Cover Siu Lim

Rain or shine, indoors or out, recuperate and rejuvenate the body as well as the mind as you try out these deceptively simple moves

1. Windshield Wipers

A full body move that engages your core, quads, hams and calves. To start, lay your back flat against a cushioned surface, extend your arms at shoulder level to balance with your palms pressed to the ground (your upper body will form a ‘T’ shape) and suck that stomach in—remember, breathe. Then, with both legs clamped together, lift them and point your toes towards the ceiling. Next, imagine them as windshield wipers and start swaying them from side-to-side without moving your upper body. To check if you’re actually using your abs, slide a hand underneath your back to see if it’s arched; if it is, glue that back to the floor.

For beginners: Bend your knees into a 90° angle instead of straightening them. If you find core control difficult, practise the motions of sucking in your stomach when breathing in, and continue to tighten it instead of instinctively letting go when breathing out.

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2. The Wheel

A classic in yoga, this pose has many variations in Pilates too. Meant to strengthen your glutes and your back, the body’s positioning is crucial in avoiding injury.

First, lie down and turn your palms inwards towards your body; place them just above your shoulders while being parallel with your ears. Then, with your knees bent, feet pointed forwards (do not splay them) and hip-width apart, take a deep breath before pushing upwards with the heels of your feet and your hands. Picture a ‘U’ in your mind’s eye as you push your chest outwards and up, gradually straightening your arms as you do so.

Pro tip: Lift with your hips instead of forcefully arching your back. If you want an added challenge, go on tiptoes and put those calves to work. Or, if you’re a glutton for punishment and want to ramp up the difficulty, lift one leg and point it upwards while on your tiptoes still.

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3. The Sunbird

Go on all-fours, placing your hands and knees parallel to your shoulders and hips. Keep your back straight and warm up your abdominal muscles by clenching them in 10 to 30-second intervals, for as many rounds as you’d like to get used to it. Once you’re done, lift your right arm upwards in a slicing motion while doing the same with your left leg. Take care to align your head, arm and leg with your spine. Your toes can be either extended or pointed towards the floor.

For beginners: If you find it difficult to maintain your balance, press the heel of whichever arm is on the floor and don’t drop your hips. Push them back if you find yourself wobbling forward.

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4. The Lizard

Okay, we’re not going to lie to you and say it’s beginner-friendly—because it’s not (we tried). Nevertheless, if you’re looking to improve your flexibility, this move is definitely the one to add to your routine. Begin by getting into a Downward Facing Dog, then inhale deeply as you move into a low lunge with your right leg placed between your hands. Next, shift your right arm to the inside of your right foot, keeping your left leg ramrod straight the entire time and your glutes squeezed to keep your hips squared.

For beginners: Slow and steady wins the race. Drop the left knee for a more passive stretch. To get yourself warmed up before doing this pose, practise your low lunges first.

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