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Healing Hands - With Pilates

by Ann Crowther(more info)

listed in pilates, originally published in issue 234 - November 2016

The stresses of life take their toll on the mind and body in subtle ways that we’re often not aware of. Then,  one day we realize that we can’t remember the last time we felt energetic, at peace or even free from aches and pains. Self-healing is the art of using touch , breathing and the power of the mind to improve your quality of life.

Pilates Pose Photo

Pilates Pose Photo

Before you embark on the Pilates Exercises you need to master certain basic aspects and key principles of the Pilates method. You begin by taking a good look at yourself and your posture; Then you learn the Pilates  way to breathe and the techniques of maintaining neutral spine and core stability. Once you have grasped these fundamentals , you are ready to move on to my specially adapted Pilates exercises.

Good posture isn’t simply a matter of standing up straight. It is part state of mind, part good habit, and practice. The health of every bodily system depends on it. The rewards include plenty of energy and vitality - a zest for living life to the full, and a wonderful and healthy glow. Before beginning any exercise regime, it's important to take a good look at your own posture.

Stand in front of a full-length mirror, preferably in just your underwear, and look at your natural posture both from the front and from the side.

Use another mirror to see your back view. What do you see? Are both halves of your body equally balanced. Is one hip or shoulder higher than the other? Does the top of your back curve outward with rounded shoulders and do your head and neck protrude?

The modern sedentary lifestyle, where many of us sit at desks all day often hunched over computers, puts pressure on the top of the spine causing back, neck and headache. Do your shoulders come forward come forward or do they look tense and raised?

Conversely, adopting a military bearing with your spine straight and shoulders pulled back, will cause back strain and subsequent backache.

How are your arms? They should fall with the palms of your hands facing the outside of your thighs. If your palms are pointing behind you, it is an indication that your chest muscles are tight and pulling your arms in.

Do you have a large curve in your lower back, which makes your abdomen and bottom protrude?

Next examine your legs. Are they straight? Are they so straight that your knees are pulled back and locked? Or are your knees collapsing toward each other? Do  your feet turn in? (Take a look at some of the shoes you wear regularly. Are they worn down  more on  one side then the other? If so, you may be ‘rolling’ your feet as you walk.)

Now place a chair in front of the mirror, and sit the way you normally do. Observe  the way you are sitting. Look at your body composition and shape. Are you firm and toned with definition to the muscles?

Now consider other factors, such as your skin tone. Do you have a healthy glow and a good complexion? Are your eyes clear and sparkling? Are your teeth gleaming? Does your hair look shiny and are your nails strong? Now spend a couple of minutes thinking about yourself and your lifestyle and the image you present to the world – that’s what the Pilates Posture can deliver for you!

The Pilates Posture

Stand with your feet parallel, hip distance apart, and with the soles of your  feet flat on the floor. Loosen your knees, so that they are neither locked nor bent but relaxed.

Align your centre of power, or core muscles, raising your hip bones very slightly up toward your ribs by drawing your navel back toward your spine

Inhale deeply through your nose bringing the breath down into your ribcage. Now exhale and sigh, which will funnel your ribs down toward your hips and straighten your back. Pull your upper body gently upward.

Relax your shoulders! Try squeezing your shoulder blades together and then dropping them down slightly exhaling slowly to help you relax.

Turn to look at your profile and imagine that there is straight line running down from your ear, through the middle of your thigh, through your knee to reach just in front of your ankle bone.

Position your forearm forward, with your elbow slightly bent, your thumb tucked in, and your hand resting against your thigh.

Ensure that your weight is placed toward the back of each foot, with your hips positioned directly above your heels.
Notice how you now feel lifted and balanced - your weight is evenly distributed throughout your muscles, and de-pressurized your spine.

Posture exercising is direct and develops exciting energies within your body. Test how this can be so for you – with calm and relaxation – proceed calmly with relaxation uppermost in your mind  - first place one hand, palm down, on your chest over your heart area and ask the hand to direct life-energy to wherever your body or mind needs it. Let your other hand rest on your leg. Keep breathing through your nose. Your hands may become intensely notorious cold as a result of the healing energy pouring out of them. You may notice your heartbeat slowing down.

After a minute of two, inhale deeply through your nose and exhale in a sigh through your nose or mouth. Release your hands, shake them and return your attention to the outside world.
Commit  to your feelings, both  your  inner and outer health . Be happy and be true to yourself and feel your strength  within you and make life more enjoyable and rewarding


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About Ann Crowther

Ann Crowther trained in Pilates in California, and later in Exercise and Health Studies at the University of East London, followed by specialist training in Kinesiology, Nutrition and Stress Management, Ann draws on over 20 years of experience as a fitness trainer and has won extensive praise for the development of her own highly successful Pilates system. She is the author of Pilates for You, Duncan Baird Publishers, and several fitness DVD/book sets. She may be contacted via ;

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