Breathing and Abdominal Strength!

During my Friday night pilates class, it occurred to me that several pilates exercises would also make fabulous breathing exercises for singers!  Even better, while improving my breath support for singing, I can also help get my abs bathing suit ready!  Wahoo!  Two for one!  I would like to share a few pilates breathing exercises with you.

If you are feeling particularly creative, you can incorporate more of your singing exercises into the breathing exercises.  For example, on the exhales sing notes, trill your lips, do an “open mouth hum” (also known as singing “hungggggg”) or practice a section of an aria.  Have fun!  
The first exercise is the Double Leg Stretch.  To make it easier, extend your legs straight up to the sky.  To make it more challenging, extend your legs to 70 degrees, 30 degrees, or even two inches above the ground!  
The second exercise is the Roll Up.  No not the fruit roll up!  The abdominal roll up!  Make sure if the full roll up is too challenging that you watch the second video for the HALF roll up!:)

The last breathing exercise is called (morbidly) The Saw.  If you need to make it a little easier, you can bend your knees OR sit on a slightly elevated object such as a pillow, block, or folded mat.  If you are feeling extremely bendy and flexible, try increasing the distance between your legs a little, but make sure you always keep BOTH HIPS anchored to the floor!

Enjoy breathing and increasing your abdominal strength!

The Pilates Hundred

Hello lovely people out in blog world.

If you are stuck inside due to the great New York blizzard (or any of your local snowy weather – since there is now snow in 49 of the 50 states!)  you now have the PERFECT opportunity to sit in front of the television and work on your core muscles! But how?  And why?

If you are a singer, you of course know how important your diaphragm and core are since they support your breath and sound.  In dance, your core does exactly the same thing – it gives you support.  A strong center gives you the freedom to move your limbs about freely and effortlessly, just as a it gives you the freedom to hit long sustained high notes!  A strong core will also protect you from injury.

I am personally a huge fan of pilates to increase understanding of core strength, as well as your strength itself.  I recently was certified to teach beginning and intermediate mat through Power Pilates.    They have studios all over the U.S. and their system is incredibly effective and easy for a beginning students to understand and follow.  If you belong to a gym or dance studio, they usually offer fabulous classes as well.  At Steps on Broadway, I highly recommend Robin Powell’s class, or Annie Russ and Danielle Pierce when they teach as subs.

I am going to attach a video of me doing a basic pilates “hundred” which is the exercise that most pilates classes use to warm up the body, get the blood circulation moving, and oxygen moving to the muscles.  It is also a really wonderful ab strengthening exercise.  It is freezing outside now, but just you wait until bathing suit season!  You’ll be happy you did it!

A modification is to lower the legs anywhere from 70 degrees to 2 inches above the mat.  The lower your legs the more challenging the exercise.  Make sure that as you do this you always engage your abdominals.  I think that I am “scooping” through the abdominals.  The imagine in my head is that my belly is a very large tub of ice cream (which knowing my love of ice cream may be accurate) and a giant ice cream scoop  is coming down making my abdominals create a “scooped out” shape.  
Well – that was a lovely insight into my overactive imagination.
Now – go get some abdominals!