Five Positions Everyone Should Try

What do you think this is, Cosmo? Set yourself up in these exercise positions every day to help balance the body and stave off injury. When we choose exercises we can perform in a variety body positions, we fill in the holes left behind by our everyday, repetitive activities (like sitting, cycling, or running).


Position 1: Side-Lying

This position on your side challenges core stability and overall balance. These exercises are good for side hip strengthening and nerve mobility in the legs. When the upper body is engaged properly in this position, the shoulder blade stabilizers engage, which improves your posture.


The Moves

Kicks: Prop yourself up on your side with a long spine. Make sure your head is on top of your spine. If that feels awkward, it’s probably right! For the more advanced version, prop yourself up on your elbow in a modified side plank with the bottom knee bent. Only come up at a 45 degree angle from the floor and try not to pop up onto the top of your knee. Reach the top leg long and slow kick it forward and back…not allowing for any motion in the spine.


Sciatic Nerve Glides: Reaching your leg up in the air, pump your ankle and bend and straighten your knee in random order. This motion mobilizes the nerve within tight areas of fascia in the leg, freeing it up for better function:


Position 2: Prone

Positioning yourself on your front helps counter our rounded lives! The exercises strengthen postural muscles and your low back, which prevents back pain and disc degeneration.


The Moves

Swimming: Make sure your legs are long and knees are straight. The spine remains long here as well. Flutter kick the legs. Variations include small circles in opposite directions, then reverse. You don’t want to feel pinching in your low back, just a “working” feeling.

Baby Swan: Keep the back of your leg long as you lift and lower your chest. The movement comes from the upper back, not the lower back.


Position 3: Quadruped

Weight bearing on your hands and knees in all fours helps build bone density and core stability. The exercises in this position improve hip and upper body strength and posture.


The Moves

Cat-Cow: Round your back up toward the ceiling and separate your shoulder blades. Draw your belly up and allow your head to relax down with shoulders out of the ears. To reverse into “Cow” inhale, and look just past your mat as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Continue arching and reversing as you breathe. I like to focus the movement on the shoulder blades, then focus the movement on the pelvis:


Spinal Stability: Find what feels like in between the two spinal positions above, and square your trunk to the mat. Hold that position as you breathe and reach opposite arm and leg outside of your base of support. To switch sides, keep your trunk square and only move the extremities. Watch the video below for this one; it seems simple, but it can be very difficult. Repeat several times.


Position 4: Supine Bridges

This position is a good for abdominal strengthening and hip stretching. I chose “bridging” here because it’s my favorite exercise! I love how it mobilizes the spine, strengthens the glutes and hamstrings, and stretches the hip flexors, all in one movement. It is the perfect counter for sitting, running, and cycling.


The Moves

Bridge: Lying on your back with your knees up and feet down, peel your spine up on the inhale and peel it down on the exhale. Make sure your chest stays down for this Pilates version and your knees are slightly wider than hip width:


Position 5: Seated

It’s important to practice proper posture and movement in positions in which we spend most of our time. Twists and side bends preserve and promote normal movements mechanics of the joints in the spine.


The Moves

Twist: Sit with a long spine, inhale and twist on direction, using your knee for leverage. It’s very important to sit tall with a neutral spine through this:


Mermaid: Lengthen your spine as you side bend one way. Keep your pelvis totally stable and try not to lean into your arm — let your arm allow for the side bend and your head to go along for the ride:


Try this mini mobility video. I will take you through all of the above positions and guide you through these exercises. These are perfect moves to balance your life and can be done every day! Daily Mobility Routine

Daily Mobility Routine from Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga on Vimeo.


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Megan Brown, physical therapist, Pilates instructor, mother and co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga in Alexandria, VA, likes to goof around. Yet her commitment to her students and her skill set in the field is no joke. After graduating from University of Virginia with a degree in Sports Medicine, Megan went on to receive her Masters in Physical Therapy and eventually her Doctorate in the profession. Although Pilates was never part of the plan, the method changed the way she treated patients, positively re-directed her career path and enhanced her own active lifestyle. Customized Pilates instruction is her specialty–she designs classes based on clients needs: athletes, new moms, rehabilitation or just for fun (why be serious all the time?). Pilates + Yoga is the best of both worlds, hence the creation of Mind the Mat studios providing classes for all—in every walk of life.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.     

2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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