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5 Anytime, Anywhere Pilates Moves

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Updated April 09, 2011

Even when you can't get on the floor and do your Pilates exercises, these easy Pilates moves will help you build a foundation for a firmer core, better posture, and more effective workouts.

You can do these moves at the same time; you can do them one at a time; and you can do them anytime. But don't think you have to do them all the time (except maybe deep breathing). When you practice these moves on and off through your day, they will become more natural and the extra support they provide will be there when you need it.

1. Breathe Deeply

Shallow breathing does little but keep you going at a low level of vitality. Deep breathing oxygenates your body. It relieves stress. It is even said to give an internal massage. A deep breath goes all the way into your belly and back, and you can feel it down to your toes.

The move: Take a big inhale and bring the air all the way into your belly, allowing your belly rise with the breath. Use that deep breath to lengthen your spine 9shoulders stay down and let your back exapand side to side to bring more air.  Repeat. Learn more:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Lateral Breathing (for when your abs are pulled in)

2. Lengthen Your Spine

Look better. Feel better. Move better. The hallmark of good posture is a long, well-supported spine. 

The move: When you sit, feel your sitbones under you and press down into them to help you extend your spine up, up, up through your shoulder girdle so that your neck gets long and energy is extending through the top of your head. When you stand, think of a line from ankle bone to ear and let your body lengthen along it.

Go for length, but keep a good posture. Your spine will be neutral with its natural 3 curves. Don't get so involved in lengthening that you pop your ribs forward, or lean back, or tuck your pelvis. Learn more:

Pilates Posture Check

Learn to Find Neutral Spine

Human Spine Anatomy

Standing Pilates Legwork Exercise

3. Pull Your Abs In and Up

Being able to walk, run, dance, and play better are among the many benefits of having toned abs that support your spine and help you move. They are one of the keys to preventing back pain.

The move: Sneak this ab exercise in anywhere: Keep a neutral spine, then from deep inside pull your abdominal muscles in. Go for an in and up feeling (the up can take some time to feel). Start with a sense of engaging the pelvic floor muscles. Then begin pulling your abs in from down low, just above the pubic bone. Move up and in from there. Don't hold your abs in 'till your teeth chatter. Just engage your abs every now and then. Learn more:

The Pilates Powerhouse

How to Pull Your Abs In

Meet Your Abdominal Muscles

Pilates Extra Ab Focus Exercises

4. Relax Your Shoulders

Stress and hunching over computers has many of us holding ourselves up by our shoulders. But what if your core strength held you up and your shoulders relaxed down? You would feel less stress, and less pain, and move with more freedom. It's not that hard.

The move: Sit or stand tall with abs engaged and spine long, as we talked about above. Then, take a deep breath as you raise your shoulders up. Exhale and let your shoulders drop. Repeat. Then leave your shoulders relaxed down as you go through your day feeling support from your core. Learn more:

What's Up with Shoulders Down?

Pilates Lessons from the Giraffe

Shoulder Stability in Pilates

Shoulder Stretches

5. Activate Your Feet

Your feet should be as toned and alive as any other part of your body. They connect you to the earth and should provide a flexible and adaptable platform for living. Even when you are not standing, the health of your feet affects how you move.

The move: Wriggle your toes and tap your feet, then do this easy arch-lifting exercise: With your feet flat on the floor,  keep your toes relaxed and pull the ball of your foot and heel toward each other. Imagine a dome inflating under the middle of your foot. Hold and release. Learn more:

Arch Lift Exercise Details

Towel Curl Foot Exercise

Pilates Foot Exercise Equipment

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