TOP TIPS FROM FLORBLANCA
PILATES EXERCISES TO HELP WITH PERFECTING YOUR POSTURE
Florblanca’s Pilates master Jenny Speirs suggests five easy ways to align and balance your body
1. STAND ON YOUR OWN TWO FEET
The feet are the foundation of your body. Stand on the ground with feet parallel and a little less than hip distance apart. Feel the weight of your body on your feet. Lean your body forward, shifting all your weight onto the toes. Then sway backwards, shifting all your weight onto your heels. Sway back and forth a few times, feeling the shift from toes to heels. Then slow down your swaying until you find a balanced distribution of weight between your heels and toes. Do the same sway, but now from right to left. Shift all your body weight to your right and feel the right foot take the load of the body as the left foot becomes light and suspended. Now do the same on the left side. Sway right to left a few times, and then again find a balanced position with evenly distributed weight. Use this new found balance when standing, walking, running and jumping to avoid misalignments.
2. LIFT YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
Contracting, holding and lifting the muscles of the pelvic floor can assist greatly in connecting you to your core. Imagine that the area of your zipper is an elevator and you are going to contact you pelvic floor muscles so that the elevator will move up to your belly button area. Then release the pelvic floor muscles so that the elevator descends back down to the bottom zipper area. Repeat this exercise a few times and when you are ready to add on a challenge, hold the elevator at the top, near the belly button for 5-10 seconds, and then let the elevator descend again. When you find yourself slumped over or experiencing back pain, try lifting your pelvic floor and feel the length and elongated change in your spine. Your core will connect and support the area that once felt so heavy and bogged down.
3. OPEN YOUR HEART
Modern society has many of us sitting in chairs, at computers and driving cars for many hours of the day, which often results in a slumped over upper back, rounded shoulders and compressed lower back. The next time you find yourself in one of these positions, imagine your heart opening and the light of your heart shining upward. As you do this, your mid-back will extend and your shoulders will naturally settle down and onto your back, your chin will lift and your lower back will restore its natural curve. The imagery of shining the light of your heart forward and up is a very simple and effective way to correct posture throughout the day.
4. BACK OFF
Adjusting the alignment of the head is one of the most common and important corrections given in a Pilates practice. Thinking of the head as another vertebra, and as an integral part of the spine, it should follow and align with the line of the spine. Notice yourself during your daily activities – while walking, driving, writing, reading, cooking and even brushing your teeth – and the alignment of your head with your spine. I bet you’ll find that your head protrudes forward as if it’s going to take more command of the action or get more out of the book if your head is closer. But try ‘backing off’ with your head so the world comes to you instead. Set it back above your shoulder and let your neck and head align with your spine.
5. SUSPEND YOURSELF FROM ABOVE
Imagine you have a string attached to the top of your head. And that string is going to pull you up off the ground so that you hang just like a skeleton. Your bones would align straight up and down with gravity. Your ears would be above your shoulder, your shoulders above your hips above the knees and your knees above your ankles. Now attempt to act out the sensation of the string attached to your head. Pretending to be suspended from the sky can be a really quick and easy way to set yourself into an ideal posture and find a balance throughout the day.