Pilates is an amazing type of exercise for lengthening and strengthening lean muscles, encouraging good posture and supporting healthy joints. I’ve noticed a massive improvement in my flexibility since I began taking regular classes at Pilates Plus Dublin, and working on their ‘proformer’ machines has helped me to really stretch out muscles that were previously less flexible – such as my hamstrings.

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Stretching and flexbility are so important to fitness and fluid movement, helping to reduce the chance of stiffness and injury. So I always aim to stretch after any type of exercise. After my Pilates class yesterday evening, the teacher showed me how to do the Downward Dog on the machine using its resistance, although it’s a popular yoga move that can be performed anywhere.

I felt so good afterwards! Refreshed, stretched and I slept really well too. 

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These are five of the amazing benefits of the Downward Dog:

  1. It helps to improve bone density by placing body weight on the arms and shoulders, which is particularly important for women as we age and our risk for osteoporosis increases post-menopause. 
  2. This is an excellent move for building upper body strength, which is an area that women sometimes struggle with. 
  3. It really helps to refresh you, wake you up and improve energy levels, by encouraging blood flow into the brain. 
  4. It  helps to reduce back pain and stiffness in the spine and other joints, making it ideal for anyone that spends long periods of time each day in front of a computer or in a car. Practicing the Downward Dog properly can help to make your upper back more flexible and less likely to store tension.
  5. In this pose, the heart is above the head, which makes it a really good one for the circulatory system, because it encourages blood flow throughout the body. A healthy and active circulatory system helps flush toxins from your body, keeps your immune system strong, and helps to regulate blood pressure

 

How to do the Downward Dog:

Try incorporating the Downward Dog into your workout as regularly as possible to feel the most benefits. 

Your body should be in two long lines, forming what looks like an upside-down V. Engage your core, pulling your tummy button in towards your spine and draw up through your quads. Avoid hyperextending your knees, while pushing up and back with your hips and then down towards the ground with your heels. Avoid letting your upper body collapse into itself, and keep some space between your shoulders and neck. 

Take deep, steady breaths and hold the pose for as long as you feel is right for you. 

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