This series of questions are very varied, but ones that I have been asked repeatedly over the past few weeks! I hope they help! Here we are talking breathing, pregnancy, and toning!
Question 1: I always seem to breathe the wrong way with the Pilates exercises! Why is this and is it important to correct it?
Answer 1: This is such a common problem when you are first starting out! Pilates exercises emphasise inhaling to prepare prior to the exercise, and exhaling on the movement. This allows a smooth transition of movement as the action should be slow and controlled, like your breathing. Having good breathing control also ensures you never rush your exercises and focus on the stability and core control. Most people try to inhale as they begin the exercise- which actually tenses up the whole body and creates much more effort to complete. If you continue to inhale you can also fatigue and get out of breath much quicker, rushing the exercises than if your breathing was relaxed and controlled. An equal inhalation and exhalation will exercise the chest and lungs too!
Question 2: I have just had a baby and am looking to begin exercise again. When is it ok to start Pilates?
Answer 2: Every post-natal lady should have their 6 week check from the G.P prior to beginning any exercise other than light walking. Remember your body has went through a huge task over the past 9 months, and the body needs to re-adjust to exercises that you might not have done for some time. The level of hormones will also still be very high, including Relaxin, which loosens your ligaments and joints and stays in your body throughout breastfeeding, and even then it takes many months to deplete. You can begin Pilates after your 6 week check but this should consist only of level 1 exercises, avoiding double table top positions, or any abdominal crunch type exercises such as abdominal prep or oblique prep (see photo below for a double table top abdominal prep example). Pilates is an excellent exercise form post-pregnancy as it is low impact, low intensity, and most importantly it focuses on regaining your abdominal muscles that will have been weakened and stretched. It re-balances your body, which will also have adopted a new posture to accommodate the baby bump!
Question 3: I want to tone up- is Pilates suitable for body toning or is it only for a flat stomach?
Answer 3: Pilates is so much more than about the stomach! That’s what I love most about Pilates, it encourages the body to move as a whole. Yes- the emphasis is moving from the core as this is your centre that controls all other movements; but it also stimulates normal body alignment at the neck and shoulders, pelvis and lower limbs. Yes it can help with toning- if enough repetitions are done and you do Pilates regularly (probably required 3-4 times per week if you were practising at home) you will start to notice your muscles are more toned- throughout the whole body! Pilates is also great for targeting the smaller muscles that are often overlooked with other types of exercises.
Leg pull in prone exercise here showing how the upper body, core, and legs are all having to work hard!
Got a question? Comment below or send me a message and I’ll answer it next time!