The next time you can grab a few minutes, try this combo of Pilates-inspired exercises for an efficient and effective mini-workout.
1. Cat Leg Lifts
Preparation: Come into “cat position” with your hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Do a few gentle cat rolls to loosen up your belly and spine.
In “neutral cat position” (your back relatively flat with no exaggerated curvature) lift one leg behind you. Keep your knee bent at 90͒. Lift it as high as you can without moving your hips (your knee will be approximately in line with your hip or lower). Pulse your leg upward 10 times. Switch legs.
Repeat on each side 2 more times.
Throughout the exercise keep your weight even over both hands and your hips still (imagine the teacup is now on your lower back and your goal is to keep it still throughout the exercise).
2 Flat Belly Curl-Ups
Preparation: On a yoga mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Notice that the natural curve of your low spine is not touching the mat and that the sacrum (the large flat bone at the back of the pelvis) is flat on the mat. You will remain in this “neutral spine” position throughout the crunches – don’t flatten your low back into the mat or allow your hips to rock. (If there were a teacup on your lower abdomen it wouldn’t tip throughout the exercise.) Take a few deep breaths in this position.
Lift your head up and let it rest in your hands with your elbows wide. Now you are in the position for crunches.
Curl-up slowly as you exhale and then release half-way back down as you inhale (don’t put your head back down on the floor in between curl-ups). Do 3 sets of 10.
*This exercise is ideal postpartum when you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your doctor to start working out (don’t rush!) It is not recommended for those with Osteoporosis or Osteopenia.