February 14, 2014
The Better Sex Exercise
Pilates can rev your sex life. Many of the practice's poses target the muscles women rely on between the sheets—hip flexors, glutes, inner and outer thighs, and core. Pilates strengthens these key spots, enhancing your endurance, stability, and flexibility, all of which help to control your body so you can find and maintain the positions that feel best. I started doing pilates about 8 years ago. I started initially in hopes of combating the pain and misalignment from my scoliosis. I was young though and my mind definitely wasn't super focused on my health and fitness - so I didn't take it too seriously. As I let my fitness slip, my back started to worsen. I couldn't sleep at night & I never felt "straight". I always joked around and told my friends I was squiggly...but it wasn't far from the truth. It really hit me when it actually started effecting my sex life. My hips would be so out of line that certain movements would legitimately knock the wind out of me from the inside out. And nothing is sexier than being doubled over in pain, trying not to throw up. That year I really accepted that though my scoliosis didn't require surgery, it was severe enough to change my day to day life, it's life long....and I shouldn't ignore it any more. So I stopped. I've never been a huge fan of fitness, largely because of feeling "squiggly". When your hips and shoulders and back aren't lined up, everything feels wrong. Running feels like I'm skipping because I can feel a difference between landing on my left foot and my right. Lifting weights made me feel like my shoulders were going to fly off because of the hyper mobility in my joints. For a long time I had various personal trainers who would try and help me exercise traditionally - but they didn't understand. Don't get me wrong, they understood I had limitations - but didn't understand that struggling to do flies with 5lb weights just wasn't for me - my body needed something different. I turned to focusing on pilates and 6 years later I've never looked back. I was able to go slow, but still get an incredible burn. The security in the movements and design of the equipment allowed me to build muscle I never though I could. And as an added little bonus, it really improved my sex life. Not only am I pain free, but I'm strong. You see those people hanging from the machines that somewhat resemble medieval torture devices? Ya well...that translates. I don't say that as some sort of "flexibility" entendre (well..maybe a little) - but more so that your core is constantly working and strengthening - and so your pelvic floor is as well. And if you have no idea what that is or how it applies, lady you've got some googling to do. "Where's the freaking work out?" Sorry, sorry...I rambled. Okay so not everyone has access to pilates reformers and cadilacs and the other crazy/awesome machines - but that doesn't mean you can't do these moves at home! So here are some fabulous at-home pilates exercises that will give you a great burn and actually improve your sex life. Quick Definitions: Neutral Spine vs. Imprinted Spine
1) Shoulder BridgeThis is #1 on my list for a reason. It seems super simple, and it is, but also incredibly effective and versatile. Lie on your back in neutral spine, with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Your legs are hip distance and parallel. Your arms are extended along your sides. Press the backs of your arms into the mat. Inhale: Press down through your feet to lengthen your spine and press you hips up. Come to a bridge position on your shoulders with your knees, hips and shoulders in one line. Exhale: and lower down - returning to neutral spine. That's one rep. (Yes it does look like you're humping the air. So if you feel slightly embarrassed - you're probably doing it right)
2) One Legged BridgeFollowing the same steps as above, laying in neutral spine, you will bring one leg up into a table top position. Keeping one foot planted on the floor and the other leg at 90 degrees, rise up into that bridge position on the inhale and lower down on the exhale. Repeat for both legs.
2b) One-Legged Bridge ModificationFollowing the same steps as above, laying in neutral spine, you will straighten one leg so that it is parallel to the floor. For added tension, place a ball between your knees and squeeze. Keeping one foot planted on the floor and the other fully extended, rise up into that bridge position on the inhale and lower down on the exhale. Repeat for both legs.
3) Hamstring CurlStart by lying flat on your back with an exercise ball under your heels. Bridge your hips up and hold that position through the entire exercise. Flex your feet and dig your heels into the ball. Place your arms straight out to your side for support — don't use them, though; they are just for support. Slowly roll the ball toward your body as you curl your heels. Keep your hips in the bridge position; don't thrust them toward the ceiling as you do the move. Then slowly return to the start position (straight legs, hips bridged) to complete one rep
4) Straight Leg BridgeStart by lying on your back with your feet on the ball. You want your legs to be straight and the ball to be under your heels. Inhale as you rock your pelvis towards your tailbone, and then exhale as you engage your lower abdomen and rock the pelvis towards the belly button. Then continue to lift the pelvis into the air one vertebra at a time until you are resting on your head neck and shoulders. Inhale at the top and then exhale as you lower your spine to the ground releasing each vertebra individually.
5) The ClamLie on one side with knees bent. Place your bottom hand underneath your head for support, and your top hand just in front of your chest. "Clamp" your feet together (like a clam - or a hinge) and slowly open and close your top knee while keeping your heels in contact. Focus on making sure the rest of your body remains completely still and stable.
6) Roll UpsLie with your legs straight, feet flexed, and arms extended above your chest. Keeping your arms straight, brace your core and slowly roll your shoulders and upper body off the ground, lifting one vertebra at a time, until you're sitting up. Bring your chin to your chest and slowly roll back down to start. That's one rep.
7) TeaserThis can be a more advanced move, depending on where you are with your overall fitness & core strength. So I've included three levels. Beginner: Lie on your back with knees bent to a 90-degree angle & arms extended overhead. Tighten your abs as you inhale and lift arms up and over head. Exhale and swing arms forward. Pause at the top before exhaling and lowering into the original position. That's one rep Intermediate: Lie on your back with knees bent to a 90-degree angle and feet lifted. Tighten your abs as you inhale and lift arms up and over head. Exhale and swing arms forward, straightening legs so your body forms a V. If needed, put hands on the floor for support. Roll down slowly, bending knees and bringing arms overhead. Pause at the top before exhaling and lowering into the original position. For an added bonus, lower and lift your legs for 3 pulses while you are at the top before returning to the original position. Advanced: Lie on your back with your arms and legs fully extended. Tighten your abs as you inhale, lifting your arms overhead and legs straight up simultaneously into that v sit. For an added bonus, lower and lift your legs for 3 pulses while you are at the top before returning to the original position. That's one rep.
(this is the best picture I could find)
You can incorporate these moves into other workouts you're doing, or you can combine them all together for a mini workout of their own. I've outlined one for you below.
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