Living with Harmony ~ A Blog for your Mind & Body

Pilates Ring Exercise: Shoulder Bridge

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on September 30, 2010

In just over one minute you’ll learn how to incorporate a Pilates Ring into your Shoulder Bridge Pilates exercise. The Shoulder Bridge usually works the hamstrings and glutes, but by adding the Pilates Ring you’ll also be working the inner thighs as well.
How To Do A Shoulder Bridge With Ring (Pilates Tutorial)


Pilates Ring Exercise: Heel Squeeze

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on September 9, 2010

Follow along with this short 3-minute video on how to perform the Heel Squeeze exercise using a Pilates Ring for resistance.  You’ll see two variations of the Heel Squeeze and you’ll work your glutes and hamstrings when trying it out.
How To Do A Heel Squeeze With Ring (Pilates Tutorial)

The Hundred with a Pilates Ring

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on July 1, 2010

Doing the Pilates Hundred with a Pilates Ring between your shins will add to the intensity of this starter Pilates exercise. In addition to  the exercise listed below, I have also seen this exercise done with legs bent and the ring is placed between the thighs, just above the knees. Align your knees directly above your hips and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle with your shins parallel to the floor.

Or try it this way with the ring between your shins and as you strengthen and progress, begin lowering your legs at a straight angle to increase the intensity.

We carry two styles of Pilates Rings for you to choose from: The Pilates Circle Pro and the Cushioned Grip Pilates Ring.

Pilates Hundred with Pilates Ring

Pilates Hundred with Pilates Ring

Add holding a Pilates ring between your shins to your Pilates hundred and you add an inner thigh workout to already challenge abdominal exercise. Pay attention to the muscular feedback the ring gives you through your legs into your core.

  • Lie on your back with your legs bent in tabletop position, shins and ankles parallel to the floor. Put the magic circle upright between your shins.
  • Inhale. Exhale:  Nod your chin slightly toward your chest and using your abs, curl your upper spine up off the floor. Keep your shoulder blades settled in your back. Your gaze is down into the scoop of your abdominal muscles.
  • Stay here and inhale.
  • Exhale:  Deepen the scoop of the abs, extend your legs toward the ceiling, and your arms toward the wall in front of you.
    If you can, lower your legs to where the wall and ceiling meet.

    Your legs should only be as low as you can go without shaking and without your lower spine coming off the mat. If you are more advanced, lower your legs more.
    Your arms extend straight and low, just a few inches off floor, with the fingertips reaching for the far wall.

  • Hold your position.
    Breathe in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts. As you breathe, pump your arms up and down a few inches in a controlled manner.

    Remember, it is the abdominal muscles that should be doing all the work — not your neck and shoulders.

  • Do a cycle of 10 full breaths.
    Keep your abs scooped, your back flat on the floor, and your head an extension of your spine with the gaze down.
  • To finish: Keep your spine curved as you bring your knees in toward your chest. Grasp your knees for support as you release your upper spine and head to the floor.

~ courtesy of

Pilates: Toning your Arms

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Bands,Pilates Ring,Toning Balls by Harmony on April 29, 2010

A brief video on toning your arms in Pilates.  Being mindful of your movements and activating those muscles is a sure way to get results.  Adding a Pilates Ring, Pilates Bands, or soft-weight toning balls will also help you achieve your desired results…and quick!  These Pilates tools add weight and resistance to your routine and will help you to focus on engaging those muscles.

Benefits of Pilates Equipment

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Bands,Pilates Ring by Harmony on April 29, 2010

Some quick benefits of using Pilates equipment – such as the Pilates Ring or Pilates Bands in home use, or studio-style equipment.

Pilates with a Pilates Ring

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on April 22, 2010

Exercises to Do With the Pilates Magic Circle

The Pilates Magic Circle is a circular ring that is made of a flexible metal. It is padded on the inside and outside of the ring, so that it can be placed on the inside or outside of the legs for lower body exercise, or held in the hands for upper body work. The Magic Circle provides light resistance to a Pilates exercise program. It can be used four times weekly. Since Pilates exercise emphasizes form and precision, as opposed to repetition, perform one set of no more than eight repetitions.

Bridge With Abduction and Adduction

While the bridge is a butt and core exercise, adding the Magic Circle will work your inner and outer thighs. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place the circle between your inner thighs, right above your knees. Engage your core and lift each vertebra from the floor, until you are in a bridge position. Simultaneously squeeze the circle with your inner thighs. Complete one set, and then place the circle over your outer thighs. Perform the same exercise, but press out with your outer thigh muscles.

Magic Circle Chest Press

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the circle at chest height, and place each hand on the outer pads. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, contract your pectoral muscles and squeeze the circle.

Upper Back Exercise

Good posture depends on correct strength ratios balance between the pectoral and upper back muscles. Most people tend to be significantly stronger in their pectoral muscles, which may account for a hunched forward posture. So, if you perform the chest press, you will also need to perform an exercise for your upper back. Sit in a cross-legged position. Lean forward at the waist. Place the circle on the floor behind your back, and hold the outer pads with each hand. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, engage your upper back muscles to squeeze the circle. Imagine that you are trying to create cleavage in your upper back.

Butt Squeeze

Lie on your stomach with your knees bent. Place the circle between the inside of your ankles. Until you get used to working with it, this may be awkward, so ask a friend to help you place it in position. Place one hand over the other to make a pillow, and rest your forehead on your hands. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, squeeze your glutes and press the circle in with both ankles.

Pilates Ring for Upper Body

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on April 15, 2010

Here are some great exercises for working your upper body with a Pilates Ring.

Upper Body Toning Exercises with the Pilates Ring

Work Your Arms, Chest, Back and Shoulders

By , Guide

Updated June 21, 2009 Health’s Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board

Here we move through a set of Pilates ring exercises that tone the upper body. The Pilates ring, or magic circle, provides moderate resistance when you squeeze the sides together. Different positions create exercises that tone the arms, chest, and shoulders.

Pilates ring exercises are done in the context of movement that is integrated with the whole body, not simply isolated muscles. Therefore, you will need your full presence in a strong posture, with legs and abdominal muscles engaged and connected to the upper body.

Using the Pilates Ring (Magic Circle)

Pilates Magic Circle(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
As you move through Pilates ring exercises, you want the movement to connect all the way to your core.

You will be doing pulses with the ring, but use control in both the squeeze and the release. As you squeeze and release, feel the width of your shoulders, chest and back. Feel that you grow taller with each pulse.

When you lift the ring, your shoulders stay down. Feel that your shoulder blades slide down your back. Also, your shoulders won’t move forward or pull way back. This will let you strengthen your shoulders in the most stable position.
Review shoulder stability

Begin With Good Posture, Shoulders Stable

pilates ring(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
With your Pilates ring in hand, adjust your posture so that you are standing straight and tall.

Your legs can be in Pilates stance,, which is legs together, and rotated slightly outward at the top of the thigh so that the heels are together and feet make a V shape. Pilates stance is a good opportunity to activate the inner thighs. You can also have the legs parallel and hip distance apart. This is a stable position that lets us train in a stance that is viable in daily life.

Pull your abs in and drop your tailbone toward the floor. Think of your pelvis as being like a bowl, you don’t want anything to spill out to the front or the back. Relax your shoulders and send energy out through the top of your head. Breathe.

Low Ring

Pilates Ring Exercise(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
In the next 3 exercises, moving the ring from low to high, you will breathe normally. Your arms will be straight, but don’t lock your elbows. Notice as the ring moves up, how the exercise pattern reflects the Pilates fundamental move, arms over.

Low Ring:
Your arms are straight and your palms are flat against the handles of the ring.

Pulse the ring 8 – 10 times, control the release.

Keep your chest open, but use your chest muscles.

Think of using your arms in a balanced way so that they are activated all the way around.

Middle Ring

upper body exercise(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
Slide your shoulder blades down your back as you bring the ring up to chest height.

Diagonal Ring

pilates circle exercise(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
Again, keep your shoulders down and your shoulder blades moving down your back as you raise the ring to a high diagonal. The ring should remain visible in your peripheral vision.

Pulse the ring 8 – 10 times

Your should feel this in your pectoral muscles (chest muscles).

Before you move on, check your posture. Are your shoulders down? Scapula (shoulder blades) settled on your back? Pull up through center and take a few deep breaths.

The Halo Ring

arm toning exercise(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
Your shoulders stay relaxed as you bring the ring overhead so that it is flat to the ceiling. It is tempting to let the ribs pop forward, don’t let that happen.

Bend your elbows out to the side so that the ring comes to just above your head, like a halo.

Feel your back and chest to be very wide.

Squeeze and release the ring 8 – 10 times. Inhale on the squeeze, exhale on the release. Use control.

Biceps with Ring

arm toning exercise(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
Prop the ring on your shoulder, just inside the joint. The ring is vertical, your elbow is out to the side, and your hand is flat.

Do this exercise with a slow pumping action. It is wonderful for toning the biceps.

Squeeze and release the ring 8 – 10 times. Inhale on the squeeze, exhale on the release. Use control.

Side Press with the Ring

shoulder exercise(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle
Nestle the edge of the ring into the notch at the top of your hip. The ring will be flat to the floor.

Your elbow is slightly bent as you squeeze the circle in. From there, pump the circle 8 – 10 times. Breathe normally.

Feel that the lattisimus dorsi, the big muscle that runs diagonally along your back to fan out along the side, is doing the work.

Next, find more magic circle exercises.

Using a Pilates Ring for Shapely Legs

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on April 8, 2010

The following video shows you how to do two simple exercises for your inner thighs. You’ll need a Pilates Ring (aka Pilates Magic Circle), and a cushioned, non-slip Pilates Mat will help as well.

Pilates with a Pilates Ring

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on March 4, 2010

The following video is a series of excerpts showing the multitude of ways you can incorporate a Pilates Ring into your floor routine.  You’ll see ways to use the “magic circle” with your legs and arms.  A great way to add variety to your routine and add another level of challenge.

We carry two kinds of Pilates Rings: The Pilates Fitness Circle Pro by JFit and the Pilates Toning Ring with Cushioned Grips by Hugger Mugger.  In the video, she uses the cushions on the inside of the ring quite a bit, so the Toning Ring by Hugger Mugger might be more comfortable for you if you find you like those types of exercises.

Pilates with Ring (aka Magic Circle)

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Pilates Ring by Harmony on November 26, 2009

This following video shows a multitude of exercises that you can do with the Pilates Ring, which is also known as the Magic Circle. We offer two kinds of Pilates Rings:    The Circle Pro and the Toning Ring with Cushioned Grips.

I liked the video because I felt it was instructional and humorous, but there is a feedback in the video that is annoying. If you can suffer through that sound, you can get some good pointers. Hopefully the New Delhi accents won’t throw anyone for a loop.