Download as PDF
Joseph Pilates: Beginners Routine
Time Image Pose Description
yoga pose HundredLie on your back. Arms by sides with palms on the mat. Bend knees towards the chest. Curl up head, neck and shoulders. Hover arms up to the height of the abdominal wall. Extend legs long to 45 degrees. Heels together and toes apart (pilates stance). Vigorously pump arms up and down. Inhale through the mouth for 5 counts and exhale through the mouth for 5 counts (one set). Bring head and feet down to the mat. Repeat.
Benefits: Increase blood circulation. Good warmup. Increase ab strength.
Modifications: A) Keep your head and feet on the mat. B) Keep your head and feet on the mat. Raise one leg at a time. C) Keep your legs in the Tabletop position. D) Lift the legs up, creating a 90-degree angle in your knee and hips.
Precautions : Shoulder tightness.
yoga pose Roll OverLie on the back with legs together. Arms by side. Draw abs towards the mat. Inhale, lift legs to 90 degrees. Exhale, reach legs up and over (C curve in the spine). Slowly lower the legs one vertebra at a time to the mat.
Benefits: Strengthen abs. Increase spinal mobility.
Precautions : Shoulder and back pain.
yoga pose One Leg CirclesLay flat on back with arms by side. One leg straight on the mat with foot flexed and the other leg up towards the ceiling. Circle top leg across the body, down, and around while keeping pelvis stable for 5 circles. Reverse circle in the other direction, circling leg away from the body, down, and around. Repeat on the other leg.
Benefits: Pelvic stabilisation. Mobilisation of the hip joint. Strengthens quads and hamstrings. Engages the core.
Precautions : Lower back.
yoga pose Rolling BackSit with knees bent. Feet flat on the floor. Hands hold the front of knees (one hand on each knee). Bring forehead towards knees. You now look like a ball. Stay a ball as you roll back to the tips of the shoulder blades. Return to the start by engaging abdominals as the brake to the rolling. Balance in the start position. Repeat.
Benefits: Stimulates and massages the spine.
Precautions : Neck or spine injury.
yoga pose One Leg StretchLie on your back. Curl head and shoulders off the mat. Bend both knees into the chest. Extend one leg straight as you place both hands on the opposite shin. Outside hand places near the ankle. Inside hand places near the knee. Switch legs, extending the opposite leg straight and pulling the opposite knee into your hands. Continue switching the legs.
Benefits: Strengthen abdominals.
Modifications: A) Circling the knee. B) Forehead to the knee.
Precautions : Back injury.
yoga pose Double Leg StretchLie on your back. Stretch legs away from you. Keep legs squeezed together and toes pointed. Pull legs back into Tabletop Position. Repeat. Lower head and legs to mat.
Alternatives: Teaser. Roll Over.
Benefits: Strengthen abs.
Precautions : Neck and spine injuries.
yoga pose Spine StretchSit tall. Straighten legs. Flex feet. Reach arms forward parallel to the mat. Palms face down. Exhale, roll forward through spine. Draw abs in. Keep arms parallel to the mat. Inhale, roll up stacking spine to return to start.
Benefits: Spinal articulation. Strengthens hip extensors.
Modifications: A) Bend your knees. B) Place a folded blanket (or Yoga bolster) under your knees. C) Sit on a folded blanket or a Yoga block. D) Sit cross-legged.
Precautions : Back injury.
yoga pose Rocker With Open LegsBalance on sit bones. Knees bent. Grasp hands around ankles. Straighten one leg then the other into a V (legs are shoulder-width apart or wider). Tip pubic bone towards the nose to initiate rock back to shoulder blades and rock back to start position.
Benefits: Stimulates and massages the spine. Strengthens abdominal muscles. Improves posture and balance.
Precautions : Back injury.
yoga pose Cork ScrewLie on your back. Press arms into the mat. Legs together. Lift legs straight to the ceiling. Roll over bringing legs parallel to the floor, with hips and feet level. Inhale, shift both legs to the right. Roll down through right side of back. Exhale, circle legs around and roll over through left side of back, returning legs to start. Reverse.
Benefits: Strengthen abs and shoulders. Pelvis stabilisation. Hip flexor stretch. Lower back massage.
Precautions : Back injury.
yoga pose SawLie on your back. Legs together. Arms overhead. Palms face forward. Inhale, reach arms overhead and curl head and shoulders off the mat. Exhale, peel spine off mat, rounding forward and bringing the crown of the head towards knees. Keep arms parallel to the mat. Abs draw into the spine. Inhale, roll down to start position.
Benefits: Strengthen abdominals. Increases spinal articulation. Hamstring and hip stretch.
Precautions : Back injury.
yoga pose Swan DiveLie on stomach with legs together. Hands by head. Lift abs away from floor while sending tailbone to the floor. Press through hands into Swan, maintaining a long spine and lengthened neck. Release arms to side as body rocks forward. Maintaining the arc position of the body, the legs will lift up. Rock back onto thighs, lifting chest, and maintaining extension and arc position of body. Repeat.
Benefits: Strengthen back and hip extensors.
Modifications: Swan Dive For Prenatal: If you’re expecting, practice a modified Swan Dive. Begin on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Raise one arm and opposite leg to shoulder height. Hold briefly. Come back to starting position. Alternate and repeat.
yoga pose One Leg KickLie on stomach with legs straight and together. Prop yourself onto forearms, bringing elbows underneath shoulders. Kick one heel into your seat two times, reach the leg straight, and place it on the mat. Switch legs.
Benefits: Back extensors, hamstrings, glutes.
Precautions : Lower back injury.
yoga pose BicycleLie on your back. Arms at the side. Straighten legs to the ceiling. Peel spine off the floor one vertebrae at a time. Hands at top of the pelvis (fingers point towards knees). Split legs with knees straight and toes pointed (legs like scissors). Bend front knee towards the face. Exhale and pedal front foot away from the face. Straighten the knee as you bring your back leg towards the face. Switch directions. To release bring both legs together and roll to start position.
Benefits: Increases spine mobility. Core control.
Modifications: Use foam roller to prop pelvis off ground.
Precautions : Osteoporosis. Glaucoma. Neck or shoulder injuries.
yoga pose Shoulder BridgeLie on back with knees bent. Feet hip distance apart. Peel tailbone and spine off the mat. Extend right leg to ceiling with foot pointed. Lower right leg towards the ground, flex foot and bring leg back to the ceiling. Repeat. Place right foot down onto mat. Repeat with left leg. To finish, roll spine and tailbone down to the mat.
Benefits: Strengthen hamstrings and glutes.
Modifications: A) Place a small ball under your pelvis. B) Standard Bridge (no leg raising). C) Raise your leg only halfway (bent leg). D) Bridge (with arm raises). E) Bridge on a block. F) Bridge spine curls. G) Bridge with legs up a wall.
Precautions : Neck and shoulder pain.
yoga pose Spine TwistSit with legs together in front of body. Feet flexed. Raise arms to the side at shoulder height. Sit tall. Inhale, reach crown of head to ceiling. Exhale, twist torso to right, growing taller on the twist and pulsing twice. Inhale, return torso to centre. Exhale, twist torso to left, pulsing twice. Inhale, return to centre. Repeat.
Benefits: Strengthen obliques and back extensors.
Modifications: A) Place a small pillow or folded towel under your hips. B) Fold the arms over your chest at the heart centre. C) Rest the hands lightly on your shoulders.
Precautions : Neck or shoulder injury.

This lesson plan has 15 of the 34 classical Joseph Pilates mat exercises. It includes the beginning of the routine which are the warms ups.