Christy’s PowerPilates- The Spine Stretch

What does the Spine Stretch do?

The Spine Stretch focuses on articulation and spinal flexion, while offering a hamstring string stretch and pelvic stabilization. This exercise goes hand and hand with our posture theme for the month!

What muscles does the Spine Stretch focus on?

  • CORE
  • Hip Flexor
  • Spinal Erectors (helps spine stay up straight)

How to show your spine some love…

Seated high on SITS bones, legs extended and slightly wider than hips, feet flexed, arms extended forward at shoulder height and width. Inhale grow long through the spine, lifting ribs away from hips.

Spine Stretch

Exhale scoop abs and spine into a ”C” shape while maintaining upright pelvis, stretching forward as if lifting up and over a beach ball, tuck the chin to chest, hold. Inhale began to roll the spine up each vertebra at a time as if roll up a wall behind you.

Note:If you have tight hamstrings, keep a slight bend in the knees

Spine Stretch

Hints to keep in mind…

-Keep pulling the shoulders down away from your ears as you round the spine forward

-Fight to keep the pelvis from rolling back onto the tailbone, pelvis stays upright as the spine moves

-Keep the ribs closed, don’t let them splay open as you inhale away from the lower body

-Once in forward stretch, create opposition of abs and arms reaching away from each other

-As you roll up to seated position make sure you are initiating from your CORE and not lifting your head to come up. Your head should be the last part up

-Roll up as you sit tall, not back

-The focus is not how close you can get to the toes but more about keeping the pelvis upright


Christy’s PowerPilates- Pilates Principle #3 Alignment

What is alignment?

Alignment has everything to do with posture. Due to modern day living, most peoples’ spines are not in an ”ideal postural alignment”. Jobs these days require a great deal of sitting starring at computers and long driving commutes, only to come home to sit some more. Whether it be watching T. V, playing video games eating dinner or spending more time on the computer. Our bodies were not designed for this type of abuse.

How is your life affecting your alignment?

Improper alignment doesn’t just apply to jobs but modern day technology as well. Next time you are at the computer or on your phone, take note of how your spine is positioned. Is it rounded? Is your neck shearing forward or rounding down? Are your shoulders rounding in towards each other? Are you favoring one side of the body versus the other? All these factors cause a great deal of pain. When our spine isn’t aligned it causes stress not only on the muscles and joints but the organs as well. Think about it. If your spine is rounding forward, your upper body is collapsed on to your lower body. This causes low back pain, crushing of the organs making digestion complicated.

What is the proper alignment?

When you are sitting, think of elongating the spine , lifting the chest up and pulling the belly button up and in towards the spine. Aligning your spine and using your CORE allows the shoulders to relax and the head and neck to move more freely. It also relieves the stress of the hips, legs and feet. This is all due to taking that pressure out of the lower back and making the CORE and spine a solid unit.


seated posture

What are the benefits of good alignment?

  • Improves muscle function
  • Increases range of motion
  • Improves circulation
  • Offers a trimmer appearance
  • Takes pressure off compressed organs
  • Helps the body to move efficientlyPilates Posture

How to stand in proper alignment?

  • Stand up straight feet hip width apart
  • Distribute weight evenly
  • Pull CORE up and in/pelvic floor lifted
  • Drop tailbone down to the ground
  • Close ribs as if wearing a corset
  • Lift chest up
  • Shoulders pulling down and back towards each other
  • Head and neck long/tuck chin as if holding a peachstanding posture

Christy’s PowerPilates- The History of Pilates

”I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises, they’d be happier. ”

– Joseph Pilates, in 1965, age 86

Joseph Pilates


History of Pilates

The Making of a Movement Genius-

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. His father was a gymnast, his mother a naturopath. She believed in stimulating the body to heal itself without drugs or surgery. His parents’ professions greatly influenced his ideas on therapeutic exercise.

Growing up Joe suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He dedicated his life to improving his health. He exercised outside in his shorts and cured his rickets, which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, and focused on breathing techniques to help his asthma.

At 14 he was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts. He studied bodybuilding, yoga, and gymnastics. You can recognize the influence of these activities in Pilates.

In 1912 Joe moved to England as a professional boxer and circus performer. In WW1 British authorities contained him along with German citizens, in a British Enemy Citizens camp. Joe insisted everyone in his cell block participate in daily exercise routines which he devised to help maintain their physical and mental well being.

The Birth of Pilates-

A few years later he was transferred to another camp where he became a hospital orderly to many bedridden patients. Joe removed the bed springs and connected them to the headboard and footboards of the iron bed frames, turning them into equipment that could create resistance to the exercises. These beds would eventually be known as the Reformer and Cadillac.

After the war he returned back to Germany and collaborated with dance and physical exercise experts.

He eventually left Germany and came to California. On route he met his wife Clara, she was a nurse.


The Movement that Would Be Embraced by Many-

Together, they opened a studio in New York and taught their students well into the 1960’s.

Pilates originally was called ”contrology”. Encouraging the mind to control the muscles. It focused on core postural muscles, awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, as well as strengthening deep torso and abdominal muscles. His studio was surrounded by a number of dance studios which led to his ”discovery”. Many athletes, dancers and famous New Yorkers relied on Pilates for the strength and grace it developed as well as for its rehabilitation effects.

Joe passed away in 1967 at the age of 83. He maintained his fit physique throughout his life. He smoked cigars, liked to party and wore his exercise briefs wherever he wanted. Until exercise science caught up with the Pilates Method in the 1980’s it was mainly dancers and athletes who utilized the technique. It’s widely recognized for its health benefits and mental discipline.

 Pilates is great for all types of people, no matter their shape, size, gender or age. 

Christy’s PowerPilates- Pilates Principle #2 BREATHING

Pilates is focused around moving with the breath.

Thus, making it easier to move with a natural rhythm, allowing the mind and body to fully connect to each other. Using an exhale breath on the trickiest part of the exercise gives the CORE the power it needs to execute the movement. All Pilates moves start with the breath and move through the CORE, then finally focusing on the muscles at hand. Pilates movements follow a code. Inhale on rotation and extension, exhale on flexion. Moving the spine with the breath ensures the inner workings of the body are receiving a full workout as well.

How to breath
Pilates style

Place your hands on your rib cage, inhale the ribs into your hands, allowing them to open away from the spine. This ensures the breath is coming from the ribs and not the belly.Breathing

Began to exhale the breath as if you were to fog a mirror in front of you. This is known as the ”Haaaa” breath. Keeping your hands on your rib cage, you want to fully exhale the breath until you’ve exhausted every bit of stale air remaining in the lungs. Doing so allows fresh air to rush in and occupy the lungs. Joseph Pilates called this the ”internal shower”. Practicing the ” Haaa” breath on the exhale automatically forces the CORE to contract, pulling the navel to the spine and closing the upper ribs together. Once the CORE is in this position inhale through the nose expanding through the ribs once again, this time keeping the CORE engaged.


Christy’s PowerCore Pilates- The Hundreds

This Pilates move is a great way to warm up the body, practice breathing techniques, start circulation flow, and best of all a great way to work the core!

There are 3 position options for this move.

  1. Hook lying (beginner) knees bent, feet planted on the mat.
  2. Table top (intermediate) knees up and together, inlined with the hips.
  3. Straight leg (advanced) legs out a 45 degree anglePilates

How To:

Inhale to prepare, exhale curl head and chest up to the bottom of your shoulder blades. Fold forward from upper torso, not your neck! Chin is tucked, looking at your belly button, arms at sides hovering 2” off the mat, fingertips are reaching past your hips. Pulling the navel into the spine, begin pumping the arms up and down in a small range of motion with rapid pace. Inhale 5 breaths while pumping the arms, exhale the breath for 5 while pumping the arms. Complete 20 sets of these (hence 100)


  • Pull shoulder blades down and back, away from your ears
  • Pull abs up and in. Don’t allow lower abs to ”pooch” out
  • Keep neck long. Reach long out of the back of your neck

Things to remember:

  • Squeeze knees/inner thighs together
  • Visualize pressing a ball under water for arm resistance
  • Keep small range of motion on pumping action
  • If there is too much pain to keep the head lifted, leave the head down until core is stronger

Christy’s PowerCore Pilates- Pilates Principle #1 THE CORE

The CORE is made up of the transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm and the multifidus muscles. There are 4 layers which make up the abdominal wall:

  • Transverse-Deepest layer, shrinks diameter of waist
  • Internal Obliques-used for side bending and rotation (muscles face up)
  • External Obliques-used for side bending and rotation (muscles face down)
  • Rectus Abdominus-6 pack muscles

All of these muscles, as well as the pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifidus create a ‘cage’ of strength. When the CORE is weak, stabilization is impaired which causes loss of balance, achy back, and poor posture.

When working on abdominal exercises you consistently want to think about pulling the navel to the spine and pulling the abs up and in. Doing so will prevent a lower ‘pooch’ of the abdominal from happening. When doing exercises lying on your back, work from neutral spine. Think of pressing your tailbone into the floor, as well as the back of your bra strap (think of your stomach as a clock, the bra strap being 12:00 and the tailbone being 6:00), keep the ribs closed together as if wearing a corset, and let the lower back keep it’s natural curve. This will take practice but doing ab work this way not only strengthens the CORE but the back as well. If one imprints the spine the work stays in the abs but never challenges the back. Lower back problems come from weak abs!

In Pilates strength is built from the inside out, every movement begins through the CORE and flows outward through the limbs. Challenging your muscles this way builds your back, abdominals, and pelvic floor to act as stabilizers for the rest of your body. Once the CORE is built up all other work will become more efficient, not only in Pilates movements but in everyday living.


So excited to introduce….

I am so excited for this new update for NoStove.NoOven.NoProblem!!!  Christy Sullivan will be joining us for some exciting guest posts!

Christy is a certified Pilates instructor and our meatless foodie expert!

Every Tuesday Christy will be bringing you great educational Pilates info, exercises and delish recipes!  The fun starts tomorrow!