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A Toning Pilates Sequence to Stabilize the Lower Body

Experience this creative spin on a classic workout that'll increase strength, flexibility, and tone in the lower body.

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The exercises in this toning Pilates sequence are meant to strengthen your lower body. They touch on the large and small muscle groups, targeting the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and inner and outer thighs. The structure of the routine support a coordination of strength, flexibility, and control. By attending to the muscles through the pelvis and legs you will create better balance and support for your entire body, while also toning your lower half.

Shoulder Bridge Sequence 

This sequence strengthens the gluteal muscles and hamstrings, while opening the entire front body.


Position feet parallel, press arms into mat, lift the hips up, then lower back down, one vertebrae at a time. Repeat eight times, lowering up and down with the breath.


Press your arms evenly into the mat, lift leg to 90 degrees with the knee bent, hold for five seconds, and repeat, alternating sides four times.


Extend leg fully toward the ceiling.
Lengthen the leg in line with the opposite leg, and then stretch the leg back up to the ceiling. Repeat eight times, and then switch to the other side. 
Lift hips up off of mat, tuck upper arms slightly in, interlock fingers, press feet down, lift the back of the leg up, maintain the shape as you inhale and exhale. Repeat once to the other side, switching the interlock of fingers.
Challenge Series


Lift hips up, draw the upper arms slightly underneath the back, and place the hands alongside the base of the spine, using the hands to move the top flesh of the glutes away from the center. Lengthen the lower back and breathe well.


Extend one leg up to the ceiling, maintaining the balance and control through the rest of the body.
Side-Lying Series

This series targets the glutes, inner and outer thighs, hip flexors, and hamstrings. Focus on keeping the upper body stable.


Set up by lying on side with knees bent to a 90-degree angle, shins parallel to the front of the mat. Keep hips and shoulders stacked.
Lift the top leg up and lower it down with control. Keep the outer ankle and knee in line as you move the leg. Repeat 12 times.
Extend the top leg. Hips and shoulders should remain stacked and stable.


Start by stretching the leg back, then extending it forward. Repeat this motion 12 times, keeping the hips stable and the bottom leg grounded.




Bring the heel in line with the sitz bone. Lift and lower the leg, maintaining the stability of the upper body. Repeat 12 times.
The Bicycle




Lengthen the leg back behind the body.


Keep the thigh long and extended, and bring the heel into the butt. 
Draw the knee in toward the chest. 
Extend the leg all the way forward and through.

Repeat bicycle10 times.


Extend legs to the front corner of the mat, kick the top leg up, keeping the toes pointed.


Flex, and lengthen the leg down.

Repeat this exercise 10 times, and then complete the entire sequence on the other side.

Figure Four Hip Stretch

Cross ankle over thigh, hold onto the back of opposite leg. Hold a few breaths as the hip opens up. Switch sides, and breathe well.

Photos by Hailey Wist

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If you have an umbilical hernia, modify your practice by putting less stress on your abdomen. Reduce the intensity and duration of the practice and avoid straining or lifting a lot of weight, which can increase intra-abdominal pressure and worsen the hernia. 
Always make sure to consult your doctor before returning to or beginning a yoga practice with any kind of hernia, or physical health concerns. 🙏🏽
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