Yes, this is the same thing we all love to do when we flop down in the snow and make a snow angel. Add a dash of the Pilates principles -- like awareness, breath, and control -- and you've got it.
As a warm-up exercise, angel arms is a wonderful way to perfect your understanding of how to use the arms and shoulders without losing the alignment of your back and ribcage. Angel arms develops core stabilization, improves posture, and helps increase range of motion for the shoulders and arms.
Angel arms is also very good prep for more advanced exercises, like Roll Up, which require ribs to be down as arms go up.
- Lie on your back in neutral spine.
Knees are bent with the legs parallel and feet flat on the floor. Arms are down by your sides.
- On an Inhale:
Leaving the shoulders down, feel your scapula moving down your back as you sweep your straight arms out to the sides and up (like wings).
It is important that the abdominals are activated so that your ribs stay settled and do not pop up as your arms move.
- On an Exhale:
The arms sweep out to the side again as they come down to your sides. Imagine energy radiating out through your finger tips.
Again, the shoulders are down, the ribcage is down, and the abs are active.
- Add Sequential Breathing:
As you get comfortable with the arm and breathing pattern, add sequential breathing so that the in breath moves slowly into the chest and back ribs, then belly and lower back, and finally into the pelvic bowl. The exhale starts at the bottom and releases upward through the torso.
Read more about sequential breathing.
- The tendency for most of us, when we sweep our arms up, is to raise our shoulders up as we go and allow the chest to pop forward. In angel arms, we practice keeping the shoulders and ribs down.
- Increase the challenge of keeping the shoulders and ribcage down by straightening the legs.
- Remember, you are in neutral spine throughout. The lower back is not pressed into the floor.
- Go slow. This is an awareness exercise and a good time to pull in the Pilates principles.
What You Need
- An Exercise Mat