We’re rolling into the holidays, enjoying all the magic and wonder. For many of us, holidays also mean travel away from our homes and routines. That can sometimes mean more food, more sitting, and overall less movement. It’s hard to find a new studio or a class wherever you might be heading, and, like we will be, they may be taking some time off for the holidays!
HOLIDAY GROUP CLASS SCHEDULE
Group classes will be cancelled December 24th-28th.
Join Julia for the last Pilates Springboard class of the year! 9am on Saturday, Dec 29th.
We will be closed on December 30th, 31st and January 1st.
The good news is that Pilates can go with you anywhere. You just need a little space and time. You don’t even need a mat, a towel, carpet, or plush rug will do.
Often clients ask us for a routine they can do while on vacation, and my advice is always: keep it short, simple, and stick to the basics. Spend a little time to keep your muscles and joints feeling good, and then: get off your makeshift mat and enjoy your time away. Balance includes taking breaks!
This month, we’re breaking down a few basic exercises that work well while traveling.
Getting Started – Find your Breath
To begin, lay on your back with your arms by your sides and palms equally pressed into the ground. Your heels heavy with a gentle press of your skull on the ground (it releases tension in your neck and jaw). Feel your entire body relaxing and releasing any stress. Then, find your breath. A few inhales and exhales to calm your nervous system, to connect inward, and find your center.
Top 8 For On-the-Go Travel
1 Pelvic Clock – This exercise helps rebalance the pelvis; which can get sticky if you’ve been moving too much or too little. From the starting position above, put your hands on your hips for enhanced body awareness. Feel your sacrum (bony part of the base of the spine) heavy on the ground. Then, start to move your pelvis back and forth – think of 12 to 6 on a clock. It feels like a rock back and forth as your lower lumbar first imprints into the mat and then moves into a neutral spine. Do this same sequence side to side then. Think 3 and 9 on the clock. Hips move side to side like a seesaw. After you’ve moved up and down and side to side, move your hips in a circular motion around the entire clock. Focus on your abdominals initiating the rocking movement. Repetitions: 4-6 times moving back and forth, side to side and in circles (both directions).
2 Marching – A simple one, that helps strengthen the intrinsic core, creating support for our lower back. Start in the same position as above, laying on your back in your neutral pelvis with knees bent and feet on the mat, hip socket distance apart. Anchor the left foot on the mat, take an inhale and on the exhale lift the right leg to table top, keeping the knee bent. Hit pause to make sure you maintained your neutral pelvis! Control the foot as you place it back on the mat as you inhale. Then lift the left leg. Repetitions: 5-10 times lifting each leg. Speed up the tempo – with control – to add a bit more challenge.
3 Bridges – A classic that feels so good on the spine! It creates improved spinal mobility and activates our gluts (which may need some activation if you’ve been sitting on them!). Feet should be heavy on the ground, hip socket distance apart, with even weight across the balls of feet and the heels. Press hands into the mat, with emphasis on the pinky finger (this fires the Latissimus Dorsi). Then, press into the feet as you lift your hips. Pro-tip: Use your lower abdominal muscles engaged (the same ones you worked with your pelvic clock) for the whole bridge, and your glutes should naturally fire as you press up! Notice the energy between your knees keeping them in line. Tuck your hips upward even more in this position to create more stretch of the lower lumbar. Then, guide the top of the spine to the ground, keeping the hips lifted as long as possible. Repetitions: 5-10 times. Bonus: if you’re feeling strong, hold at the top of your bridge and add in marching (just like the previous exercise).
4 Upper Abdominal Curls – We’re still starting in that “home” position, laying on our backs with knees bent. Next, interlace hands behind your head. Find your head heavy in that hammock. Before you lift, feel your ribs pulling down to your hips. As the ribs pull down, fold your chin to your chest and then begin to lift. When you move from the rib to hip activation your abs fire correctly so the neck doesn’t carry the load. Repetitions: 4-8 times. Keep the curl and add in a few micro-curls at the top to create a bit more fire.
5 Thread the Needle (All Fours) – Thoracic rotation is important when we’re on the go. Our ribs and spine need that intentional twisting. You’ll need to move onto all fours. Place wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath hips. Soften shoulders and gently lift your belly button to the spine. Your spine is in neutral. Press into your left hand as you reach your right hand to the sky. Opening your chest to the right. Press into the left hand a little more to increase the rotation. Then, start to thread the needle. Move the right hand under the chest, gliding it to the floor. Pressing into the left hand with elbow still bent to reach that right arm even further, creating more rotation and release. Repeat on the other side as well. Repetitions: 3-6 times on each side. Try moving through this with fluid moves at first and then holding for a deep stretch.
6 Plank – This one will challenge the whole body. In an all fours position, activate your core, steady your hips as you reach your right foot behind you, toes on the ground. Then, with steady control move the left leg to meet the right. Find the shoulders drawing down. Keep eyes on the ground, chin slightly drawing down with the head lifting up (our heads with naturally jut to the ground so try to keep the head on an even plane with back). Repetitions: 3-5 times holding each one for 5-10 seconds. Increase hold times each time. Add a child pose in between for little breaks. You can also do this one on your knees to take tension out of your lower back, or on your forearms if you need to protect your wrists.
7 Mini-Swan – Lay on your belly prone with forearms and elbows on the mat. Palms will be more level with your face than shoulders. Feet width can be wide if you’re protecting your lower back or narrow if your low back’s feeling happy and healthy. Pull your shoulders down your back, then slowly press into your forearms to lift into extension. Feel how the spine pulls away from your hips to create more space. Focus less on your head and try to feel the spine lengthening and your heart shining like a carebear stare (sorry, 80’s reference). Rise up only as far as the forearms, rather than straightening the elbows. Repetition: 3-5 times. Can hold for a few seconds at the top. Move into child’s pose after your last repetition.
8 Mermaid – We love giving the side-body a stretch as well. Sit up tall with both legs folded to the right side. Knees are bent with one leg in front of you and one directly to your side. Place your left hand on the ground to help you sit up a bit taller. Reach your right hand up to the sky drawing your shoulder down feeling that length on the right side. Keep your right sits bone grounded as your reach the right arm up and over, creating an arch. Press into the left hand while you stretch the side-body even more keeping that right hip anchoring to the earth. Reach the right hand as far as you can keeping integrity in the shoulder drawing away from the ear. Repetition: 2-4 times on each side.
Winding Down – End How You Began
Time and energy permitting, it’s nice to close out your work. Lay on your back again, soften your eyes, let your body sink into the ground below. Tap into that breath again. Deep inhales and exhales. Thank your body – and yourself – for taking the time to move. Take 4-6 breaths – or more – whatever your body needs to close out the movement before jumping to the next thing.
A Little Movement is Better than Nothing
Feeling overwhelmed with all of that? We feel ya. Try committing to doing just one exercise and see where it takes you. Some is always better than none, and the small, intentional movements add up! You may even surprise yourself to do one more move while you’re at it.
When time is short, stick to the fundamentals executed well. Quality over quantity will keep your body feeling it’s best during this busy and joyous time while out of our everyday habitat.
Happy Holidays! We’re excited to work with you all as we embrace a new year. See you in 2019.