When I’ve been travelling for long periods, either coming off a long flight or after a long drive, it’s nice to do some movement to open my body again, to counteract all the sitting. 

Often we end up hunched over more than normal, as our back is rounded for so long, the hip flexors get tighter and the glutes have been inactive. Extension (opposite to rounding, forward movements) exercises are great, as they help to open up the body and get the back body activating again.

Here are 5 great Pilates exercises to do post travel, or anytime you have been sitting for long periods.

1. Side Bend 
Set up

Sitting with legs to right side of body
(or you can be seated on a chair, if you’re not comfortable on the floor)
Exercise
Inhale, lift the left arm up and lengthen the waist
Exhale, reach the arm up and over the head towards the right 
Inhale, lift the arm up again
Exhale, lower arm to start position
Focus
This exercise opens up the side body, helping us to breathe easier, as we stretch the intercostal muscles, found between the ribs.
Repeat x 4  and repeat on again on the other side.

2. Hip Lifts 
Set up
Lying on your back with legs bent and hip distance apart, feet flat on floor.
Arms by side and neutral spine
Exercise
Inhale, prepare
Exhale, Keeping neutral spine press hips to ceiling (making sure not to over arch the back)
Inhale, lower bottom to a hover (ribs also dropping with the hips)
Exhale press hips back up 
Repeat x 10

For more challenge try the single leg option, keeping leg in air at table top.
Repeat x 5 on each leg

Swimming Exercise 
Set up
Lying face down with arms reaching straight out in front of body
Legs approx shoulder distance or more apart
Exercise
Inhale, lift whole body off the mat
Exhale, start to swim, kicking straight legs and lifting opposite arm and leg higher, then switching to make a swimming movement with limbs.
Inhale, long breathe, continue to swim (count to 5)
Exhale, long breathe, continue to swim (count to 5)
Repeat x 5 breathes in and out
Inhale hold body up
Exhale release
Focus 
This exercise activates and works the back of the body, glutes and back muscles.

Modification 
Set up
Lying face down with arms reaching straight out in front of body
Legs approx shoulder distance or more apart
Exercise
Inhale, prepare
Exhale; Keep hips into the mat as you lift opposite arm and leg plus chest off the mat.
Keep eyeline at the front of the mat so to avoid over arching the neck.
Focus
This exercise activates and works the back of the body, glutes and back muscles.

3. Leg Pull Set up
Siting with legs straight & feet together.
Hands behind hips with fingers pointing towards hips or out to sides.
Arms straight, but elbows soft not locked.
Exercise 
Inhale, prepare and lift chest so chest and shoulders open 
Exhale, press hips towards the ceiling, use glutes to lift. 
Inhale to lower 
Repeat 6 x times.
Modification
Repeat the same exercise with legs bent
Focus
This exercise opens the hips and and chest, and works the back  of the body.

5. Shell Stretch
Sitting legs bent with bottom close to the feet if possible
Exercise 
Reaching arms in front of body or hands close to bottom
Modification
If you cannot bend your knees you can stay on the hands and knees to round the spine in a cat stretch.
Focus
This exercise/stretch, reverses all the extension work done in previous exercises and allows the spine to stretch and release.

Let me know in the comments if these were helpful for you or if you have any questions about these exercises.

These photos were taken at sunset in Maui, Hawaii, on my recent trip. 

Lots of Love and see you soon on the Mat! 

Em xo

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