1. Leg circles: It is a type of Pilates exercise, which is performed while lying on the back, raising a single leg up straight in the air and then moving the leg in a circular motion in a concentrated and controlled manner, making sure that the core and glutes are engaged and involved in every clockwise and anti-clockwise motion.
2. Plank leg raises: A good low-intensity exercise for stomach toning and hamstrings is a plank leg raise. Start by holding a plank position and aligning the elbows and legs in a straight line. Once in position, lift your legs alternatively while squeezing the glutes. Make sure the posture of the body is well aligned and there is no bending of knees.
3. Pelvic Curl: This is a mat exercise done by lying on the back and keeping both arms at the sides. Both knees should be bent and be a little apart from each other. Gently form a bridge by curling the tailbone upwards and then slowly releasing it all the way down to the floor. The glutes should be engaged and the movements should be very slow and controlled for better results.
4. Pilates Push-ups: Pilates push-ups are a very effective way of losing belly fat and increasing mobility of the body. Start by standing straight, then crawling into a push-up and coming back to the same position. Keep your breath controlled with each repetition and feel the effect in your arms. This ensures that the whole body is involved during the exercise and you develop muscular strength and flexibility. And that is why Pilates push-ups could be a better choice than regular push-ups.
5. The Hundred: The Hundred is a very common and challenging exercise in Mat Pilates involving abdominal muscle tension and overall body strength. Keep the knees over the hips, perpendicular to the ground. Now bring them back up, keeping the head closer to chest and start pumping your arms vigorously with palms facing down, away from the ground. Make sure that the neck does not feel strained and hold that position and pulse the arms for 10 breaths, i.e hundred beats.
6. Toe Taps: The Toe Tap is a core muscle-oriented exercise in Pilates, including obliques and hamstrings engagement. Start by lying flat on your back, keeping the arms flat on the sides and bringing the bent knees up in a tabletop position, having the thighs perpendicular to the ground. Now, lower each leg alternatively and slowly in the same perpendicular position and touch the foot on the mat. When one leg is in motion, keep the other leg stiff in the same position. This will target the muscles in the lower body and will improve your balance.
7. The Frog on Reformer: The reformer is a part of Pilates equipment that has adjustable strings and a movable flat platform. For this exercise, you need to lie down with your spine straight on the carriage, hands should be placed on the sides and the knees should be bent and be shoulder-width apart. Two strings are attached with straps with the reformer to provide resistance every time the legs are moving back and forth. The legs are extended straight with the help of the strings. Now, put the legs back in the starting position. The resistance will provide flexibility and will keep the muscles engaged if done with precision.
8. Pendulum: This type of mat exercise focuses mainly on training the obliques and adding power to your spine movements. Begin with lying on your back and keep the palms against the mat. Make sure that the toes are pointed outwards and the knees are bent at a perpendicular angle. Now inhale through the stomach, keeping the core stable and exhale into the obliques when rotating both the knees to the right slowly. Bring both knees in the starting position and rotate your knees to the left. For more engagement, try to stick your lower back to the mat during each movement.
9. Obliques Roll Back: As the name suggests, this exercises targets the obliques and stabilizes the spine. Sit with both knees bent and hip-distance apart from each other and the hip joints intact on the mat. Straighten both arms and inhale. Now lean a little backwards and start rotating each arm to each side alternatively as you exhale. This exercise can also be performed with a resistance band, fitness circle or a ball placed between the thighs.
10. Stomach Massage – Rounded: This exercise is performed using the reformer. Sit down on the flat platform facing the foot bar. Form a ‘V’ shape with your feet and open the bent knees apart from each other and place them on the foot bar. Now curl your tailbone and scoop the abdominals inwards and outwards. Your breaths should be synchronized with the movements. This will maintain spinal flexion and increase abdominal muscle strength.
Learn Pilates through Radhika Karle‘s unluclass where she has shared her experience and explained Pilates in detail. In her online pilates class, she has covered topics such as – The history of Pilates, breathing techniques, thoracic breathing, functional and core exercises, posture, and nutrition.