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Back to Basics - Perfect Posture

NOTE - If you prefer, I have a YouTube video where I explain how to master centering.

There are four unstable areas in the body that we need to concentrate on when thinking about getting our body into optimal alignment; the foot and ankle, the pelvis, the spine and the shoulder girdle. To do this, in Pilates we talk about stacking up our arches or sometimes they are known as domes.

We have four arches in the body; in the arches of the feet, in the pelvic floor, in the diaphragm and in the roof of the mouth. If we concentrate on these areas along with setting up neutral spine and centering, our bodies should be in great alignment.

How do we do it?

Arches of the foot and ankle - If we think of the arches of the feet, they are dome shaped and they give us a really good stable base for the feet to stand on. Firstly, pull the toes up, this will create tension in the arches. Then place the toes down one at a time and spread them out, maintaining the tension in the arch. Allow the weight of the body to sit slightly to the outside of the feet. This allows the body to sit centrally.

Arch of the pelvic floor - We engage the pelvic floor by pulling it up from the front, to the middle and then to the back, like a wave of tension. Once the pelvic floor is pulled up, this automatically co activates the transverse abdominus and the rest of the muscles that form a wrap around cylinder of support for the spine, used in centering.

Arch of the diaphragm - We can think of the diaphragm as the lid of the core and is what helps us with our breathing. We need to align this area of the body which consists of the ribcage and the thoracic spine , so it sits vertically over the pelvic floor and over the feet. Remember we are stacking the arches up. Think about drawing the ribs down so that they stack on top of the pelvis. In Pilates we call this the rib to pelvis connection.

Arch of the top of the Head - The final arch is where we get our neck and head into great alignment. We do this by using the roof of the mouth. All you need to is to put your tongue to the roof of the mouth and back slightly. What this does is to pop your chin back slightly, getting your head and your upper back and neck (your thoracic and cervical spine) into great alignment.

Finally as you stand with your arches stacked on top of each other, I want you to imagine there is a long, golden thread running up your spine and popping out of the top of your head. Someone is gently pulling on that thread, making you feel longer and taller. Finally, relax the shoulders back, down and away from the ears, slightly squeezing the shoulder blades towards each other.

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