Class #2375

Restorative Reformer

30 min - Class


Challenge your body in a fun and safe way in this Reformer workout with Cara Reeser! She teaches a restorative class to help you release the unwanted tension in your body. She includes many preparatory versions of exercises like Teaser, Swan, and much more!
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box, Theraband


Read Full Transcript

Hi, my name is Cara, and we're gonna do some reformer. This is a beginner level class, restorative. Here we go, have a seat. You're gonna lie back. We're gonna get your legs straight over the bar for straight leg bridging.

They have a theraband in their hand. You can use a lighter version, a yellow or green. Let's open it up so it's not doubled. Have your elbows tucked in, and I like my palms up, but if you need to change that for your body, that is fine. Okay, so we're just going to start with a little bit of pull on the band during the inhale.

Two, three, exhale. Inhale, pull, two, three, exhale. Inhale, pull, let your ribs really expand, Candice. Good, now just pull that band a little bit. Make sure it doesn't pinch in your shoulders.

Good, and exhale. Good, so now we're gonna do straight leg bridging as you pull. So you're gonna lift your butt up, inhale. And as you come down you're gonna soften the band, bring your spine back down. Again, pull out, elbows taut.

This is working the back of the shoulder, back of the body, and back in. Super, one more time, crown of the head reaching out the whole time, guys. Go small on the band, and down. Super, you can put the band down next to your reformer. And we're gonna come up into that bridge.

Now that you've turned the back of your arms on, use them on the mat for me. Lift your hips up, and pause for a moment. Good, now check out where your pelvis is, and we're gonna practice lifting one leg. We'll start with the left leg up a little bit, trying not to tip your pelvis, and leg back down. Good, chin off your throat.

And again, right leg, super, and down. So you're trying really hard to keep your pelvis on the level, left leg, yeah, yeah. And one side is always a little harder than the other, that's part of being a human being. That's just fine, and the other leg up, and down. Great, put your spine down.

And let's bend your knees and put your feet in parallel for a second. I'm gonna take you into a shoulder bridge with bent legs now. Okay, you're just gonna go half way up. You're on your arches in parallel, and you're just gonna start to lift your hips up. Good, getting that back body working, and exhale down.

If you feel like this is tense on your neck, take your head rest down, but you're only coming up half way, so you're safe, yeah, right there. Now think about opening the front of your hips by pushing the back of your hamstrings into your quadriceps. That's it, back down, and we're gonna flow right into some foot work. Heels together, toes apart, slide down. Inhale, take it out, exhale in, good.

Now use that same feeling in your breath work, really wide ribcage, expansive, gorgeous. Really strong back of the arms, sometimes I'm imagining that I'm sort of doing chest expansion, the whole time, right? So you're sort of pushing back. You're not pulling the shoulder blades down, but you're just activating the upper arms. Good, and come to your arches.

Inhale, exhale, super. Good, and as you're moving through this flow you can sort of go inside and scan your body and see where you might be holding tension that isn't necessary, right? So sometimes we hold our jaws, our shoulders, our neck, see if you can just scan, and let the work be in the legs right now. And come up to your heels, perfect. Out and in, good, just let that flow.

Good, you can pull your toes back as far as you want, it's up to you. Let them stretch out, yeah. And feel the length coming through the crown of your head. Good, let's move into calf stretch. You're gonna drop down to your toes, straighten your legs out, and let's do a three count slow.

So you go down one, two, three. Take a pause, let your ankle stretch, and lift up. So go down, stay down, and feel that sensation and just give it up a little more, a little more. And lift it, and one more time. Take it down, notice the change, let it come a little more, that's it, and float back in.

Good, take your legs in parallel, straighten your right leg out over the bar. I'm gonna take two springs off for you guys. You could do it with more at home, if you want. It's up to you, but we're gonna do kicks here. So you're gonna press out, and you're gonna kick this leg.

You're gonna inhale, and exhale. So what am I thinking about here? I'm thinking, okay, I'm gonna keep my pelvis on the level. I'm gonna do my best not to round my lumbar spine. Right, so I'm looking for a really clean crease in my hip socket, yeah, a strong way to stretch.

And then you're gonna stop at the top, grab your leg, and stretch your hamstrings, drop the heel of the other foot. So here you have a chance to both be stretching the achilles and calf of the supporting leg, and the hamstrings, et cetera, of the top leg. Okay, now let that leg come to a 90 degree angle to the body, arms down by your side. Yeah, now, if you want to use your theraband, you could grab it now, but we're gonna do some big, D circles. You're gonna open wide first.

Candice, we're gonna go wide. Come down, and exhale back up. So you're not crossing over center line. One of the reasons I'm not crossing over center line is because if I'm teaching this in a class with hip replacements, I want to make sure everybody is in a good space to move their leg here, right? So this is a class I like to use for all types of bodies, there we go.

And let's go the other way. Down, open wide and up. Down, open wide and up. One more, good, and come on in and switch legs. Good, kicks.

Go ahead and press out, and in, yeah. And again, every leg is different, yeah. So notice if your hips are rotating. Notice if you're pushing, if you're flexing your lumbar spine, what you really want to go for here is pure hip differentiation, as best you can, you know. What's a rotating hip?

Like pelvis, rotating pelvis, meaning this way or hiking this way. Okay. Yeah, good question. And grab at the top, take a stretch. Yeah, drop your other heel and let the back of that calf lengthen, yeah.

Yeah, and you can do circles with the up ankle, point and flex, whatever feels good to you, but you just want to breath here. This is such a nice, long stretch. Yeah, and then take your arms down by your side. And we're gonna go to those big Ds again. You're gonna take it out, bring it down, and up.

Good, again, so you're looking for movement in the hip socket, primarily, not in the pelvis. So this allows our low back not to get dragged around in space. And then go the other way, down, and then it externally rotates to come up, yeah. And you could go out a little wider, I think, Candice, you've got that thing. Yeah, let it go.

Don't be afraid of the range. Yeah, just make sure you have some control of what's happening in your pelvis. One more time, super, and put the leg down. And come on in. Okay, so on two springs here, we're just gonna work with our quads a little.

I want you to lift your heels up. Yeah, quite a lot, actually, so be on your tippies. And what's gonna happen here is you're gonna do little pumps. You're not gonna go all the way out or come all the way in. So you go half way out, and half way in.

And go out and in, and really pick up the pace now. Go in, in, a little further, Christy. There you go, big breaths. Good, I'm gonna stabilize your machine so you don't come flying over here. There you go, and I want you to do as many reps of this, you can still smoothly breathe.

You don't have to start hyperventilating, until you feel the muscles around your knees working. You want to sort of charge up that muscle tissue, get your quads burning a little bit, get them moving, and come all the way in. Nice, yeah, you feel that? So it's super safe, really easy, and you get a chance to build up those stair-climbing muscles, great. Come on off your machine.

Let's grab your long box. Okay, so we're gonna bring the long box on. We're gonna use one spring to start. And we're gonna start sitting, feet on the head rest, facing out, holding on to the straps with your hands. So your feet, yeah, exactly.

So we're gonna go chest expansion, then we'll do some sit-ups, we'll do some teasers. So you're starting upright. And what I'm looking for here is that you're going to be moving your scapula around your chest wall. So we're using the upper back muscles here. You're gonna pull down as you inhale, wrap your scapula around your ribcage, even more, yeah.

And exhale, let the scapula float back around. Oooh. Yeah, so you pull and you wrap that scapula around, really let it move, 100% moving. Exhale, let it come back around. Inhale, pull, so it's not too heavy.

What we're looking for in this gesture is the movement, the lubrication of the scapula on the chest wall, yeah, pull. Super, exhale, one more time. You could even pick which area of your scapula you want to concentrate on, like, Candice, you could think of the lower tips, yeah, that was a good choice, actually. And good, come on in. Take your handles in your hands.

I want you to tip back flat backed. So like you're doing flat back sit-ups on the short box, since you guys know what that is, you tip back. Now, straighten your elbows, and keep fists. I love fists, and pick up your arms a little bit. Bicep curls, you're gonna take that in.

And stretch it out, right. Now you're doing all the good work that we know pilates is, which is zipping up your zipper and putting on your vest and making sure that your trunk is organized, but you're really doing this movement from your elbows, yeah. Exactly, one more, great. And sit up tall, super. Take your hands through the handles and hold on to the leather again, please.

And I'm adding a spring, we're going to two springs here. So you're gonna roll back, ladies. You're gonna do a full sit-up. You're gonna go into a little bit of an extension at the bottom, so you're gonna roll down, pull your arms back, and let yourself stretch. This looks really crazy advanced, but it's actually really possible.

Chin to chest, and roll up, let the machine bring you home, eyes out. And again, take it back, take it back, arms pressed, let yourself go into extension, open up the chest, oh, they're moaning. They're moaning, perfect. And come back in, and up. Good, one more time, take it all the way back, if you haven't tried the back bend yet, I really want you to try it.

It's really accessible. You're on the box, there you go. And all the way back up, and all the way home. Okay, so check it out. We're gonna do a versive teaser here.

So what I want you to do is pull back on the straps, curl your tail under just a little bit, yeah. Now keep your chest slightly lifted, yeah. Bring a knee fold in with the right knee, bring a knee fold in with your left knee. Great, you're already doing teasers. So pick up your chest wall, Christy, a little bit.

Now try to straighten your legs, guys, just reach it out, super, and bend your knees, and one leg down, the other leg down, the machine comes back in, good. This is one of my favorite start-up teasers. You won't always straighten your legs like a Rockette, like these ladies, but you can go for it either way. You're gonna roll down. You take a knee fold.

You take, now watch that that knee fold doesn't drop you back in space. You take another knee fold, then you stretch those legs, and when you stretch those legs you actually try to come up in space. Look at how nice that is. And bend your knees, and all the way back out in the same way. Super, you guys, step off.

Set your handles for me, and I'm gonna drop you back to one spring. So get off your machines and come around. So I learned this exercise a couple weeks ago from Madeline Black, so thank you, Madeline. And I just think it's a fabulous swan, started swan, posterior leg and hip. You're gonna get on, you're gonna be right at your hip crease here, okay, so not like where, that's not where we are when we do swan in the box.

I'm gonna have you have your hands here, and you're first just gonna press your legs out and in a few times, and really get that, keep that pelvis relatively still. And then we're gonna add just a little bit of back bend, and we'll add a little rotation. I just thought this was so fabulous. Yeah, one spring, one spring, it's not about the weight. The feet are in parallel, and you're trying to behave as if your foot is against a surface, even though it's relatively unsupported.

There they go, just getting on is an exercise, right? So make sure your feet are parallel. Bend your knees, ladies, and take your hands under your forehead. So now you're gonna press your legs to straight. You're not gonna change your pelvis a whole bunch.

And then you're gonna bend your knees back in. You're gonna keep your foot the same, and you're gonna push out with your legs. And you're gonna come back in. All the way in, Candice, you can do this thing. And what you're gonna notice is your pelvis is gonna want to get pulled, and you don't want it to.

Go ahead out again, here we go. Now you're gonna come up into a little swan. Lift your head, neck, shoulders to elbows, lengthen up, that's beautiful, and come down, bend the knees and go out again, inhale. Exhale, come up into that little bit of a swan, maybe a little higher, it's up to you. It's your body.

And come back down, it's your day. And one more time, now we're gonna add a little twist, so you're gonna come up into extension and then I want you just to look toward the camera and just rotate slightly, or the door, right, good job, Christy. And in, and then twist, super, and in, and come down, and rest. Wonderful, you guys, really nice. Step off and you're done with that, good.

Turn your box so it's set up for how you would do short box, except we're actually gonna do stomach massage with the short box. So this is actually the way that Kathy Grant taught me to do this at first, because I had a back injury. And it's how, I think she said Carola taught it. So you're gonna have a seat, two or three springs. Your sacrum against the box, your feet are up.

So we're doing stomach massage. And I'm gonna give you this band, right under your armpits, Candice, then you're gonna hold it with your hands. And Christy, you can grab your band and do the same thing. Now, why am I using this band? Because it's gonna help you navigate how to sit up straight.

So you're gonna pull that band out. You feel how that kind of picks you up in the back there, right? So no slouching. There we go, perfect. Alright, knees are in.

Inhale, press out, good, yeah, exhale in. So what you're gonna do it push through that band, so as you go out, your trunk stays up, yes. And as you go in, your truck stays up, right? Because what we're trying to do is sit up. Good, two more inhale, exhale in.

Inhale, beautiful, exhale in. Now let's go out one time and lowering those heels a few times, but keep that upright posture. Yeah, super, okay, you guys, we're gonna add the twist. So you're gonna come all the way in and we're gonna twist to the right first. Using that band, you're gonna pull that band around, let it assist you.

And back in, super, and pull. Let this band assist your rotation, right? So it's giving you feedback so you can find that. Inhale, let it bring your ribs around. Sorry, get out of my way, Cara.

And come back in, really? And there you go, let it bring you around here, yeah, sweetpea, you have more. And rest, super, let go of the band and step off. Yeah, really nice. Isn't that nice?

'Cause it's so easy to slouch and not know you're slouching. We don't have an alarm clock inside that says, "You're slouching," until our backs start to hurt. Come on off, good. You can leave the box up. If you need to reset it for short box series, and we're gonna come on in for short box series.

Whatever your setup is, band is a great idea. I'm gonna take the bar down, that's okay. So, I am leaning toward teaching a little less flexion on some of these, so I'm gonna have you take the band in your hands right away, and for certain populations, and we're gonna single tension on the band, and single tension on the band. Yeah, that's okay. And pull out a little bit on the band.

You are gonna articulate through the pelvis. You're gonna keep your thorax lifted. So you're gonna start to roll back from your pelvis, keep pulling out on the band, and keep your chest reaching towards that band, and exhale. Come back up. That looks terrific.

So lengthen your waistline, keep your chest reaching towards that band, and then move your pelvis under. So, yeah, get it up, yeah. And exhale. So we're gonna add an arm gesture. So you're gonna go back again, inhaling.

And then as you come up, you're gonna lift your arms up. Exhale, then make this a little simpler. It's not really that torturous. You can go small. And back up, and one more time down.

And back up, good, take a side bend, just easy does it with the theraband inhale, exhale, come home. With the theraband, inhale. Exhale, come home with the theraband. Pull it if you want. Exhale, come home, one more time.

Beautiful, Candice. And rest, good, put the band away. Super, and let's do a little bit of hamstring stretches. So take your right leg out, take the band underneath. The band?

No, just leave the band there, yeah. And take your leg out. And just straighten and bend your leg. So get your breath going on, and notice again, bring your awareness to your low back and how much is the leg straightening pushing into your low back, and can you lift your own low back. So it's like you're sliding your sacrum up your back as you're straightening your leg.

Yeah, so that allows you to stabilize, actually, your lumbar spine. Perfect, and we're just gonna do that much. Switch legs. Alright, so again, you're actively engaging your low back muscles, perhaps to help you not push back here. So even though it seems like it's about your leg, maybe it's also about your trunk.

Yeah, maybe it's also about your trunk. Yeah, super, good. And then take that leg down. Let's do a big hip stretch on both legs, criss-cross, you can bend your supporting knee, just so it doesn't put so much pressure on your joint. And then just bend forward.

So, bend that supporting knee, Christy, yeah. And then it changes the stretch, too. So this is another place where we tend to get slouchy in the lumbar spine so lift your trunk up, and then crease at the hips. So maybe we don't go very far. Nope.

But then we get a true hip stretch, whereas otherwise we're getting a stretch in the low back. But you are doing it. All you have to do is think about things to make them happen, you don't actually have to look like you're doing it. Do it on the inside, there we go, perfect. And switch, it's true, though.

So you energetically send the sits bone back in space, you fold forward. (laughing) Yeah, your parts need lubing. That's why we do this thing. Yeah, so that's where you get that lubrication. And you know, the truth of the matter is, thinking about moving, leaning forward, keeps you from falling back, so you are leaning forward.

Right, because I realize we're all falling back, 'cause down and back is where we're going all the time. Or down and forward. And rest, good. Take the box away. Take the theraband away.

And we are going to come to do some scooter. So we'll get this guy out of the way. We're gonna put our bar up. And we're gonna go to one spring for this version of scooter. Okay, and Candice, come on over to this side.

And what you're gonna do is you're gonna take your hands on the bar, and you're gonna have one foot on that shoulder block. Yeah, you can do that. So this is a good place for me to demonstrate this. So her knee's gonna come up off the mat. Her hips are gonna be on the level, meaning they're gonna be relatively the same across the trochanters, and now she's gonna push that left leg out and use her hamstrings a lot, and come back in.

Now, I don't need you to round your torso. I need you to work the back of your leg. 'Cause what I want to hear is for you to extend the front of your hip, vis-a-vis your hamstrings, and maybe your gluts at that end part of the gesture. Yeah, great, inhaling, right. Posterior hip, and rest.

Good, how's that feel? Yeah, that's a good one. Good, come around, I know, one spring, it's heavy. Yeah, but this is something we can all benefit from practicing hamstrings for hip extension, perfect. And then you feel that quad coming in, right, so it's great.

So your hips are up. Your knee is up. And there you go, out and in. So you could make all sorts of decisions, like I'm pushing the spring out, I'm pulling the spring in. The spring is pushing me, you get to decide.

Do you want more resistance from the way you're approaching the springs? Do you want less? Yeah, super, two more, great. Feeling that foot, go fully straight, Candice, fully straight, yeah, and rest. Super, you guys.

Yeah, great, okay. So come to the edges of your machine. We're gonna do some tricep presses here. Push your machine back a little bit, Christy. Great, so you're just gonna put your hands on there.

Take your feet a little bit forward. And you're gonna keep your chest open. You're just gonna bend your elbows a titch. And exhale back up, yeah. Now, if you want to go lower, it's up to you.

But you want to monitor how much of a dip you have in the front shoulder. It will come forward slightly, that's the nature of the anatomy, but it doesn't have to come falling forward and drag you forward. Trunks up, exhale home. One more time. Exhale home and rest, gorgeous.

Alright, so you're gonna come off. You're gonna take this bar down, and you're gonna put your hands on your carriage, and I want you just to lengthen out through your chest, and curl back up. It's a little modified cat, with the carriage. Okay so again, just allowing the back body to change here. You're gonna push out, extend, yes, gorgy.

Exhale, roll home, come back on to your legs. Good, inhale, press out, open. Good, I love these gestures that bring my thorax into extension like that upper, because I really get tight through the chest. And back in, good. Yeah, and one more time.

It's a little bit like downward facing dog, but it's not so stressful on the arms. Nice, you guys. And come all the way back in. Come all the way up to standing. Super, let's put your foot bar up, and we're gonna come to running, bottom lift and then I want to do a little bit of jumping at the end here.

So whatever springs suit you, three or four, two or one, really it's up to your body, it's up to your moment, what you're working on. So we're gonna go into the running. So go ahead and just press out, prance about, good, just settle in. So I'd like to know if you can breathe in for a full five counts, and then breathe out for a full five counts. That's probably more challenging than anything we've done.

Can you slow your respiratory system down? Can you inhale for the same amount of time as exhaling? And can you feel how that changes the way you feel? On the inside? So one more big breath in, for two, three, four, five, out for three, two, four, five.

Good, pull it all the way in. I can mix up my numbers when I count, it's okay. (giggling) Come out to your bottom. Now, again, you don't have to come up very high to have a sensation here, but let's practice opening the front of the hips, okay? So lift your bum a little, and start to press out.

Right, let's not crank it up high. Let's make it about our legs and opening the hips. Posterior legs, posterior butt is, we only have a posterior butt, but you know, the butt helps us with the strength we need to hold out backs up. Yeah, super. It would be sort of a drag if you had an anterior butt, wouldn't it?

Well, we won't wish that upon anybody. And come all the way in and roll down. Good, okay, so I'm gonna drop these ladies down to one spring and they're gonna do a little bit of jumping with no jump board. And this is something I'm really encouraging all types of people in my studio to do. Because people feel like they can't do this kind of playful, energetic gesture, and it's really quite possible.

So you're gonna lift your heads, you can look at your feet. Now I haven't done this on your machine, so we're gonna start kind of slow. You can do any foot position you want, it's just to feel this. You're gonna push out and jump up a little, and back in. Yeah, great, yeah, yeah.

So she's getting a little smile, little giggles happen, right? I have people in my studio scream, they're like, (screams) you know, I didn't know I could do this, right? So you want to challenge your body in a safe and fun way, that's right. Using your eye foot coordination to make that landing safe, breathing, I mean that gets your toes going a little bit, right, 'cause they're scared. You know, when your toes are scared, they wake up.

And one more. And rest. Good job, you guys.


2 people like this.
Well, that was fun! Really liked the little jump sequence at the end. Thanks Cara.
Loved the class!!! Thanks Cara! Xx
Great class . . . Lots of fun!
Thank you Cara! Wanted more!!!! Lovely as always! Love you shoes too!!
Thank you! I needed this class today. Great pace, encouraging and Fun!
"There's no alarm clock in the body to let you know you're slouching (till your back hurts)."

Brilliant quiote Cara!

The work in extension that you do is wonderful for everyone. Even though you said that this is a restorative class it still works into areas that need work.

The class was over so quickly and I didn't want it to end which is the sign of a truly gifted teacher.

Thanks so much x
Thank you all for your notes. I am glad you enjoyed this new class. A few more coming soon. I always appreciate your feedback.
Meridyth D
Another simple and terrific class
Thank you
Your sessions appear effortless - smooth as silk....makes all at ease to move in such a great way! thank you
1 person likes this.
Love the beginner teaser variations..inspiring! Thanks!
1-10 of 42

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Pilates Anytime Logo

Move With Us

Experience Pilates. Experience life.

Let's Begin