Pilates has been around for years and has definitely outlived the idea of a being a fad. Originally designed as a form of physical therapy, not as a way to get “longer, leaner” muscles it can be a very challenging workout, as well as a great way to rebuild your foundation for movement (and help you fit back into your old jeans) after giving birth.
And while one-on-one or group Pilates sessions with a trainer (which tend to involve traditional equipment such as towers, reformers, and chairs) are great, it’s often not realistic for new mums to get to a class, let alone find some solo practice time. So with this mind, we tapped expert, Laura Mason from Unwind Pilates in Newcastle who also happens to be one of our MUMOKI Mamas, to get the down low on how to realistically incorporate some simple postnatal pilates moves into your everyday routine at home.
And the great news is you don’t have to have any special gear to get an amazing Pilates workout. In fact, all you really need is a clear space on the floor at home and a yoga mat (or two, if you like some extra cushioning).
Let’s get to it mamas!
Equipment free Postpartum Pilates moves you can do at home in 10 minutes a day
by Laura Mason
Before I had kids I would do exercise whenever I felt like it without a care in the world and always in matching active wear. Now, I fit it in around all the stuff that comes up with two kids, a husband, household and studio. And it’s very rarely in matching active wear!
I try to do 10 minutes whenever I can so over the course of the day so in total I get about 30-40 minutes. Just find a spot on the ground that doesn’t have a toy or baby on it and get moving. I promise you will feel better for it!
Exercise 1: kneeling swimming
Goals: increase abdominal strength and stability, strengthen shoulder girdle and glute muscles, warm up the body.
Set up: hands and knees, wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
Tips: Stretch your hand and foot away from one another trying to lengthen as much as you can. When you change from one side to the other, try to minimise movement of the torso. The kneeling leg should be perpendicular to the floor – activate outside of the thigh to assist. Add a child if you want to increase the amount of work required to stabilise you and stop you face planting!
Move 1: breathe in and relax your abs so that your belly drops to the floor – allow gravity to take hold. Exhale and draw the tummy up away from the floor while extending one arm and the opposite leg. Hold for a count of three. Bring hand and knee back to the floor. Perform on the other side. Repeat 5-8 x per side – alternating.
Move 2: Hold one arm and leg up for 10 seconds and then while outstretched, lower the hand and foot to the floor and lift back up. Repeat 10 lift/lowers and then pulse upwards 20 times. Change and perform on the other side.
Move 3: Child’s pose – allow your bum to rest on your feet with your arms outstretched. Breathe!
Exercise 2: Side lying glutes
Goals: strengthen the outer thigh and butt muscles.
Set up: Lie on your side, bottom arm under head, top arm resting on floor in front of chest. Bottom leg bent with thigh straight out in front of you and top leg straight in line with body. Lift the underneath waist off the floor and maintain the lift while you move the leg.
Tips: Lengthen the leg while you move it. Your toddler will act as a brilliant weight to increase the work required to lift your leg or keep it at hip height. Get them to push down and lift against their resistance. Do all three moves on one side, then do the other side.
Move 1: Lift the leg up and down. 15 x leg.
Move 2: Keep the leg at hip height and take it forward and back. Repeat 15 x leg.
Move 3: Hold the leg in line with your body and then make small circles with your thigh. The up and back parts of the circle make your butt work the most so don’t miss them! Repeat 15 x per leg.
Exercise 3: Single leg stretch
Goals: Strengthen the core and pelvic floor and increase your heart rate.
Set up: Lie on your back with both legs at table top position (90 degree bend at the knee and 90 degree bend at the hip).
Tips: Draw the ribs towards one another before lifting and drawing the ribs towards the hips. Keep neck long as your lift. Do not lift the head if you have just recently given birth or have a diastasis recti/ab separation!
Move: Pull one leg into your chest and then lift head, neck and chest off the floor to meet it. Stretch your other leg out straight (the lower it goes, the harder you have to work). Breathe in and then breathe out and switch legs. Keep chest lifted. Alternate legs. 8-10 x leg.
Photos by Jessica Ross Photography