Starting position: On back, knees bent, feet flat, feet and knees hip distance apart, arms relaxed by your sides.
NEUTRAL POSITION: (Optional: place ball or towel between knees, and a rolled up towel or pillow under the small of the back) Imagine there is a bowl of water resting on your lower pelvis, 2 inches below your belly button.Relax your pelvis and lower back and try to find the point where you can balance the imaginary bowl of water, keeping your abdominal muscles flat with the belly button pulling gently toward your spine. You should feel a slight curve in the small of your back away from the floor. This is the natural curve of your lumbar spine. The fronts of your hip bones and pubic bone form a triangle that should be resting approximately parallel with the floor. This is your "neutral spine" position. Inhale to prepare. Keeping the pelvis and lower back still, exhale and draw the navel in further toward the spine. If you have a ball or towel between your knees, gently squeeze the ball as you draw the navel in. Inhale to release, exhale to repeat. Repeat several times.
PELVIC TILTS: From neutral, continue to imagine there is a bowl of water resting on your lower pelvis, 2 inches below your belly button. Tip your pelvis forward, dipping your tailbone towards the mat, pretending to spill the bowl of water between your legs. Now tilt your pelvis backward to spill the bowl of water into your belly button. Feel the lower spine coming closer to or touching the mat. Repeat gently tilting forward and back several times, then return to neutral position.
PISTONS: Start in neutral position. Inhale. Keeping the pelvis still and lower back in neutral, exhale, lift right knee to a "tabletop" position, knee aligned above the hip joint, calf parallel to floor. Hold and inhale. Exhale, lift left knee to tabletop. Inhale, holding legs in tabletop, exhale, lower right foot to mat. Inhale. Exhale, lower left foot to mat. 4 reps. The challenge is to lift and lower the legs while keeping the pelvis and spine still!
Try to maintain neutral spine and a 90 degree angle at the knee as you tap the toes down.
To modify: allow knee to bend as you tap toes down, rather than maintaining 90 degree angle.
TOE TAPS: Bring legs to tabletop, one leg at a time. Maintain neutral spine and a 90 degree angle at knee as you alternate tapping the right toes to the mat, then left toes. 8 reps per leg. More Advanced: tap both feet towards the mat at the same time, maintaining neutral spine.