Here’s an imagery cue that works well in so many situations. Supine, standing, even during movement. It’s so versatile that you can probably use it about 5 different ways in 1 class.
Headlights. When your aim is to edit out transverse movement, this is the cue for you. Think of headlights on a car. Both shine in the same direction, straight ahead of the car. You can’t disassociate the car from the headlights. Where the car points, the headlights point. And vice versa.
Imagine that the hips bones are mounted with headlights and just like a car, those headlights must shine directly ahead of the body. Hip disassociation exercises lend themselves particularly well to this cue. Leg Circles I, Shoulder Bridge, Bridging w single leg variations, Standing Balance I/II and others enjoy improved form and more benefits are reaped when this cue is used. In supine, headlights shine on the ceiling directly above; in Standing Balance I, towards the wall or mirror just ahead; and Standing Balance II, the floor just below.
Feel free to play with this one and see which exercises it improves for your clients. Often times introducing it towards the start of a class is a good idea because you can refer back to it with other exercises you didn’t even realize it would be helpful for!
One way to make a basic exercise a little more interesting and to give it additional benefits is to add in a little choreography. One of the most common examples of this is pointing and flexing the foot during exercises where the client is asked to isolate the movement of a straight leg in the hip joint – bridging variations, sidekick series, leg pull and others.
The key with pointing and flexing is timing the choreography to get extra length from the hamstrings and calf muscles. This means pointing as the leg moves towards the body and flexing as it moves back to its starting position. With this timing, the client is flexing the ankle when the hamstring is at its longest, most stretched position – creating a little more length and a little more stretch.
A way to give clients a visual cue for this choreography is to imagine the foot is a paintbrush. As the brush moves up the wall, the bristles of the brush are pointed down. As the brush moves back down the wall, the bristles are flexed up.
Get extra length out of the hip joint by encouraging clients to reeeach for the wall with their paintbrushes.
Create more effective pelvic awareness and hip disassociation during bridging with this Cue of the Day.
At the top of your bridge, imagine your pant pockets are full of heavy sand. To empty them out, drop first your right hip, then return to the top of your bridge. Now drop your left hip in the same way, maintaining height through your opposite hip. Alternate this way until every last grain of sand has been emptied. Center yourself at the top of your bridge and roll back down out of your bridge.
This cue allows for an intense variation on the basic Pilates bridge. By isolating one side and then the other, you create the opportunity for the client to mentally isolate the pelvis and gain awareness through the transverse abdominus while at the same time moving through an intense gluteal fold (glute shelf) workout.
Clients will benefit from coordination efforts, pelvic stability and tone through each of the gluteus muscles, as well as through the hamstring muscles and contralateral adductors.