Spring is always one of my favorite times of the year. There is so much to look forward to. March always signals rebirth to me, the days start to get longer, the temps get warmer, the trees and flowers make their return. April is a month of joy and celebration. My husband’s birthday is April 1st and mine is April 30th, so we celebrate US all month long. AND..every year, one of my favorite Pilates teachers, Benjamin Degenhardt holds his March Matness challenge, which I always look forward to.
Once I again I will be participating in March Matness this year. I think this makes my third year participating. During March Matness, every day across the globe, Pilates fans share their love of Pilates by posting pictures and videos of the traditional Pilates mat exercises created by Joseph Pilates all across social media. Last year, I did a daily blog post about the exercises including benefits and how to execute the exercise.
I encourage you to participate this year as well. You can find the list of exercises on the March Matness website. Use the hashtag for the exercise each day as well as the hashtags #mm16 #marchmatness2016 so we can find each other. I’ll be posting mostly here on my site as well as my Instagram account @ChrisRobertsPilates and Christopher Roberts Wellness on YouTube. Be creative and have fun, I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.
Also, stay tuned and watch my social media because I will be hosting my own “Pilates Every Damn Day” challenge once again in the month of April. More details to come on that.
The Saw is a unique exercise because it combines so many elements of Pilates, such as rotation, spinal articulation, opposition, breathing and flexion.
Benefits of the Saw:
- Targets spinal rotators such as external and internal obliques
- Stretches spine in rotation
- Strengthens abdominals
How to do the Saw:
- Sit tall with the legs about shoulder width
- Sit tall, lifting out of the hips with the arms out into a T
- Inhale and twist the spine to the right and curl forward
- Exhale and reach your pinky finger past your pinky toe
- Pull the waist back as you reach
- Inhale and roll up stacking the spine
The Pilates exercise known as the Corkscrew is another abdominal exercise that challenges stability. The goal is to engage and work the abdominals while maintaing trunk stability.
Benefits of Corkscrew:
- Challenges stability
- Strengthens the Powerhouse including all abdominals
- Stretches and lengthens the legs including the hamstrings
How to do the Corkscrew:
- Lie supine and extend the legs to the ceiling
- Anchor your hands by your side, with the palms down for support
- Reach your legs across your body to the right, keeping the low back and opposite hip down
- Circle the legs away from you and to the other side
- Return the legs to center and reverse.
Open Leg Rocker or Rocker with Open Legs is a challenging exercise that utilizes the deep core muscles to balance and maintain control. Plus it’s just pretty to look at!
Benefits of Open Leg Rocker:
- Improves balance and control
- Engages and strengthens abdominals
- Challenges hip flexors
- Massages spine
- Stretches Hamstrings
How to do the Open Leg Rocker:
- Balance just behind the sit bones and extend the legs into the air, grabbing the ankles
- Maintain a C Curve in the lower back and the legs about shoulder width
- Inhale and roll onto the upper back, being mindful to NOT roll onto the head/neck
- Exhale and really engage the abs to roll back up to balance at the starting position
AND here is Open Leg Rocker in action. I think seeing this in video better explains the exercise then a picture.
Spine Stretch Forward comes at the end of the “Abdominal Series” which allows a nice stretch for the lumbar spine and hamstrings.
Benefits of Spine Stretch Forward:
- Stretches lumbar spine and hamstrings
- Articulates the spine
- Teaches awareness of sitting and lifting out of the hips
- Releases and stretches spinal extensors
How to do Spine Stretch Forward:
- Sit up tall with your legs extended in front of you and about shoulder width.
- Extend the arms out parallel to the floor with the palms facing down
- Inhale to lengthen the spine, sitting up on top of the hips
- Exhale bring your head through your arms, chin to chest and crown of head towards floor
- Round up and curl into your body, reaching towards and over your feet
- Think opposition, by pulling the abdominals and the waist back as you reach forward through the feet and hands
- Inhale and stack the spine vertebrae by vertebrae pulling in your abdominals as you roll up
Double Leg Stretch is the second exercise in what’s called the “Abdominal Five”. This exercise teaches how to work the body in opposition while working the abdominals. This exercise requires you to stabilize both the trunk and pelvis while working the arms and legs in their joints.
Benefits of Double Leg Stretch:
- Strengthens the abdominals
- Stretches and works the hip flexors
- Teaches moving the body in opposittion
How to do Double Leg Stretch:
- Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest
- Curl your head and shoulders off of the mat and bring your chin to your chest
- Reach your hands down and place them outside of the ankles
- Inhale and reach your arms by your ears and your legs out from your center
- Exhale as you sweep your arms around to the side then reach to your ankles as you pull the knees in
One Leg Stretch or Single Leg Stretch is part of what is called the “Abdominal Five” or the “Abdominal Series”. This exercise works deep into the abdominals to promote alignment and stability of both the spine and pelvis.
Benefits of One Leg Stretch:
- Strengthens abdominals
- Maintains spinal and pelvis stability
- Engages and stretches Hip Flexors
How to do the One Leg Stretch:
- Lie on your back and hug the knees into your chest
- Curl up head and shoulders, engaging abdominals for stability of the trunk
- Extend left leg out as low as you can while keeping back into mat
- Place your left hand on your right knee, and your right hand on the right ankle
- Inhale as you pull the knee firmly into your body, as the other leg reaches long into space
- Exhale and change legs, keeping them into the centerline of the body and on the same plane