One of my goals for 2015 is to write a Pilates book. The first part will be essays on Pilates and my teaching experiences. I’ve been teaching Pilates for fifteen years now and I feel like I have some things to say about it. The other part of the book will be an in depth look at many of the Pilates mat exercises. To help me get started on the exercise portion of the book, I’ll be sharing, on occasion, some of the exercises here.
Today’s exercise is a simple centering exercise. Be comfortable and gentle while you do this.
Tuck and Arch.
Tuck and arch is a movement of the pelvis and lower back. It will help you learn to feel the difference between having a flattened or imprinted lower back and an arched or engaged lower back. The last part of the exercise will help you relax and feel a neutral position of the lower back.
Starting position: On a comfortable surface like a mat, lie down on the back with knees bent, soles of feet resting flat, and knees and feet together so there is no gap between the legs. Arms rest at your sides. Put a pillow under your head if your neck has any discomfort.
The movement: Begin by gently tucking the hips under to drop the lower back down into the mat. Imprint the back into the mat as though making a mark in sand. Allow the neck to move naturally in response.
Next, arch the lower back away from the mat, keeping the buttocks in contact with the mat so you make a gap only beneath your lower back. Again, allow the neck to move naturally in response. Move back and forth between these two positions several times, keeping within a range that is comfortable.
On the final arching of the lower back, hold for an extra moment and really feel the back muscles engage. Take a deep, full inhalation. As you exhale, let EVERYTHING relax. Allow the pelvis and lower back to settle into their tension-free positions and allow the bones to be heavy and neutral.