Mat pilates is a type of mind-body exercise promising the regular participant a longer, leaner body. The exercises in mat pilates focus on strengthening the muscles of the hips, back, abdominals, and glutes or what is known in pilates as the powerhouse. The exercises look simple but require stabilization of the torso and focused effort to keep the abdominals contracted and working throughout the exercises. Popular exercises like the hundred strengthen the abdominals by holding a curled abdominal position while pumping the arms. Mat pilates exercises are a progression to more advanced exercises using pilates equipment such as the cadillac, reformer and barrels.
The mat pilates exercise routine is performed on the ground using an exercise mat. Traditional mat pilates exercise is still performed with bodyweight alone. Even without added equipment, the workout is challenging and provides great toning benefits.
The key to performing mat pilates exercises well is to focus on breathing. Pilates mat exercises require you to perform belly instead of chest breathing. What this means is, your lungs expand and contract without too much movement in the chest. You can mimic pilates exercise breathing by placing your hands around your lower torso and ribs. As you inhale, you can feel your ribs expand, filling your lungs with air. As you exhale, your ribs contract. This type of breathing stabilizes the spine and ensures that the abdominals are challenged correctly during mat pilates exercise.