How to Get a C-Curve for Pilates Exercises

Pilates c curve
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The C-curve is a key Pilates concept that sets the stage for a flexible spine and a strong core. For many signature Pilates moves on the Mat and even the equipment, the C-curve is required as part of the setup. All of the Rolling exercises as well as exercises that require you to sit up and then lower down, require you to work through your C-curve. In a Pilates studio with a trained instructor you will learn to perfect your C-curve but on your own, it can be an elusive concept.  Learning how to “scoop” your abdominals is the secret to mastering this essential position.

Here is a step by step description of how to get into perfect position for rolling and other deep abdominal flexion exercises.

Let’s Begin the C-Curve

  1. Sit with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Start with a tall straight spine and draw your abdominals in and up. The top of your head is reaching for the sky and your shoulders are relaxed.
  2. Place your hands behind your knees with your elbows lifted up and out. Take a few deep breaths here to feel what is happening in your abdominals. As you inhale the breath will lightly expand your abdominal wall.  As you exhale draw the waistline in and up growing even taller.
  3. Here comes the important part. Take another inhale and on the exhale, pull your abs in so that they form a deep scoop. Pretend that someone has a string attached to your belly button from behind. As you exhale, feel the string pulling your belly button right back through your spine and up towards the top of the wall behind you. As your abs deepen in toward your spine, keep your neck long, shoulders relaxed and let the hips curl under you to open up the lower back.  As you deepen your curl, resist any collapsing. Instead, lengthen up and out to create a high hollow C-curve rather than a low shallow one.
  1. At the deepest lowest point, hold the position. Lower your gaze to your abdominals and watch what happens as you breathe. Take 3 deep breaths in and out and pull even more deeply into the curve. With each exhale pull the abs in strongly.
  2. After the third breath, round up and over your legs to return to sitting. Repeat the sequence at least twice more before rolling up and returning to your upright initial posture.


  1. The C-curve has elements of many Pilates exercises. Practice these other moves to get better at your C-curve. The spine stretch,​ supported roll back, and roll up as well as many other mat and equipment exercises.
  2. You will want to understand how to execute your C-curve before you start any of the rolling exercises such as rolling like a ballopen leg rocker, or seal.
  3. All you need is an exercise mat!

Edited by Alycea Ungaro

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