This exercise is the third exercise in Joseph Pilates class Stomach series. It is intended to increase the strength of the center while challenging it with heavier lever arms.
To do this exercise you will need a mat. Start by lying on your back with your knees in a tabletop position. Grab onto the top of your kneecaps with your hands. Inhale to prepare and then exhale as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders into the air. Inhale into the back of your ribs, and then exhale as you lengthen your legs away from your body and reach your hands towards the ground behind your head. Inhale as you circle your arms out to the sides and bend your knees, so that you are at the starting point. Repeat 8-10 times and then rest. Your head, neck, and shoulders are lifted the whole time.
Things to think about
If you have osteoporosis you can do this exercise with your head, neck, and shoulders resting on the ground. This will make the abdominal work more challenging but you can always decrease the range of motion of the arms and legs.
As you are moving your legs, it is hard to keep the ribs connected to the ground. With every exhale be sure that you are releasing the diaphragm completely by letting all of the air out.
Be sure that you are keeping your pelvis still, as you straighten your legs you might feel your pelvis move towards your tailbone. To prevent this remember to hollow your abdominals as you straighten your legs. You can also reverse the breath to help with pelvic stability.