Our Pilates Studio, Edinburgh
Going Up Front - a wonderful exercise on the High Chair, will teach you how to lift up even as you go down, use both legs equally and work the whole body. Often when we are expected to repeat an exercise involving the legs on both sides, we can really sense a dominant side. But this exercise will challenge you to really use both legs equally, even when one leg seems to want to take over and discover the asymmetries your body is good at hiding. It's a whole body exercise.
We are really enjoying the new Cadillac and High Chair in the studio, challenging people's stability, control and developing powerhouse and getting them stronger and more confident with every session. And now the new season is in full swing, I am reminded that our 8th anniversary is coming up soon, I would like to thank every one of you for your ongoing commitment and for being there with us every week. Stay tuned for special plans I am cooking up, to mark the occasion.
It's fantastic to see so many runners out there looking after their bodies with our Pilates method for their supple strength, flexibility and injury prevention. Because of the important role they play, feet need to be strong, supple and balanced. But keeping them in tip top condition isn’t easy. Ignoring alignment issues – or failing to fix them through Pilates can eventually lead to weaknesses and injury, whereas working on your feet you can boost your sports performance!
I'm talking about taking a more mindful approach with the presence of our body movements. When we focus on flow, we keep the movement going: doing each movement with purpose. Building up the flow in Pilates keeps the powerhouse connected, and that increases blood flow and circulation into our internal organs making them healthier, stronger and even more vital. Boosting the immune system with Pilates! How does that sound 🥶 ?
It's the real essence of Pilates that can support your fitness goals: the breathing and the focus on real mindful movement and how the breath powers each exercise, this is the secret to allowing your Pilates practice to influence your daily movement and sports activities. And even if this year's goal is regular walking- I really want to make sure you are all feeling the delivery of the essence of Pilates in each and every session.
Are you moving efficiently? If you're not sure, just spend a moment checking the next time you are on your mat. If you find your knees are flopping to the side, fear not! Your anchoring system is here! Mindful placement of the pelvis in relation to the feet, will anchor the body and lead to better placement. And careful placing of the pelvis on the mat, the more the feet are anchored, ensuring that the feet and knees do not flop and your movement is most efficient.
As you may know, it is a great piece of equipment for bringing the powerhouse muscles together and engaging the powerhouse, allowing us to move from this area effectively. Proper use of the magic circle will help the body to engage the deeper layers of the powerhouse muscles, and help lift the internal muscles, organs and abdominals up towards the spine. You will get more bang for your buck when you use the Magic Circle to enhance your workout, and the workshop will show how to use it properly.
Our ability to ward off viruses and diseases relies on the movement of our bodies that involve two muscles specifically targeted by Pilates: 1- the transverse abdominis is called upon in every movement in Pilates and acts as an accessory pump to the lungs for strong healthy breathing and circulation. 2- The calf (and foot) muscles as an essential pump in the vascular and lymphatic system, this pump is only activated when you are using your calf muscles, Pilates movements stimulate it regularly.
- Collarbone & breastbone joints unstable. To stabilise this joint, your body recruits the pectoris muscles, bringing the shoulders forward. - When your shoulders are constantly pulled forward, the muscles in your back lengthen/ weaken & your chest muscles are tight. - Can be caused by sitting with a bad posture or hunched over a computer over extended period Recommended: Chest Openers Exercises on Your Front, e.g. Single & Double-Leg Kick on the Mat Reformer- pulling straps using long box
Muscle tension in the neck is a common complaint. Your neck contains flexible muscles that support the weight of your head, which can be injured and irritated from overuse and postural problems. Humans were designed to be upright, mostly moving. When we sit for long periods of time, muscles that normally hold us upright first weaken, then tighten. When a weak muscle is forced to work beyond its capacity, it will tighten and become subject to stress and strain.
Every session in the studio, every moment on the mat, we are practising to establish alignment through the Mid-Line of the body. This is achieved through your Feet Position, which as we know acts as an anchor system to assist you to lift your powerhouse muscles from the Arches of the Feet Muscles. The Arches connect strongly to the Inner Thigh Muscles that connect with the Lower Abdominals and assist the true length and lift of the powerhouse through the Mid-Line of the Body.
There are 2 types of 'knock knees': one is considered structural, meaning the bones are fixed genetically, and the other is considered 'postural', meaning the bones are being pulled by muscles and can therefore be corrected. Cue Pilates! The strategy for Postural knock knees includes foot work on the reformer.
Sitting stooped over a desk or craning your neck to look at your smart phone can cause muscles like the trapezius (that big muscles that looks like a trapezium at the top of the spine) to feel ‘tight’/ cause problems with posture/ headaches. However often the upper fibres/ levator scapulae muscles in the neck are the real culprit often being too weak which is why they are stiff all the time! If you strengthen them, then often these will automatically get looser. The side plank is great for this.
Projecting the head forward impacts on the neck by increasing the weight pressure, and will cause pain in many areas causing tension and headaches. To improve this, we must focus on exercises to strengthen the back of shoulders. This can be achieved on the mat through the shoulder bridge: a great exercise to keep the spine agile, mobile and ‘open’ from top to bottom. This allows individual vertebrae to mobilise and the muscles and nerves are less likely to get pinched.
In Pilates, in order for the breath to come into the back of the ribcage, we have to create space in the spine and upper back. When we exhale, we close the front of the ribs and the abdominals naturally lift into the back, because it is open, space has been made. If the back is compressed, air will naturally go into the belly. You might hear me say 'open the umbrella of your back'. Perfectly balanced breathing, feeding the powerhouse!
The classical archival Pilates method- the method to get 3 times deeper into your core, and begins with the set up! Straight into the powerhouse through proper setting up of each exercise! This approach is deliberately slower, because we are making sure we get the maximum benefit from the exercise.
Single Leg Circles: * Imagine drawing circles on the ceiling with your Inner Thigh (Seating Bone); * It Articulates and strengthens the leg in the Hip joint, stretch the Iliotibial band (the famous IT Band, the cyclists and runners know a lot about it!); * Great Hip and Upper back Stabilisers; * Lengthens the Mid-Line of the body enhancing the entire body to lengthen, stretch and lifts the powerhouse; *It's just amazing! Enjoy the feeling on your Mat Classes.
Everybody has their own unique breathing pattern and learning how to move with the breath effectively will also make their movements feel deeper in the length and strength. Exhaling fully as we stretch our Spines forwards on the Roll Ups, on the Spine Stretch Forwards and on the Spine Twists. These are movements that extend out Spines longer and lift our Abdominals deeper into the lower back when performed with the correct breathing pattern.
Consider my cueing when you are doing the Hundred: are your rib cage muscles lifted underneath the chest? Are your abs pulled in enough? Are your legs engaged? Every part of your body is recruited into every single exercise. Seems as though Joseph Pilates was the original multi-tasker.
This week we are thinking about straightening up through the midline, starting from the arches of the feet and lifts the inner thigh, then goes through the pelvis and sitting bones all way up through the spine, neck and head. Lifting and strengthening this line lifts the powerhouse and connects with the powerhouse and therefore strengthens it.
At the Pilates Studio Edinburgh we are all about lengthening the whole fascia (the fibrous tissue around the muscles) of the backline of the body; because remember- if there is no length in the spine, there will be no proper engagement of the abs. There can't be. There just isn't space. It is the lengthening of this fascia that will lengthen the spine and create space for the the lower back to open and grow, creating space for the abdominals to lift and strengthen into our back effectively.
The magic circle is a tool to help deepen those Inner Abdominals Muscles so that they provide even more power and improve body's strength and stability. What makes the magic circle especially useful is that – as tension is applied to the circle – the circle, in return, provides increased resistance to the muscles. In other words, the harder you squeeze the circle, the harder it squeezes back.
I am so grateful for the fact that we were able to move seamlessly online within days of the announcement of lockdown, back in March. I am so grateful for zoom- which- love it or loathe it, has meant we can continue with our classes, continue with our commitment at a time when we needed it most! And last but not at all least, I am so very grateful for you all- for being so flexible and willing to go with it, adapt and embrace online teaching. You should be proud too!
A Pilates tower is an exercise apparatus that is designed to bring added challenge to a Pilates reformer workout. I would describe using it as a mat workout with springs! It's great for stability, it helps anchor the body into the mat and you can then stretch and pull up from your anchor. The body feedback will be the opening of the joints and creating space for the muscles to be pulled in effectively. No opening = no engagement.