Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark

Pilates Lower Body Workout with Jillian Hessel

By Richard Rosen

Gaiam; VHS; 32 minutes.

The pilates method is based on the idea that all the body's movements are initiated from the "powerhouse," a band of muscles around the midbody including the abdomen, lower back, pelvic floor, and buttocks. Consequently, in order to cultivate and sustain healthy movement and posture--and to trim and firm the belly and buttocks--we need to focus a regular stretching and strengthening program on the powerhouse. This 30-minute program is divided into three sections: a short introduction to lower body alignment, the powerhouse, and proper breathing; the mat exercises, which comprise the bulk of the video; and a short concluding application of the mat work to a standing position.

There are more than 20 exercises in this session, lasting more than 25 minutes total. They're performed either supine, side-lying, or prone (there's also one all-fours exercise) and involve, as you might expect from the importance placed on the powerhouse, lots of leg stretches, kicks, scissors, and circles; hip stretches; and abdominal contractions. These are for the most part basic Pilates exercises that will be accessible to most students, with none of the exquisite begging-for-mercy torments that are often found on more advanced Pilates videos. In fact, there are two models, one of whom demonstrates fairly easy versions of most of the exercises.

Hessel is a competent teacher who provides specific physical instructions (she's also an excellent model) and emphasizes breath awareness and good alignment. She also provides sensible cautions for the more delicate areas of the body, like the neck. I'm still a little wary of some typical Pilates instructions, like the indiscriminate squeezing of the buttock muscles and the pelvic floor, which tends to harden the groins and compress the lower back if overdone. And I don't understand why the psoas isn't mentioned as a key powerhouse muscle, since it integrates the spine, pelvis, and legs. Still, this is a well-done presentation that can be used either as a stand-alone exercise program for the lower body or as a complement to a yoga practice.

Richard Rosen, who teaches in Oakland and Berkeley, California, has been writing for Yoga Journal since the 1970s.

Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark
Full Name
Address 1
Address 2
Zip Code:
Email (req):

Reader Comments

Add a Comment »

Your Name:


Stay Connected with Us!

Yoga Journal Live events
ep14 YJ LIVE! Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado
Sep 14-21, 2014
florida YJ LIVE! Florida
Hollywood, FL
Nov 13-17, 2014

More Events

Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus
Liability insurance and benefits to support
teachers and studios.
Learn More
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 4 FREE GIFTS
Your subscription includes
Yoga for Neck & Shoulders • Yoga Remedies
Yoga for Headaches • Calm, Cool, Collected
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Yoga Journal
and my 4 FREE downloadable Yoga Booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions