This month’s newsletter has been inspired by a client who recognizes the importance of movement in stabilizing mood and sleep patterns but has little to no time. You may see a stability ball in the office environment these days as a substitute for the office chair. I love this idea and I love the stability ball because it is an inexpensive (I found them for less the $10 at Ross including the pump) and versatile piece of equipment. So this month I give you some moves, and the mindset that can be squeezed into the tightest of schedules. Most of these moves can easily be done without the ball, so don’t let that stop you. The ball does add a fun, playful component that can also be beneficial to improving quality of life. Try it in the morning, midday, in the evening or all three! Have fun!
Present & Playful; Everything is not that serious, so try to have fun with this. Focus on how your body is moving or not moving.
Aware of how your body feels physically and emotionally.
Breath is Life; Correct breathing during movement facilitates what Joseph Pilates calledan “internal shower”. The increase of oxygenated blood flow distributesoxygen throughout the body and allows for toxins in the blood to be filteredout. Breathing will make this a more efficient use of your time and energy.
Take Inventory; How do you feel when you finish? Energized and alert? Calm or tired? Clear headed and grateful or judgmental and critical?
(or as the little lady pictured below calls them “The Tricks”)
***Intended for healthy bodies and no modifications provided. If you have any physical health issues you should consult with your doctor.
1) Bounce! Sit on the ball with your feet apart where you feel stable. Thinkabout your tailbone being heavy to the floor and the top of you headreaching for the ceiling, ribs down and navel to spine. Focusing on engaging your pelvic floor and abdominals, begin to bounce.
2) Move the pelvis and waist! Come to a stop. Then use your pelvis to rollthe ball forward and back. Next try side to side, keeping your upper bodystill in space. Lastly put it together as if you are hula hooping, big circularmovements to loosen up the waist! Reverse the direction.(Without ball complete moves 1 & 2 standing.)
3) Ahhh! This is the sound of you slowly and carefully walking your feet forward and rolling your spine down over the ball controlling with your abs. Your tailbone and head should be in comfortable contact with the ball (if not, your ball may be the wrong size). Your head should be on the back side of the ball, if possible, to get a nice extension of the spine and opening of the chest.Your arms can be over head, hanging to the floor in a “T” position or making nice big circles. Play with this and find what feels good to you. (Without ball, sit on floor with knees bent, roll the back down and make circles with the arms. Walk up legs with hands to roll back up, if needed.)
4) Abs! Reach your arms to the ceiling,lift the head and curl the upper body.Begin walking your feet towards the ball,using your abdominals to roll up with control. Repeat this three times. For extra ab work, while lying back over the ball, place your hands behind your head (hands now are in contact with the ball). Then look at the ceiling and lift the upper body until parallel to the floor. Lower down again. Repeat 10-15 times and roll up with your hands behind your head. (Can be completed from floor.)
5) Bridge and Balance! Lie down and place your ankles and lower legs over the ball. With straight legs, strong core and arms pressing into the floor, lift your hips to the ceiling.Engaging your belly and the back of your upper legs helps you balance. Slowly lower your back down one section at a time. Repeat and add. You can add kicking one leg up to the ceiling while your hips are lifted or you can add bringing your arms overhead while your hips are lifted and rolling down with no hands. (With no ball, bend knees and place feet on floor.)
6) Assisted squats! Standing with the ball between your low back and awall, extend arms forward and squat. Make sure your knees stay over your feet (never past your toes). 7) Arms! Standing, hold ball with straight arms parallel to the floor and then lift over head 10-20 times. For a side stretch, with arms over head , reach your ball to the left corner of the ceiling, breath into the stretch. Repeat tothe right. 8) Rest! Lie over the ball, face down, and rest your cheek on the ball.Breath, release, relax. Switch cheeks. Breath, release, relax. (Without ball, lie on your belly on the floor, arms by your sides, cheek on the floor.) 9) Plank! Place you hands on the floor, engage your abdominals and walkaway from the ball with your hands until the ball is under your thighs (or your shins for more of a challenge). Hold this position, straight line from head to toe, and then walk back with your hands until you are resting over the ball. Try three times holding a little longer each time. (Plank can be completed on floor.) 10) Plank Plus! Come to your plank with the ball under the thighs as before. Next bend your knees underneath you (the ball follows) coming into a ball position with your body (head included). Then back to your plank. Repeat 5-10 times. 11) Extension! Begin again with the ball under your thighs. This time let gravity draw your hips toward the ground, press into the floor with your hands, allowing your hips to roll onto the ball. Your legs should naturally rise toward the ceiling. Again press into the floor with your hands, this time rolling forward and lifting your chest to the ceiling. (From the floor, face down, hands by the chest, engage belly as you press your body up with your hands, opening chest. Keep neck in line with the spine, please!)
This Months Challenge: MOVE mindfully at least 5 days a week and notice how you feel! ”The man who uses intelligence with respect to his diet, his sleeping habits and who exercises properly, is beyond any question of doubt taking the very best preventive medicines provided so freely and abundantly by nature”– Joseph Pilates