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 feet and legs pressed together with neutral hips and spine. 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, finger tips inches from the ground.
- Take three big breaths in the hinge position, keeping core engaged and strong.
- As you stand, let your core initiate the lift to stack your vertebrae one on top of the other as you exhale to stand.
Move 2: Plank Walkout
- From standing, hinge at the hips and walk your arms forward into a plank.
- As you're walking forward, keep a strong core and avoid letting your hips shift side to side.
- During each walkout, focus on stability of the three major joints: shoulders, hips and spine.
- Walk your hands back to your feet and return your hips over your feet, keeping your spine rounded.
Move 3: Plank Hold
- Lie down flat on your belly with hands under your shoulders and toes in contact with the floor.
- Press yourself up to balance on your hands and toes, shoulder stacked over wrists and spine perfectly straight.
- Your hips should stay square to the floor, level with your shoulders.
Reps: hold for 20 to 30 seconds
Move 4: Cat and Cow Stretch
- Lower knees to the ground to support yourself on all fours — hands and knees.
- 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 hands and knees and drop your belly toward the floor, lifting your chest and head as your hips angle forward and tailbone reaches away to stretch lower/middle back.
Move 4: Slow Mountain Climbers
- Return to a plank position.
- Keeping lengthen in the spine, slowly lift the right knee toward your chest, as deep as you can reach without compromising alignment of the hips (don't let the hips drop).
- Set the right foot back and repeat on the left leg.
- Focus on control and precision of each movement. Connect the mind to movement, thinking about engaging the glutes to lift while the abs pull the leg to the chest.
Move 5: Side Bend + Pulse
- From plank, walk your right hand to the middle of your chest and plant your palm on the ground.
- Rotate through the spine to the left into the side plank position, lifting the opposite arm above your shoulders to the ceiling.
- Stack your left foot in front of right foot, while using the sides of the feet closest to the ground for a strong foundation. Try to keep heels down.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then add 10 hip pulses (tiny movements up and down) to intensify exercise.
Reps: 3 on each side
Move 7: The Hundred
- Lie flat on your back with arms by your side, legs bent at hips and knees so your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Curl your chin toward your chest, lifting your head and neck until you reach the shoulders.
- Extend your legs (in external rotation from the hips) as far out as you can while keeping your lower back on the mat.
- Stretch your arms out from your shoulders and start to pump your arms up and down about two inches.
- Inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts until you reach 100.
Reps: one set of 100
As you breath and work your arms, continue to engage “midline connections” by squeezing your glutes, pulling the belly button to spine and drawing your shoulder blades toward your spine.
Move 8: Leg Circles
- Lie flat on your back, grounding your shoulders, ribs, hips and arms firmly into the mat.
- Extend one leg straight up and over your hip.
- Externally rotate from your hip as you circle your leg in the air, using your glutes and abdomen to keep the hips still.
Reps: 5 on each leg in each direction (clockwise and counterclockwise)
Move 9: Roll Ups
- Lie flat on your back with your legs together and arms in the air over your shoulder.
- Squeeze your butt, pull your ribs into the mat, draw your shoulder blades to your spine.
- Exhale as you peel the spine off the ground starting at the crown of the head.
- Round forward until the tips of your fingers reach 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
- Return to standing, with neutral hip and spine. Squeeze your glutes, pull your shoulder blades together and in toward the spine and draw your abs in.
- Keeping your arms at your sides, hinge at the hip, lifting the right leg straight off the ground behind you as your torso reaches forward.
- Inhale as you lift and hinge. Imagine you are stretching your legs 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 it while maintaining your balance and squaring your hips to the floor).
- Lower back down 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 foundation leg, creating a “tripod” by pressing through heel, outside edge and just below the big toe.
Move 11: Narrow Squat
- Bring your feet and legs together. Press your hands together at the chest to stabilize your shoulders.
- Sit back into the squat away from your knees, keeping them in line with the ankle.
- Knees may reach over the tops of the feet, but don't let your knees reach over the toes.
- Chest stays lifted, neck stays in line with spine and gaze is always forward.
- Inhale at the bottom, exhale to stand, pushing hips forward and up to return to the start.
Reps: 5 to 10