Class #2245

Successful Shoulders

45 min - Class


Set your shoulders up for success in this fun Mat workout with Jonathan Oldham. He uses the Fletcher Braided Towel to inform your shoulders so you can begin to move your arms from your back. The awareness you create by using the Towel will help free up your spine so you can move with more efficiency and ease.
What You'll Need: Mat, Braided Towel

About This Video


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Hello, this is Karen and Amy. I'm Jonathan. We're going to do a mat class incorporating the towel today. Before we start with the towel though, I'd like to just take a moment and since where the pelvis is in space, so a will plate, we'll place that one hand just above the pubic bone, the other at the sacrum and Mr. Fletcher. Ron Fletcher talked about the bolts and we're not going to spend a lot of time talking about the bolts. All I want you to do is just imagine from your front hand to your back that there are there's beam and we want that beam from the front, the back to be parallel to the floor.

So just feel that if you need to look in a mirror that sometimes is helpful too. Just wanting to take a moment to acknowledge the pelvis before we move up into the shoulder girdle. You're going to take your hands down now and we're going to do what I call setting the shoulder, which is simply lifting the shoulders up, a little bit, about 25% of what you have available to you, slightly retracting back. And then just letting the shoulders settle down. So not pushing the shoulders down or jamming the shoulders down, feeling them float on the top of the rib cage.

And I discuss more of this idea about where the shoulder should be set in a tutorial if you want to refer to that. But we're just going to think about setting the shoulder today. And that's going to be a key is having that shoulder awareness as we go through the mat class and seeing how that specific placement may even actually free up the spine. So we're going to grab our towels now and if you have a one of these beautiful Fletcher towels, that's preferable. But if you don't have a towel and, but you have a cheap all thin towel at home, you can just fold it.

I feel like Martha Stewart and half and then in three corridors and then you twist it like so and you have a towel. Those towels are better, but these work just fine. For our purposes today, when Ron developed the towel, it was in order to help his students have a better understanding of where their shoulders were in space, getting a sense of where the shoulder blades were moving the arms from the back and moving in symmetry. So the towel is, it informs the shoulder girdle. So that's what we're going to use to tell four there's whole body of work with the towel. That is amazing. We're just going to use it at its most simple form as an informer of where the, where the shoulders are in place with the discipline, with the towel. The first thing we need to learn how to do is to pull the towel taught.

So I'm going to ask you to just take your towel mid, sternum height and you hold the towel. Basically it's about as long as your arm, so, so I'm going to have you choke up a little bit, Karen, just a little bit. Good. Yeah, and that's one way to look. So, so you don't, you don't have to go to the end of the towel. All right, so every, every arm is different. Every towel is different. So we just find where where that placement is. So let's bring that towel down again. We're going to reset the shoulders.

Once again, pull up back and down. The towel comes sternum height. And if you're looking in a mirror, you'd want to have the towel just below your shoulders so you'd be able to see your shoulders. If you were looking in the mirror. We're going to use the grip, use your grip strength and very delicately you're going to pull the towel taut and then release. And when you pull the towel tot, it's kind of like your dimmer switch in your dining room. You slowly turn the lights on and then you slowly dim the muscles. As you release. Inhale, you pull, exhale, you release, and as you're pulling you're going to feel the muscles between the shoulder blades come into play and release and you're going to feel your shoulder blades.

I almost think that you can almost see your shoulder blades by pulling on the towel. Perhaps you're, you can use the same part of your brain that you use to see, to feel your shoulder blades. They're hard to, we can't see them because they're in the back, but we can see them maybe in a different way by pulling, if that makes sense. So one more, we pull and we release and then lower down. That's somewhat fatiguing. We lift the shoulders up, feel the tension. Now settle the shoulders down. Just let them float down, lift up and set them down and inhale and exhale and inhale. And Ex Haile very good. Pull the towel tot. Now at at your hip height, we're just going to reach the towel overhead. Inhale and exhale.

Feel how the pulling of the top top towel keeps you engaged in those muscles between your shoulder blades. So they're just vibrating and a little higher frequency because you're pulling the towel taught and the towel is telling you how your shoulder blades are moving on the rib cage and how you support the arms with the shoulder blade muscles. Good. We're going to take the towel now just behind the back. And what's going to happen is you're going to lift the towel away from you. As you lift your co, you'll pull the blades, the shoulder blades together, then you'll release the shoulder blades and come down. So you'll, you'll initiate with your arm and then your shoulder blades will pull together.

So it's a sequence and then the shoulder blades start to release and you come down. So you pull up, squeeze the blades and squeeze the aides and come down. One more time. We pull up, squeeze the blades and on squeeze and come down. So that defines how we're going to be using the towel as we, as we go into the mat work. All right, let's do though a few more things. We're gonna take the legs to the side and reach the towel up overhead. So you've got a nice wide base of support. You can make a slight turnout.

The towel is just directly over the crown of your head and feel your shoulder blades as they're placed, but not jammed. They're just delicately placed and engaged. And we were going to do a sideband. You just, let's go to the left. Inhale and Exhale, come back to center and to the right. Inhale and exhale. Back to center.

A mirror is very helpful. Whenever you work with the towel, it really is almost essential. So invite you have that, that opportunity to look in the mirror and watch yourself. It'll help you maintain your symmetry because it's sometimes it's surprising how what we feel and what's truth don't necessarily always agree. And one more time we go to the side so you can use the mirror to kind of calibrate what you've see and what you feel and bring the towel down. Great. Let's just go ahead and lie down without any further ado. So you're gonna lie flat and we're just going to take the towel underneath your knees here.

Okay. And without any further ado, we're gonna just go right into a hundreds positions. So make a 90 degree angle at your hip and a 90 degree angle. Let your knee point the toes. We're going to inhale. Exhale, curl up, reach the towel, Long Paul gently, but with authority on the towel and we pumped the arms. Inhale, two, three, four, five. Exhale, two, three, four, five.

Sure, sure. Straighten the legs up to the ceiling and exhale. Two, three, four, five. Inhale, two, three, four, five. Exhale, two, three, four, five, halfway there. Sure. Okay, sure, sure. Two more sets we pull. Two, three, four, five. Exhale, two, three, four, five. Inhale, keep Paul Ling the towel. Exhale, two, three, four, five, and lie back. Great.

Stretch your legs now long on the mat and you're going to reach your towel over head. Feel that pull of the towel and how that helps you sense where your shoulders are and keeps, keeps the shoulders true. The arms are going to come up towards the ceiling. You're going to lift up and we're going to roll up and round forward. That was hard and we're going to do a little pulse here.

Sure, sure. Sh and rollback [inaudible] and reach up and back. Keep pulling on the towel. Now this time when the tell comes up, I'm going to ask you to flex your feet and we're going to come up again rolling forward. Rounding forward to here. Now from here we're going to go into a hinge. You're going to point your toes, you're going to extend your back.

Try to keep towel over the crown of the head. You come into this little hinge and then we're going to pulse here. Sure, sure. Up, flex the feet and roll back and reach over head. Let's take the towel up. Inhale, exhale, come forward and round in two breaths.

You're going to unfold into your hinge. Toes are pointed. Pulse, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Lift up and flex the feet and round. Back. Reach up and back. Full. Stay flexed. Tel Up, head up, curl up and forward, pointing the toes.

Go to your extended hinged position and pulse. Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Lift up and flex and we roll back. Bend your knees. Now you're going to place both feet inside your towel.

This is probably not Ron Fletcher approved, but we're going to do this anyway. You're going to take your left leg now long on the mat. Keep the right leg where it is. It's best you can link than you're right waist. Make sure you're not hiking up the hip and we're just going to do a little pulse of the of the hip crease. Here we go. Pulse, two, three and four, two, two, three and again.

Sure, sure. Good. Let's just take that left leg straight up. Sneak in underneath your towel and take your right leg down. And we Paul, 16 Times two, three, four times four is six t and then we're just going to take the towel, put it aside for a moment, just put it aside and take the arms down by the side. We're gonna go right into our one leg circle. Starting with the left here.

We go across, around and up. Inhale and exhale, but there'll be a little bit of momentum in the swing. And then stop the momentum. Inhale. Exhale. Keep reaching that right leg lung to reverse the direction down and across and up, down and across and up. Inhale. Exhale up to arm.

Sure, sure. Scissor into the other side. Ready? Here we go. A crust around it. Sure, sure. And reverse.

Sure. Sure, sure, sure. The last [inaudible] pull that leg in. Just pull yourself up to sitting. We'll do a little rolling like a ball. We're going to just wrap [inaudible] wrap your arms around your shinbones, push your shinbones into your, into your forearms and your forearms into your shinbones. And just take a moment to think about your placement, your set shoulders, and you can use the, the tension between your, your calf or your shinbones and your and your forearms to, to inform your shoulders. And we go, inhale, roll back, exhale and lift. Inhale, roll back. Exhale, lift, inhale, roll back. Exhale and lift.

Just two more and the last [inaudible] and roll back and pull in. And it would be very disappointing to you all if we didn't do the battle busters. So we're going to do those now. Pull that right knee in. Extend the left leg long. Set your shoulders, the elbows are lifted. Curl up. Here we go. Paul, reach and reach. Inhale, inhale, exhale, and exhale. Feel the level pole vis even as you pull. One more set and exhale. Nice. Hug both legs in.

Keep your headwear tos arms and legs. Extend. Circle around. Inhale and exhale. Lengthen and in lengthen and in. And Go ahead and lie back. Let's grab the towel now and we're just going to do that again with the towel.

Take your inhale. Exhale, curl up, pull the towel tot and here we go. Paul taught and in inhale, exhale and stretch and n. Sure, two more. Sure. Last one.

Sure. And lie back, placing the towel to the side. Extend the left leg long. Bring the right leg up, curl up, reach as high up as you can and we sweat. Switch, switch, switch, switch. Inhale. Inhale. Exhale. Exhale. Now at a pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse, [inaudible], [inaudible], and two and three and four. Stay here. Take the hands behind the head, lower the legs and lift.

Let's flex and point. Sure. No point in flex point and flex point and flex. Sure, sure. Ben, and we'll go right into our cross to twist. Left. Extend, right.

Here we go. Okay. Twist, twist, and exhale. Exhale. Inhale, exhale, exhale. Feel the shoulder placement. Even here when we're set. Inhale. Inhale, exhale, exhale and lie back. Make a diamond.

Take your hands. Inside the knees we rise up to here. I'm going to take your towel. The towel is just going to go directly straight up overhead. So this is, and we're going to flex the feet. So this is a spine spine stretch with the towel.

And what I'd like you to feel is you have a vertical line and then you're going to exhale just until your arms are parallel to the floor. So our horizontal line, and then inhale as you lift up. Exhale, round forward. [inaudible] I just feel that consistent shoulder blade placement as you round forward as you lift up. And do you round forward and you lift up and you ran forward [inaudible] and you lift up in place. Go ahead pointing the toes. The towel is sternum height.

Now shoulders are placed and this is kind of like a bow and Arrow, so you're going to pull back with just your right arm, keeping your left arm where it is. Feel the muscles between your shoulder blade and spine on the right side come into play and then you reach. And then the opposite. Just feel how the towel helps you to be more attuned to how the shoulder blade moves on your rib cage and Paul and reach and Paul and reach and pull and reach. We're going to put the towel now to the side and do our saw, but I invite you to have a sense of incorporating what we just learned from the towel in your thoughts. We'll start up and you're going to twist to the right twist to the right and as you round forward, feel the shoulder blade come towards your spine as you come into your saw and then we'll come back up to the twist center.

Twist left. Feel the shoulder blade come towards the spine. We exhale round forward. Inhale back to that twisted position center and yeah, sure. [inaudible] okay. [inaudible] when we're each way.

Yeah. [inaudible] [inaudible] in the last [inaudible]. [inaudible]. Okay. [inaudible] great. We're going to take the towel and life face line for some swan work.

So what I'm going to ask you to do is hold your towel forward in front of you. I'm going to sneak back and the head and neck followed the line of the spine. This is your Arrow position. The shoulders are placed. Pull the towel gently, but deliberately taught and you're going to lift, lift, and just slide, kind of slide the arms up along the mat rather, and then come back forward. So it's a different sense of the swan. It's really very active, so you may not come as high because you're really only relying on your own extensors to lift yourself up and you come forward.

Let's inhale to lift. Ready and exhale. Lower and inhale, lift. Exhale. Lower. Two more. Sure. And the last [inaudible] and that's pretty taxing. We're going to take the hands now a little closer. So you're going to hold about this far apart now and we're going to bring it back here.

One of the things I noticed in the single leg kick is it's easy for the upper body to kind of start to melt and sink. So we're going to pour deliberately in firmly the towel and do to keep the upper back engaged and alive. Single leg kick starting right. Ready, go, kick, kick place, kick, kick place. Inhale. Inhale. Exhale, kick, kick place. Sure.

For more feel the shoulder girdle even as you've been the knees tomorrow. Sure. The last share. Go ahead. We're going to sneak the towel now behind the back and you're going to take your left facial cheek to the, to the mat. Okay.

And we're going to just keep the arms reaching. Keep the towel just slightly above the back side here. So go ahead and route, stretch the arms long and we're going to see, we're going to go from here. So you're going to keep the arms reaching and just, just down to the towel is, is, is touching the the back side. We're going to do three little kicks. Here we go. Exhale, two, three feet to the floor. Now we lift up up, squeeze the blades, feel that, that squeeze of the blades. Crack a walnut between the shoulder blades. Turn the other cheek, just bring the towel down and we go kick, kick, kick and reach. Reach, reach, and exhale. Exhale. Exhale. In.

Inhale, inhale, sh eh, keep pulling gently. Last. Sure. And nicely done. Let's take the towel to design and you're going to come into your position here. Just a little counter pose.

Excellent. We're going to bridge, so please lie down. Feet, flat, hips, knees, ankles, feet aligned. Take your towel and you're just going to gently but meaningfully pull the towel taught and your and the towel is now touching your thighs on a full breath. In other words, in inhale and exhale. Segmentally rise up to the bridge. Here we go. Stay in your bridge. Reach overhead.

[inaudible] keep the tower. It is. Roll the spine down. Bring the towel. To the thighs and bridge. Tell lifts. Spine articulates down. [inaudible] towel comes to the thighs.

Once again. Curl up. [inaudible] rich up and over. [inaudible] roll it down. Tell now [inaudible] one more time. Curl it up. [inaudible] towel over.

[inaudible] rolled him towel. Now. [inaudible] the reverse. Tell up. [inaudible] [inaudible] bridge up. [inaudible] towel down. [inaudible] roll-down she's towel. Just stays next to the thighs. Towel up.

[inaudible] bridge up. [inaudible] towel down. [inaudible] sure. Roll Down Towel. Just touches the thighs and again, tell out [inaudible] sure. Bridge up.

Sure. Towel down. Sure. Roll the spine. [inaudible] last one. Towel overhead bridges.

Tell now and roll down. Great legs up towards the ceiling. We're just going to pull up and come up to sitting in a long seated position. We're gonna do a spine twist here, but with the towel, what? I'll just talk you through it. We are going to rotate to your right.

That's your inhale. On the exhale, the towel is going to come up center to the chest, so it goes twist Tel up center and sternum height. Twist. Tell up center, Stern. Shh. Shh, shh, shh, shh. Last one. Sure that said I should've said good. Alright, we're going to take a break from the towel and lie on the side.

I'm going to ask you to lie on your right side. Maybe I'll have you both just like, yeah, does that seem good? Okay, so we're going to do a variation of just have some side leg work today. I'm actually going to have you, but I'm actually going to have you just center yourself in the middle of your mat and we'll, we'll take head in hand like so because we're going to just work in this long position today to to access just some different muscles of the hip equal opportunity work. We've done plenty on the shoulder, we got to do some hip work, so you're going to keep your knee caps pointing straight forward, just straight forward and you're going to only lift as high as you can without dropping in the waist. So it may not go as high as you'd like it to in lower down.

But we're, we're not doing a w we're not on stage, we're just to work than muscle. And so feel how you only go as high as you can without any kind of side bend of the spine, just straight. And the knee cap just goes straight ahead. Straight ahead. Okay. Lift two more. Lift.

Feel the spine undisturbed. One more lift. Good. Now we lift and you're going to keep your pelvis where it is, but take the leg back and a little bit of an Arab Basque physicians to just take it back a little bit into a little extension in turn the kneecap up towards the ceiling and hopefully you feel something here. And just in case you don't, we're going to do a little pulse up. Just a tiny little pulse that goes up, up, up and up.

Sure. One more set. Sure. And down. Good. Turn inwardly. Now flex the foot. Little circles here.

Salad, plate size, circumference of your heel. Not An entree salad, a side salad and [inaudible]. Yeah, yeah. Got to clarify and down. [inaudible]. And then this one, when you come forward, turn in circle two, three, four, five, six and reverse circle two, three, four, five, six, seven. Good. And back down.

So now ring your top leg up and I'm going to ask you to just place the tippy toe on the, on the mat. And so you're going to have the leg aligned with the pelvis versus down where there's a tends to kind of twist. So you're gonna keep your leg just straight out. Do you see? Sometimes it's nice to put a little pillow under there if it's too, if it feels like it's too much to hold that, but that's, I like that alignment. You're going to lift the bottom leg up and what we're going to do is turn the kneecap down, turn the kneecap down, and you'll feel the inner thighs in muscles more towards the back. Engage.

You can feel those and we're going to keep those muscles engaging. We're do our little lifts up, up, up, up. Sure, sure, sure. When we're set. Sure.

Lower down. Take both feet together. Let's let the arm linkedin and cradle your head in your arms. Point the toes will lift both legs up. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale.

Inhale and exhale. Sure. Now let's lift the upper body as well. Lift, Eh, and Lyft. And Lyft and lift and down turnover onto the belly. Lift yourself up. The arms are going to go to the side. Okay.

Pilati is V, lift the thighs slightly up off the table or off the mat and we're going to beat the heels together. Inhale, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, four. Now the arms are going to come forward. Five, six, seven, 8:00 AM to the side, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight to the back, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight to the side, two, three, four, five, six and good and lay. Lay the body forward and we come back into our rounded position and then we have another side of sidekicks to do. All right. Yeah, so straight body aligned body. Yeah, and the kneecap points straight forward. We lived up without any drop or s or collapse of the waist and lift and and lift and in hair x in hair X. Inhale, exhale, and hair and down. Lift in hold, slight arabesque, slight extension back. Feel your bum crease and turn up. We lift up, up, up, up and up. Really working from that.

The base there of the glute, two, three and four. Five, six. Let's do eight more. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two and one. And Go ahead. Turn inwardly the our salad size, circumference, circles and reverse. Good little moment. Place the feet down just to take a little moment. That's a stick. A little gift forward. Turn in circles. Two, three, four, five, six, seven and reverse the circle.

Two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight feet together. We come to here first. Yeah, get good. Find your alignment. Make sure your bottom leg is his linkedin out just directly underneath you. We lift the leg, turn the knee towards the Mat so you're actually externally rotating that bottom leg. And we lift up, up, up, up and up in x here. Eight more for [inaudible] seven and eight and lower down the two legs. Come together, lay the head down. We lift of two legs up and lowered and up and lower down.

Lift up and lower down and up. Lower down. Now lift the upper body too and yeah, and lift down. Lift and down and lift. And let's just come to our side seated position now and we'll just do this, this little maneuver he changing forward slightly. Okay.

And take three more breaths. And for the sake of symmetry and balance, we'll do the other side. Nice. I did three more breaths. Nicely done. Okay. Please lie on your backs.

We're going to tease and I think our towels are feeling a little colt. We better pick them back up. All right here. Let's see what happens. Okay, we're going to lay back. We're going to just go from this laid out position and we're going to see what happens when we try to come up to a teaser. Ready? Here we go. Keep the tell top and pull yourself up.

Let's take the tail over and [inaudible] [inaudible] down and lift up. It'll be at sternum height overhead and lay it down. Very good. Inhale and X. Hey, and inhale and X. Hey. Oh, and one more. Inhale and hip circles.

Yeah, that's crazy. Let's let the tell go with it. That's it. Okay, well that's nice on the quads. We lie back. Alright, I think we better flip over. Let's flip over and I'm going to ask you to first, before we swim, just bend your right knee and lift your by. Up after, after Matt, and we're just going to go 16 little lifts up, up, up, up and up, up, up, up and up, up, up, up, warmer, up, up, up and up. And then we're going to do the other side. Lift up.

Then we go up, up, up and up, up, up and up. Eight more. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two and one and lower down and reach the spine. Long reach the arms in front of you. Leads to the legs. Long behind you. We swim. Ready? Go. Inhale. Excellent in here. Excellent. Shh. One more breath.

And we sit back and come forward now and up. We're just going to do a push up here, so we just come right into your pushup position and think about your shoulder placement and we're just gonna bend the elbows, bend and stretch. Then I'm gonna ask you to keep your, your shoulders placed and lift up into a, an up stretch where your hips go up and your arms are next to your ears and back to a push up. And we bend and we stretch and we lift to the app stretch. And to our long stretch bend, stretch up. Stretch. Two more. Lungs, stretch, bend, stretch up. Stretch. One more, Ben. Stretch up, stretch. That's very good.

And Go ahead and just walk your feet forward and come up to standing and then round forward and take your towel and reach up. Once again, we're gonna just come to here. It's always nice to do something at the end that you did at the beginning, just to see if there's any change. So go ahead and put step wide, slight turnout. We're just gonna do those little side bands. We'll go to the left first. Inhale and exhale and inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Yeah, XL. I think it's working a little better. Inhale and exhale one more each way.

Is this right? And I think we're even, and I think we're cooked. Thank you.


1 person likes this.
Fun class. Loved your spontaneity! Nice to use a different piece of equipment. Glad to know a regular old towel will work. Thank you!
thank u jonathan oldham.
1 person likes this.
I always enjoy your classes Jonathan, Thanks!
Great class. Thank you! You gave me lots of ideas for incorporating a simple towel into the session.
Fantastic the shoulder awareness here...and cueing on kneecap for internal & external rotation. Thank you thank you thank you!
Needed that scapular focus today!
Fantastic workout, Jonathan! Great for the entire body especially the shoulders. Very smooth transitions from one movement to the other. Thank you, Jonathan and Pilates Anytime!
Yes! Thanks Jonathan! Love the towel work!
This is the BEST workout ! Thank you Jonathan :)
I love Fletcher Towel Work. I went searching & found this class. It was a decent workout, but I was hoping for something more challenging and effective. Still, I did appreciate the class & feel better. Thanks Jonathan:) 

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