Bella, the West Highland Terrier who works in my studio, inspired me to write today about fulfilling each movement. Bella has her own favorite Pilates exercises and I love watching how she milks every movement for all it’s worth. I can walk toward her treat jar or open the back door, but she will not move until she’s fulfilled each and every movement.
First, she slowly extends her front legs and lowers her upper body into Shell Stretch.
Then (and only she knows when “then” is) she begins to lift her ribcage, lengthening her low back and extending her hind legs back into Swan.
She drops her nose ever so slightly to open the back of her neck and avoid any compression of her cervical spine.
Lately I’ve noticed that she’s added a new stretch to her Pilates practice: “Seated Swan.” You can do Bella’s Seated Swan by sitting in a chair or crossed legged on a mat with your arms at your side. Press down into the mat with your arms and paws while you draw energy up through your spine and down your back. Keep your head aligned over your ribcage to avoid over extending your spine.
What I’ve learned from Bella is to treat each exercise as if it’s the last stretch in your Pilates workout. Fulfill each movement and milk it for all it’s worth. It’s Bella approved!