How to do Pilates ... on your own

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Marriam Mossalli I [email protected]

Published — Wednesday 10 February 2010

Last Update 10 February 2010 3:00 am

I’ve always believed Pilates is a great way to get toned and stay lean, having practiced it for a long time.

Pilates is one of the fastest growing forms of exercise worldwide. Many celebrities, such as David Beckham, Megan Fox, Naomi Campbell and Michelle Obama, are fans of its techniques, which uses low-impact fitness activities to stretch and condition the body.

Many people are aware of the endless benefits of Pilates, which include an increase in flexibility, better posture, greater range of motion and abdominal strength.

I began doing Pilates because I heard the release of tension would help remedy my insomnia. An added benefit is the prevention of osteoporosis, a bone disorder that affects one in two women over 50.

I found Pilates to be one of the few exercises that actually trains the entire body without overdeveloping or neglecting particular muscles.

One of my favorite positions is the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation. It is a very simple series of 12 postures performed in a single, willowy flow. It is easy and quick to do and all you need is a soft mat and a peaceful attitude.

Here’s how to ...

While performing the exercises, you must coordinate your breathing so you are inhaling as you extend, and exhaling as you contract.

Perform all exercises in the series twice, one for each side of the body, to complete a single round.

Begin in the Mountain pose with palms placed together in front of your chest.

Raise your hands overhead, press pubic bone forward, tighten buttocks, open chest, and inhale.

Extend forward from the hips into the Standing Forward Bend and exhale.

Move into a lunge by taking a big step back with your right leg. Open through the chest and look forward. Inhale.

Extend the left leg back and move into the Plank position. Align your legs, hips, back and head in a straight line, and hold your breath in.

Drag your knees, chin and chest to the floor. Exhale.

Place the legs and hips on the floor, firm the lower body and lift the head and chest up into the Cobra. Inhale. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips, moving into the Downward Dog and exhale.

Step the right leg forward, returning to a lunge and inhale.

Step the left leg forward, releasing into the Standing Forward Bend and exhale.

Lift your arms overhead and bend back slightly, opening to the Light and inhale.

Circle your arms out to the sides and return to the starting position with your hands in pranam as you exhale.

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