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!
Imagine…a woman puts one leg up to rest on a plush chair, then she begins pulling up her silk stockings, slowly and seductively, inch by inch, all the way to the top of her thigh. We’ve all seen that scene in a movie. What does this have to do with Pilates you ask? Well, a lot.
It gets at the question: how do we stand taller and create length from the ground up? Whether planting the foot firmly on the mat, or the foot bar or whatever surface we’re working on, we are working with more than just bones stacked neatly upon bones. Our legs are literally stockings of muscle.
Stand up. Take a moment to bring awareness to the feet. Focus that awareness on your toes, the blade and heel of your foot. Feel them firmly pressing into the mat. Now shift the awareness to the arches of your feet. Begin the lift here. Lift through your arches and feel the muscle engagement travel up the leg in slow motion. Mentally “pull up” your stockings of muscle, inch by inch, just like the woman in the movie scene pulling up her stockings. Continue all the way up the thigh to the pelvic floor.
This chain of engagement naturally continues from the pelvic floor to the TA, all the way up the spine to the crown of the head. Until you just might actually be that elusive inch taller – not to mention properly aligned and ready to get the most out of the exercise.