great. We’re going to now bring this movement up into a “Pilates for beginners” bridge.
[00:05:39] So as you exhale, tilt the tailbone up toward the ceiling. He starts to engage the muscles of the abdomen and peel up, taking an inhale to prepare. He’s going to exhale and start to scoop, hollow, and peel down as he activates through the abdominals. Inhale, releasing it as he comes down. Lovely. Exhale, scoop, hollow, peel, and lengthen up.
[00:06:04] So this position is easy to start engaging your glutes. But that’s not the point of this particular movement. I want you to focus on your abdominals and the waving of this spine coming up and down. We want to get to know the alignment of our own spine. Each spine is different. I have scoliosis for instance, and I can feel the curvature of my spine. He does not have scoliosis. He can probably feel that the spine is in a nice column all the way down.
[00:06:42] As he’s doing this movement, this is going to actually help release tension from the back and the hips. I want you to engage the abdominals as you’re coming up. And as you’re coming down and also imagining that there’s a ball or a block in between the inner thighs. There’s a little bit of tension between the inner thighs. The glutes remain relaxed. They might engage a little bit, but the point is to engage through the abdomen. We want to breathe deeply into the abdomen. In Pilates for beginners, we inhale, and we think about the ribs expanding to each side of you. And as you exhale, the ribs come closer together. And it’s in that exhale that we can activate the abdominals like really deep into those tissues. Continuing this just a couple of more times here. And you also want to ground through your feet.
[00:07:41] We’re going to hold this bridge. So just locking in the abdominal front rib to back rib, navel to spine, and zipping up from the pelvic floor. Now we’re going to activate the glutes. This is different from a peel. This time you’re going to imagine that you have an anchor on your glutes and on your hips. You’re going to draw your hips down on the inhale, keeping the abdominals active. And on the exhale, it’s going to press into the mat and hinge the hips up.
[00:08:09] Inhale, pulling the hips down. And exhale, pressing them up, drawing navel to spine, front rib to back rib. Beautiful. Inhale, pulling them down. Inhaling through the nose. Exhaling through the mouth. Reaching up, activating abdominals and then glutes. Now come down to about halfway down. And I want you to keep the abdominals active here. And it’s like you want to come down all the way where you’re not letting yourself. And this is what we do in Pilates for beginners. It’s a lot of resistance here, using no weights or machines.
[00:08:51] This time you’re just going to take your right hip down a little bit and then drop back up, inhaling and exhaling, pressing it up, and engaging through the abdominals. That’s it. Inhale, lowering that right hip. Exhale and lift it. And we try not to move this left leg at all.
[00:09:09] What he’s doing now is isolating through the left glute. Do you feel this in your left glute or the right one? “On my left” Perfect. Yes, we’re isolating through the left glute here. The left leg stays nice and stable and we’re just bringing these tiny movements into the body that have really big impact. Our glutes are the biggest muscle group of the body. And this is a really great way to increase that strength in the glutes. Now take it to the left one. So just draw in the left glute down now and back up.
[00:09:50] Just switching the brain to the left side now and backup just continuing. And it’s like you’re dipping your hip into paint and shooting it through the knee. I want him to feel that activate through the femur. The femur is the big bone of the thigh. And he’s lengthening through that leg and it’s like he’s shooting paint through the knee and you keep very solid through the feet, through the abdomen, the ribs are happy. Front rib to back rib on the exhale, navel to spine.
[00:10:24] And still visualizing that grapefruit between the chin and the throat. Just one last time on this side, you try to make it even on both sides. I think we’ve done a little bit more on the left side. Just leaving yourself up on your bridge now. Release any tension from your back, from your glutes and peel your spine down. Peel each vertebra down and now you can take your knees in towards your chest.
[00:10:54] And this is how we can release any tension from the glutes to the low back. You can rock from side to side or you can keep yourself here. This is just a very small exercise that we will work through today. And thank you for joining our Pilates for Beginners program!