Day: September 5, 2011

Pilates Exercise of the Month: The Saw

Purpose: To improve flexibility in your hamstrings, develop strength in the low back and work your waistline.

  1. Sit tall, with your legs extended. Open them slightly wider than your hips; feet flexed. Reach your arms out to the side (T position). Imagine you are reaching to touch both sides of the room.
  2. Inhale, pull your navel up and into your spine. Twist from your waist to the left carrying your arms with you. Keep your pelvis anchored to the mat.
  3. Exhale and round forward toward your left leg. Aim your baby finger (right hand) to the outside of your baby toe. Your back arm (left arm) reaches back; turning the palm in. Feel the oppositional pull of the arms.
  4. Inhale; continue to reach forward to accentuate the hamstring stretch. Keep the opposite hip pressed down into the mat. Then, exhale, and continue to reach forward, bringing the top of your head toward the baby toe.
  5. Inhale, bring your body up, sit tall as you return to the starting position. Begin the exercise on the other side.
  6. Alternate sides, completing 3-5 sets.

Checklist:

  • Keep your hips very still as you stretch past your baby toe. Buttocks must not lift off mat.
  • Keep your legs straight, don’t let them roll in. Knees and toes should point to the ceiling.
  • Back arm stays lifted.
  • Roll up through the spine to sit tall before going to the other side.
  • Don’t come up with a flat back.

Note: If hamstrings are too tight, sit on a cushion or phonebook. You can bend your knees slightly if the stretch is difficult at first. Flexibility will improve.

Visualization: Imagine you are sitting in a block of cement. Your lower body can’t move as you reach toward the baby toe.