Back - Stretch and Strengthen
Mermaid Side Stretch
Mermaid Side Stretch lengthens and opens the side body, it engages the scapula in the back, and it connects your stretch all the way through center. Use Mermaid as a gentle warm up or a more intense stretch later in your routine. This exercise is one of the free sample Pilates exercises at pilates.about.com.
The Rolling Pilates Exercises
Work you abdominal muscles, teaching them to help lengthen and support your back as you increase spinal flexibility with rolling exercises.
Double Leg Kick
Double leg kick is a powerful, intermediate level, back extension exercise. It targets the back extensors and the hamstrings, but you will find it requires support from the whole body as well.
Spine Stretch - Pilates Mat Exercise
Spine Stretch is a Pilates mat exercise that feels really good. It can show up anywhere in your workout as a great stretch for the back and the hamstrings, as well as a moment to center oneself before moving on to more challenging exercises.
Swan dive is a Pilates exercise that works the back, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs. It is an intermediate to advanced move that builds on Pilates swan.
Swan - Pilates Mat Exercise
The benefits of this Pilates mat exercise are numerous. Swan is an extension exercise so it provides a great counter to the many flexion exercises in Pilates. Swan stretches the abdominals and hip flexors, even as it strengthens the abdominals, back and shoulders; as well as inner thighs, pelvic floor and hamstrings.
This is a big back stretch but it makes the most of supporting the spine with the abdominal muscles as well.
Pilates Stretches Increase Flexibility
Pilates is known for helping people develop both strength and flexibility. This sample set of Pilates stretches includes exercises that increase flexibility of the back, front-body, side-body, hamstrings and hips.
Swimming - Pilates Mat Exercise
Pilates mat exercise, Swimming, is a fun exercise, yet quite a workout. Swimming, like the activity it is named after, works every part of the body. This one is perfect for toning the abs. butt, back and hamstrings. Try Pilates Swimming as a great counter exercise to all the front flexion exercises.
Saw - Pilates Mat Exercise
Saw is a basic Pilates Mat Exercise that is appropriate for all workout levels. It is a good spine stretch utilizing spinal rotation and the breath to increase the stretch. Here is a free example of this Pilates exercise, with clear photos.
Lateral breathing will help you breathe deeply even when your abdominals are pulled in.
Child's Pose for Pilates and Yoga
Showing up in both yoga and Pilates classes, child's pose is a wonderful relaxation and stretch exercise. Here are the instructions for child's pose.
Standing Pilates - Wall Roll Down
This standing Pilates exercise is great practice for beginners or more advanced students as it teaches the basic Pilates moves of using the abdominals to effect an articulation of the spine and roll the torso up and down. Practicing from a standing position makes this exercise assessable to people for whom rolling from a prone position is too...