As students at Studio Flo Pilates, we are very familiar with the rich benefits that the Pilates Method provides. Do you ever leave class thinking, my kids really need this! Well, Joseph Pilates said, “First educate the child.” And here’s how you can get started:
We all know how important breath was to Joseph Pilates. Proper breathing helps with digestion, calms our nervous system, and puts our abdominal muscles through full range of motion. Start introducing breath to your children from a very young age. Practice the following breathing exercises at least a couple times a day or when they are feeling stressed or nervous.
Toddlers: Practice taking big breaths in, and then blowing a pinwheel for as long as they can.
Kids: Sinking ducky—have your child lie on their backs and place a rubber ducky on their belly. Inhale and make the ducky rise up out of the water, exhale and let the ducky sink down.
Teens: Stress from school exams, peers, and the future can cause breathing problems and major stress-related posture bad habits. Practice the breathing techniques more frequently. Sit in a comfortable position. Inhale and let the belly be soft, exhale and feel the abdomen pulling in on all sides. Belly to spine, spine to belly, and sides in toward the center. Introduce progressive breathing. The first couple breaths may be short, but then advance to longer inhales and exhales.
Emulate the Animals
So many of our Pilates exercises have wonderful animal imagery. Challenge your little ones to walk like an elephant, round their back like a cat, create a long neck like a swan, even bend like a mermaid. The spirit of these exercises makes Pilates fun—get creative! Notice the animals in nature or on your next trip to the zoo and maybe make up your own movements.
There are a few tricks you can use to get your kids interested in practicing Pilates. Do the Pilates movements as a game. Try Elephant Races—have their friends (or everyone in the family) on the starting line standing in Elephant position (hands and feet on the floor). Race to the finish!
Keep it positive. If they don’t want to do it, don’t make them. If it’s something fun and good for their bodies and minds, they will be more likely to stick with it long term.
Keep it short. Give only a few movements at a time or create a routine such as three Pilates movements before school every day. If your teen is complaining about having a tight back and shoulders from homework, suggest they take a stretch break every 30 minutes—include, cat back, swan, and mermaid.
Remember that Pilates should always be a positive experience at any age. Avoid making comments about body image. Instead tell your child how great Pilates is for their mind AND body. Don’t force correct them or “fix” their form. Their muscles and bones are growing and changing drastically during this time and many imbalances will work themselves out. Most importantly, share your Pilates journey with your kids! Talk about going to class and how great you feel afterwards. Share with them something that you learned. Make “the Pilates studio” somewhere that they want to visit as well.
If you would like more information on Pilates for children, please contact SFP teacher Brittany Taylor.
Pilates for Teens Clinic
Saturday, July 14
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
$25 per person