Do you feel as stiff as a board after a day’s teaching? Have hours marking books and preparing lessons left your shoulders sore and spine rigid? Pilates instructor and ex-school teacher Julia Willmott shows you how you can release back tension and de-stress with 5 easy moves:
These moves can also be downloaded as a pdf
1 The Clock:
Imagining you are kneeling on a big clock, with your chest resting on your thighs, stretch your arms to 12 o’clock (i.e. forwards). Breathe in, and as you exhale gently press your palms into the floor and your bottom onto your heels. Breathe as you stretch for a moment. Then release, and walk your hands over to 2 o’clock, shifting your bottom towards your left heel. Inhale, and as you exhale press your left palm into the floor, relaxing the right arm on the floor. Breathe as you stretch for a moment. Then walk the hands over to 10 o’clock, and repeat on the other side, this time pressing your right palm into the floor whilst you stretch.
2 Cat to Lion:
On all 4s, inhale, as you exhale tuck your tail bone under and your chin in, and press palms into the floor so that your spine curves up towards the sky like a cat arching its back. Then roll the spine the opposite way on the exhale, lifting your tail bone and chest up and drawing your shoulders away from your ears as you lift the chin. Repeat up to 6 times, exhaling each time your move the spine.
3 Knee Circles:
Lying on your back, bring knees into chest, palms on knee caps, with fingers pointing down towards the shins. Keeping the knees together, circle the knees clockwise 5 times, then anti-clockwise 5 times.
Lying on your back, bring knees into chest, palms on knee caps, with fingers pointing down towards the shins. Bring the right knee further into the chest whilst gently pushing the left knee away, keeping palms on both knees and feet relaxed. Then swap knees. Continue to ‘piston’ the knees back and forth about 10 times.
5 Double Knee Drop:
Lie on your back with arms out to the side like a scarecrow, back of hands resting on the ground, feet on the floor and knees bent. Inhale as you allow both knees to drop to the right towards the floor beside you, rolling onto the sides of the feet, keeping both shoulders on the floor. Exhale as you return the knees to centre, replacing tail bone onto the floor. Repeat on the other side. Do about 8-10 pairs.
NB It is advisable to consult your GP prior to trying a new form of exercise if you have an ongoing back or joint problem.
Julia Willmott runs Pilates classes in Petersfield, Hampshire. She also runs one day wellness retreats in the South East.
Visit www.juliawillmott.com for more information.
Follow Julia on Twitter @
Photography by Sarah Sheldrake