How to Do the Pilates Rising Swan Exercise - dummies

How to Do the Pilates Rising Swan Exercise

By Ellie Herman

The Rising Swan exercise in Pilates strengthens your neck, back, and butt muscles. You should include the Rising Swan in your daily routine to counteract the negative effects of forward bending on your spine.

1Lie face down with your forehead flat on the mat, your arms bent with your elbows close to your side, and your palms facing down by your ears.

Allow your legs to turn out from the top of your hip (drop your heels toward each other). You can keep a comfortable distance between the legs. Pull your navel up off the mat so that you could slide a piece of paper under your belly and press your pubic bone down into the mat.

2Inhale: Maintain your position. Exhale: Scoop your belly in, squeeze your butt, and slowly rise up from your upper back.

Keep the back of your neck long and gently lift your head off the mat.

3Inhale: Hold this position, known as the Baby Swan.

Test your strength by taking your hands off the mat. You don’t need to be up very high to get the benefits of this exercise. Keep lifting your belly up and in toward the spine and keep squeezing your butt. Don’t let your legs come off the mat!

4Exhale: Return to the starting position. Inhale.

After you inhale, maintain your position.

5Exhale: Again scoop in your belly and squeeze your butt.

Rise up a little higher this time and place your forearms down in front of you to prop you up. You should be positioned like a sphinx. Don’t let your navel stay on the mat!

6Inhale: Hold the sphinx position. Exhale: Straighten your arms by pressing your hands into the mat.

Protect your lower back by again pulling your belly in and squeezing your butt.

7Inhale: Hold this position, known as the High Swan. Exhale: Lower yourself down to the mat.

If, when in the High Swan, you feel a lot of compression or discomfort in your lower back, avoid this part of the exercise until you gain more strength in your butt and abdominals.

8Finish by pushing back to the rest position.

Sit on your heels with your spine rounded and relaxed forward like a fetus.