Feeling stiff? Awaken your muscles and mobilize your joints with this flowing Pilates routine

A gentle Pilates sequence to get your body moving and leave you feeling amazing

Woman performs mermaid Pilates move in living room
(Image credit: Jackyenjoyphotography / Getty Images)

Whether you've woken up feeling stiff or been sitting too long, getting onto your mat and doing some flowing movements can help relieve tension. This dynamic Pilates routine from Paola Pilates will help stretch and strengthen muscles, and bring some mobility back into your joints, leaving you feeling more supple and ready for anything.

Pilates is an effective way to improve your strength and mobility, involving controlled movements that work your muscles hard, but this routine is a little different. I was struck by the emphasis on fluid movement and flow. Not only is it elegant and beautiful to watch, it's the perfect way to wake up your muscles and joints kindly.

How to do Paola Pilates' gentle movement mobility and muscle awakening routine

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Why I like this routine

Beginning with cat-cow, you'll wake up your spine with some flexion and extension that ripple through your back.

Next, the slow, controlled movements in bird-dog will activate your core.

The downward-dog wave gets your whole body into a flow, but don't forget to change legs and repeat.

Side-leg bicycle is a lovely flowing movement that will wake up your glutes, legs and core as you stabilize the movement.

The flowing mermaid stretch is one of my favorite movements to relieve stiffness, with the continuous flow giving a satisfying stretch into the side body and the hips—you may notice it feels very different on each side.

The seated spinal circles are a great way to warm up your back and banish any stiffness—I always find it harder to circle one way than the other.

The bridge, twist and knee hug all show your spine some love, activating your muscles and giving a lovely twist before massaging your lower back.

Doing this routine first thing in the morning—or at any time of day—is bound to leave you feeling refreshed and limber.

Before getting on with the rest of your day, tack on this one-minute breathing exercise—one writer added it to his daily routine and was amazed at the benefits he experienced.

Contributing writer

Camilla Artault is a fitness writer with a passion for running and yoga. She interviews experts and writes about a wide range of topics for Fit&Well encompassing health, fitness and nutrition.