COREpilates: BACK to BASICS: 7 “Must-Do” Pilates Moves


These are some fundamental movements to get you started in your Pilates Practice.  These moves are designed to be done on a regular (if not daily) basis either as a warmup for a more strenuous routine OR as a quick core/strength/stretch workout.    Try using the breath to flow from movement to movement.  This not only will help keep the core engaged, but makes the routine more effective and efficient.  As you become more familiar with the Magnificent Seven flow of exercises, you should be able to complete this series in LESS THAN 30 Minutes!

BEFORE STARTING THE “SEVEN”, please do these three warm-up exercises:

ALIGNMENT (warm-up 1)

     Standing: feet in parallel, hip width apart, arms resting by your sides, shoulders pulled back and down (you are trying to hold a pencil between your shoulder blades).  Knees ar soft and directly above the ankles, hips are level (imagine they are a bucket of water…don’t let the bucket spill out toward the front or back).  Stand up tall, lengthening through the back or crown of the head, like someone is pulling a string that runs down through the crown all the way to your tailbone.  (standing neutral spine)

     Lying Down (when you begin the exercises on the mat):  knees bent, legs hip-width apart, lengthening through the crown of the head, chin pulled down toward chest.  There should be a small space in your lower back, but it should not be arching.  You should be able to slide your finger tips behind you, but not your whole hand.  Hips are level.  (supine neutral spine)


BREATHING  (Warm- up 2)

We want to use our breathing to engage our core abdominal muscles to protect and support the movements.  This is achieved by pulling the ab muscles up off the pelvic floor and back toward the spine (this is known as “navel to spine”)  On the inhale, pull the navel toward the spine, rib cage expands out to the sides, not to the front.  As you exhale, continue to pull the navel to the spine.  This engages the core muscles even more.  Do not let your shoulders rise and fall, but keep them back and down.

  STANDING ROLL DOWN (warm up 3) feet hip-width apart, hips level, shoulders back and down, lift through the crown of the head, inhale to begin, exhale as you pull your chin to chest, navel to spine.  Rolling down one vertebrae at a time.  Inhale at the bottom of the movement, then exhale to activate the glutes, pull navel to spine, and roll back up into standing alignment position.

1.  HUNDRED:   lie face up/spine in neutral, knees bent.  Bring legs up into table top position (90 deg.), exhale to bring head and shoulders off the mat as you pull navel to spine, this will imprint the spine to the mat.  Shoulders pulling out of ears, arms by the side, reaching.  Pulsing arms up and down like you are slapping water as you inhale for 5 counts/exhale for 5 counts.  With each breath, pull navel to spine, deepening the abdominal contraction.

2.  ROLL-UP  sit up on sit bones, shoulders back and down, lift through crown of the head, knees bent, legs hip-width apart.  Inhale, on the exhale, pull chin to chest, navel to spine, c-curve the spine, roll down one vertebrae at a time, (only go down as far as you can without losing control in core area).  Inhale, exhale to roll back up, stacking the spine, back to start position

3.  SINGLE LEG CIRCLES:  lie face up w/ neutral spine, extend one leg on mat, other up to ceiling.  turn knee out.  Making small clockwise circles, inhaling to start the circle, exhale to complete.  Keep the hips stable, no rocking, anchor the leg on the floor by flexing the foot and turning the knee in slightly.  Switch directions.

4.  ROLLING LIKE A BALL:   sit up on sit bones, shoulders back and down, lift through the crown of the head, knees bent, legs hip-width apart.  Inhale, gently lift toes off the mat.  Exhale and pull chin to chest/navel to spine to created c-curve.  Inhale to roll back (stop at shoulders), exhale to come back up…balance on the sit bones without letting toes touch the floor.  *Your legs should not swing in and out for momentum, but stay in the same position.  GENTLY hold on to the legs, don’t grip them for dear life!!!  If you feel uncomfortable rolling on your spine, just practice balancing o the sit bones.

5. SINGLE LEG STRETCH:  lie face up, bring knees into chest, inhale, exhale as you lift head and shoulders off the mat, inhale and extend one leg, keeping the other pulled into the chest.  Exhale, switch legs, keep spine imprinted into the mat by pulling the navel into spine with each breath.  Torso and hips stay stable…no rocking side to side.

6.  DOUBLE LEG STRETCH:   lie on back, both knees in at chest.  Exhale, lift head and shoulders off the mat as you pull navel to spine-anchoring spine to the mat, arms are on the shins.  Inhale, stretch legs out to diagonal and reach arms back by your ears.  Exhale, draw knees back into chest, circle arms back around to the shins.  Repeat.  Core stays anchored to the mat, back does not arch when extending the legs. 

7.  SPINE STRETCH FORWARD:  sit up on sit bones, legs straight, hip-width apart, arms out in front, palms down.  Inhale, exhale to create a c-curve in the spine (chin to chest, pull navel to spine).  Bend forward toward your flexed feet.  Exhale to roll back up, stacking the spine, one vertebrae at a time, to the start position.


I understand that Pilates is a sport and that I practice this exercise class at my own risk.  I will listen to and honor my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Individuals who are pregnant or with any physical or mental restriction, disability or predisposition to injury or sickness should consult their medical advisor before beginning a new exercise regimen.


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