Concentration: it’s something we all lack from time to time. Whether we’re making dinner plans mid meeting or searching Netflix’s ‘must-watch’ list while working, there’s no denying we all have a wandering mind.
So for Week Two of our six-week Pilates Challenge, One Hot Yoga and Pilates instructor, Tahlia Ware will focus on an important Pilates principle: concentration. This workout is designed to strengthen both your body and mind. Perform it two to three times, along with your regular workout regime and notice how your focus improves. All you need is 20 minutes and a mat.
Missed Week One’s workout? Find it here.
“The Pilates principal Concentration promotes mind-body connection. The better connection you establish with your body, the more benefits you will gain from the exercises. As you focus and become mindful of each body movement you will enhance the body awareness and improve the body’s intelligence,” says Tahlia Ware.
Thigh stretch is a fantastic exercise to strengthen the hips and thighs in a lengthened position whilst also challenging the stability of the core muscles. It’s perfect for people who spend a lot of time in a closed position through the hips, like sitting.
Pro Tip: To increase the challenge, reach the arms overhead as you hinge back to challenge the stability of the torso.
Safety Tip: Keep your core active! Make sure you have your abs and glutes on for the duration of the exercise. This will provide the support your body needs to be able to ‘hinge’ without causing discomfort in the lower back.
The standing lunge is a great exercise to strengthen the muscles of the legs while stabilsing the hip and knee joints, all while challenging your balance and coordination in a standing position.
Pro Tip: To increase the challenge, lift the front heel up off the mat when you lower into the back knee down. This will test your balance and ankle stability – be sure to concentrate!
Safety Tip: Do not allow the knee to go beyond the toes; keep the knee in line with the ankle when in a lunge position.
The standing arabesque will strength the glutes and hamstrings, creating long lean muscle tone, whist challenging the balance and full body coordination.
Pro Tip: To decrease the balance challenge hold on to a bar or the wall with both hands through out the duration of the exercise. You can then progress to having just one hand on the wall, and eventually build the strength to be able to comfortably balance without any assistance.
Safety Tip: Watch the alignment of the bottom or supporting knee, ensure the knee is pointing forward over the second toe as you bend and not rolling in or out.
Roll-down to plank strengthens the arms and abdominals while lengthening the spine and improving the flexibility of side waist muscles to keep you as square as possible through out the duration of the exercise.
Pro Tip: To increase the challenge add 3-5 push-ups in the plank position instead of holding. Inhale to bend the elbows, exhale to straighten, ensuring to keep the core muscles strong to maintain the plank shape throughout.
Safety Tip: Be mindful not to allow the lower back to ‘sag’ in the plank. If you find you are unable to maintain the plank, or you feel discomfort in the lower back, lower the knees to the mat while you hold for 3-5 breathes. Lift the knees back off the mat before rolling back up to standing.
This advanced exercise is a wonderful way to work on rotation of the spine while challenging the body’s ability to weight-bear on one arm.
Pro Tip: Every time the spine ‘twists’ or ‘untwists’ the movement should start from the abdominals. This will keep your spine safe as you move in and out of rotation.
Safety Tip: Be sure to have mastered the side plank position first before attempting to add the twist. This can be modified to have the bottom knee down on the mat to decrease the load through the supporting shoulder.