Here is a beginner mat workout on line for you. This is a list of exercises that you can print off the list at home in-between your Pilates classes. You may want to print a quick list to take with you on a business trip. There are many great books out there that have great pictures of all the exercises. Once you have practiced the exercises in class all you really need is a lesson plan to follow. This will be a gentle reminder of the exercises that you have learned.
I will 'assume' that you guys are going to your classes, but can't remember the order or names of those new exercises that you are doing in class.
I had this problem too, but only for a few weeks and then again for any new exercise that I learned. You'll be surprised how quickly you will retain the information!
Remember that a warm up is required before any exercise with some slow controlled Pilates breathing. Practice the neutral and imprinted spine positions. Choose maybe a cat stretch or arm circles, and focus on bringing those shoulders down away from the ears. Engage the pelvic floor.
These beginner Pilates mat exercises are a gentle introduction to the full Pilates exercises. You may find some Pilates methods use the Hundred as the 'warm up" which gets the blood flowing and the heart pumping. Remember there are many things that an instructor will talk to you about as he or she watches your body move. This instructions help you improve your form, engage the correct muscles, and keep your lower, middle and upper back, head, feet and legs in the correct position as you move.
Always understand your core connections, gentle pelvic floor connections, tva, obliques, ribs, breath etc. Pilates fundamentals are very important and should be practiced with each exercise!
AB PREP This being the first of the basic Stott exercises laying on your back with knees flexed and your feet on the mat. Hips level and feet about a foot away from your buttocks. Try to avoid any upper body tension in the neck and shoulder area as you move through this exercise. Inhale to prepare. Exhale, slowly lift head neck and shoulders up away from the mat while reaching arms long by your side. Inhale and lay shoulders neck and head down onto the mat.
BREAST STROKE PREP Laying on your belly, legs long, arms bent at the elbows hands level with the head, palms facing downwards on the mat. As you exhale your focus is on lengthening through the upper back and cervical spine. The bottom rib should stay in contact with the mat in this exercise.
CHILDS POSE This is a great little stretch to help release tension in the lower back. This is a Yoga pose or Stott Pilates call it a shell stretch with more emphasis on expansion through back of the rib cage on the inhale. The shell stretch also incorporates the lifting of the pelvic floor. Do not allow your abdominals to collapse onto your thighs as you breath into front, back and sides of your rib cage.
THE HUNDRED Remember that your whole body should not be bouncing around in this exercise! Your arms are pumping and you are trying to maintain your imprinted spine or neutral if you have progressed to that. Legs should only be extended straight and lowered to a point where you can maintain the imprinted spine. If your core strength is still building keep your legs in table top position. All in good time "Grasshopper".
HALF ROLL BACK With this Pilates exercise you are trying to keep you feet flat on the mat. Your breath pattern is two breaths. Exhale to roll back and inhale to roll forward.
ONE LEG CIRCLE I see so many people doing this with no focus on keeping the hip bones level and stable. The leg that is not moving in the air should be active and reaching long. Try to reduce tension in the shoulder area as you move and breath.
SPINE TWIST Remember that this twist is coming from the hips up to the shoulders. The shoulders are not facilitating the movement and leading the way. Feel the twist in the obliques. Imagine a wet towel that is being rung out from the bottom to the top. Sit up on a towel or Pilates box if you are finding it difficult to sit up nice and tall and straight.
ROLLING LIKE A BALL Movement should be fluid and no "clunking" through the spine. The image of being sat inside a tire inner tube is a good one, rolling backwards and forwards. Inhale backwards exhale forwards. Initiate movement from the abdominals not the shoulders and head. DO NOT ROLL ONTO YOUR NECK.
SINGLE LEG STRETCH Keep head on the mat if you find any tension in the neck and shoulders. Do not collapse the knee into chest create some resistance. Reach legs long on extension.
OBLIQUES This is like single leg stretch but you are working your obliques here to rotate the upper body towards the opposite knee. You can keep your legs still in table top position or have your knees flexed and feet on the mat. Do not pull on your neck and keep your chest open through the movement.
ROLL OVER PREP Laying on your back, legs in Pilates table top position. Keep knees flexed and cross ankles. The roll over can take some time to master. Try to just move the first couple of vertebrae off of the mat. This will help to develop your abdominal strength! Use a squishy ball under the sacrum to begin with if you have difficulty at first with this exercise. The ball gives a little lift off of the mat to help.
SPINE STRETCH FORWARD Ahhh that feels good!