How to Do a Pilates Counter Stretch with Intermediate Exercises
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Hi, I'm Audrey Laurelton, owner of Equilibrium Pilates in Montclair, NJ. I'm here for About.com today to explain to you how to do a counter stretch in Pilates. A counter stretch is simply stretching the body in the opposite way it has just moved. For example, if you did a flexion exercise, such as swan dive, you'll want to follow it up later with a rounding exercise such as the neck pull. Now I am going to show you the swan dive and neck pull. For the swan dive, we are going to get started lying on the mat, on your belly, hands placed underneath the shoulders. Draw the navel up towards the spine. Keep the legs together by hugging the inner thighs tight. Press all the way up into a nice arch and then release the arms. Next, I'm going to show you the neck pull, which is a nice counter exercise to the swan dive. You are going to start lying down, taking one hand on top of the other and both hands at the base of the neck. Flex the feet. Take a nice, big inhale as you lift the head up. Then exhale as you roll up, dropping the head between the knees and then pull the navel in. Roll up to a nice, flat back, extending the spine long, and then pull the navel in and curl back down.Take a nice inhale as you lift your chin to your chest. Exhale as you come over. Dropping the head down between the knees, pull the belly in. Roll up nice and long, extending the spine up towards the ceiling and then starting at the base of the spine, curl the spine back down to the mat one vertebra at a time. Now, I'm going to show you hip circles. Hip circles work the abdominal muscles right into those side muscles, so both the transverse and the obliques. We are going to start by drawing the knees in, nice Pilates stance. Drawing the legs down and around, exhale to lift. All of the work here is coming from those side muscles.A nice counter for it is our mermaid stretch. You are going to stack the legs, reach up, and as we exhale over, we are going to stretch out those side muscles that just worked during our last exercise. Then just sit up tall, swing the legs over, and make sure you do the other side. Thank you for watching and for more information, go to: health.about.com.