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Easy, At-home Pilates Moves
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by Brook Siler
As you sit in commuter traffic:
-Raise your car's seat back to a 90-degree angle to ensure your straight spine.
-Use your grip on the wheel to help lift your upper back out of your waist, instead of lifting your shoulders up around your ears.
-Imagine you are in a posture class at charm school with books balanced on your head.
The Sitting Challenge
The red-light reshaper: As you sit at yet another red light, pull your powerhouse in and up, engage all the muscles of your buttocks, and then push down gently on the steering wheel, as if you were going to lift yourself off your seat. Hold for a count of 5 and then release. Repeat until the light changes.
As you carry your shoulder bag around town:
-Try to balance your shoulders out by pressing the nonenganged shoulder down and back.
-Stay lifted in your waistline to allow the shoulders to relax and even out.
-Imagine a yolk across your shoulders, keeping them pressed down and evenly balanced, allowing the muscles that run along the side of the neck to the shoulder to stretch.
The Bag Carrying Challenge
Shoulder-bag shoulder circles: While circling one shoulder, keep the other shoulder blade pulling back and down. Be sure to fuel this motion from your shoulder blades and emphasize the downward motion of the circle. Don't hunch your shoulders up around your ears.
As you carry your kids:
-Switch sides often to avoid overdeveloping and shortening the muscles of one side only.
-Try to keep the child slightly toward the front of your body when carried on your hip to allow the shoulder girdle to remain straight (so your spine is not constantly twisted toward the baby).
-Imagine having your back pressed against a rucksack and keep the back of your hips and shoulders pressed evenly to it.
The Kid Carrying Challenge
The toddler twist: Standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your knees bent in a semi-squat, hold your darling to the front of your body. Twist side to side, staying lifted in your waist to work your oblique muscles. Make sure to keep your knees soft and anchor your feet to the floor. Do not allow your knees to move as you twist.
As you lift your kids up to the jungle gym:
-Squat to your child's height before you begin the lift.
-Shift the balance of your weight to your heels and initiate the movement by pushing the ground away.
-Imagine you are sitting onto a heavily coiled sprint as you squat to pick up your child. Use the energy of the spring to lightly bounce back up to standing.
The Lifting Challenge
The stooping-to-conquer squat: Say, for example, when you get home you put your groceries on the floor, rather than on a counter before unpacking them. How can you make the putting-away process a workout? Squats, of course! Keeping your body in one line, bend your knees to squat down to pick up one or two items. Make sure your powerhouse is engaged and your weight is firmly in your heels. Then, on an exhalation, push the ground away as you lift up, engaging the muscles of your legs as well as your bottom.
Your New Baby and You
Let's face it, as much as you'd like to, you can't spend all day sitting on the sofa admiring your baby. Sometimes you need to get out and about, so put him or her in your stroller and hit the road! As a mom, I am now acutely aware of the terrible posture I see in today's stroller pushers. As you walk or run with your stroller, think about your Pilates principles and how you put them into effect on the treadmill. Don't lean into or over the stroller handles. Use the resistance of the stroller to help you lift your chest. Lengthen your waist and push the ground away from you to engage your powerhouse muscles. Gripping the handles too tightly forces too much energy into your arms and shoulder, so try a light grip or even an open-handed push when in a safe, nontrafficked area.