Tag: Stomach Series

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Criss-Cross or Obliques



The last of the Stomach Series, this works the external obliques, waistline and powerhouse.


1. Lie on your back with hands behind your lifted head; elbows wide and your knees bent into

your chest.


2. Extend your right leg out long; hovering above the mat. Twist your upper body until the

right elbow touches left knee. Open the back (left) elbow behind you. Inhale as you lift to twist

and hold for 3 counts.


3. Exhale and switch sides, bringing your left elbow to your right knee while extending the

opposite (left) leg out in front of you. Hold for 3 counts. Keep your upper back and shoulders off

the mat as you twist from side to side.


Complete 8-10 times. To end bring both knees into chest.



  • Lift and twist from your waist, not from your neck and shoulders.
  • The back elbow never touches the mat. Look at your back elbow as you twist.
  • Anchor your center to the mat so you don’t roll from side to side.
  • Lower your extended leg about 45 degrees or more…back should not arch off mat.


Note: Avoid twisting exercises such as this if you have suffered a recent back injury.


Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates InstructorVisualization: Imagine you have an X on your stomach and you are crossing to each end of the X.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Double Straight Leg Stretch




Purpose: The fourth exercise in the Stomach Series targets the powerhouse to the extreme.

1. Lie on your back with hands behind your lifted head; one on top of the other, (not interlaced). Elbows wide.

2. Extend your legs straight to the ceiling, heels together and toes turned out slightly, squeeze inner thighs, sink navel toward spine.

3. Inhale and lower your straight legs down toward the mat for 3 counts. Stop if you feel your lower back begin to arch.

4. Exhale as you raise your straight legs toward the ceiling. Don’t allow the legs to pass 90 degrees; the tailbone does not leave the mat.

Complete 8-10 times. To end bring both knees into chest.

Remain perfectly still in your torso.
Engage the glutes and inner thighs to support and protect your back.
If your back arches off the mat as you lower your legs, you are taking them too low. Bring shoulders away from ears.

Note: If you have a delicate back, place your hands in a V position just below your tailbone (palms down) and leave your head down.

Visualization: Imagine your legs are attached to springs above your head. You must stretch the springs on the way down and resist their pull on the way up.

Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates Instructor

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Single Straight Leg Stretch or Scissors



Purpose: The third exercise in the Stomach Series is also known as Scissors. It provides

additional stretch in the back of legs while working the abdominals. This exercise requires

you to move quickly and with control.


1. Lie on your back and hug both knees into your chest, head and shoulders curled off the

mat, elbows lifted.

2. Extend your right leg straight up to the ceiling and grab your ankle with both hands. Stretch

the left leg long in front of you so it hovers slightly above the mat.


3. Inhale, keeping the right leg straight and use your hands to lightly pulse the leg twice. Sink

the navel deeper into the mat beneath you as the leg nears the body.

4. Exhale and quickly switch the straight legs by “scissoring” them past each other. Grab the

ankle of your left leg and repeat the motion, inhaling for one set and exhaling for one set.



Complete 8-10 sets; alternating legs. To end, bring both legs together at a 90 degrees.



Goal: Remain perfectly still in your torso as you stretch and scissor your legs. Keep eyes focused on

belly, making sure it’s scooped. Avoid hunching your shoulders.


Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates InstructorNote: If you can’t hold your ankle, simply adjust your hand placement; try your calf first or move your

hands to the back of your thigh. Don’t hold behind your knee. If you develop neck pain while holding   your head up, rest it on the mat.


Visualization: As you begin switching legs, imagine pulsing your legs in rhythm with your heartbeat.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Double Leg Stretch

Purpose: As the second exercise in the Stomach Series, Double Leg Stretch continues to challenge your coordination, work the powerhouse and stretch your body.


1. Lie on your back and hug both knees into your chest, hands reaching toward ankles, head and shoulders lifted off mat.  


2. Inhale and reach the arms overhead back by your ears and your legs straight out in front of you. Raise them off the mat at about a 45 degree angle. Back must not arch off floor.


3. Exhale and circle the arms around as you bring your knees back into your chest. Remain still in your torso; head and shoulders lifted throughout the exercise.


4. Repeat 8-10 sets. To finish, hug both knees in toward chest, put head and shoulders on mat.


Visualization: imagine the center of your body thinning out like taffy.



  1. Support your neck by keeping your chin toward your chest as you stretch long.
  2. Squeeze your buttocks and upper inner thighs tightly as you extend your legs to support the lower back.
  3. As you inhale and stretch out, keep your arms straight.
  4. Your abs hold you down on the mat.


Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates InstructorModification: For a sensitive low back, begin with the legs at a 90 degree angle and gradually advance to 45 degrees. Abbreviate the arm movement if you have a delicate shoulder. 

Progression: Move directly to Single Straight Leg Stretch – which will be previewed in next month’s newsletter.





IMG_2450 (3)IMG_2448IMG_2445