Use your imagination to move more and better

By Jaconel Janssen

Imagine a piece of string from the crown of your head, lengthening up. Picture a fern, uncurling and reaching up to the sky. A small weight hanging from your tailbone.

The use of images is an essential part of Pilates and can help improve our posture and alignment.

Ever since I started teaching Pilates 16 years ago, I have witnessed how clients move better and with more ease using the power of images.

Good posture is important and has a lot of health benefits. But good posture alone is not enough. We need to move.

When we start using our imagination, a world of movement opportunities will present itself. Start looking at your surroundings with new movement eyes, get creative with it and feel the benefits.

Imagine a bench. Better still, find yourself a bench, and start to imagine a few movements and stretches you can do here. The photos might give you some inspiration. There is so much we can do with a bench! Today I’ll show you a movement to strengthen and a few stretches too.

As always, work with good posture, and keep breathing.

With your hands by your sides, elbows pointing back and shoulders relaxed, slowly take your bottom off the bench, putting the weight instead on your hands. This is a great way to load your wrists (weight-bearing to strengthen the bones).

If you’d like to make it harder, slowly lower yourself down in front of the bench, shoulders still not lifting up, then push yourself up again. You’ll feel the back of the upper arms working.

A bench is great for a hamstring stretch too. Sit upright on your sitting bones, so you can maintain the natural inward curve of your lower back. Place one leg on the bench, straight, if possible, without ‘locking’ the knee. Push your heel away to increase the stretch. Hold for about 20 seconds or more, breathing naturally.

Or stretch both legs out in front of you, heels on the ground, sitting at the front of your bench. Slowly hinge forward from the hips, not bending from your spine. Imagine your belly button to lead the way. Only go as far as you feel a mild tension at the back of the thighs, a stretch should not be painful.

Moving more, and with good body alignment, are positive steps you can take now for your health and well-being. Let your imagination lead the way. Next time you see the Elysian, can you feel yourself standing a little taller? Picture it, the sky is the limit!

Jaconel Janssen is a Pilates and Buff Bones teacher and founder of Pilates People Cork.

She teaches regular movement classes in Cork (Douglas area), both in person and online, and a monthly outdoor class.

For more information on classes or one-to-one sessions, visit or Facebook Pilates People Cork or contact or 085-1613505.