Joseph Pilates always started his routine with The Hundred, which he considered a warm-up. I rather like to do the same. The Hundred pumps blood through the organs and does, indeed, warm the body. It stretches out the back, stabilises the torso and works the abs.
Take your Supine Start position, making sure feet are in line with hip bones and that the spine is neutral. Breathe in, then out as you engage the pelvis and raise the right knee to Tabletop position. Do the same with the left knee. Join the knees. Breathe in, then exhale as you raise head, arms and shoulders together. Arms are at the top of the thighs.
Now do five tiny beats with the arms on the in breath, five on the exhalation. Suck the belly button in to the spine as you breathe out so everything is stable in the pelvic area. Avoid the abs doming. Imagine a winning lottery ticket is under your backside and you can’t let it blow away. Keep it up for ten breaths. Five out plus five in times ten equals one Hundred!
Joseph Pilates’ nephew was asked to comment when modern day critics suggested that his exercises were too difficult in their original form. He said — ‘Uncle Joe said when you did The Hundred, you started with your legs two inches off the floor [he refers to the harder version with straight legs!] If you could only do 10 repetitions, that’s all you did that day… until you could do 11…’
I like his attitude — just give it a go! Never say you’re not flexible enough. Practise regularly and flexibility will come, as will relaxation, improved posture and a great feeling of wellbeing.