Class #1585

Advanced Traditional Flow

40 min - Class


Benjamin teaches a traditional Reformer flow workout for the more advanced practitioner. His philosophy with this class is that the Reformer is a teaching tool to reform the way the body moves, as the body learns to move the springs of the Reformer organically with the movements of the body. Enjoy exploring the traditional exercises from this perspective, and ending your workout with the ever challenging Russian squats.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video

Apr 10, 2014
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Hi. My name is Benjamin Degenhardt. I'm here with Karen and Barbara for reformer practice. What I would like to highlight today is how, as the springs start to move organically along with the body, how the body has to make this quick decision how to distribute the load that comes in. And I believe that the reformer was really designed to be a teaching tool.

It was designed to reform the way you move. So with that in mind, let's go ahead and lie down on our backs. We'll start with footwork. We are working with Gratz reformers. We have three or four springs attached, depending on your level of comfort here.

Before we even start moving, I want to be very specific about the way you place your feet here. Your heels are not lifted all that high, but all 10 toes are attached to the bar. Before we even start pressing those springs out, we'll do a little drill here to truly connect our mind all the way down into our toes, those nerve endings in the toes here. To start, feel your big toe make a deeper imprint on your foot bar, just your big toe without moving the springs out, just making those big toes a little bit heavier, and then just release that. Do the same with just your second toe.

And this might feel a little weird at first, and you might have the tendency to want to look up and see if it actually happens. It's not so important that you actually get it as much as just trying to. Release your second toes. And then just your third toes are pressing into the foot bar, trying to make a little imprint on the padding of your bar. Release that, go through your fourth toes.

And release. And then those pinky toes. Those are the hardest ones to get because they barely have contact with the bar. Try to get them pressed down and release that. Press all 10 toes in the bar.

And then release that. Now going the opposite way. Start with your pinky toes. Press those into the bar. We'll go a little quicker.

And release. Press down your fourth toes and release. Going through the third. You see the neurological connection between your brain and your toes really has to overcome the biggest distance. So when we talk about mind body connection, this is a really good way to get started with resistance against the toes.

Now press your big toes down to finish this up. Keeping the heels firmly together, release the tension. All 10 toes touch. Now we're going to start to introduce the weight of the spring. Start to press the carriage out with all 10 toes, but just about an inch, and hold that.

Now these guys are going to check in with their own bodies, where that weight tension goes in their body. Making sure that the spine is still nice and long and relaxed. The front of the hips open, arms pressing back, and then they go all the way up to the very top until the legs connect, the knees come together, the heels still touch. Then with the even effort they come all the way back down, pulling the carriage all the way into the stopper. Do that one more time, nice and slow.

Just go that first inch. Notice where your body takes the springs until you climb to the top of your stretch. And with all 10 toes pushing, come all the way back in. And now we'll flow through that. Go on out, press the carriage back, and come in.

Pressing out and come in. Keep on going. Try to keep your heels really at the same height all throughout. Nice. We'll take three more here.

All the while finding a nice even breath, letting the chest be open, the spine nice and long. Now one more time. Pressing out, pull the carriage all the way to the stopper, knees connect, heels and toes touch, and you climb to the arches prehensile position. Try to get those heels wrapping under the bar, toes trying to touch the heels, and then go from there. We'll take 10 quick ones.

The movement remains the same, so it doesn't require much thought. You can just focus on that nice length from the head down through the tail, keeping the feet in one position all throughout. Like you're standing up are you're sitting down. Three more, up and down. For two, up and down.

This is your last one. Then we'll change the position one more time to the heels. Make sure there's even weight on both those heels, the toes flair back to the shins, and then you take your quickest set yet. Go on up 10. And in, and nine, and in.

Almost emphasize the pull down against the stopper. Out and in. 6 and in. Make sure you breathe all throughout. Nice for three and in.

This is two. Pull the toes back one more time. Come all the way home. And then return back to all 10 toes. Heels touch, toes apart, knees in line with your shoulders.

Give me one full extension from here. And pause. Now trying to keep the hells in one spot so they cannot lift, see if you can stretch the springs out just a little bit by lengthening your spine. You're standing up super tall, role model posture, keep those inner thighs pulling together. Now lower just the heels.

As far as you can with the heels still together. And lift back up. That's your tendon stretch. And again lowering down and lifting back up. All the while press the arms into the mat, keep the chest wide open, so you have space to breathe.

Inhale, push the bar away, let the breath go as the heels come under the bar. We'll take two more here. Lift up, stand up nice and tall, lower the heels. And this is your last one. Hold that position.

This is the position we're trying to get the legs into as we go into our 100 next. So really feel all that energy coming through your hips into the feet. Once you're in your 100 later, you'll want to feel like you're pushing that bar away from you. Go ahead, bend your knees, bring the carriage all the way in. Lower the foot bars down with your feet.

And then without changing your springs, just grab onto your straps. Extend your legs long over the bar and bring your arms all the way up. I like to use a fist grip with the hands. Feel the tension go out of your leather straps as you bring your arms slightly back. So going back with our theme, we try to see what the body comes up with as we introduce resistance and tension to the body.

So just let your ribcage go for this second, like you're not doing Pilates. All right? Now bring your arms forward until the leather straps are taught and see what your body automatically does the second the straps get taught. Feel that? All right.

We'll do that a couple more times just so your body gets the sensation and knows what to do with that resistance that it anticipates that this point. Reach the arms back, we'll take one more of those. Bring the arms forward until the straps are taught. Hold that. Now see what happens if you think about picking up your legs.

Just a couple of inches away from the bar, just like you did before in your tendon stretch. Reach them out like you're standing on a bar. Hold the straps and pull them down by your sides. Keep reaching forward into your straps with your head still pressing into your pillow and then relax. Your arms go up, your legs go down, we'll do that one more time.

Press into your straps, stretch the legs away from you, push your arms down by your side. Now it all happens at once. Your head still stays down, it's like you're standing in the air. And then relax your legs, arms lift up. Are you ready for your 100 now?

The same technique. Press the arms down, stretch your legs out of your body, curl it up. Lift your head up to look past your toes and off you go. Breathing in two, three, four, five, and exhale two, three, four, five. Deep breath in through the nose.

And exhale through your nose or mouth. Inhale and exhale. If you're really used to exhaling through your mouth, you might want to try exhaling through your nose and see what that feels like. Deep breath in and exhale. Each inhale lift your lungs off the mat, lift your spine a little.

With each exhale try to push the carriage out further by reaching into those straps more. You got it. Exhale. One more deep breath. Inhale two, three, four, five.

And Exhale two, three. Bonus round, stay still. How high can you lift your arms without that carriage moving? Without the springs changing? Reach forward and when you can't take it anymore, relax.

Release your head down. Arms come up, legs come down. All right, little furniture change. We're going to drop down to two inner springs. So sit on up.

Take a quarter turn. Remove your outer springs. We'll leave the inner ones on so we can transition to rowing later, a little easier. Swing back onto your back. Lower your head piece down.

And we're going right into over head. We'll do a little prep to start. Think that this really relates to the exercise we just did. It's the same technique. Your arms pull into the strap, you find your find your rib stability.

You press the arms down and you pick up your leg straight up to 90 degrees. Hold that for a second. For three, for two, for one. In one motion lower the legs, lift the arms back up. We'll just do that much two more times.

Press the arms down, lift the legs up. So even if overhead is not a good exercise for you, this much you can do. Slowly lower the legs down, lift the arms up so that your body gets that coordination. One more time, press down through the arms, lift the legs, roll up and over. Lift your hips over your chest, stretch your toes to the ceiling, push them out away as you slowly come on down.

We'll take that two more times. Legs lower, arms lift, and press the arms down. Lift your legs up and over. Now keep your hips that far away from your head as you stretch your legs. Ah, very nice.

Long through the sides of the waist, push into your straps as you come down. Last one. Up and over. Nice. Keeping the hips right here, nice.

And slowly roll it down. Push into your handles, keeping your head down, bend your knees in, bend your elbows, and we'll go right into coordination from here. On an inhale. With the head down, press you arms onto the mat, extend your leg, stand in the air again. Nice.

Open, close your legs. Exhale, drag your knees into your chest. Elbows bend at the end. We'll go for even tempo here. Legs and arms out on one.

Open the legs on two. Close the legs on three. Drag the knees into you on four. Elbows bent on five. Inhale stretch out.

Hold the breath open, hold the breath close, start exhaling. Knees come in at the end of the exhale. Elbows bend. One more time. Inhale out.

Open, close, knees go in, in, in. Elbows bend. And that's coordination for today. So this is actually an archival version where they had stays down. I find it quite a nice variation on the theme.

Take the straps into one hand. I want you to sit up, take a half-turn to the back, remove the spring along the way. And we'll do a somewhat older version of rowing as well. I'm going to reference some of the mat exercises that we know to break this exercise down. I want you to start again with your arms straight out in front of you so that there's no tension on your springs or on your straps at this point.

Sit up as nice and tall as you possibly can. Feel your inner thighs pull together. Stretch the legs out of your hips. We'll start by pulling our elbows out to the side, straps to the chest, and doing a half roll back with our spine. So the hips curl under.

You can take this as our back as you're comfortable. From here, we're going to reverse. Sit your spine back up, stretch you arms off to the side with your palms facing back. Sit nice and tall. Swivel the handles, you got it.

Now we're going to take the spine stretch forward. Let the spine stretch forward be the reason that your arms lift up behind you. And then circle them all the way over your feet. That was a very slow breakdown of the exercise. We're going to do that a couple more times, a little quicker.

Sit up, no tension. Half roll back, pull the straps to your chest, sit back up. Open the arms wide apart. Now spine stretch forward. Take the arms around and then circle them all the way back over your toes.

And you have one more of these. So lift up, half rollback, sit back up, spine stretch forward. Let those arms circle in your shoulder socket until they come all the way back over your feet. There we go. And then sit yourself back up with no tension on your straps.

Palms face up this time, second variation. Again, we start with no tension on your springs or your straps. Your spine is nice and lifted. It's going to stay that way. You're going to hinge your body back and you do a bicep curl with your arms all at the same time.

Super strong, flex those guns. You've got it. Now lift back up. Stretch your arms up to the ceiling and let them come forward and down. Once you start to lose your tension, round over your legs.

Here's your spine stretch forward again. Arms circle all the way around. Two more times. Sit up, palms face up. Lean your body back.

Bicep curl the arms. Nice and strong, good. Stretch back up, reach up and over your legs, let the arms circle alongside the frame. And finish with a circle. You have one more of these.

Flow right through. Lean back, stretch up, reach over your legs, round your spine, lift the arms up high, and let them come all the way around. And let's face the other way. Very nice work. Feeling warmish?

Yeah. We have a nice sunny spot here too. Sit back against your shoulder blocks. Pick up your handles. We're still on one spring, by the way.

Pick up your handles so that the ropes or the straps, rather, pass under your forearms and pull your elbows back nice and strong. Give me the highest chest you can. Sit up nice and tall, almost feel like your body's leaning forward ever so slightly. We go from the chest, quick and dirty. Reach your arms up, lower lift the arms down and up.

Now push up into your straps, list your spine a little more. Arms reach out to the side and down. We'll do that two more times, going for nice quick flow. Reach, lower and lift. Push the air away with the arms.

Stretch them away from each other. You've got one more. And check in again, what happens as the tension decreases and increases throughout the movement? Now, taking your hands down by your hips, flex your feet. Round you head into your knees as far as you can.

So here's your spine stretch forward. Really pull your big toes back towards your hairline. Now press out your handles. Feel the spring tension come in. Where does your body take it?

Roll the spine up. Try to keep the carriage right where it is as you lift your body up and the arms come down. It's funny, right? Hands by your hips, chin over chest. Round forward, push the handles out, pull your toes back against your head.

The entire back of your body is stretching. Lift the spine up, the spring will not move. It will come in when your arms are about to come down. Last time. Hands by your hips.

Round in, press out. Slowly build your spine back up. Keep tension on your spring as you reach up. And then your arms circle out to the side and down. Shake out your legs for a second.

Just let your feet point away from you, but no tension in your feet. Circle your handles and then bring your hands down by your ears. Another good old archival goody. The lifting. I want you to find the biggest lift in your spine possible, with possibly at tad of a spine stretch forward.

So the front of your ribcage is relaxed, your back is open, look straight ahead, and press your arms straight up to the ceiling. And pull right back down. We'll do that a few more times. This is one of those exercises where you really work on your posture and keeping your spine almost steady. But even here, as the spring moves, there will be minute movement in your spine.

Now, for the guys out there, I know you're there somewhere-- and the strong ladies, of course-- you can add a second spring in this exercise. But one is enough, right? Mm-hm. Press out. One more time, pull your hands down by your ears, and then press up one last time.

Let your arms circle out to the side and down. And exhale, especially if you haven't in a while. You can release your handles and let's get your boxes. A nice little break. Now, the next exercise we're going into is the Swan dive on the long box.

An exercise that is not often seen or taught. We're going into a variation that I find not that super advanced, actually. And it's a nice alternative, especially if you don't have a barrel to work with for this one. Add a spring. The spring here is not so much to exercise our muscle, but really to give us some support as the box is pulling back into us.

The way you set yourself up-- so you have your hands on the box, your feet on the bar. You press the box out so that you can rest yourself against it with the edge of the box coming about halfway down your thighs. Now straighten out your legs and let your just reach over the box, over the shoulder blocks, over the head rest. And see if your toes are in a good spot here. You want to almost be able to pull up against your foot bar here and have steady support.

Your arms describe a big circle from here. Take an inhale and reach your arms forward and up. Lift your spine, allow your knees to bend to increase your back bend. Circles your arms out to the side and let you rib cage come halfway down. We're going to reverse the motion here.

Circle the arms back behind your ears. Re-straighten your legs as you circle the arms forward. Push the foot bar away from you and then slowly relax your upper body down. We'll take that a little quicker. Inhale, lift your arms forward and up, bend your knees, open the arms, and come down.

Reverse the motion. Reach back straighten the legs as you shoot out through the fingertips and then relax your upper body. One more time. Lift forward and up, open your arms out to the side, let your body come halfway down. Steady contact with the feet and straighten your legs.

Dive forward, hold that position for a second. And relax. Good. Let the carriage come all the way in. Take your hands on top of your box to lift your hips up, pike them back.

Make sure the spring tension doesn't push you off the foot bar, of course. Reach down and grab one spring, take it off. Good. And we're going to set ourselves up for pulling straps. So now you'll bring your shoulders forward over the corners of your box or even the shoulder blocks.

If you have super long legs you want to sure they're supported. Again, about halfway down your quad. All right, get a good, strong fist grip with your hands and start with no tension on the straps. Start with no engagement in your legs or hips. Your body is literally just relaxing over the box.

Of course, that's not going to last very long. But for the moment you just release. Now your goal is to pull your straps straight down, straight back, and straight up. The second your spring tension comes in I want you to see what adjustments you body is making automatically to be able to generate the strength you need. Beautiful, nice.

Now you keep your hands right next to your hips all the way back. Let your chest come forward and up like you're standing in your gymnastic rings with your hands. Lifting your chest up and then you reverse that. Very nice, you guys. We'll do that a couple more times.

Of course, the slower you go, the more torturous it becomes. So now that you've got the motion, just flow right through. Reach back so the arms, in opposition to your hands, pulling. Lift your chest forward and up and then you return. Let's do that one more time.

Last one. Pull the straps down, back, and up, up, up. And reverse out of that. Let your straps slide to your hands. Get to the double folded part.

Bring your arms out to the side, into your T shape. Good. Now same thing here. Let your chest come forward and up ever so slightly. You try to keep your low back nice and long and wrinkle free.

Now from here, with a strong fist grip, and even pulling with those pinky fingers you've got them, why not use them, right? Now pull straight back from here into your T pull. Allow your chest to come forward and up if that's available to you. Keep reaching your legs back. Now, as you return you arms, can you keep the carriage where it is?

Beautiful you guys. You try to find space in your own body first before the spring comes home. We'll do that two more times, just two more. Pull with your chest forward up against your hands, pulling back, and then resist the return. This will be your last one.

Let me just give you a tiny little adjustment here. This will be your last one. Pull back. Now, are you ready for a little surprise? Keep pushing back into your straps.

You're going to come about halfway back until you arms are out to the side. Now stay here. Reach your legs back and away from you, let them hover off the box. Lift your chest forward and up. Looks like swan dive, doesn't it?

Why don't we do a little rock here. Try to rock forward and back without moving the carriage. Beautiful. Two more. And one more.

Hold. Keep pulling into your straps. Remember this next time you try the exercise on the mat. And you're all done. Release.

Step off to the side, take your straps with you, and just do a little toe touch on the side of the reformer just to relax your back. All right, how are we doing? Doing all right? OK, we're going to add a spring. We'll be on two springs for back stroke swimming.

Have a seat on the very front edge off your box. Organize the straps before you sit down. And we'll make getting into the start position part of the exercise. It's actually half the fun already. So once you're there at the very front edge, lifting your spine as tall as you can, try to pick your knees up and lift them into your chest.

Hold some resistance in your straps here. This is your anchor, so really hold that. Let your spine round back, curl the hips under, and just like rolling like a ball in slow motion, you roll yourself back til your knees touch your hairline. You keep the straps taught as you bring your arms over your head and this is your start position. Arms and legs do exactly the same.

You stretch them up, you open into a v, you circle everything forward. You hold that position just like a low teaser or your 100 shape. Now, slowly come back in, curl the hips under you. Exhale your breath. We'll go a little quicker.

Up, open, circle forward, pull the carriage back. If you were in water, this is where you would slide back 20 feet. Come all the way back in. We'll take three more of these. We'll just go one direction today.

Up and open, circle forward, almost allow yourself to point the legs down and to curl yourself a little higher. And come back in. Last two, promise. Stretch your arms and legs up and open. Circle forward, curl it up, curl it up, curl it up, and come all the way back in.

Now what if I told you we're not going to do teaser after? How high could you come up on this one? Open, reach forward, hold. Point those legs down. Now can you come in with control?

Bend your knees, bend your elbows. Ahh. All right and that's that. Easy peasy, right? Step off to the side.

I promise you we'll skip the teaser. I didn't lie to you. Release your straps, let them go. Let's just put them down on the ground, actually, and let's get rid of our boxes here too. We're moving right into the long stretch.

All right, so bring your black pad, place it on the headrest, and lift the headrest up into the highest position. Long stretch is one of my favorite exercises to really explore that concept of what the body does the second the spring tension comes in. But in order for that to happen, we have to set it up, so that the carriage is fully closed. All right, so just make your arms and legs long and stiff. Take your nearest hand first, place it on the foot bar.

You far leg, place it in the head rest. Near hand, far foot, you got it. And then you add the other side. And try to keep the carriage in place as you set yourself up. So you're already fully engaged, we're just going to make minor adjustments from here.

If you see a ton of wrinkles in your wrist, see if you can slide the knuckles down ever so slightly. Give me a little pull straps here. And that you arms almost pull back, your chest comes forward and up. Keeping the hips nice and lifted. And that is an exercise in and of itself.

I'm sure you agree. All right, now what if the spring tension comes in? Press out just one inch and see where your body takes it. Maintain that uplift through your chest, pull it through your arms, and then close the carriage all the way. So this exercise does not require big movement, but you can take it quite far.

Let's see how far you can take it. Press out and slowly come all the way in. Pull the carriage into the stoppers. If you could pull it beyond the stopper, this is your last one. On two springs, that is.

Press out. Good, and then slowly come all the way in. Pull your head right through the arms. Now, step one foot forward. Reach down, take one spring off.

Nice little break, all right? As you step your foot back, notice that the spring already will want to move. So try to keep the carriage in place. Less resistance also means less support. So don't go back too far because you will have to come all the way in by yourself.

Press on out, three more times. Out, exhale come in. In and two more. You've got the movement now, so we move through it just a little bit quicker one more time. Allow those hips to sink down in the space between your shoulder blades.

So lift, step one foot forward, add that spring back on, and here's your down stretch. Place your feet against the blocks. Now, we often talk about a two way stretch in Pilates, right? In the down stretch I want you to think of a four way stretch. So I'll give you four directions to move into.

You hips go forward towards the foot bar. Your heels go back in opposition. The carriage still in. Press down through your hands, that's your third direction. And then your chest pulls up between your arms, that's your fourth.

Now you try to maintain those four things as you press the carriage out on an inhale. Keep reaching the heels back as you exhale to pull the carriage in. Pressing down through the hands. Do that just two more times. Inhale, get the hips down, exhale, come all the way in, in, in.

Keep reaching your head back. Last one. Inhale, press out. Exhale, come all the way in. Now keep leaning your head back so you might just be able to climb up to your fingertips.

It's a little bit of back bend here. Sweep your arms up to the ceiling, let your arms reach past your ears first, and then just peek toward your fingertips. And now we'll continue that same motion without any load. The low back is lifting itself as the arms keep reaching back. Very good.

And then reverse out of that. Bring your chin over your chest, hands on the bar, heels are, Upstretch. Lift your hips straight up, let your feet come slightly away from the blocks. And again, we'll start with the carriage closed. Make sure you have a nice, comfortable position where you can fold your body in half.

So let your chest just relax, stick your hips up to the ceiling, that's it. Get a good, solid grip on your bar. Really grab the padding with all 10 fingers. Now initiate the movement by pushing the carriage out with your legs ever so slightly. And make your spine as round as you can.

So you create space with your legs pushing back first, you make a big C curve and then you continue going. Bring the hips down and your legs back. Nice. Now once you're there, that's it, keep going. You've got it.

Now bring the carriage all the way in using your shoulders. Pull yourself right over the foot bar. Now step three is you press your hands down and you ripple through your spine until your hips are back in the beginning position. And again, that was the torturous version. Let's go a little quicker.

Push the legs back, let the hips come down, bring the carriage in. And then like you're going into a handstand, press through the hands, roll the spine up. This will be one more. Press it out. Notice, again, where does your body take that spring load as it decreases?

Now slowly roll it up. Let's go right into elephant which continues that same idea. Here's a little prep I like to do for this one. Feel your hips curl under you. Start to take the weight forward into your hands and let you heels lift up.

So your legs are long and stiff, still. I want you to going into a make believe handstand here. So shift your weight even further forward like you're about to lift up. You might just get on to your toenails here. Very good.

Now all the weight is in here and in the arms. You try to keep that as the heels roll back down. Try to keep your weight forward, keep your weight forward, keep your weight forward-- you've got it-- until they heels are down and toes lift back up. Two more times, just that. Coming forward into your hands, your make believe handstand.

One day, right? Lift up, press down, and roll the heels back down. And try to keep that same effort in your upper body and your arms. By the time the heels come down, your toes lift. Here's your last one then we go into our elephant.

Come forward, round it up. This is the one. This is reminiscent of your pull up on the Wunda chair as well, right? You see that? Slowly come down from here.

Try to keep the lift through the front of your body nice and hollow. Once the heels are down, bring the carriage out, push down and out through the heels and come in. Down and out and come in, down and out and come in. We'll do that six more times. And in, five and in, four and in, this is three.

In and a two. Last time, hold the carriage in, and you're done with that. Step off to the side. Interlock your hands behind your back for just a second. And pull your hands down towards your heels.

Let your chest lift up, almost like the end of your pull strap. Just to stretch the chest open. So we continue with the long back stretch. We stay on two springs. Have a seat on your foot bar.

Place your hands with your fingers again, gripping underneath. And place you feet all the way against the shoulder blocks. You want to really snuggle you heels all the way against the blocks. So depending on your leg length, that means you will have to come off the foot bar. Now, I teach this exercise without the tricep dip.

I want you to keep your arms nice and long think that you're in your chest expansion right now. So your chest is-- exactly. It's nice, wide, and open. You press back against the bar. Now in order to get the space to move the spine, you want to tilt your chest forward, let your hips tilt back, and once you have enough space, you curl through hips, you push out through the heels until the carriage is out.

Now, lift your hips up and float back against the foot bar and the stopper. Do that twice more. Coming down, pressing out. All the time you're doing your chest expansion. Already one more time.

Lower down, press out, lift up. Very good. Now reverse that three times. Press out, lower. Now here, you have to literally levitate up to bring the carriage all the way against the stopper.

Do that twice more. Lower and float back in, in, in. Here's your last one, doesn't quite flow. Springs don't bring you home. Wait, which are we going?

You keep your hips up, you press out, chest expand through your arms. Now lower the hips down. Almost feel like you're sticking your hips through the foot bar. And then you lift back up and it's already over. Great.

Right? Step off to the side. Let's go right into stomach massage. Move the sticky pad down. And I like to place it the long way.

Exactly. And we're going to stay on two springs. It's often taught on more than that, I like to teach it on two springs simply because we're going to add a little one legged variation on this. Now, think about what you just did in your long back stretch. I want you to set yourself up similarly on your shoulder blocks.

All right? So with your hands behind the back, hold onto your shoulder blocks. Step your feet up against the bar in your-- all 10 toes on position, in your heels-together position. Now, how close can you sit down on the very front edge? You might have to push the carriage out a little bit to get there.

That's it. And once you're there take your hands to the front edge. If your springs are already open, make it your first order of business to come in just a little bit more. Very good. So each repetition you try to increase that.

All right? Now straighten out your legs, lower lift your heels, and come all the way back in. Try to close the carriage a little more than where you started. Very good. And stretch back out.

Lower lift the heels and come back in. Now keep them going. This movement really relates to basically a squatting pattern, a squatting action. You stretch you lower lift and you come in. And your spine is someone rounded like it would be in a child's pose, but I want you to give it that same lift you felt in your elephant just a little bit ago.

Very good, nice. Two more. Lower lift, keep all 10 toes heavy. Last one, stretch lower lift, come all the way back in. Here's your variation.

Extend your legs and pause. Now keep your left toes on, point your right foot underneath the bar. Keep that leg long, keep even weight on your hips, and bend your left knee. Come all the way in. We'll do three repetitions.

Stretch lower lift the heel. Good and then come all the way back in. Two more. Stretch, tendon stretch, and come in. Reach through the leg.

Last one, come all the way in and then straighten the leg to change your legs. Good. Point your left toes under the bar, come all the way in, and we'll start three repetitions here. Extend your right, lower lift the heel, bend your knee. Come in.

Two more. Stretch, lower lift, and come in. Last one, stretch, lower lift, and come in. Straighten both legs. Place both feet back on, bend your knees, and come all the way back home.

And go ahead and step off to the side. And we're going to do another one of these. Just a little counter stretch for your chest. Pull your hands down, think of your pulling straps here. Think of your chest expansion here.

In fact, that's next. So we're still going to stay on two springs if that's all right for your shoulders. If you want to drop down to one, that's fine too. But we'll try it on two, you guys look strong to me. Lower your foot bars down, please.

We're going to start in the kneeling position. Facing your shoulder blocks. Now come back so far that you see over the corner of the carriage here. Pick up your straps, and you can hold onto your leather straps. Now, the first part, before we introduce any external resistance here, I want you to bring your hips forward over your knees.

And bring you hips so far forward over your knees it feels like you're about to fall flat down on your nose. Make that really exciting. Is that exciting? OK, yes, good. So once you feel that, it's almost feels like your feet want to come up.

And that's why you're hooking them around here. So she's already shaking, so I know she's working. Now we're going to introduce the movement. Pull your straps, pull them back. Turn your head right, turn you head left, look straight ahead, and come back.

In again. Inhale, pull, turn you head one, turn you head two, look straight ahead. Two more sets. I don't care what direction you look into first. Make it your favorite one.

And slowly let the straps bring the carriage back in. One more time. Turn one, turn two, straight ahead, let the springs bring the carriage back in. You just lift your spine and then you sit back on your heels. Add a spring, please, and we'll do a thigh stretch.

Continuing the same idea, but this time you walk your knees against the blocks. You bring your hips forward, again. Quite far, so far you start to feel your seat engage. Not because you're squeezing it, but because you're extending your hips, you're bringing them forward, you lift yourself up, and you feel that little shake inside of you already. From there, lean your body back in one long piece.

Hold the position. Keep the sides of the waist nice and long, your chest open, and then push the straps away from you as you come back up. We'll do that two more times. Just two more. Pulling back, go with your spring tension, they serve as your resistance and support here.

Push the straps away from you to spring back up. This will be your last one. If you like to add a little back bend at the bottom of that, making sure that low back stays nice and long. You want to give it a shot? I know you want to.

Lift your chest, beautiful. Chin over chest. Push the straps away from you. Come back up, lower your straps all the way down. Very nice work.

And then we'll turn and face the other way for our tiger stretches. One of the more original names for the knee stretches. Drop down to two springs. Lift your foot bars up and step your feet back against the blocks. All right, so let's visualize that tiger now.

It's stretching it's back, all right? There's no tension on the springs yet. The carriage is all the way in. Your hips lean back towards the heels. And just like your hand stand that we practiced before you elephant, I want you feel like you're pushing into the bar and rounding your spine in opposition, like an angry cat stretching it's back.

Really feel that. Nice. Rrrrr! There we go. Now from here, let's feel the opposite for a second. So you reach your hips back and you ripple through you spine sequentially, still maintaining space so you're not just arching into your low back, but your chest expand truly here.

Very nice. And then again, from the hips start to reverse that motion. Stretch your back. Slowly push your feet back against the blocks. We're going to take a slow round first.

Notice when your thighs are in line with your low back, bring your knees under you. Change the position of your spine first, round into an arch, lift your chest forward and up. And do the same ones here. Test your mobility. How far can you push your legs back without the hips sinking?

And then come back in from there. So that's the theory. Are you ready for the ride? Round your hips under you, push against your bar, and go quick. And pull in, press out, and pull in.

So we're going to stay with the first position. Sorry, I wasn't very clear there. Keep the hips under you, stay round, and press out and come in. Nice. So now we're going to stay with this variation, do five more repetitions.

Now working on tempo and flow. Three, and come in. This is two and in. One more time then change your spine. Arch your back, reach back through your hips, forward through your chest.

Feel like you're pressing down into that bar like you're doing chest expansion. And go again. 10 and in. 9 and in. The most fun one of these is yet to come.

Almost there. 5 in, 4 in, 3 in, 2 in, 1 and hold. Now keep your hips right there. Start rounding your spine back. Now for this exercise-- oh guys, you know what's coming, right?

For this exercise we usually shift weight into the hands. I want you stay right back here and let your knees come up as the result of your spine bending. Yes, that's it. Once you have that, lower the knees back down, relax for just a second. We'll just do the lift twice more.

Curl it under you, press against the bar, and suspend yourself off the carriage. And lower back down. One more time. And if you've got it in you, we're going to up to 10 knees off knee stretches. All right, lift your knees up and off you go.

Go for 10 and in. Go for nine and in. Now it's the knee stretch, can you stretch your knees out all the way? Yes, you can. Good.

Five more, I knew you could. Four and in. This is three and in. Two. Last one and hold it here.

Freeze and relax. Woo, exhale, exhale, exhale. Let's add the same springs you had for your footwork. So you had four, you had three, and we going into our running. The only exercise the body will tolerate at this point, right?

Yes. And I'm not even going to say anything about it. You just go right into it. You stretch out your legs, you bend one knee, lower the opposite heel, and just go for run. Exactly.

Let your body cool down. This is the equivalent of shaking it out. Letting it loose, running away from the knee stretches. But if you do have it in you, you can start to feel, do all 10 toes relate to the bar the same way all throughout? Do you start to shift?

Do your knees go in and out? Do they stay in line with your eyes? Take five more. And four, four. And three, three.

And two, two. And one and one. Now press against that bar with both feet. Try again without lifting your heels any higher to stretch the springs out just a little bit more. It's your spine lengthening that stretches those springs out more.

And off you go. Come all the way in. Feet to the corners for your pelvic lift. Now just like in your knee stretches, when your hips rounding under lifting your knees up, I want you think that that's exactly what happens here. You're just flipped upside down.

So curl ribs under. Roll yourself up until your bottom rib is about to leave and then just take 10 little stretches. Press through the legs and come back in. Feel your thighs push back and feel them pull up in space. Again, pressing out, float back in, and stretch out and in.

Feel that the springs pull the carriage in for you no matter what. So you just try to make yourself light on that foot bar. Stay long in your back. Three more. And a two, very nice.

This is your last one. Straighten out your legs, bend your knees, bring the carriage all the way into the stopper. And very gently lower yourself down. Take a quarter turn towards the middle of the room. Sit up with you feet on the ground, hip distance.

Take your hands behind your head and we'll just a little squat to stand up to take us into our final exercise. Keep your spine nice and lifted. Press your head back into your hand, feel your chest lift. Lean your body forward as much as you need to in order to take weight into your feet and stand all the way up. Nice, good.

And then just relax your arms down by your sides. Lower your foot bars down. Our final exercise will be the Russian squat. It's one of those tricky exercises that seems really, really dangerous, but I know these people. They have a beautiful squat.

And it's a great exercise to really showcase, once you have the flexibility and strength comes in through the spring resistance pulling forward on you, it becomes a great exercise to just enhance your concentration, your mind body connection. It's a great way to leave your practice. So we're on two springs. Go ahead and grab your handles. And set yourself up at the very front edge, closer to your spring, with your feet parallel.

And sit yourself down into the deepest squat possible. Now again, this is a skill that many of us lose over time, but our stomach massages is really what gets us back here. It's a very relaxed position for our joints to hang into. The spine is somewhat rounded, the knees are relaxed, the ankles are relaxed. Now see if you can look up and reach your arms out in front of you.

If that feels all right, very slowly come back up to standing. And start to notice, be very mindful as to what happens once the spring tension starts to come in. Extend your hips fully at the top. We're basically coming full circle with our foot work again. Now keep weight in your heels.

Make sure the springs don't have the power to pull you forward. Let you arms lift as you bend your knees and as you slowly lower yourself back down. Like you're trying to sit on your foot bar. We'll do that a few more times. They both have their game face on because this feels as though the carriage could pull away underneath you any moment.

Beautiful and coming back down. We'll take two more of these. All throughout the exercise, feel how your feet relate to the padding of your carriage. Where do you take the weight? Is it more in one side than the other?

Is it more in the toes or the heels? The big toes, the pinky toes? Go back to that little game we played in the beginning with your number one toes and your two toes, and your three toes, four, and five pressing against the mat. This will be your last one. Come all way up to standing, fully extend your hips at the top.

Stand tall and proud, as if you're about to do chest expansion up here, which we won't. Slowly come all the way down. Let your arms lift up. And once you know the carriage is against the stopper, step off to the side. And you guys are all set.

Wonderful work. Thank you. Thank you.


great class! thank you benjamin. I like the focus -how to initiate the movements- much. also some of your variation. and... I didn´t know the russian squats before... (shame on me ;) ) so I have learned something new from you! thank you!
Really enjoyed this - great cues. Also interested to see the hand grip on the handles with fists - I've always been taught to hold with long fingers.
1 person likes this.
Mamma mia what a fantastic teacher you are !!!
I'm speechless and really wish you to be here in PA again.
Who was your master teacher ?
My respect
2 people like this.
thank to PA for bring to us so wonderful teachers...
I am a fan of the benjamin
Great session Benjamin! Loved your cueing! Very nice that you also mentioned shapes in space on other apparatus, like the pull up on the chair and the elephant. When is your next videon online? :)
Very cool! It was vey nice to meet and thank you.
1 person likes this.
Perfect!!!!. More reformer flows please.
2 people like this.
Mr. D- I'm in love!!
Jennifer W
Great class Benjamin! I especially loved the elephant! Russian Squats? I didn't have the nerve to try it. Next time! Thank you!
Great teaching and transitions! Thanks for the challenge!
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