Please click on the image above to view our Upside-Down Pilates Fundamentals playlist on YouTube! We recommend all new students to begin here!
Upside-Down Dance and Pilates Fundamentals
How do we breath while doing Pilates? Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth with pursed lips like you are blowing a pinwheel or the candles on your birthday cake. Breath into the lower lateral lobes of your lungs to get the most efficient exchange of gases. Allow your lower ribs to expand backwards and sideways like a bellows rather than your belly, chest, and shoulders, expanding forwards and upwards. We do this to engage our deep abdominal muscle (transversus), promote relaxation and focus, and to get the most oxygen possible to our muscles.
2) Optimal (neutral) spine and head
This concept refers to creating the four natural curves of the spine starting down low at the pelvis and connected up top to the skull. In standing the pubic bone and front of the hip bones (ASIS) are in the same flat plane (coronal plane). First curve- the tailbone and sacrum have a small arch going backwards. Second curve- the lower back has a small arch going forwards (normal lumbar lordosis). Third curve- the upper back has a small arch going backwards (normal thoracic kyphosis). Fourth curve- the neck has a small arch going forwards (normal cervical lordosis). The earlobes sit directly on top of the center of the shoulder joint. If any of these curves are excessively flat or excessively curved, the pelvis is tilted forwards or backwards, or the head is hanging forwards or backwards, excessive tension is created in the surround muscles that will eventually lead to pain and injury. Our goal is to line these up in all positions- lying down, standing up, seated, side lying, and on all fours.
3) Pelvic Nutation
This concept is much harder to explain briefly. Pelvic nutation is the proper alignment of the Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ). When the pelvis is nutated the hamstrings draw down in back, the abdominals draw up in front, the pelvic floor widens, the waist concaves, and the low back pulls up in back. When one of these muscular emphasis is not activated the pelvis may go into counter nutation which can lead to SIJ pain or low back pain.
4) Spinal articulation
Your spine contains 24 separate articulations (actually there is a whole lot more but we will stick with 24 today). Our goal is to be able to move each of these joints independently in all directions. People with stiff spines have a variety of health issues. Having a flexible spine can solve or prevent many of these issues. Often times there will be an area that is very stiff while another area is overly mobile. We will bring equal mobility to all.
5) Torso Stability
In summary, this is referring to three dimensional abdominal and back strength. In addition to being able to articulate through our spine, we want to be able to anchor in our torso and move our limbs with great speed and force. To do this we need to feel all of our abdominal muscles and back muscles work together equally in all types of contractions. If you have an articulate spine, you must also be able to control the articulation or movement of your torso. Without this control and strength you are floppy and powerless.
6) Shoulder Girdle Stability and Mobility
The shoulder girdle is a very complex area of the body. Like our torso we need to be able to stabilize our shoulder blades against our ribcage for power in other areas of our body. In addition, we need to be able to move our arms freely which attach to our bodies via our shoulder blades and clavicle. In moving our arms, our shoulder blades actually drop down and then move in a scoop around our ribs to the sides of our bodies. This allows our arm bones to easily float up to the ceiling without tension in our neck. Unfortunately, most peoples bodies no longer do this. Their brains confuse their back muscles and shoulder muscles. The muscles of the shoulders and neck end up doing many jobs they are not really set up to do. Then they get injured. Our goal is to straighten this situation out!
7) Hip Stability and Mobility-
The unfortunate reality of the hip is that many people die shortly after a hip fracture. Our goal is to prevent this from happening. How? By keeping both hips three dimensionally strong and mobile. Our hip works like a ball and socket. It is where our hip bone and our leg bone meet. We can move our hip separately from our pelvis and spine in many directions. The muscles on the outside of our hip help to stabilize us while standing on one leg. The muscles in the back of our hip help us to propel forward in walking and running.
8) Neutral Limbs
If our center or torso is not strong our limbs take the brunt of the work we do. So our first goal is to get our center strong and mobile. Once that is done we can start working on strengthening our limbs. We need to make sure all of the joints in our arms, wrists, hands, knees, ankles, and feet are working properly. We need to understand how to support our joints with muscular emphasis not just dropping into our ligaments. A simple way to do this is make sure we know the difference between hyperextension, flexion, and neutral alignment in these joints. When we are moving we want to take special care that we do not push into our joints until our muscles completely relax. This is hyperextension. This is also being lazy in exercise class! Keep your elbows and knees from locking at all times during exercise. Make sure you can feel the muscles around these joints contracting three dimensionally to support the joint.
9) Neuromuscular efficient hands and feet
We have a lot of muscles in our hands and feet. If we do not use them regularly they shrivel up and go to sleep. We must work the deep muscles of these areas or else pain and injury set in. Not just in the hands and feet, but the misalignment created by the lack of strength shifts into other parts of the body as time goes on. If your toes are crooked, you have bunions or bunionettes, or your feet are flat this will be an area of focus for you! We will fire up the intrinsic muscles of the hands and feet giving you support and power during movement.
10) Whole body integration and working from the inside out
We have three different types of muscles in our bodies. The muscles closest to our joints are not very long and do not create much force. They are used to hold the joint placement. They primarily create strength and stability. These are the deepest muscles in your body and the ones we are trying to fire up first! They give you stability so your other muscles can create mobility. Most people cannot feel them working. They are often referred to as your "core stabilizers". In the media and general fitness people call the core your abs. At Upside-Down Dance & Pilates, your core is the deepest layer of muscles you have not just in your torso but in your whole body. This is the biggest difference between us and the rest of the exercise, yoga, Pilates, and dance world! Imagine your body like the trunk of a tree. We build your strength from the center ring out to the bark. If your tree just has bark it would look like a tree but the slightest wind would blow the tree over. You can think of the bark as the muscles you are familiar with your six pack abs (rectus abdominus), lats, pecs, delts, glutes, big cut quads etc, you get the picture. These muscles burn when you work them. You feel like you are doing a good workout when you focus on them. These muscles are important but without the deeper muscles that you cannot see or feel- the transversus abdominus, intrinsic muscles of the feet and hands, multifidus, pelvic floor, serratus anterior, longus coli and capitus etc- you are a hollow tree trunk. In between the "core" and the "bark" is another set of important muscles such as your four rotator cuff muscles, internal and external obliques, quadratus lumborum, psoas etc these muscles are extremely important and do most of the work in daily life. Yes, once your core is working we start focusing on them. Then we move into the larger muscles to generate terrific power like a 100 year old red wood! In reality we want all the layers of your muscles working together like a team. This process takes time, patience, and persistence. You must be focused and committed to get this kind of result! Once you are here, we start challenging you with coordination and flips on the Cadillac or handstands on the chair or ladder barrel. Just be prepared to stick around for a good five years before you get there! This all depends on the shape of your body and mind when you started though!
Upside-Down Dance and Pilates