Whether you missed a workout earlier or simply want to cap the day off with some stretches to unwind and de-stress after a hard day, a 10-minute, low-impact Pilates workout is the perfect way to ease into a restful evening.
"Pilates establishes a strong mind-body connection that can be used to help ground you when feeling overworked or distracted," says Lacy Looney, a Pilates instructor at Hot Pilates in Los Angeles. "Every exercise requires awareness of which muscles are working to produce the movement, while keeping the 'powerhouse' of core muscles engaged."
Here's Looney's 10-minute bedtime routine to clear your head and get you ready for a healthy, restful evening. All you need is a mat (and perhaps a mirror for those who are working on their form!).
Move 1: Spinal Articulation
- Stand at the end of your mat with your feet and legs pressed together with neutral hips and spine and your arms by your side.
- Lift your arms toward the ceiling.
- Exhale and hinge from the hips and fold forward with arms stretching toward the floor until your fingertips are a few inches from the ground.
- Take three big breaths in the hinge position, keeping your core engaged.
- Exhale as you stand, initiating the lift from your core, and stack your vertebrae one on top of the other.
Move 2: Plank Walkout
- From standing, hinge at the hips and walk your arms forward into a plank.
- As you're walking forward, keep your core engaged and avoid letting your hips shift to the side or sag.
- During each walkout, focus on maintaining stability at your shoulders, hips and spine.
- Walk your hands back to your feet. Make sure your hips return to stacked over your feet, keeping your spine rounded.
Move 3: Plank Hold
- Lie down on your belly with your hands under your shoulders and your toes in contact with the floor.
- Press yourself up to balance on your hands and toes, shoulders stacked over wrists and spine straight.
- Your hips should stay square to the floor, level with your shoulders.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Move 4: Cat and Cow Stretch
- Start on all fours.
- Lift your back toward the ceiling, scooping your abs up into the ribs, tucking your hips, rounding your shoulders and dropping your head toward the ground.
- Ground down through your hands and knees and drop your belly toward the floor, lifting your chest and head as your hips angle forward and your tailbone reaches away.
Move 5: Slow Mountain Climber
- Start in a plank position.
- Keeping a flat back, slowly lift your right knee toward your chest, as high as you can reach without letting your hips lift or sag.
- Return your right foot back to plank position and repeat on the left leg.
Focus on control and precision with each movement. Think about engaging your glutes and abs to pull each leg to your chest.
Move 6: Side Bend + Pulse
- Start in a side plank, balancing on your right hand, palm stacked under your shoulder. Lift your left arm toward the ceiling.
- Stack your left foot in front of your right foot.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then add 10 tiny pulses up and down to intensify the exercise.
Reps: 3 on each side
Move 7: The Hundred
- Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides, legs lifted and bent so your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Lift your head, neck and shoulders off the ground.
- Press your lower back in the ground as you extend your legs straight, hovering them as low as you can without arching your back.
- Stretch your arms out by your hips and pump them up and down about two inches.
- Inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts until you reach 100 pumps with your arms.
Reps: 1 set of 100
As you breathe and work your arms, continue to squeeze your glutes, pull your bellybutton to your spine and draw your shoulder blades back and down.
Move 8: Leg Circle
- Lie on your back, grounding your shoulders, ribs, hips and arms firmly into your mat.
- Extend one leg straight up and over your hip.
- Rotate your leg clockwise to draw a circle with your foot in the air, using your glutes and abs to keep your hips still.
- Complete 5 circles, then switch directions.
Reps: 5 on each leg in each direction (clockwise and counterclockwise)
Move 9: Roll-Up
- Lie flat on your back with your legs extended straight and together and your arms extended toward the ceiling over your shoulders.
- Squeeze your butt, pull your ribs in and draw your shoulder blades down and back as you exhale and peel your spine off the ground, starting at the crown of the head.
- Round forward, tips of your fingers reaching for your toes.
- Inhale as the spine curls into a C shape, drawing the ribs up and away from the hips.
- Exhale while rolling down the exact same way you lifted.
Reps: 5 to 10
Move 10: Standing Balance
- Start standing, with neutral hips and spine. Squeeze your glutes, pull your shoulder blades together and in and engage your abs.
- Keeping your arms at your sides, hinge at the hips, lifting your right leg straight off the ground behind you as your torso reaches forward.
- Inhale and imagine stretching your right leg and spine away from the center of your body. Your leg and torso should be parallel to the ground (or as close as you can get to parallel while maintaining your balance and keep your hips square to the floor).
- Return to standing.
Reps: 5 to 10 on each side
Move slowly and with control. If your balance is off, focus on pressing through the entire foot of your standing leg, creating a “tripod” by pressing through your heel, the outside edge and just below your big toe.
Move 11: Narrow Squat
- Bring your feet and legs together. Press your hands together at the chest to stabilize your shoulders.
- Sink your hips back into a squat as if you were sitting on an imaginary chair behind you. Keep your knees over your ankles and behind your toes. Keep your chest lifted and your gaze forward.
- Inhale at the bottom of your squat, when your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as you can comfortably go while maintaining proper form).
- Exhale as you push through your heels to return to standing.
Reps: 5 to 10