Friday, September 7, 2012

Cultivating Your Spirals

In taking a workshop lead by Jenna Anderson on Cultivating Your Spirals I discovered another layer to Pilates.  We often hear about inward and outward rotation of the limbs, yet there has to be a balance between the two for optimum strength and stability.  "Spirals" are a yoga term to describe this same balance in the body.  Using them works deeper into the joints and requires more stabilizers to activate.  

How do you find them?  Start standing to active your lower spirals.  Toes and knees face out in a wide stance.  Lean forward as if for a Deadlift, feel the outer thigh/glutes up into the hips activate to bring you back up to standing.  Now bring your feet parallel standing tall.  Feel as if your big toes are pulling together doing the same movement.  This time you should feel more inner thigh/pelvic floor activation (inner spiral).  Move now onto all fours in a Tabletop position to find the upper body spirals.  Put a majority of the weight into the webbing of skin between your thumb and first fingers.  This should rotate the inside of the elbows to face one another.  Now imagine you are twisting a door open to allow the inside of the elbows to face away from you (outer spiral).

Once your clients understand these concepts focus on using one set of spirals for each workout and alternate each class.  This will provide more of a complete workout overall.  In time, build up to finding the balance of the spirals in certain exercises to generate the most strength/stability.  

Practice Pilates exercises:

  1. Plank/Tabletop: have the inside of your elbows face each other than away from you, work on finding the balance, add on Bird Dog or Reverse Knee Series for a challenge
  2. Push Through: without moving hold onto the bar with palms facing up to have a broad collarbone, try to keep that open as you flip the palms to face down, now do the exercise while maintaining
  3. Feet in Loops: touch the heels together with each leg circle, focus on which part of the foot is pressing into the strap more
  4. Elephant: rotate the legs into different positions to active more outer thigh or pelvic floor
  5. Standing Balance with Circle: press in with either heels or big toes more to get the whole hip working

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