Bring Pilates to the office to mark Joseph Pilates’ birthday

Paula Lester

Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates which he originally called Contrology, was the ultimate master in body movement.

He believed in the mind over body connection, concentrating on movement with intention and purpose from the core of the body. His series of exercises focus on spinal health, core and muscular strength, flexibility, control and coordination.

To honor Joseph Pilates’ birthday and his love of movement, what better way to share it with people who don’t always get to move as much as they should….office workers!

For those that have a desk job, it is sometimes a challenge to find time to get up and exercise. The day usually starts with a commute to work while sitting in a car or train, you then get to the office and the day continues by sitting at your desk on the computer or on the phone for several hours. You may start to notice after some time that your posture is poor, you have neck or back pain, and you are generally tight and stiff. This is all due to prolonged sitting which is bad for your health. In Pilates, the spine and posture are everything.

Joseph Pilates once said, “a man is as young as his spinal column.” He believed the spine was the key to our physical and emotional well-being also saying, “if your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.” Pilates develops the deep muscles of the back and abdomen to support your spine and focuses on breathing to promote better posture.

Small changes in your daily routine can bring big improvements to your body and health. This can be done by incorporating Pilates into your workday and taking a few movement breaks, leaving you with a general feeling of well-being during and after a long day at the office.

1. Breathing: (Circulates air through the lungs, lengthens the spine and lowers stress)

While sitting in your chair as tall as you can with both feet on the floor, wrap your hands around your rib cage. Take a deep inhale feeling like you are zippering up your body internally through the center. As you exhale, feel the ribs pull away from your hands as you lengthen through the crown of the head. Repeat 5 times.

2. Seated Mermaid: (Stretches oblique and quadratus lumborum muscles that can create back pain. Improves seated posture.)

While sitting in your chair with both feet on the floor, lift your left arm up straight by your left ear. Reach the left arm over to the right, bringing your right ear towards the right shoulder. Feel the left side of the body stretch while keeping the seat down firmly on the chair. Repeat 3 times each side.

3. Seated Twist: (Stretches oblique and quadratus lumborum muscles as well as opening the chest and shoulders.)

While seated on a chair with both feet on the floor, take both hands behind the head opening the elbows wide. Keeping the hips still, twist at the waist to the right while feeling the spine lengthen. Repeat 3 times each side.

4. Standing Wall: (Lengthens spine, strengthens upper back and neck muscles, and opens chest and shoulders.)

Stand against a wall and walk each foot away from the wall a foot’s length with feet hip-distance apart. Keeping the head, spine and bottom firmly pressed against the wall, lift both arms up above the head, then circle them along the wall to the sides, then down to the hips. Try to keep the ribcage in tight to the spine. Repeat arm circles 5-8 times each direction.

5. Standing Lunge: (Stretches hip flexors and quadriceps)

Standing with the right foot forward and left foot back while holding the back of a chair with the right hand. The right ankle should be aligned under the right knee with the heel pressing firmly into the floor and the left heel is lifted off the floor. Bend the right knee, lowering the pelvis while contracting the left glute. Try not to arch the back, intead, tuck the pelvis under slightly. You should feel the stretch in the front of your left hip and thigh. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat on the other side.

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