Below are some basic Pilates exercises for beginners. Drag your mouse to view the movement, and follow the instructions below for description of proper form.

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The Hundred

The Hundred

  1. Lying on your back, pull your knees into your chest and extend them perpendicular to the floor (not pictured).
  2. Pressing your mid and lower back into the mat, lift your head and shoulders and look toward your belly.
  3. Keeping your legs straight, lower them to the "point of control", which is where your lower back remains pressed to the mat. (If your back is lifting, keep your legs perpendicular.)
  4. Extend your arms long by your sides, reaching fingertips forward, and palms facing the floor.
  5. "Begin pumping your arms straight up and down, as if you were slapping water."
  6. Inhale for five counts, and exhale for five counts maintaining the position, for one hundred counts. (2,3)

The Roll-Up

Roll-Up

  1. Stretch out fully on the mat, with legs pressed together, bottom contracted, and arms straight over your head, palms to the ceiling. (Position not pictured)
  2. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, bring your arms up, over your chest pulling your abdominal muscles in towards your spine, and rolling up into a seated position with arms reaching forward.
  3. Repeat sequence. (2,3)

 

Single Leg Stretch

Leg Stretch

  1. Start in a seated position with knees bent, and feet together. Grasp your right leg at the inner knee and outside ankle, and roll down on to the mat, continuing to hold the bent leg.
  2. Extend the opposite leg paralell to the mat, approximately 2-3 inches above the mat. (If lower back is lifting, raise the extended leg.)
  3. Head and upper shoulders are lifted with your gaze toward your belly to protect your neck.
  4. Keeping your abnominal muscles contracted, inhale pulling your right knee in towards your chest, as you exhale switch legs, maintaining a still upper body. Repeat for five to ten sets.(2,3)

The Saw

The Saw

  1. Begin in a seated position with back straight and legs extended, and opened slightly wider than your hips. Flex your toes toward your shins.
  2. Stretch your arms out to your sides, palms facing the floor and shoulders pulled down, away from your ears. (Imagine you have a wall or steel pole directly behind you, to avoid rounding your spine.)
  3. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale pull your navel into your spine, turn your torso, extending the little finger of your right hand toward the little toe on your left foot. (Make sure both hips and legs remain pressed down on the mat.)
  4. Inhale and return to starting position. Exhale and repeat keeping the back arm extended as you reach forward.
  5. Alternate sides for four to six sets. (2,3)