You’ll Need: A Pilates mat, water
Lie on your back with your legs bent in a tabletop position with your shins and ankles parallel to the floor. Inhale.
Exhale. Bring your head up with your chin down. You should be looking straight at your belly button. Curl your upper spine off the floor and inhale.
Extend your arms and legs out directly in front of you and exhale. Lower your legs just enough so that you feel the tension in your stomach but your legs don't shake. Hold your arms about a half-inch off the floor.
Hold this position and slightly pump your arms up-and-down in a repetitive movement. Take short breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take five breaths in and five breaths out.
Do a cycle of 10 full breaths. Each cycle is five short in-breaths and five short out-breaths. When you finish, slowly pull your legs into your stomach. Wrap your arms around them and drop your head and shoulders to the floor.
Lay on your back on a yoga or gym mat. Your legs should be straight. Inhale and reach your arms above your head so that you are stretching your entire body like you would in the morning.
Exhale and lift your arms toward the sky. When your arms become perpendicular to the sky, begin to gradually lift your head and shoulders off the mat. Remember to keep your neck in good alignment by pretending that there is an orange under your chin.
Scoop your abdominals in to begin the roll up. At the same time, squeeze your inner thigh and butt muscles. You want to keep your legs on the floor; if you have trouble with this, use a modification like bending your knees to help protect your back during the exercise.
Inhale once you've reached the top and are in a sitting position. Stretch forward over your toes.
Begin to roll back down, keeping your spine in a "C" shape. Roll down slowly one vertebra at a time. The slow movement forces you to have greater control and ultimately, strengthen your muscles.
Reach your arms back over your head once you have completed your roll down. When you've reached the beginning position, repeat the process for another roll up. Do this five times.
3. Single-Leg Pull
Begin lying on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Rest your arms along your sides with your palms facing down. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and let your belly drop toward the floor.
Inhale as you pull your abs in deeply, sinking your navel in toward your spine. Curl your head forward until your chin touches your chest as you simultaneously bend both of your knees and pull both legs in toward your chest. Point your toes and clasp your hands around your shins.
Extend your right leg straight up to the ceiling. Hold onto your right ankle with both hands. Extend your left leg in front of you, fully straightening the leg. Let your left heel hover about two inches above the mat.
Keep your abdominal muscles scooped, your back flat, and your upper body curved throughout the movements.
Inhale and press your spine deeply into the mat. Exhale as you pull your right leg closer toward your head with two short pulses. Exhale twice, once with each pulse.
Inhale again and on your exhalation, quickly switch the position of your legs by "scissoring" them past each other.
Hold onto your left ankle and repeat the movement. Inhale as you press your spine and exhale as you pull your leg close with two short pulses.
Repeat 10 to 20 times.
4. Criss Cross
Lie on your back in neutral spine. Bend your knees and bring your shins up so that they are parallel to the floor.
Place your hands behind your head, supporting the base of the skull. Keep the elbows wide. Use an exhale to pull your abs into a deep scoop, and leaving the pelvis in a neutral position (not tucked or tipped), curl the chin and shoulders off the mat up to the base of the shoulder blades.
Inhale: Your upper body is in a full curve, your abs are pulling your bellybutton down to your spine, and your legs are in tabletop position.
Exhale: Reach your left leg out long, and as you keep the elbows wide, rotate your torso toward the bent right knee so that your left armpit is reaching toward the knee.
Inhale: Inhale as you switch legs and bring the trunk through center.
Exhale: Extend the right leg. Rotate your upper body toward the left knee. Keep your chest open and elbows wide the whole time. Resist the urge to hold yourself up with your arms. Make this exercise about the abs.
Do this 10 times.