Pilates at home: No gear, but every idea
Breathe Education training manager Sharrman Maran walks us through a mat Pilates sequence to teach you how to move your body fearlessly and intuitively.

You don’t need fancy equipment or even a studio to enjoy a full-body movement. Mat Pilates is about moving your body fearlessly and intuitively. Breathe Education training manager Sharrman Maran shows you how.

In 1926 on 8th Avenue, everyday New Yorkers would arrive at a simple, homely gym filled with peculiar apparatus, weights and mats. They came in their hordes to be taught by “eclectic physical trainer”, Joseph Pilates, or JP as he was affectionately referred to.

JP was a German immigrant who called his mat-based method of movement “Contrology”. He curated a particular order of 34 exercises that were designed to move the body through its fullest range of motion, in all different directions. His work reveals to us that there are no “good” or “bad” muscles, but rather the whole body is designed to be resilient, anti-fragile and strong. In short, JP was an advocate for fearless movement.

Before I came to teach Pilates, and then eventually teach Pilates teachers, I used to cut my weekly cheque as a personal trainer. People would come to me with their weight-loss concerns, body composition goals and questions about how to tone, tuck and tighten a particular part of their figure, usually because summer was around the corner.

As time went by, I felt like something was missing. I felt hollow, even, and concerned about how I was participating in the wellness industry. I became increasingly disinterested in talking about how people looked, and instead began to turn my attention to how they felt.

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with finding aesthetic value in exercise; if that’s your motivator, more power to you! But in addition, I ask my clients and students to consider the joy that accompanies moving their bodies fearlessly. The beauty of mat Pilates is that anyone can do it (yes, including you) anywhere that you can find a bit of floor space. Simple, honest-to-goodness mat work transcends the frivolous fanfare of the latest workout trend and makes movement about you and your relationship with gravity. It becomes the perfect equation of you moving your body, exactly as you are, and meeting yourself where you are at in the process.

A feel-good movement experience consists of a handful of different elements, so, let’s start with the moves, shall we?

A simple mat routine

Our spine moves in four key directions: flexion (folding forward), extension (bending back), lateral flexion (side bending) and rotation (twisting). We’ll be moving in all of these directions on the mat to make sure no move is left uncovered.

Cat stretch

  1. Start with your hands and knees down on the mat.
  2. Look towards your waistband, round your back.
  3. Look up to the ceiling, arch your back into a U shape.

Note: Feel free to take any other wiggles and shakes you’d like to mix it up, or even look back over your shoulder to your pocket to add some side bend action.


  1. Starting in a lowered kneeling position, drop your butt over to one side of the mat.
  2. Pull your bottom foot out from underneath to make a ‘Z’ shape with your legs.
  3. Place a hand on the mat next to you and reach the other hand up and over your head, elbow bent to make a rounded shape.
  4. Do the same thing on the other side to get that side bend going.

Note: If this position in the legs isn’t working for you, don’t stress, try a cross-legged seat instead.

Criss Cross

  1. Start lying down on your mat (what a great place to be, right?)
  2. Clasp your hands behind your head, curl up and twist to one side of the room.
  3. Bring your knee on the side you’re curled up to as close as you can to your t-shirt.
  4. Float your other leg off the mat.
  5. Now switch, switch and switch!

Note: You can speed this one up to give it some spice or go a little slower to make it nice.

Hip Bridge

  1. We’re already lying down, so stay right where you are.
  2. Bend your knees so the bottoms of your feet are on the floor.
  3. Tilt your pelvis up to the ceiling, so your lower back makes contact with the mat, to begin the lift.
  4. Lift your waistband up to the ceiling, vertebrae by vertebrae.
  5. Roll yourself back down to the mat, slowly does it.

Note: Continue that roll and experiment with holds, pulses or leg lifts. I highly recommend following your natural inclination.

Move away from your workspace for your movement time. Put on your favourite playlist, even light a yummy-smelling candle. Do something to change your environment and to tell your brain: “This is movement time!”

As the training manager of Breathe Education, Sharrman Maran has the daily pleasure of promoting fearless movement for the next generation of Pilates professionals. Breathe Education operates 100 per cent live and online to certify Pilates teachers in Australia and around the world. Our graduates are empowered with the skills and knowledge they need to go out into the industry and land a teaching gig right after finishing their course. Whether you want to teach online, at a swanky studio in the city or open up your own space, we are committed to helping people live a life they love by empowering fearless movement every day. Find Sharrman on Instagram @sharrmanmaran and @breathe.education