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Essential Pilates for Beginners: Open Leg Rocker

Although it's included in the series of essential Pilates exercises for beginners, Open Leg Rocker is actually more of an intermediate exercise that involves a lot of abdominal work, using your arms for stability. The following instructions take you through the exercise step by step, beginning with the prep, and the accompanying video provides a helpful visual aid.

Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Holding on to the underside of your lower thighs, pull your abdominal muscles in and roll back off of your sit bones. From here, bring your legs into a tabletop position, grab onto your ankles, and take your legs about hip-distance apart. This is the starting position and actually how you're going to roll for the Open Leg Rocker.

  1. On the exhale, draw your abdominals in and roll back to your shoulder blades.
  2. As you inhale, roll back up onto your sit bones and hold. From here, go for little length in your spine by pulling your chest forward.

The next version of Open Leg Rocker gets a little more complex. Begin in the same starting position as the previous variation, with your weight off your sit bones, but this time, raise both legs up in the air, about shoulder-width apart, holding your ankles with your hands. Use your arms to pull on your legs, lift your chest up, and pull your abs in for support. Once you've gotten your form under control, you can start the roll.

  1. Inhale as you roll back to on your shoulder blades.
  2. Exhale as you bring your body back up to your starting position and hold.

Repeat, making sure to keep your chin tucked in as you roll back. Exhale to relax your legs back down to the mat.


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