6 Pilates exercises to fight off stress in self-isolation
With much of the nation now in self-isolation, many of us are missing our regular fitness regimes, not only for its physical health benefits, but also to fight off the inevitable high levels of anxiety and stress many of us are feeling at this precarious moment in time.
At Exhale Pilates it is our mission to keep everyone’s morale high, lungs healthy, and to help individuals stay as motivated and mobile as possible through these tough times.
Try these 6 great Pilates moves at home to help get your body moving and breathing back-in-check. All you need is a mat!
1. THE 100
This is a great exercise to boost circulation around your body if you’re stuck at home, as it is a breathing exercise. It will work your lungs whilst pumping the body full of fresh oxygen. It’s really important to keep your organs and muscles healthy and strong at this time. This exercise, in particular, wakes the brain up, as it challenges coordination and those deep abdominals which support your posture.
- Lie on your back with knees into your chest and arms stretched long by your side.
- Inhale deeply as you feel your navel sinking into your spine, tailbone firmly planted on the floor.
- Lift your head to look at your navel, extend the legs to 45 degrees, keeping your heels together.
- Start pumping your arms up and down, inhaling for 5 counts and exhaling for 5 counts.
- Do this 50 times and then extend the legs to 90 degrees (only if your back doesn’t lift) for the remainder of the 50 pumps.
- Finish by bending your knees into the chest, and gently lowering the head to rest.
2. ROLL UP
This exercise is all about spinal articulation. If you’ve been sitting down for long periods of time at home, it is great to stretch the lower back and the back of the legs with this one. You can do this exercise lying down either in bed or with your feet hooked under the sofa, or door, to give yourself more control and stability.
- Lie on your back and stretch your arms over your head.
- Sink your navel into your spine whilst connecting your inner thighs and heels together.
- Lift arms up to the ceiling – engaging your abdominals – and raise your head and begin to inhale as you lift off the floor with resistance, while imprinting the spine on the way up.
- Exhale as you reach forward, keeping your navel pulled back into your spine.
- Inhale and begin to roll down with resistance and slowly exhale as you articulate the spine back into the mat keeping the inner thighs, buttocks and abdominals connected, whilst reaching the arms forward.
- Lower your head and take your arms back to the start position.
Great to release tightness in the back of the legs and work on strengthening your core. It also helps to stretch out the lower back.
- Lift your head and shoulders off the mat, bringing your knees into your chest.
- Extend the right leg to the ceiling and hold with both hands on the calf (or ankle if you can) as you stretch the other leg on the mat.
- Anchor your spine to the floor and pull the raised leg towards you with a double pulse as you scoop.
- Scissor the legs keeping them straight and repeat on the left leg.
- Repeat this movement 5-10 times.
4. ROLLING LIKE A BALL
This exercise is great to massage the spine and is also fun to do. It works on balance, control and finds those deep abdominals when you do it right. This is also a great exercise too to do with your kids.
- Sit with your knees bent to your chest, with knees slightly apart and heels together.
- Lift your feet off the ground while lightly holding your ankles and balance on your buttocks – feet should be close to your buttocks, powerhouse scooped, and elbows wide.
- Inhale, pressing the navel to spine to initiate the rolling back.
- Exhale to return to start position maintaining a ball position.
- Repeat this movement 6 times and hold the last one for good balance.
This exercise truly rinses out the last stale atoms of air from your lungs (if done properly!), which is great for keeping the lungs healthy and strong. This one is perfect for fuelling the lungs with fresh oxygen, whilst rotating the spine to stretch it out. The saw also stretches the shoulders and legs on each rotation.
- Sit up tall with your legs slightly wider than hip-width. Extend arms out to the side and flex feet back towards you, working the back of legs.
- Inhale as you draw your abdominals in and lift up tall through your spine.
- Exhale slowly as you twist your waist to the right with your hips, remaining anchored and square.
- Scoop and stretch your body over your leg.
- Reach the right arm back behind you as your left arm reaches across your right leg. The little finger should pass the little toe of the right foot.
- Inhale and draw your body up, making sure the navel is drawing back into your spine to initiate the movement.
This exercise is great to release tension in the chest that can be built up from feeling anxious and overwhelmed. By opening up your chest not only are you allowing the lungs to work properly by fuelling your body with larger amounts of oxygen, but you are also stretching out the hips in this exercise which works on opening the front of the body and keeping your internal organs happy and healthy.
- Lie on your stomach with your hands placed on the floor under your shoulders – elbows close to your body. Ideally keep your legs together.
- Inhale as you draw your navel to your spine and lift your head and chest off the floor.
- Exhale as you continue the back stretch and straighten your arms. Keep lifting your chest and keep your neck long.
- Exhale as you lower the body down to the floor, back to the start position.
- Repeat this movement 3 times.
Exhale Pilates London is an award-winning Classical Pilates studio founded by Gaby Noble and has now launched online private and group classes. To find out more info and times, visit the studio’s Instagram.