Control is something we all wish for more of from time to time. Whether it’s core control when counting push-ups, or self-control when counting biscuits, control of both the body and mind can help us to be the best version of ourselves.
So for week four of our six-week Pilates challenge with One Hot Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Tahlia Ware, we focus on the Pilates principle of control. This workout includes a sequence of side-lying exercises, which focus on strengthening the hips and side body while maintaining core control and spinal stability. They’ll help you establish control in your muscles to sculpt and tone your body.
“Every movement in Pilates should be performed with complete muscular control. Control not only of the physical body but also control of the mind. Our mind controls our movement and our body awareness allows us to make conscious and deliberate decisions about where we are in space. This requires a great deal of practice but is essential in mastering the art of Pilates and gaining optimal benefits for your effort,” says Tahlia Ware.
A great exercise to lengthen the body, creating long lean muscle tone in the legs while challenging the body’s ability to stay still and stable.
Pro Tip: Keep a slight lift through the bottom side of your waist – imagine you have enough room for a gentle breeze to blow between the mat and your body. Try to maintain this as you lift and lower the legs.
Safety Tip: If you are struggling to balance on the side of your hip, place the top hand on to the mat in front of you. You can gently press the hand into the mat throughout the exercise to assist in keeping the body still and stable.
This exercise will strengthen and tone the side waist muscles while providing a coordination challenge between the upper and lower body.
Pro Tip: Think length not height! Have the feeling of reaching the body in opposite directions to create space in the lifted position. Try to stay right on the side of the hip and not roll backwards as you lift up.
Safety Tip: The lower body is doing the exact same movement as the previous exercise ‘Side Leg Lift’. If you are struggling to balance on the side of your hip, place the top hand on to the mat in front of you. You can gently press the hand into the mat throughout the exercise to assist in keeping the body still and stable.
‘Side Leg Circle’ will strengthen the waist muscles whilst targeting the side ‘butt’ and hip muscles. This exercise also teaches hip dissociation – the ability to move the leg without moving the pelvis.
Pro Tip: The circle should be no bigger than a basketball – think of going from hip height, up and around. Remember it is about control, keeping the hip still and stable while we move the leg.
Safety Tip: If you are unable to balance with both hands behind your head, return to the ‘Side Leg Lift’ position and perform the circle action from there.
This full body exercise requires a great amount of abdominal control and has an increased challenge of stabilising against rotation.
Pro Tip: To increase the challenge of the exercise, as you reach the ‘teaser’ position try also lifting the bottom hand off the mat, reaching it towards the feet. Be sure to have mastered the single arm lift first before trying this variation.
Safely Tip: To decrease the challenge of the exercise, omit the lifting of the legs. Keep both ankles cross on the mat and rotate and lift the torso only.
Side Kick Kneeling is an advanced exercise aiming to challenge the body’s ability to stabilise everything against the moving leg. This is a great workout for the glutes, perfect for those sexy summer Pilates bums!
Pro Tip: To decrease the challenge of the exercise return to the lying ‘side leg circle’ position and perform the ‘kicking’ action from there.
Safety tip: Try to keep the spine still and be sure not the arch the back, particularly as the leg moves back behind you. Reduce the range of movement through the top leg and focus on control. You may find it useful to place the top hand at the small of the back so you can feel if the spine is moving throughout the exercise.