When I started practicing Pilates, Neck Pull was one of the most difficult poses for me but learning how to breath and using my breath as tool to assist has helped me through challenging poses like this one. With consistent practice and breathwork, Neck Pull has become one of my favorites.
Above all, learn how to breathe correctly. - Joseph Pilates
Many beginners unknowingly limit their breathing when they become tense in their upper body and face. Shoulder and facial tension can limit complete exhalations, preventing you from expelling carbon dioxide. You'll be less efficient and tire much faster. Holding your breath can also raise blood pressure and, as a result, you may feel lightheaded or even pass out.
Breathwork is an important part of your practice. Never hold your breath in any pose. Be aware of how you are breathing throughout your practice and use it as a guide. Are you holding your breath? Can you hear your breath as you breathe in and out completely? Are you inhaling and exhaling at the appropriate times? Relax your shoulders and face and try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Be sure to use full inhalations and exhalations to aid movement control as you move through challenging poses like Neck Pull. Breathe out as you exert effort and breathe in when the pose is less challenging. If you feel your breath become jagged, that's your cue to back off and try a modification. Ask your instructor for a modification if you feel a pose is too strenuous. She should have multiple options that are safe and effective.
Begin Neck Pull by sitting tall as pictured. Place your hands on the back of your neck and keep your elbows wide. Extend legs shoulder-width apart and flex your feet. Inhale, sit up tall and hinge back to a 45-degree angle. Exhale, curl your tailbone under and roll down bone by bone. Inhale, roll up and over your legs, and keep your core pulled in. Exhale. Inhale to sit up tall. Repeat and aim for 5-7 repetitions.
Follow these tips and you’ll have a flat belly in less time than it takes to binge-watch Orange is the New Black!