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A Restorative Pilates Mobility Sequence

Updated: Sep 16, 2023


This month I’m sharing a short mobility routine with you. You can use this daily to improve mobility and flexibility into your spine, to build a mindfulness practice, to focus on developing flowing movement with the breath, and as a recuperative sequence if you are feeling under the weather. Follow the video guide and instructions at the end of this post.


 

You can do this anywhere regardless of how much space you have. You don’t need any special equipment or clothes. This sequence can be done in bed if you are ill - if you connect the breath to the movement it is especially restorative, I swear!


I have added a cushion as a prop. You could use this to sit on, to prop under your head or under the knees when lying on your back.


 

Having some sort of regular mindful mobility practice that draws on the Pilates basics is something to create time for. These movements are not only found in Pilates, they are natural movements that our bodies are designed to do. I have included rotation, flexion, lateral flexion and extension into this sequence so that the spine is mobilised on each plane of movement, and you have the opportunity to take lovely big breaths into the front, back and sides of the ribcage.


 

Why should I practise the basics?


  • They are the foundations of the movement, like the foundations of a building. Stack your body up, stabilise here, create space there. Avoid adding layers on top if the strong base isn’t there, or the whole structure will collapse.

  • You need to be able to notice slight differences. The best way to pick up on these is to close your eyes and begin with a body scan and breath observation. If you can’t pause and observe, your movement won’t be mindful, you won’t know what the purpose is behind it. Use the basics as a mindfulness practice.

  • Think of it as a musician practising their scales.

  • You never know when you’ll need them to come back to.


 
As you progress in your self instruction you never have anything to “unlearn.” These exercises will actually become a part of your very self securely stored away forever in your subconscious mind.
(Pilates: 1945, p.22, Return to Life Through Contrology)

 

Think carefully about your alignment in all the different positions (sitting, lying, four-point kneeling), imagine a plumb line through the centre of your body that you are lengthening through, find a lovely long, neutral spine. Finally, don’t forget to breathe! It’s the key to finding connection and awareness in your body.


Exercise List and recommended number of repetitions (feel free to make the sequence suit you own needs by changing the number of reps). This routine is accessible for all abilities, but please avoid lying supine and twisting or rotating in your second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Avoid four-point kneeling until after six weeks postpartum:


  1. Side Bend 6 reps

  2. Rotation Row 6 reps

  3. Spine Twist 6 reps

  4. Pelvic Tilts 4 reps

  5. Half Roll Back 5 reps

  6. Roll Down 1 rep

  7. Lateral Thoracic Breathing 6 reps

  8. Shoulder Bridge 6 reps

  9. Supine Spine Twist 2 reps

  10. Head Lifts 5 reps

  11. Head Lifts (Arms Wide) 5 reps

  12. Spinal Flexion 3 reps



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