Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Finding Balance: Part 1

The Pilates method has taught me so much not only on the Reformer or mat, but in my personal life as well. One of the most important lessons that I have learned from delving into Pilates is the importance of balance. In my Pilates equipment class at Applachian State, I remember learning what is now one of my favorite exercises on the Reformer- Side Splits (found in both the Intermediate and Advanced Classical Pilates Repertoire). When instructed to stand on top of the Reformer to do this exercise, at the time I thought what if I fall and loose my balance? A topic for another day, but fear is often our own worst enemy. 

More about Side Splits- Side Splits are down towards the end of a Reformer workout. Use 1-2 Springs (2 when learning the exercise. This is a great place to use a 1/2 spring if your Reformer has this option). A platform and/or sticky pad are great options to use with this exercise. Come to standing carefully on the Reformer, making sure to always first place one foot on the frame before heel toeing the opposite foot towards the shoulder pad. Make sure that both feet are in line with one another. Find your balance before you begin the exercise. Be careful not to get too carried away when you pressing the carriage out- the challenge in this exercise comes when you squeeze the inner thighs and lift up out of the torso (activating the Powerhouse) to bring the carriage back in. When you bring the carriage in, hold for 3 counts before beginning the next rep. Personally, I like to do 3 reps on each side. To switch sides, always bring the foot on the carriage towards the foot on the frame (heel toe again) before stepping back on the Reformer to switch sides. 

How do you find balance in Pilates? By using your powerhouse! The muscle group Joseph Pilates referred to as the "Powerhouse"or commonly known as the core is a large muscle groups that essentially connect the upper portion of the body to the lower portion of the body. So we're talking about more muscles than just the abdominals. Without getting too technical, the powerhouse includes the gluts, muscles surrounding the hips, pelvic floor, and of course the abdominals. 

Often you'll hear your Pilates teacher, cue you to engage and activate your powerhouse by saying "pull your rib cage together" or "sink your navel into your spine." By activating your powerhouse, you are placing the control of movement to the center of your body and gaining stability. This gives you the strength, energy, and stability to stand on top of the Reformer for example and do those Side Splits. 

I'll be sharing later how to find balance with the Rolling Exercises in the Pilates mat sequence, how I integrate the theme of balance in my daily life, and much more.

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