Benefits: Warms the body by increasing circulation, and prepares the body for exercise. Strengthens abdominal muscles and increases spinal flexibility.
Set-Up: Lie on your back, with your hips and knees bent to ninety degrees in a tabletop position. Reach your arms out from your shoulders with fingers toward the ceiling.
Movement: Curl your shoulders and head off the floor and extend your legs at an angle at which you can maintain a level pelvis. Reach your arms past your thighs, drawing your shoulders down your back. Move your arms up and down slowly, initiating from the shoulder joint as if you were slapping water. Reach out of the crown of your head keeping your neck long as you curl up.
Breathing: Once curled up, inhale for a count of five and exhale for a count of five. Take long full breaths, making sure that the inhale and exhale are equal in length.
1. If your lower back feels strain, allow the legs to remain on the floor with hips and knees bent or place them in the tabletop position.
2. If you feel strain in your neck, perform the slapping motion while your head and shoulders remain on the floor.
Precautions: This exercise may be dangerous for those with osteoporosis of the spine.
Repetitions: 20 to 100 (2 sets of 10, to 10 sets of 10).Adopted from The Pilates Mat Manual by Marci Clark and Christine Romani-Ruby.