Class #1855

Neutral Spine Reformer

40 min - Class


You asked for it and Meredith delivered! Meredith teaches a more advanced version of her Reformer workout that works primarily in a neutral spine. To increase the challenge, she adds in movements to challenge your stability and balance like Standing Arm Work, a creative Up Stretch Combo, and much more.
What You'll Need: Reformer (No Box)

About This Video

Oct 08, 2014
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Hi. Recently I filmed a class where we worked primarily in neutral spine, avoiding spinal flection. Today we're going to work the same idea, but at a more advanced level. This is a per request and I am happy to oblige. So here we go. I'm going to come around to this end and we're just going to start on our feet for a second. So stand on your feet. Aligning the body, feet underneath the knees and pelvis over the knees, spine over the pelvis, head on top of the shoulders. Reach the arms out and up, creating out energy in your arms as your arms reach overhead.

Allow the thoracic spine to gently bend and look up and then press the arms open to the sides of your body. And as your arms reached to the sides of you, begin to bring yourself up, right? I like to just do a couple of things like this, just bringing, reaching out awareness, allowing myself to check in. So something very simple and press out. Become upright, allowing the breath in the body and the mind and the body to connect. Reaching out [inaudible] all the way back this time.

Take the spine into a little bit deeper of an extension. Reach up and press open to the sides. One more last time. We're gonna rise up onto our toes this time, reaching up, looking up, extending the spine. This a little tricky. And then reach out, bringing the heels down. As the heels come down and feel the whole spine grow. We lift longer, we lift taller, we create space in our bodies and we lower all the way down.

So for our warm up, there's not really a good angle for this. So I'm going to do my best. You'll see me when I'm over the back. I'm going to turn my back two for now and then I'm going to lie down on my back on the reformer. My feet are on the floor in front of me and I'm positioning myself. So I'm about at shoulder blade level to the edge of my reformers carriage.

I'm gonna bring my hands behind my head and start in a flat back. Create a little bit of a backward drag with the heel. So the hamstrings turn on. And then inhale as the back goes over the top of the reformer, over and back. As we exhale, we're gonna lift, drawing the lower back into the reformer. Keep the head in line with the spine. Just lift so that you're neutral so that you're straight. Pause in here and exhale working our way down.

It's not an easy movement to start, which is why I wanted to start on our feet. Exhale, let the head hit rest heavy in the hands. Lifted like you're lifting your breastbone or the place where the collarbones come together. Pots in ham and e long gate through the body. As you attack and heel again, exhale to hover.

Pause. Inhale. Still using my hip extensors to help me support my spine. If this doesn't feel good on your lower back or if it's not supportive enough, it's a little bit easier to lift the feet to elevate the feet onto a box or something. Pause here in here. We're going to lift the left leg off the floor, keeping the spine law and we're gonna lift the right leg off the floor. Okay. And uh, hovering. Just to pop those shoulder blades, lift the left leg off the floor and lift the right leg off the floor and down in Ham and release. One more thing here. Inhale. Exhale. The ribs draw down. That is heavy.

We pause. Whole inhale. We're going to see turn towards the left. Slide the left ribs towards the spine. Keep the head heavy in the hands. Rotate and center and the right ribs. Now slide towards the center of the spine is the left ribs reach over and across and center and again, left ribs towards spine, right ribs over and across.

Keep both hips down and find center and the other direction. Right ribs slide in towards the spine. As left ribs come across and center. One more time through. We rotate feeling the long lines of the waist and rotate center and take it over the back. Yeah, so I'm going to take my leg and my hands and I'm going to kick myself up.

Turn onto our backs. I have three red springs on my reformer. I'm setting already set myself up for footwork, which we're going to do a little bit differently today. So we'll start on our heels, arms down at our sides, neutral spine, finding our position. We're going to press the carriage out and bent. We'll do that five times. Yes, this is, this is very similar to normal, but the change is coming.

So three and Paul to feeling the evenness in the legs and one. Now we're going to come in, we're going to hover the pelvis off the mat without rounding, without tucking the spine on about an inch away from the reformer maybe. And we're going to stay hovering as we reach out and try not to let the hips sink down. Try not to fall back down on the reformer. Just keep that lift consistent all the time and bend and reach. Bend and reach.

Add bent and place the body down. Come on to the toes. So we're going to do that in reverse. Now we're going to float the pelvis up, keeping the neutral spine. You'll feel your hamstrings kick in right away in my experience anyway. And then we're going to stretch out and beds and stretch out.

So in my mind, in my body I can more clearly feel the um, imbalances or irregularities in my movement with my pelvis lifted off, we were going to do one more like that. So reach out and then placing as we come all the way in the pelvis down, I can then I find it quite interesting to notice how you can bring your awareness to those, to those alignment questions or ideas when your body is now resting on something solid to more the feet as always. Just stay, writes stuff. Spoken about that a number of times. Last one. So we're reaching, we're all the way in a pointed foot and then the heels don't lift as the carriage comes back, swivel the heels together. I've kept my head rest down cause I'm attempting to keep my entire spine neutral. We're going to float the hips up, press out, wrapping through the hips and bend awareness that both sides of the body are working evenly and pull all the way into the stuff of it's that last little bit where there's some really good work to be had. Last two and back and one and back.

And then we placed the pelvis down. When we continue out and pull and reach and drag the Kerogen, feel, the steadiness, the heaviness of the shoulders, the lightness and the resting of the arms. But the arms are also reaching out in space. Pause at the bottom and take the heels to the outside of the bar. Gather energy through the inner thighs, gather energy through the abdominal, supporting the spine as it lifts off and then stretch out.

They just off the reformer and back. If this is too hard on your back or it's not, um, something that you love it. Another interesting way to play with this is to put one of those, um, small blue over balls underneath your body to support the position. It also brings awareness to imbalance and irregularity in movement. Last time out, n n and a an owl and back, an inner thighs all the time and I reached [inaudible] and back and reach out and back, warming up the body using this, using the larger muscles in our body to get warm for what's to come and we come to the toes and the center of the bar, we're going to float the hips up again.

We're going to push out and we're going to take the hills under the bar, stay floating and the lift under the bar left using the front and the back of the body. Co-Constructing working them at the same time. Last time we lift the heels, we dropped the spine down and we continued down and up. So still feel that lightness in your body as though you're still hovering. How you can be just nice and easily resting on the reformer and lift the hips and Ben one knee drop one heel and change and switch and switch. I like to sometimes just place my hands on my pelvis just to make sure that everything's nice and stuff not required. Just an idea.

Both feet left. Pelvis comes back down and we continue and too, and and reaching under. Pull all the way under that bar for four. Here's our last one. Five, five. We're going to lift the heels, bend the knees, turn to our sides, help ourself up. Change to a red and a blue spring or whatever spring that makes you happy for abdominal work. I neglected to check my straps and they are uneven, so I'm going to mom remedy that and then we'll move on.

Excuse me. So we're all on our backs again, straps are in our hands, head is down, arms, hands are in the straps and we pull forward getting a little tension on our springs. Lift your feet up off the bar using your abdominals for support and straighten your knees. As you exhale, press down through your arms and pull the knees into the chest. Keep the pelvis down. Inhale, arms up, legs up. Exhale, pull in. Inhale, reach up. Exhale, pull drawing deeply. Feel how the legs can potentially connect all the way up underneath the rib cage last to press out your press down and pull in.

One more pause there. Stretch the legs up and lower them down again. So we're going to hold that. We're going to lift the arms. We're gonna press the arms down and lift the straight legs up. Maintaining our neutral position. Inhale the legs, move away. Exhale, we pressed down.

Now can you lower the like so far with control, without lifting the spine that they just dipped the bar and then pull back and we go down again down, down, down to the bar. That's only a suggestion. We need to all look after ourselves. All look after our spinal stability and up last one and up. Externally, rotate the shoulders in the hips. Bend the knees and reach the arms out to the sides. As we exhale, we're going to stretch the legs up and press the arms down. Inhale, bend. Take the legs a little lower for us out. Arms come down, inhale, bend, press out, arms come down, and then going lower and lower each time until you hit your maximum low position. Pause there, point the fee. Arms and legs open.

Flex and pull back. Arms and legs open. Flex and pull back. Draw up through the center. Arms and legs. Flex and pull back. Last two and back. One more and behold their scissor, the legs. Pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse.

When like just reaches down over the bar, the arms are constantly reaching forward, constantly supporting the shoulders. The neck is long. Last time pulling and hold here. The bottom leg is hovering off the bar. We're going to do three little in circles to managing the pelvis.

Three pause. Reverse. One, two, three. Switch the legs low. Last thing, one, calm, two controlled strong. One, two. The relationship between the abdominals and the leg. Lift the legs up, bend the knees and reach the arms up. Play straps down. Turn yourself over, adjusted that you have one red spring and then lie down on your side.

I like to just lay my hand that my head on my bent arm. But if you prefer a pillow or something like that, now's a good time. So I'm going to organize my body so I'm far enough away so that the strap doesn't get in my way. I'm resting on my foot long, straight back. Lift the leg up and reach the leg out in heel. The knee bends, feel it that the press, the work here comes from behind the leg rather than the front of the leg.

We press out and bend in to more. Reach out and bend in. Last one, reach out, hold it out, pull from the back of the leg to bring the leg back. I like to hold my on my, I'm putting my hand on my pelvis cause it helps me to feel if it stays still and that's important to me for all the way back and forth. So we hinge from the hip joint connect to where the hamstrings in the gluten meat as we bring the leg back and forward last to pull back and forward. Last one, pull back. We're going to take it from here into rotation. So we reach around bringing the leg to the front.

Try not to let the movement in the hip effect the stability of the spine. Back turn, reach around down to the front and pull back up around and to the front. Last two, back up around, rotating in the hip joint to the front and last one back up, around and to the front. We from here go up, back, down and around so that the straight leg is over the knee and up and read through that hip joint and down and through and up and reached through the hip joint and down and through. Last two. I'm pretty challenging work. You don't need a lot of repetitions in my opinion, to get some strong lateral unilateral lateral work. That was hard to say. Both of those things in a row.

And then we're going to bend. So now I'm going to take my bottom leg again onto the frame of the reformer, stabilize, take that foot out and then turn around all the way over the other side. So using my bottom foot to push, taking my top foot into the strap in bringing the legs together long, straight back. We lift the leg up and we reach out and keeping the tailbone reaching back and also making sure that we're not pulling or arching too much from the center of the spine through the thoracic spine, but the spine is just long and steady and controled and still this our last one, I'm going to take the leg back and forward in from the hip joint and back all the way and foe and pull and forward and from the back of the, I can't access the back of your leg. Sometimes it helps to soften the knees a little bit. Here though our last, when we take it back, reach up, the pelvis is very stiff and the lady comes to the front and press back and rotate in the hip joint to bring the leg to the front of the body and pull back and reach and to the front of the body and to an all round and one just keeping the neck nice and still the head nice and still no tension in the upper body.

Going to lift the leg up and reach back now and forward and back and reach going as far back as we can without changing the alignment or the orientation of the spine in relationship to the pelvis. This is our last one. Reaching up in back. We reach way out when we come back, we bring the knee in, you reach the foot down, take the foot out of the strap and come all the way onto the back. Okay. Cross the left foot over the right knee and bring the knee towards the center of the body. Let's take some brief moment to stretch what we have to say.

Um, what we've worked, oh, so effectively worked and my experience anyway, so the leg ankle comes on to the knee. Oh, that's tighter for me. Let me pull the knee towards the chest. Okay, great. So we're going to turn, we're going to help herself, sir. We're going to keep that red spring. I think the red screen is going to stay with us for most of the class from now on. So we stand up, we want to step up onto the reformer, place the hands on the shoulder blocks. I'm gonna put my head rest up.

I'm going to take my left foot and put the um, the joint of the toes where they chose me. The feet just in that crevice. Back leg is on the bar and we're going to lower down. So my back leg now is pushing up behind me. I wanted to keep the back of that leg strong as I now reach that front leg forward and we're going to try to lower, but we want to keep the spine long and then again and reach out.

Keeping the body still slog. Stretch a little further and bend again. One more. Keeping the body still reach out. Long and bend. Now get prepared with your arms over your hands or shoulders over your hands.

I want us to keep the carriage absolutely still to the best of our ability. We're gonna lift that leg up off the reformer. Put it on the foot bar. Pause here, and now exhale. You reach the arms forward and inhale back and exhale. So this is definitely some pro and abdominal work and back two more times like that. Reaching forward and back. Last one, reaching forward and back.

We're going to pike the hips up and step the right leg forward and bend down into the lunge position on this side. Lengthening through the spine. And then we press out and Ben and presser. We're getting a little longer each time. And Ben Press, Huh? And Bend and Presser.

[inaudible] so here we go again. Keeping the carriage sta step back, place the foot, point the feet in. Reach the arms forward. So you explore that in range arms, reaching forward, feet pressing backwards and back. Two more times, reach forward and back. One more time. Region forward and back. Pike the hips up, step in, step down and turn around. I have given you incorrect information and here's what it is.

I'm going to give myself more springs for this next exercise. I'm going for two, a red and a blue. Oh, I'm, we're going to do knees off flat back and I want more attention but you want to do it on a red more power too. That'd be tough. So we're going to lift the knees, keep the spine straight, we reach out, draw old back in and reach out. And Abdominal Salman. The spine stays, still touch the bumper and app to draw and and Ah, and draw in and out and draw and one more and draw and placed in these down. So rich on, I'm going to take my blue spring off. We're going to reach forward and come into the down stretch position. From there we press out and we lift the spine and we bring the spine energetically up and back away from the bar.

Keep the feet pressing back into the shoulder blade, shoulder blocks and creature up, up and in, and press out and reach up. Ah, ah. And in press out, reach up. Here comes the next change. So we hinge the Elvis back. We press down with the arms and lower the body. Look after your shoulders here. It's tough for stabilization. Press the legs out. Lower the pelvis through. Lift up, diving up in back.

Touch the stopper with a flat back. Take the hips back, press down through the arms, lowering the spine down straight. Say why is the trunk reach out with the legs. Use the backs of the legs and the abdominals to help you. Support your spine, your lift the spine up. Touch the stopper. Sit back. Last one. Press out with the arms. Press out with the lengths. Lifts the body all the way through an n coming back. We're going to step up onto the reformer when me come into her up stretch position with the heels up against the shoulder blocks, finding our lines.

And then we're going to do three up stretch one. So we just come out and draw and and Allen and draw and bringing the carriage underneath us with herb dominoes and draw in. And now we're going to come through up stretch too. So we have to keep the shoulders stuff. We hinge around, pivot around the shoulder joint. We come over the bar with our arms and I do three pushups to one.

Continue into your forward position, into your long stretch, into the stopper. And then pike the spine back from here. Pivot around the shoulder. Joints come into the up stretch to come forward over the arms. Three patients. I'm doing elbows wide. You could choose one. Continue pulling the carriage and keep the spine stray at height the hips up.

One more. Reach and pull through Ben and stream two and straight. One straighten Ho all the way in. Lifts the hits. Slide the heels down. Once again, elongate the spine. Find your flat spine. Take your right arm towards your left.

Take your right leg around to the back of you, lifting it up and find external rotation in the hip to keep the head leg as high as possible. And then we take the left leg out and then we list the leg as the carriage comes underneath us and we take the leg out and the back leg lifts. As the carriage comes underneath us and we take the leg and the back leg lifts is the carriage comes in. And to take the right arm back and I bring the right leg around and down, you're gonna bring the left arm across, reevaluate the position of your spine. Leslie reaches around and up externally rotate, lift that leg high and then reach out and draw in.

So remember that we're always attempting to get the back leg higher while the body stays in line with the hands, with the bar and with the pelvis. Last time reaching out, pulling it, taking the leg back, bringing the back out, long, press down into the and just bring the spine up and forward and then stand on your feet. Arms come out to the side and our reach around and down. Turning yourselves around. [inaudible]. So for this next series, the transitions between positions are in my experience, the um, most challenging in terms of stabilizing and holding your balance. So really, really look after yourself here. So I'm going to step my right foot forward and my, um, left foot back. I'm going to reach down and take my straps. So I'm gonna hold just below the hardware.

I'm going to bend my front knee and Elongate my spine. So I'm actively using both legs here, pressing down with my back, like, and bending into my front leg. And we're gonna do chest expansion. So we take the young, it's a back down and back and forward and back and forward. I feel the word running all the way down the spine, all the way down the spine through the here, feeling the upper back, working powerfully, feeling the rib cage, drawing back towards the front rib cage, drawing back towards the backward cage. Five more forward and back, staying balanced between your legs theory and forward to forward. And now we come back in to stand up. Here's where it gets. Just be careful.

Just gets a little tricky feeling for some switching fee in the back leg back. Take your time. So then into that lunge position again and bring our arms back to the sides of our body, not behind us. Just next to us, we bend the elbow and press for our triceps. Bend and press in here and exhale. Inhale. And exhale, bend back, bend back. We'll do three more. Ah, two one, come all the way up.

I'm going to turn around still. Gonna want your straps again. Look after yourself. [inaudible] okay, so one foot forward, one foot back, lunge, forward, lift. The Times we have Cajun, spiny, elongated and we bend and straighten. So for me this isn't maybe the most challenging bicep exercise ever, but it is a nice stretch. It's certainly a beautiful balance challenge and we can always generate work even when we have light springs, keeping the body in alignment, maintaining our focus, stretching the arms and keeping the elbows right behind the shoulders. Last one and then coming back up. Straighten the front leg switch. Lunging forward.

I'm start at our sides, so heavy spring, so we're going to reach out. Ah, ah, feel the whole spine. Reach out through the arms there. And why don't arms around control. Keep the arms in front of you or in your periphery and reach out, taking the arms out, elongating through the spine. Lots of Ab work here, lots of strong legs and around. Reach out. Now this is a strength challenge in my opinion.

Her reach out last time, maintaining shoulder stability. Reach your hand, come all the way out. Carefully bring the feet in and carefully step down. Next is that the straps back are gonna do a preparatory exercise followed by a big, big challenge. And then change that. So this our lateral work and what I want us to do is get the legs stacked up ready, begins the shoulder blocks, take the bar and then press out far enough so that you can create a long line with your body on both sides. So for me to be all the way, and I have to be in a lot of lateral flection, I want us to be really long equal length on both sides of body. So we dropped the bottom, we dropped the top half down and lift the bottom ribs up.

And now from there we're gonna press down and lift that, that, that arm that was against the side of the body. And then we're going to pull up with those bottom ribs and come to here. We're going to reach out, floating down and pressed down, lift up with the floating ribs and come back and two more out back. I know, right? If you had a different focus, you could certainly add some rotation here. You could do whatever you want. The Sky's the limit.

But today we're going to keep everything fairly straightforward and I'm going to bend my elbow and step down. So we're going to do a preparatory exercise that's for the star. But that relationship, that shoulder blade, rib cage relationship has, um, some significance to this exercise in my mind. So I'm gonna set my hand down and this step my inside leg forward. I'm gonna step up keeping the reformer still. I'm in my side plank position now.

I reach out and come back lifting up off that bar and reach out. And there's a lot more challenging. I mean there's variation after variation of this exercise. I like this one, I like it. Nice and simple. You could also take that leg, reach it up nice and high and go from there and back, keeping the leg up and back and then stepping like down to step down. It's a little more noise than necessary with your carriage, Meredith. Oh, we all make mistakes. So switching sides, lining up, putting the hand on the bar, finding our long line and then reaching out.

Keeping those vitamins lifted down and pulling up through the bottom is to find the long diagonal line and reaching out. Once again, finding the relationship between the two sides of the body. Reaching out back last time, reaching out and back. I don't know, bringing the carriage all the way in, coming down, stepping down again, setting the hand. [inaudible] so in preparation for this exercise, the minute I'm ready to take that bottom foot up, I'm ready to be straight, to be strong, to be in control. Here we go, we reach out and there we, I always take it out and back out and back. And then we pause. We lift the leg nice and high and we take it out.

Just the arms move and back and back and take their like down and bring the reformer in or step down and then bring the reformer in and stand on [inaudible]. So final spring change for me. How many to do a blue? We're going to be on our knees. So you're going to take the straps on our hands and I like to heal though. Flip, flip around in your hands a bit. So I'll start holding them in my hands and then I'm going to flip them to my thumbs. Okay, so I'm up in an upright position when I bend my elbows.

I don't really have any tension on the springs yet, but I will. And then from there minute go into a rotation of my shoulder blades. I'm going to reach my spine up and back, pressing my pelvis forward. I'm going to bend my elbows, reaching the, all those towards the straps. And then as my hands come back to their original position, I'm going to bring my body back upright again and who rotate through the shoulders. Press the pelvis forward as you reach up and back.

Bend the arms and [inaudible]. Bring the arms down and one one roti. This is a fairly simple exercise choreographically I just really, really find it feels beautiful. It was really nice. So you may wanna choke up on your straps a little in a band. The Arms gonna rotate in an external direction in the shoulder joints.

And then again, the pelvis is going to press forward. The arms are going to reach out. I'm not going over here had I'm reaching out to my sides. I'm taking my upper body back and then I'm going to bend my elbow, staying in extension, and then I'm gonna Return and bring my arms back to neutral and rotate the shoulders and reach out in, out, in, up, out and back. Bend and return last time, rotating, reach, bend and return.

And then placing the straps down and stepping off the reformer again, standing on the feet, feeling the feet on the floor, drawing awareness through the fee through the body. Move a spine through the head, and we reach out through our arm and we've come full circle and let's press the arms down and rise up onto the toes. And then as the feet come down towards the floor, I feel that the spiny Ilan gates that we leave the headwear at is as there's stretch out through the waist, drawing down through the heels. I have one my reaching out and up and pressing the arms down. It's as though the press of the arms coming down, pushes, ah, step onto our heels. I lost my balance. That's okay.

We all know I'm not perfect. Yeah. And the heels come down and the spinal lifts and he create length and we release tension. Let me find the floor I hammer through. Thank you.

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Thank you, Meredith. That was awesome. I especially liked the external rotation and extension combos at the end! I feel like I do not work the rotator cuff nearly enough in my classes! What a great way to integrate it into an extension combo!
Awesome class Meredith!!! I LOVE all your classes. You are absolutely a fantastic Pilates instructor and very cute too :)
2 people like this.
Beautiful session, Meredith. Loved the standing arm work!
Lovely! Thank you for the prep before the Star -one of my most challenging movements :))
1 person likes this.
Love it!!! It looks chalenging??
Thank you
1 person likes this.
Feel this one! Great instruction!
Stunningly done, Meredith! Really loved the work here!
1 person likes this.
Thank you a million times!
2 people like this.
Thank you, Meredith, for another wonderful, sweat drenched-yet-spa-like class. I'm not kidding when I say you're a genius.
This was a wonderful class, filled with different variations of the exercises we know and love, and I really felt the connection to my spine, ribs, every single bone of my body throughout this class. You are the ultimate Pilates instructor, and I truly believe Joe would not have only been proud of your teaching style and spirit — he'd probably grab a notepad and jot some ideas from you. You're uplifting and inspirational, and I thank you once again for a marvelous class that I was fortunate enough to be able to take. Don't ever change, Meredith :)
1 person likes this.
That was awesome Meredith thank you!! Beautiful detailed instruction :)
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