Stand tall with your feet at hip width. Feel a piece of string gently pulling your head up towards the ceiling, lengthening you. Imagine the distance between your ears and your shoulders gently increasing. Bring your chin in to help maintain natural neck alignment. Imagine your ears inline with your collar bones.
Look into the distance keeping your eyes forward.
Picture your feet as triangles. From the heel to the little toe across to the big toe and back to the heel. Stand evenly on both feet on all 3 corners of your feet.
Inhale and gently shrug the shoulders up towards the ears. On exhaling slide the shoulders down the back into a V shape. Picture a little pocket in your back and visualise your shoulders sliding into the pocket to hold them in the V shape.
Rest your hands on the upper curve of your hips. Stand tall and evenly balanced. Picture your pelvis and imagine there is a bowl of water suspended there. Gently rock your pelvis forward and as you do so, visualise a little water trickling out of the back of the bowl. Now rock your pelvis gently back and see the water trickling out of the front. Keep rocking your pelvis back and forth, making the movements smaller each time until you come to rest in a position where the bowl of water is suspended evenly or rather, your pelvis is level. This is the natural lordotic curve of your spine or “neutral spine”.
Picture your core muscle group as a corset around your middle. Imagine you have a wide belt around you and imagine you are pulling this in as tightly as you can. Pull your navel back to your spine as hard as you can until you feel you can hardly breathe. Imagine that this is the tenth hole of the belt. Now loosen it to the 5th hole. Hold it there for just a moment and then loosen it off a couple more notches to the 3rd hole. You are now engaging your core muscle group at approx. 30%. Focus on this feeling and aim to maintain this throughout the class.
Think of your pelvic floor as a lift in a tall building. Lift your PF and take it as high as you possibly can – up to the tenth floor. Relax and release gently to the fifth floor. Hold for just a moment and then lower to the third floor. You now have your pelvic floor engaged at approx. 30%. Focus on this feeling and aim to maintain this for the duration of the class.
Deep lateral breathing or breathing into the ribs is the breathing technique used in Pilates. Gently hold your hands around your ribs with your palms resting against the sides of your rib cage and with your middle fingers lightly meeting around the front. Imagine your lungs as a big balloon and as you inhale, see that balloon expanding and pushing your ribs apart. Allow your fingers to part slightly as your ribs expand and then close back in to touch as your ribs contract as the air leaves your balloon while you exhale. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth and focus on breathing into the ribs, expanding the ribcage with every full breath. Ensure you remain relaxed in your shoulders and neck.