With the Christmas, the change in season and with a million and one things to do in the coming weeks it’s imperative you sleep well to recharge your body in preparation for the festivities. Naomi, owner of Highgate Pilates gives you her Top 5 best Pilates exercises to do before you go to bed. This will help connect your breathing with some gentle stretches that will relax your muscles and still the mind to encourage a restful sleep.
1) Lie down in a semi supine position with knees bent & feet hip width apart. Feel the natural curves of your spine and allow your pelvis to rest in a neutral position. Inhale wide into the back and sides of your ribcage, as you exhale feel the ribs closing and drawing together then very gently draw your deep abdominal muscles in. Inhale 5 times and on your last inhale lift the arms up above your chest, extend them back in line with your ears as you exhale keeping your mid back connected to your mat. Inhale lift the arms back and as you exhale return them floating them back to the mat. Repeat this five more times.
2) Inhale to prepare and as you exhale tilt your pelvis back and start to peel your spine off the mat lifting and opening the hips. Take a breath in and focus on lengthening through the spine and the backs of your thighs. As you exhale wheel the spine back down bone by bone, repeat five times.
3) Bring your feet and knees together and lengthen you arms out to the side, palms facing up or down. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale rotate your hips and legs to one side as you rotate your neck to the other in a full spinal twist. Keep the shoulder blades down and avoid arching your back as you roll. Inhale to return back to the start position. Alternate and repeat up to eight times.
4) Position yourself in 4 point kneeling with your hands below your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Exhale and start flexing your back into an elongated C curve (arched cat) starting with your lower back and finishing with your neck and head nodding forwards. Inhale wide to the ribcage and as you exhale unravel the spine sending the tailbone and the crown of your head away from each other. Finish by opening the knees, bringing the feet together, bring your sit bones back to your heels in the rest position lengthening your arms forward or by your sides.
5) Sit upright with legs crossed or soles of your feet connected. Inhale and lift your right arm overhead, as you exhale sequentially flex your spine to the left. Inhale lift your arm back up and exhale to return it back down. Repeat up to eight times. Finish by closing your eyes, let the hands rest on your knees and focus on the breathing for 2 or 3 more counts.