5 Gentle Pilates Moves To Kick-Start Your Digestion

Photo: @erikabloompilates

Good digestion is a key component of our health. It brings us nutrients, boosts immunity, plays a role in hormone balance, and affects brain chemistry and mood. We know that what we eat is primary in finding balance, but we must consider our muscular physiology as well.

Our digestive system is surrounded by the four muscles of our deep core like a cylindrical container. Proper digestion is aided by the movements of these muscles and hindered by tightness, weakness, and dysfunction. The combination of proper patterning and training of these deep core muscles with movements of the torso will work to improve digestion. Do these every day, ideally in the morning before eating, or if you intermittent fast you might do them at night at least an hour after your last meal.

1. Breathe.

Sit cross-legged on the floor or on a block. Find a tall, neutral spine. Begin by naturally inhaling and exhaling. Then, direct your breath low in to your pelvis and visualize your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles relaxing as you inhale and gently lift and tone as you exhale. Continue to breathe slowly with that focus and add on the feeling of allowing the back of your torso to open and expand as you inhale to fill your torso with air. From there, let your spine grow taller as you exhale. Breathe with awareness for at least one minute. Move on to the exercises while continuing to breathe in this way, and then carry this breath into your day.

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2. Pelvic clock.

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides and the soles of your feet flat on the floor with your legs parallel. Engage your deep abdominals to tilt your tailbone up so your waist moves down toward the floor (12 o’clock) then circle the pelvis like you are rolling a marble around the clock, to the right (3 o’clock), then tailbone down to the floor and waist up toward the sky (6 o’clock), then to the left (9 o’clock). Continue to circle the pelvis gently six times, then reverse to go counterclockwise.

3. Cat-cow.

Begin on all fours with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders with your knees directly under your hips. Inhale through cow pose as you reach your heart forward and gaze upward, keeping length in your back and widening your sitz bones. Exhale as you round your back and scoop your belly upward into cat pose.

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4. All fours twist.

Begin on all fours with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Press your right hand into the floor to support you and lift your left arm out and up toward the sky to twist the torso open to the left with a wide-open chest. Thread your left arm under your right side, through the space below your torso and the mat to twist toward the floor. Feel like you are wringing your torso out like a washcloth. Reach your arm back out and up to the ceiling to begin the next repetition. Perform 10 reps on that side and then switch sides to perform 10 reps on the opposite side.

5. Articulated bridge.

Lie on your back with your arms by your side. Place the soles of your feet flat on the floor with your legs parallel. On an exhale, deepen your belly button to your spine to curl your tailbone up. Press into your feet as you continue to roll up, one vertebra at a time, to come into a bridge. Inhale to lengthen at the top. Exhale to soften your front body in to your back body to roll back down one vertebra at a time.

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