Building your Backbone Through Pilates
I wrote this blog post for www.pilatesstyle.com a while back and felt it was a great time to share it again.
A student recently wrote me—and gave me the hugest compliment. She said that I had worked so hard to be a good person and that I only deserved the best. I can honestly say that Pilates has helped me along my path to becoming the type of woman that I admire. Every time I take a mat class or a get on a Reformer and connect with my deeper internal core, I feel like I’m somehow strengthening more than just my physical self. I find that through my practice, I have become more in touch with all aspects of myself.
I take a private with one of the best teachers I know—a friend who I met in acting class years ago. Carey has a second sense about her, and she really knows how to push my buttons and make me dig deeper to really access places that are stuck or even a little dead. She’s helping me wake up my lower-back region, which gives me the backbone to be able to speak the truth and be honest in my relationships. In the past, I’ve often let myself morph into my significant other. I’d become more like the man I was dating and lose sight of my individuality and eventually, I’d start to feel depressed. Thanks to Pilates and my work with Carey, I now have that strong backbone and I’m able to remain true to myself while still growing and developing alongside another person. That person, of course, is my amazing husband Tim and he’s so open and ready to discuss things—and he truly allows me to be myself.
Here’s an exercise that I do with Carey to get in touch with those deep lower-back muscles: Sit tall with your legs extended out in front of you and really try to access your pelvic floor muscles. Imagine closing an elevator door at your pelvic floor and then let it rise up each floor as you hollow out your low belly and keep growing taller out of your lower back. Slowly lift your arms up until they are reaching the ceiling, alongside your ears, and then turn your palms toward each other. Do the very best you can to soften your chest, and keep drawing your front ribs back in space to gain strength in your back body. (I’ll write more about this in my next blog and how softening my heart region in Pilates has helped me in so many ways as well.) Turn to your right as far as you can and then pulse back 10 times, making tiny twists. Turn forward and repeat on your left side.
This exercise had a profound effect on how I carry myself and it has also slimmed the back region of my waist. Not only do I have a backbone and more confidence, I now have a sexy back, too.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!