Class #1004

Basic Reformer Breakdown 6

10 min - Class


In this 6th class of the Reformer Breakdown Series, Monica takes Maria through the Elephant and Knee Stretch Series. From the set up of Elephant through to Knee Stretch Knees off you are given detail that is sometimes hard to deliver during a group class.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Okay. All right. So we are going to do the elephant and first off, it's a one of the most unstable exercises when you're starting off the bar can hold up to 700 pounds leaning on it. Ah Yeah. But nothing, if you pull up on it, it just falls. So real unstable. Don't pull up on the bar, make sure you're pushing down on it. And it's only on two springs right now so it can easily scare you as you get on, cause it's going to slide out a little bit. As an instructor, I'm going to have my foot here, but for you getting on, if you're just at home, you're going to put, start off with your hands on the bar and pushing down good about shoulder width apart and then stand up with your feet flat on the Mat. Great. Okay. So we're gonna bring back our feet for you.

I'm going to have you just stop a little shy of the shoulder pats. If you were closer to, um, five, 11, five, 10 and up really you could be against the shoulder pads, but if you're the little less than that, then you come a little forward. The main objective here is going to be one of my favorite stories is that how the elephant was titled. And that is, and I'm sure I've told you this before, but that, um, if you ever look at an elephant's behind, that is why he called this the sex size. It's not a very pretty sight from on the back end of an elephant. It's Kinda like hanging sagging that this was an area that a lot of his clients would come to him and ask him about.

So it's really a lot of firming of the hamstrings and the glutes where they connect. And it's real good to know that because we initially always tried to initiate from the knee joint, so we want to keep it straight but not hyperextending. So since you're looking down, you're going to want to look at those needs and make sure that they're not hyperextending great. We also want to get a really good lower back stretch. So we're going to imagine that our spine continues as if we had a tail and that tail has a weight and I want that weight pooling your tailbone down towards your heels that are actually pressing deep into the mat.

And your goal is to lift all of the toes, including the pinky toe evenly. You're lifting up all the toes, maybe even the ball of the foot one day. So quite a lot of energy going down this way, pushing in, and then we've got a lift that's hopefully lifting your inner thighs, your pelvic floor, and your powerhouse in and up. So you're going to always pull the powerhouse in and up this way, keeping your shoulders exactly where they are, right over the bar that holds the springs perfect. And now you're going to engage those elephant muscles and pull under with your powerhouse. So push out with the hamstrings and glutes and pull under with the powerhouse.

Good out. And as you come and really stretch the lower back, inhale to go out. Exhale, stretch that lower back. Watch those knees. Good. You do about five to seven. So let's do two more here. Nice. Last one and hold. Very good. Now we're going to transition into knee stretches.

So you're going to kneel down on the mat and your feet want to be against the shoulder pad so that the toes are flexed and pointing towards your knees or shoulder. The knees should be a little bit wider. So even with your feet and super important that the heels also pressing against that shoulder pad. So quite a bit of footwork involved in the elephant and in the knee stretches. So now we're going to pull your belly in like you are good eyes on your stomach. Great.

I love how you have the thumb with your fingers so that you're not um, bending at the breaking up the wrist. So that's great. You can let the fingers hang or however you want to have this opposition. The heel of the hand presses into the bar and the ribs pull in deep. Your upper stomach pools in deep. Really filling this part of your back. So in your seeker, I would call this your upper c curve.

You really have a nice upper c curve here and then your navel of course is always pulling in to your back, but we don't just pull it in, right? We always pull in and up, so as your legs push back, you're going to pull that belly in and up. Good. Now stay in for a moment. The other thing that I love that you do is you are sitting about two inches up off your heels so you're not, your hips are not over your knees and you're not completely sitting down, relaxed down. Good. You're pulled up just a bit. Perfect. Very nice. So scooping in and up, beautiful, round, lower back and in. It's a smooth out the tempo, but a quicken, quicken up quicker and smooth, quick and in and in.

Always pulling your belly in here and to and Holt. Great job. Now the transition for arched back is kind of tricky. You want to keep your belly really in and with your stomach and see if you can pull in and up to keep pushing your sternum, your chest bone forward, opening your collarbones, opening your chest, really sticking out. You also want to keep your belly instill and stretch your tail bone away. Very nice. Good. And as you go out, you're gonna hold it in for just a moment.

Really make sure that you've got the opposition. So your stomach's pulling in and up while you push out the opposite direction and then come in quickly. This is more hamstrings and glutes. The first one was more the front of your thighs and in and in. I love how steady you keep this Armani. He used to always say it's like holding a nice glass of wine here.

You don't want to spill a drop. One more time. Hold. Very nice. All right, so now we're gonna transition into knees off. We're going to round your back to start. If you were really strong in your powerhouse, meaning it doesn't bulge out. As soon as you pull up your knees, then you could lift your knees up from here. But we're going to show first the, uh, more basic transition. So go ahead and stand up like you did for elephant. Okay, good.

And now walk your heels back against the shoulder pads. A Pie. Good with the ball of the foot. Still on the map. That's it. Good, good. Okay, nice. Now we're going to make sure your shoulders are over the bar that holds a spring. So come back just another inch. Good. Pull your head to your chest, always looking and give me that nice opposition, the heels of the hands in the bar and pull up in the ribs. Really give me a nice upper seat curve. Your belly is going to give me a really good lower c curve and now we're going to remember that the spine pretends like it continues with a tail.

And if that weight was pulling our tailbone down, I want you to slowly bend your knees, but lead with the tailbone. Good. And we're going to hold right there. Now your knees are ankle height, eyes on your belly, eyes on my hand, and we're going to push out and pull those knees under out and pull them under always by pulling in and up with the belly. It should be more stomach then quads. It's gonna burn. And one more hold. Good. I'll hold it all the way in. Yeah. And now lower down. Good. So I had you do five.

You're supposed to do 10 but we're gonna do the next five transitioning the harder way. So that was wonderful transition. That's get your feet all the way back now. And maybe you could even flex the toes a little more. Good. So yeah, if you were here with the powerhouse in and your chest stretching away in one direction, your tailbone, a little more arch in the lower back there yet. Go with both of them. Stretching. Now we're gonna change to the knees off from here.

So bring your head to your chest. The ribs pull in. Whoops, let's start that one more time. So arch again, that was really good cause it helps to show me. Show better. So you're going to bring your head to your chest, ribs in, and we're going to keep pulling in and now bring your hips a little forward so they're a little more over your knee joint. Good. And now press your hands into the bar to help pull your belly in the opposite direction and push out and scoop under. Always pulling, getting that lower back stretch, knees. Try to stay not too high. Ankle height. Yes. So that your hip flexors keep reaching forward down to the mat and one more instead of doing too much of a crunch in those hip flexors. That was fantastic.

Good job, Maria. All right, go ahead and step down. Nice job. So that was elephant and knee stretches. Nice. Good.


Karin H
Hi - something is wrong with this vid. I can't get past 3 minutes. This has never happened before?
It jumps around and pauses for me.. but i did manage to watch it. Love Monica btw..such a great instructor.. going back to basics and giving some of the best cues and explanations of exercises.
(Edited by Moderator - Alex Parsons on April 1, 2022)
Jamie & Jill~ I am sorry that you both experienced problems with this class. I just watched it, once in Medium and again in Auto-Detect, and it played through perfectly for me. I would recommend restarting your computers and then watching the class in Auto-Detect (and if that doesn't work switch to one of the video quality options). Please email if you continue to have problems.
Love Monica! Played all the way thru for me :)
Monica Wilson
Thank you!
Karin H
Hi - Played fine the next day. I love reviewing the exercises one at a time so I can teach them to different levels. My clients love the naming of elephant and the idea of lifting a sagging rear end! Also it helps to review the why not just the execution. i.e., the purpose behind the hands distance in the back of the short box. Also loved your explanation of the lifting out of the hips into a large capital c-curve in stomach massage. This is all very helpful. Love it!
Monica Wilson
I'm so glad it worked!
I swear I was introduced to elephant as an abdominal exercise. Will be changing my focus. Thank you
Amazing story about the background of this exercise. Will def apply that knowledge in "feeling" this exercise while doing it. Great to know, even 11 years later! :) 

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