Class #2388

Starting a Pilates Practice

50 min - Class


Start your Pilates journey with this introductory Mat workout with Monica Wilson. This is the first class of a series that will help you progress your practice from the beginner level to intermediate. She focuses on finding the mind/body connection so you can feel the movements in your body instead of just powering through with muscle.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Joseph Pilates promises long, lean muscles and a strong-- Strong muscles, flexible, youthful spine. But in order to achieve that through his Pilates method, you need to learn it. When I first started, I was lucky enough to be introduced by my great aunt Romana Kryzanowska. I was just graduated out of college, I was a soccer player, frequented the gym often, very fit, and I could do any exercise that she threw my way. And I thought, "Eh, no problem." But I was really muscling through it, and I really didn't have any clue of the mind and body connection.

Because Pilates is something that we have to learn. It's almost like a new language. And so this will be the first of a series of 10 that'll take you from "I've never done Pilates before" to an intermediate level, so you can take off and do all the amazing classes that we have on PilatesAnytime. So today will be that first one, and we're gonna go ahead and start by standing up. So even if you don't consider yourself very fit and you just wanna start getting fit, this is a great class to start off with.

Let's go ahead and go to the front of your mat. Good. So one of the biggest things that I love about Pilates is its common sense. So posture is one of the things that it fixes. So we are gonna start in a Pilates stance, which is toes apart, about two to three inches, and heels together.

So just about a small slice of pizza between your toes. Great, you wanna have weight on the ball of every toe. So not just the ball of your big toe or the ball of your baby toe, but try to feel the metatarsals or the ball of every toe, nice job, Colette. And weight on the side of your foot, and then weight on your heels. Hopefully you can get your heels to touch, but don't worry about that too much if your knees or ankle bones-- Little by little we'll start working on the entire body.

You want a lift on your arch. You wanna imagine that there is a little grape underneath your arch, and you don't wanna have fallen arches, squishing that grape and making wine, right? So you wanna have some good muscle strength in your arch, lifting. That allows you to start lifting the inner thighs a little bit, and your lower belly, and your powerhouse. So we're gonna keep going into that.

Right now in this standing position, I wanna talk about a cue that I use a lot, which is barbershop poles. So you have one hipbone and the other hipbone, okay, and from each hipbone I want you to imagine red and white spirals, and those spirals are going out and spiraling all the way down to your foot. So from each hipbone, (whooshing noise) swirling out. I want you to think about that because we can always just put our feet in Pilates stance, and it takes no muscle integrity, it will not change your body whatsoever. And you want it to always work on defining all your muscles and being toned from head to toe.

So when you put your feet in Pilates stance, you wanna make it happen all the way from this hipbone. Start spiraling out those muscles, feel the outer thighs. Almost imagine a zipper zipping up the back of your inner thighs, and zipping up and having all that. Your bottom's gonna get engaged, and then your stomach gets to get engaged as well. So now we have a nice Pilates stance from where it should originate.

You've got, that line of your hips I just mentioned is the bottom of our Pilates box, super important. So we have a box that goes shoulder to shoulder, straight across, and hipbone to hipbone, straight across, and those hipbones go directly under those shoulders. Again, super common sense, okay? We're gonna have a nice box, great job. And we want that nice and square and straight.

We also want them right over, there we go, right over our hipbones, so we don't want them behind, and we don't want our bottom behind our shoulders either. Right underneath. So we've got our Pilates box, okay? And we've got our nice wrap and squeeze. Now, most importantly is our powerhouse.

A lot of people might call it your core. In Romana's Pilates we call it your powerhouse. So it is gonna be like a weightlifting belt; it's about a four- to five-inch band of muscles around your lower belly, your belly, and it even is gonna get working with your lower back. So it's around your entire lower stomach and lower back, very nice. Alright.

Okay, so we've got our Pilates box, check, right? And we've got our powerhouse. Our powerhouse is gonna initiate every single movement. And that's where I would run into trouble, when I would just try to do it with my arms or my legs, and it's gonna initiate from here. So even if you do something that might traditionally look like a leg press, it's still gonna come from here, or any arm work, it's still gonna come from here.

Every exercise. Okay, so take all of those things, your box, your powerhouse, really important, those spiraling barbershop poles, we're gonna talk about that more in just a second when we're on the floor. And whatever way is comfortable, go ahead and lower yourself down. I put some towels down, because at this stage we might want to put a little lift, if you feel like your head is looking behind you when you lie down. So go ahead and lie down, and have your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat.

So knees bent and feet flat. It's kinda the easiest way to feel your back comfortable and on the mat. Okay, so again, we are focusing on our shoulders and hips. So are you guys all comfortable there for a second? Okay, why is it super important to have this?

Because we're, if we like to carry something heavy we end up lifting one shoulder higher than the other, or if we talk to our friends we might get a little comfortable and sit on one hip, and that sends all of our alignment and posture out the window, and it doesn't strengthen our powerhouse or our body, and it usually leads to a lot of injuries. So Pilates is all about, can you do all of these exercises while maintaining your Pilates box and initiating from your powerhouse. So I want you to try to imagine your stomach like it's a big suction cup, and it's being sucked in and pulled into your spine. It's hard because a lot of times we, when we try to pull in our stomach, we're trying so hard, especially if we're athletes, that you'll tense and push it out a bit. So I always like to use an image of a mattress button on a mattress.

So back in the day, mattresses had buttons and there was a string that would come up, grab onto the mattress, and pull it down. I think that's called a tuft. Is that right, Colette? Yes. So that mattress goes down.

I want you to imagine a string starting at your spine, coming up through your stomach, through your intestines, grabbing onto your belly button and pulling it down. Because I only want about four to five inches between your spine and your belly button, I don't want you to have seven inches. So I really want you to imagine that your stomach can be worked like a big suction cup, pulling in to support your spine, to pull in your waistline, or maybe use that mattress button image, okay? Very, very nice, good. Now, one of the things that Joseph Pilates promised is long, lean muscles.

Well, we have to use a few of his six principles. Today we're gonna work on concentration, centering, and control. So you guys are all concentrating really well, working hard on that powerhouse. Not really moving, right, but you're working hard by concentrating on it, and that's what I love. Now we're gonna work on centering.

So I want you to initiate from your powerhouse and bring in your right knee and give it a hug. Good. Just go ahead and hug it, nice job. And then put it back down on the floor. So when you bring in the left knee, we wanna make sure our whole box doesn't rock back and forth just to bring in a knee.

So you should stay square on the mat and bring in your left knee. Beautiful. Hug it in, good. And put it down. So you wanna start building your awareness right now, whether you feel your hips teeter-totter or whether you feel your shoulders teeter-totter or part of your back come up off the mat, right now my purpose is, I want your lower back and every vertebra on the mat to be flush with the mat.

Almost like this mat is a wet slab of cement and if I peeled you off, you imprinted your spine and I could see you, okay? See your spine on that mat. So we're gonna try that again, we're gonna pull in and we're gonna bring the right knee into our chest. Awesome. While you're doing this, you also might be tempted to push with your left foot into the mat or your left thigh; try to be aware of that.

Relax it a little bit. Straighten your right leg up to the ceiling, actually. Good. And put your hands behind the thigh, and stretch it towards you. Nice, very good.

Try to keep your bottom still on the mat while you stretch it towards you. If you're super flexible and your shoulders don't rise up off the mat, go ahead and slide up to the calf and pull it towards you. But again, don't let your bottom come up and don't push with the left leg. Alright, now, while holding onto that leg and stretching it, go ahead and turn your knee and foot in. That's to say, the knee and the toe will be pointing toward your left shoulder, okay?

Feel what happens in that hip joint and whether it's a hard stretch or an easy stretch. Now go ahead and rotate it out so that your knee points towards your right shoulder. We're doing it the other way now, yeah. And see what happens in that hip. Most often, when you turn out the hip the hip is now back in alignment, being straight across from your left hip.

So turn in that knee again and see if it rises up, see if you can feel that now. And it should be not as hard of a stretch, whereas if you turn out that leg and that hip should lower, reaching away from you, and now you've got your box again. What do you think ladies, did you feel that difference? Yeah? Okay.

Now I want you to press your arms into the mat, leave your leg up, and just have the leg directly over the hipbone, so it's just right above your hips. And I want you to feel both cheeks on the mat. Lower that right cheek down for me just a little bit, yep. Both cheeks are on the mat, and I want you to try to touch the ceiling with your toes. So you're really trying to make the leg muscles, the thigh muscles lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, instead of just pulling up the whole hip.

The hip stays down, good. Hug the knee back into your chest. We'll try that with the left leg, so right foot down. So if you're working on centering, you're first gonna concentrate on your belly, it's gonna pull in your left knee. Go ahead and pull in your left knee, hug it.

You're gonna reach that leg up to the ceiling, and we're gonna try to feel the difference. So if we're using those barbershop poles, that leg is turning out, out, out, all the way from your hip. Maybe lower down your cheek just a bit, the hip, mmhmm. Turn out your knee, uh huh, and pull it towards you, stretch, stretch, stretch. So feel how your hips are straight across when your leg is turned out, and now go ahead and roll it in.

So what happens when it rolls in? Does your hip end up wanting to come up a bit? Okay, and then turn it out again, great. Alright, now I wanna see those leg muscles lengthen, so you're gonna press your arms down by your side, and instead of gripping with your quad you're keep your hips straight and reach that leg up to the ceiling. See if you can pull the thigh bone literally out of your hipbones, like create a little space in there.

Awesome. And then hug that knee back in. Good. It's one of the ways we heal our body, so it's really important, 'cause when you have a joint just jammed in, go ahead and put that foot down, then no blood can get in, no circulation, so things get arthritic and then start to hurt. So you really wanna work on lengthening.

So, now we're gonna to the same thing with our arms. I want you, do you feel that both shoulders are on the mat? It's kind of an easy thing to feel. Now extend the right arm up to the ceiling. Good.

And without letting that shoulder get out of joint and reach up, try to reach the upper arm and reach those fingertips, and feel the muscles get active and actually work to try to touch the ceiling. Good. Take a big breath, and as you exhale go ahead and reach, keep reaching through that arm and come down to the mat, but don't lie it down, we're gonna bring it back up as you inhale. Good. Keeping the shoulders square and down, reach long, and then coming down, do you feel how much your arm's kinda working?

Try not to hyperextend, try to have it in the upper arm. And that's how you're gonna be doing the Hundred when we do it in a second. Go ahead and bring that arm right back down by your side. We're gonna do the left. So both shoulders down, left arm extends up to the ceiling.

Okay, so when you're working, we don't have weights to push against or springs as we do in Pilates, just bring that one down just a bit, excellent, and reach that arm. But you do have your mind to connect to your body and give those muscles that resistance. And then exhale and bring that arm down, but keep it reaching, like it's really reaching for your feet. And then inhale as you bring it up, and we'll do it one more time. Beautiful, I love how square your shoulders are staying.

And exhale, bring it down, reaching, reaching, feel the arm muscles work, work, and lengthen them. Just reach it down by your side, sorry, ladies, just leave it down. Great job, alright. So that is without moving your box, yet you're trying to, and of course you're using your powerhouse, you're trying to reach your arms longer or your legs longer. It didn't take your center with you, you stayed centered and reached away.

That's opposition and stretching, and it's what creates our long, lean muscles in Pilates. Okay? So now we're gonna, raising our neck sometimes can get really tired when we're first starting off, so we're gonna stretch it a little bit. Let's put hand over hand behind our head. Am I starting you there?

No, let's bring our arms down by our side again and put your hands right on top of your ribs. Okay, good. Maybe make an L, and point your thumb back, put your forefinger right below your chest, little higher, there you go, and lie all the rest of your fingers down on your ribs. Little higher for you too, great. Alright, perfect.

So-- Little higher up, excellent, nice. Do you feel your rib bones, ribcage? Okay, so you wanna take a big breath and you wanna exhale. Excellent. When we inhale, we usually take shallower breaths, and exhale, which results in us really lifting our upper back off the mat as you inhale, and our chest lifts up, and that's fine, that's what I want you to just get comfortable with right now, and exhale.

But if we inhaled while we're working out in Pilates like this, inhale, go ahead, it would leave our back very vulnerable. And exhale. In other words, go ahead and take another inhale, and if you were in the boxing ring would you want someone to hit you right now? Probably not. And exhale, pulling in.

Because you've just exposed all your organs, and you're gonna take a really big blow. So you can inhale a little differently. Go ahead and keep your hands there so you know whether you're lifting or coming down. And I want you, try to inhale into the mat, actually expanding your ribs and lungs on the mat, to the side, instead of up and down; inhaling. I like to imagine an old-fashioned pail with handles, and the way you pick up those handles is the same way that your ribs and lungs can expand to the side.

So it's a tough concept, but try to inhale, filling up your ribs and lungs to the side, and exhale, deeper, deeper, deeper. And again, inhale, I want you to still be able to work towards getting a deep breath; and exhale. I'm hoping that you don't have to hold your breath, so that you don't leave that mat. And exhaling, and one more time like that. Inhaling to the side, and exhaling even deeper.

Great. So now I want you to place your hands one over the other behind the head, and this will make it just a little more challenging if you're tight in your upper back, but go ahead and inhale again, thinking about breathing to the side. And exhale, really relaxing that chest bone and the ribs and the back, good. In with the air, good, and exhale. So ideally, when you lift up your eight- to 10-pound, literally, head, that weighs like a bowling ball, you don't want these little neck muscles to be the only thing that supports it.

I like to think of the support like a teeter totter. So our chest bone, our sternum, finishes right about here, and so when you lift up your head it's like someone just went on the tip of your sternum and you come up like this. That's the front side. The back side is, this part of your back would go really, rounding deep into the mat. And of course it always starts with your powerhouse.

So I want you to inhale into the mat, and as you exhale, draw that big suction cup muscle and feel how you're really nice and flat. Good job. And inhale into the mat, and as you exhale pull that belly in, and think of that teeter totter and try to bring, round up your head and shoulders. Beautiful, love that rounding, great. Stay there and take a breath.

And see if you can-- We're up, Juliana, rounding up. And see if you can pull your belly in even more as you exhale. Take another breath, and this time as you exhale keep your belly in, but push your head into your hands and you'll stretch your neck as you go down, lowering down. So staying down with the head, inhale into the mat, and we're gonna round up as you exhale, using your powerhouse. The bottom of the chest bone goes down as you round up.

Look at your belly, take a breath. Make sure it's pulling in and not pushing out. As you exhale, try to use it to come up a little higher, so we're gonna try to come up just half an inch more, good. And take a breath, and this time as you exhale you're gonna roll down, pushing your head into your hands, always from your powerhouse. Try that again.

Inhale into the mat, staying down. Exhale, pull your belly in and round up as that teeter totter comes up. Stay up as you inhale, we're gonna try to come up higher as you exhale by pulling in, not pushing out. Good. Take a breath, and this time you're gonna go down with your exhale, as you pull in your belly and use that strength from the powerhouse to help stretch your neck.

Very nice. Feeling okay? Good. So now we start sneaking in the Hundred. Okay, yeah.

So we're gonna take a breath into the mat, and you're gonna exhale, round up, using your powerhouse like a teeter totter, good. And you're gonna take another breath, and you're gonna exhale, scoop and come up a little bit higher, great. And you're gonna stay there, and you're gonna reach your arms long by your side. And you're gonna pump up and down. Inhale, two, three, four, five, exhaling.

Good, one more time. And exhaling, and go ahead and lower your neck and head down and take a little break. Nice job, very, very good. So, very important to know, you girls, ladies, did a beautiful job lengthening your arms a second ago. You showed me tremendous strength when you did that and were really using 'em.

So when you do the Hundred, Joseph Pilates was a very strong German man, amazingly chiseled, was one of the first bodies to be used as a human anatomy chart, so he had, fully sculpted. So when he pumped, you can imagine that he didn't do any fairy pumps, he wasn't like little, weak-- He was, it was strong pumping. It manually pumps the blood through your body, and you're gonna be warming up your stomach, okay? So we're gonna take a big breath, just lying down here, into the mat, and as you exhale, this time I'm gonna have you bring your right knee into your chest. Great, hug it in.

Hope you used your stomach. Keep your right knee, and take a breath, and exhale, bring in your left knee. Is your body square? Good. Now reach your arms long by your side.

Good, really strong, and just stay there, starting to pump. Inhale, two, three, keeping your head down, exhale, two, three, four, five. In with the air, into the mat, exhale even deeper. Keep doing all that, but let's bring your knees more into a tabletop, where your knees are right over your hipbones, good. Still scooping in your belly.

On the next exhale I wanna see you round up with your neck and head, and use that teeter totter. Good. And in with the air. And exhale, two, three, four, five. And in with the air.

Try to round up just a tiny more, that's it. And two more. And exhaling. If your neck's getting tired, lower down, but keep everything else working. In with the air.

And exhaling, nice job. Hug those knees in and lower down your neck. Good. Good, good, good. So with every exercise, it's important to know the goal.

So that is where we want the Hundred, the most important thing is, we have our box. We wanna make sure we felt our stomach holding up our legs, not our legs tightening and holding up, and that it was keeping our back connected to the mat, rooted down, and nice strong pumps. Okay. So I want to get back into that position, but keeping your knees where they are, reaching your arms long by your side, good. Take a breath into the mat, you're gonna have 'em back at tabletop, good.

And now I want you to scoop in, rounding your back up, good, using that teeter totter, great. So we're here, our stomach's in, we're rooted, good, and we're holding our neck correctly. Now, extend the legs using those barbershop poles. They're gonna go almost to the ceiling. Barbershop poles, so they're turning out, spiraling out, good, and now pump.

In with the air, two, three, four, five, exhale, two, three, four, five. One more. And exhale, two, three, four, five, and hug in those knees. Really good job. Nice.

If you have really tight hamstrings, sometimes it's easier to have the legs a little lower instead of actually directly up to the ceiling. If you don't have tight hamstrings, it's better to have 'em straight up to the ceiling. Good. Did anyone need more challenge than that, their stomach not feel it, holding the legs up there? You guys doing okay?

Alright. Okay, well, next time we're gonna keep working on where to go with that. So we're gonna sit up and just stop right there, awesome, and we're gonna do the Roll Back. So knees are bent, feet together. And I love that you guys just sat up and stayed, because it's always very tempting to keep moving into different position, but each exercise just flows right into the next so that you can do them very quickly and keep up your endurance and stamina.

So we're gonna have your knees together, this is the Roll Back. Hands underneath your knees. Alright, so does everyone see their hands are underneath your knees? Okay, that means they're not underneath your thighs, they're not sliding anywhere, right? Thinking maybe, "Why is she saying this?" 'Cause right now I'm gonna say, we're gonna try to get our waistband down onto the mat without moving your hands, and everyone's gonna move their hands.

So go ahead and round your back, good. How round can you get your back? When I want a round back, I want it to look like a capital letter "C." And the top of that "C" is gonna be your shoulders, and then the bottom of that "C" is gonna be your hipbones, right, that Pilates box. So what that means is, I'm gonna want you to bend your elbows for right now, we're gonna get to that position. But for right now I want your shoulders right over your hips, and yet round your back.

Uh huh, uh huh. Excellent. And then for right now, making a lowercase "C" is okay, but eventually I'm gonna want you to try to use your belly to expand your back and blow into, like, the biggest letter "C" you can. Like (blowing). But we're gonna stay, shoulders right over those hips, try to relax those shoulders, beautiful.

Alright. And now I want you to pull your stomach as far from your thighs as you can, to start rolling down through your lower back. Keep your hands where they are, and leave your legs there, and roll down your lower back, good. Once your arms are straight, you can't go any further, but you're trying to, with your arms straight, get that waistband down on the mat. Take a breath, and use your belly to come forward.

You're gonna bend your elbows and exhale, great. This is really, really hard work. So I want you to squeeze your legs together if you can, 'cause it's nice to pull away from something that's stable, and you're gonna pull in your belly, take a breath, and exhale, move your stomach away from your thighs, not necessarily your shoulders away. Doing beautiful, ladies. Go as far, try to get that waistband on the mat.

Can anyone get their waistband down? Pulling in, trying to really stretch that lower back. Take a breath, and exhale, pull in your belly and come forward. Very nice, good. So this exercise is called the Roll Back.

Eventually it'll be the Roll Up, but still the same message is that you're trying to roll down one vertebra at a time. Not the upper before the lower, but really roll one bone at a time, and we're trying to roll 'em down in a straight line. Those two common sense things seem really too easy, but they're not, 'cause we always have a dominant side so we'll start rolling to one side, and then when we get to Rolling Like a Ball you'll be rolling off your mat, and it'll be really obvious. So we're rolling down one bone at a time, again, so that circulation can get between each vertebra, and you're trying to roll down in a straight line. So really think about your spine, if you can picture a skeleton or your X-ray, and let's start with your tailbone and roll down, one bone, using your belly, the next bone, good, the next, excellent, rolling down, get your waistband down.

And then start from the top, take a breath, and then exhale, come forward, rolling forward, the upper. Yes, leaving the lower part down still. And you're separating, you're starting with the top. Excellent. Let's do that again.

Taking a breath, and then exhale, start with the lower back. So you're pulling your belly as far from your thighs as you can. You're always looking at it, makes it work, your waistband's just trying to get down to the mat. Very nice. Why don't we stay here, and let's add a little bit more.

Let's go down a little bit, your hands can slide now a little bit, been so good. They can slide a little down your thighs, get down to maybe the bottom of your shoulder blades. Take a breath, and then round up. Leave your waistband there, but start with the upper back. And this is awesome.

Good work, good, good. So this is perfect, because what you wanna do is keep trying to get your back flexible. Your stomach can only get as strong as your back is flexible too. So we're gonna do it one more time, rolling down your lower back. You will find out, where's the point of no return for you?

You don't wanna go past that point. You wanna strengthen, you don't wanna be jerking your body around. So where you can't move back up with control, you've gone too far. And then come forward, using your stomach, that was excellent. Scooping in, moving the upper-- Good job, Colette, nice, nice, nice.

Since I said Pilates exercises go one into the next, we're gonna flow right into the next. So you're gonna stay where you are, round your back, pull your belly away from your thighs, and again, roll down your lower back. Scoop, scoop, good. One bone, the next bone, the next, in a straight line, through the upper back, through the neck, until your head is resting on your pillow. Very nice, good.

Have the knees maybe a little more bent, Colette. Good, alright. Same with you, Randine. Nice job. Very good, ladies.

Alright, so that was-- Same with you, Brooke, excellent, feet together. Good. Alright, so now we're gonna bring in our right knee, maybe you can exhale to bring in the right knee, hug it. Good, straighten it again. You get an extra stretch, leg up.

Always avoid the back of the knee, it's the weakest joint in the body. So you can pull on the back of your thigh or the back of your calf, either one. Good. Make sure your leg is a little turned out, so your hips are straight. Good, alright.

So with your leg turned out, gonna have you bend this one just a tad more, good, and just a tad more turned out, great. With your leg turned out, you should be able to see your inner thigh, yeah? Or the inside of your knee. Okay, I want you to think about that, 'cause that's all this exercise is gonna be. Now I want you to press your arms down by your side, and I want you to reach that leg down till the thighs are at the same level.

Good, a little lower. Lower, there, good. Hold your belly in, hold your back flat, try not to be gripping with your quad. Keep your belly in and see if you can lengthen that leg a little lower, so now it's about the level of your calf. Down, so that it's about right here.

Yeah, with your belly in, yep. Hold from your stomach, and pull the leg back up. Hug the knee back into your chest. Good. I would like to see a little more lengthening.

So all this is really deep, talking to your body work. But Pilates is about long, lean muscles, not about gripping muscles, so I wanna see that one more time. So we're gonna extend that leg up, but press your arms down by your side, 'cause earlier you did it beautifully where you kept both cheeks down and that leg was a little turned out, and then you extend it like a sharp pencil about to draw on the ceiling, that's what I wanna see. Straight up, reaching up. The thigh pulling out, feel those thigh muscles get long.

Do you all feel that now? And now, keep your stomach anchored like a tree trunk rooted into the mat, and reach that right leg as low as you can keep your tree trunk rooted. Nothing is popping out of that back. Reaching it long and low, and then sweep it back up to the ceiling with your stomach, not the hip flexor gripping. One more time.

Reach it out long, your belly's pulling in, you're trying not to use the hip flexor right here. Going as low as you can, and with that length you're gonna pull it up, using your belly. Excellent. Keep it up. Cross it over to your left shoulder, let it circle away from you a little bit, and then pull it right back up.

This is called a Circle, we're gonna do one more like that. Cross, around, and pull it up, and now hug it in for a second, 'cause I don't want that leg to get tired. We're gonna revisit it in a second. Put that right foot down, let's see the left. Hugging in the left, using your belly, good job.

Straighten that leg up, stretch it again behind the thigh or the calf, not the knee. Make sure both cheeks are down and that hip is a little turned out, okay, some of you guys have your hips a little off square, there we go. Now press your arm down by your side and let me see that leg lengthen. I want long, model-long, lean legs. Just beautiful, long legs, yes.

And now reach it down so that the thighs are even, and keep holding it from your belly. That's good, Juliana, right there. And hold, beautiful, scooping in your belly. And now see if you can get that thigh to reach even further as you go down lower, about mid-calf of the other leg, good. You're trying not to use the right leg to push into the mat.

And go now as low as you can with your belly sinking, sinking, sinking, yes. And then pull it up to the ceiling like you're just lightly sweeping it up, and reach it down with your belly in, and pull it back up from your stomach, not your hip flexor, I hope it's still turned out. And one more time, reaching it long, beautiful, down the body, reaching it down. And then pulling it back up. Good.

And now you're gonna cross it to your right shoulder. Circle it down a little bit, and pull it up, and do it one more time. Cross, around, and pull it up, and hug that knee in. Good. And put that foot down, good.

So when we do our Single Leg Circles, we want to come up as high towards our nose as we can, cross as far over to the shoulder as we can, circle a little down, and pull back up. Notice that I've done all of this in my box, so I didn't go out to start. We always start, when we are learning Pilates, within our box, not out. When you circle that leg, you're gonna try not to circle the hips. You guys did a pretty good job, they all stayed down.

There was no mambo, no dancing here. Okay, so keep your hips square, and that is your stomach, your powerhouse, that's keeping those hips under control. If you're able to do that and lengthen your leg like you just did, this exercise does amazing benefits for your hip, and lengthening and leaning out the leg. Okay? So we're gonna do it to tempo now, we're gonna use our belly to keep our box rooted.

Hug in the right knee. Straighten the right leg up to the ceiling. It's turned out, arms press into the mat for added stability, using the back of the arms. Really strong into the mat, let me see you press into the mat. Good.

Sharp pencil to the ceiling, pull it up to your nose, as high as you can, and then you're gonna cross, around, up, cross, around, up, cross the body, around, up. Cross the body, (laughs) around, up. There you go. (laughs) And cross, around, up. Reverse. Down, around, up.

Good. Down, around, up. Can you still see your inner thigh? The whole time you need to be able to see your inner thigh, no belly sticking out, last time, and hug in that knee, good. Good, good, good.

Put the right foot down, pull the belly in and bring the left knee in. Hug it, straighten the leg up to the ceiling, and turn it out. Perfect. Use your belly, like you just did, to pull that leg up to your nose. Cross the body, around, up.

You got it, Janelle, this time. Cross, around, up, good. No hula, that's it. Cross, around, up. Stomach, cross around, one more time, pulling in that belly, and reverse.

Down, cross, and up, let me see that belly pull in, there we're talking. And three, around, up, and here, around up, (laughs) Here, around, up, one more. Down, around, and hug in that knee. Great job, good. (laughs) And put that left foot down on the floor. Beautiful job, ladies.

Alright. Now we're gonna do Single Leg Stretch, so we're gonna get to stretch that right knee in for the thousandth time today. You've got a box, you're gonna use your belly, bring the right knee in, and you stretch it in. Excellent. When you use your stomach correctly, you have your knee in like you are right now, which is fan-- If you have a healthy knee.

If you have any knee problems, then you can hold underneath the knee, if it hurts to put it like that, but I don't think it hurts you like that. Good. So hugging in the knee, as deep as you can. How about you, Briana, can you bring it in any closer to your chest? Does it get your hip flexor or anything?

No? Good, alright. When we start doing this exercise with our head up and the other leg up, our back wants to start working more than our stomach, and our hip flexors and quads like to do more of it. So you'll notice that your leg'll start doing a right angle. It won't come in this deep anymore, it'll be more like this, because everything's fighting, your back's fighting it to come in more and your hip flexor's working.

So you want your stomach to pull it all the way in, to stretch it in, 'cause it's called Single Leg Stretch. Put the right foot down as you inhale, exhale, bring in the left, stretch it in. Inhale, put that foot down and bring in the right as you exhale. Stay there, and go ahead and pull the belly in, use that teeter totter image, and round up your head and shoulders and neck. Good.

How's that, thigh's supposed to be right onto your chest, right, Juliana? Good. Put that foot down onto the mat, and exhale, bring in the left. Scooping in, same thing, we've just got our head up. Have our head up.

Inhale, put the foot down, scoop in and bring in the right knee, excellent, stretching it in. And put that foot down, and bring in the left. Good. Put that left foot down and bring in the right, and keep the right knee in, but rest your neck and shoulders and head. Great.

Now we're gonna add opposition. Remember how we learned how to lengthen today? So we're gonna lengthen the other leg away. So pull your belly in, you could even use that right leg to help you a little bit. But round up your head and shoulders, and you're stretching that right leg right onto your chest.

Stomach, I could take an ice cream scooper and it would like I just scooped out your belly, that's what I mean by "scoop," yeah? Good. Keep that scoop, keep your center of balance in your powerhouse, and we're gonna reach the left leg just a little shy of the ceiling. But remember how you lengthened it with those barbershop pole muscles? Beautiful, down the middle of your body.

Not out to the side, down the middle. And use your belly to switch, hug in that left. And the right is right about there. And switch, scooping in. All the way in, all the way, yes.

And switch. Down the middle, beautiful. And switch, feel those barbershop muscles work. And switch, try not to use the knee joint to straighten the leg, and switch. We could do that all day, but we want the thigh muscles above it, soften that, use that, yeah.

And switch. Don't straighten with the knee joint. (muttering) And switch. There, we go, straighten, use the outer thigh and barber-- Yes, and switch. And use all of this, good.

And one more set. Have the head a little more in, Briana, so it's supported better, yes, and left. Looking good, ladies. Hug both knees in, and rest your neck and head. Excellent.

Rest your feet down, good. So what I was just telling Colette is, all day long I could straighten and bend my elbow, and as women, we also like to hyperextend a lot, so we do end up using our joints a lot to do our work and support. But it does nothing for our muscles if we just bend the joint. And same thing with the knee. We could straighten and bend the knee, but it does nothing.

But if we think about wrapping those barbershop pole muscles and squeezing, and using all these, which, we'll get more in detail as this series gets along, but you wanna try to start thinking, "Am I just straightening and bending my knee "or am I reaching and lengthening those muscles?" And that's what's gonna make a big difference. Okay. So we just did Single Leg Stretch. Now we're gonna do the double version, so that means both legs'll be in, right? But let's start with the arms first.

So we're gonna put your hands one over the other behind the head, being a little nice to you today. Take a breath into the mat, and as you exhale, round up, using your powerhouse, yeah? Round up, up, up, up, excellent. Try to have your elbows a little bit wide. Good.

Alright, you wanna imagine right now that there's like, a five-inch spike right behind your shoulder blades. Maybe round up a little more, Briana, a little higher, and then curl a little more. That's it, excellent, good. Try not to be yanking on your neck, but feel it in your upper stomach. Do you guys feel it in your upper belly?

Great. Take a breath, and then as your belly pulls in, exhale and roll down your neck and head. Just giving you a little breather there. So in this exercise, your hands are not gonna be behind your head, but you will not move your neck and head and shoulders for the rest of this exercise. There's gonna be five exercises in this little series, we'll learn the next three next class, but if I watched just your Pilates box I would have no idea what you're doing because you're so rooted and solid in here.

So when you do this exercise, you're not gonna be coming up and down and up and down, you're just gonna be solid and up, okay? So, take a breath into the mat and scoop in, and exhale, round up. Belly should be really in. Great. Now reach your arms long by your side like they were for the Hundred.

Don't get that spike in your upper back, and inhale, try to bring your arms up to the ceiling. And then you're gonna exhale, open 'em as you circle back to your hips. Inhale, up to the ceiling, nice long arms. From your belly, exhale, circle and bring 'em back. I love it.

Inhale, up, you're not rocking back at all, exhale, scoop and reach for your hips. Now roll down your neck and head. Hug in your right knee, hug in your left. Good, alright. Now remember that I said I don't want you to just straighten and bend the knee joint.

I want you to use those wrapping muscles. So we're gonna just reach our arms down by our side, let 'em hang down, good. And I want you to think of those barbershop pole muscles. We're gonna go almost up to the ceiling, extending those legs, and we're gonna, from that hip joint, have those spirals going, going, beautiful. And use your belly to pull those legs back in, nice.

And extend as you inhale, and they're gonna, from that point, around, around, around, and exhale, pulling in. And going out from the barbershop poles, you're lengthening and you're holding that center, and pull them back in. And one more time, extending from here, here, those barbershop poles, yes, and pulling in, wonderful. Hug those knees into your chest. And in fact, now you get to put your hands on your ankles.

(laughs) And it's a, actually this is the most delicious stretch, is you are supposed to use your hands to push on your ankles, down into your lower back and a little towards you, and it gives your lower back such a nice stretch. And that is why it's called Double Leg Stretch, 'cause you're stretching both on this nice in and up. Isn't that lovely? I know. Could always use someone else stretching us, it is very nice.

Alright. So, keeping your legs like that in that double-leg stretch, I want you to use your belly and that seesaw image and lift your head as if you could get your ears between your knees, rounding up. Because those thighs and knees are onto your chest, right? Now, there's a spike behind you, don't let yourself get spiked. And arms straight up, and legs wrap and squeeze at the same.

And now exhale, pull yourself together, arms circle back to your ankles. Inhale, reach, rest it here, and exhale, good. Come up a little higher, and now arms just straight up to the ceiling. There you go. And pull yourself back together, yes.

And inhale, up, so come up, up, up, up, up. And circle back as you exhale. That's it, one more time. In with the air, there you go, and exhale, and rest down your neck and head. Lovely, ladies.

Sit on up. Really good job. So that exercise will keep getting harder and bigger and challenging. Good. How are we doing?

Good. Good. Good, okay. So I mentioned that those are the first two of a series of five, and what ends up happening is, when you do all five in a row, our back starts to try to help and work and our stomach gets fatigued and tired, so you need to stretch your back. So we're gonna finish today with good posture with the Spine Stretch Forward.

So you're gonna straighten your legs and open them a little wider than the mat. Good. That's it. And you wanna sit, another common sense thing, one bone on top of the other. Try to sit up as if you're against an imaginary wall.

There's walls behind you, but pretend like your back is right there. Now, Brooke and some of you might get a little tight here 'cause our back of our legs are tight, and it's okay to go ahead and bend your knees, does that help you? Mmhmm. Okay. It doesn't help everyone, but if you need to you can bend your knees a little bit so that you can use your stomach to sit up tall.

Janelle, I want you to lift up a little taller, yeah. Does that bother your hip flexors at all? Okay, just makes you work? Okay, I like that. (laughs) Alright, sorry. So we're gonna pretend we're sitting against a wall, and there's a lot of things going on right here, okay?

So your toes wanna point up to the ceiling if you can; if it's too much go ahead and just relax 'em, but see if you can do that. Your hipbones, if you weeble wobble back and forth everyone can feel the sit bones in their bottom. No matter how well endowed we are or are not, so you can feel your sit bones, right? They're right under you, and they're right under your hipbones. Okay, you're not like this, is what I mean to say, You're right up on top of 'em.

And then each bone is on top of it from there, and you wanna feel like a marionette being pulled up towards the ceiling, not hanging out. So you're using a lot of muscles to lift up. Arms up at shoulder height. Take a big breath, pull your belly in and start rolling off an imaginary wall. Your head comes out first, then your shoulders, then your upper body, and you're gonna keep your waistband glued onto that wall.

Take a breath, and exhale, roll back up unto that wall. Lower back, middle back, upper back, finally the neck and head. I'm gonna do that one more time with you. I want you to try to use your belly to grow as tall as you can, like a marionette, and then roll off that wall. Upper body, middle, lower, keeping your waistband over your sit bones, and then roll back up.

Lower back, middle back, upper, shoulders and head. Alright, again. Try to lift off your seat maybe a little bit, squeeze up off of it, and then head comes down, and curling off, I love how you guys are rounding off. And there's that seesaw that should be easier. Arms stay up at shoulder height, reaching forward, and you're gonna try to get the crown of your head down to the mat.

Crown of your head down to the mat. Why don't you stay there and take a breath, and see if you can exhale and go lower. Lower with your crown of your head down to the mat, yep. There you go. Reach your arms up.

And now inhale, roll back your lower back, your middle back, keep rolling up, roll up there, good, and then your head. And one more time. Lift off your seat, and big breath and then exhale to go down. So you're gonna be exhaling in Pilates any time that you kind of bring your body really tightly together. So you're exhaling all your air out of your body here, and now you're gonna inhale to roll back up.

Roll back up through here, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Nice, all the way up. That's some nice posture there, ladies. And relax. And now I want you to go ahead and stand up, just like you started, at the front of your mat, and remember what it was like to have your Pilates stance, those barbershop pole muscles, your belly, that weightlifting belt, yeah.

Your shoulders right over your hipbones, good, very nice. And now I want you to add that marionette feeling, like you're really growing to the ceiling, gorgeous. Alright, your muscles are ready for the rest of the day. Good work, ladies, thank you.


Really enjoyed this Monica , l am not new to Pilates but I found your approach so refreshing , I will be watching this again , thank you .
2 people like this.
Love your classes Monica. Are you planning on releasing the series at regular intervals?
2 people like this.
I loved this! How do I find the whole series of 10?
1 person likes this.
Kathy ~ We are so glad to hear that you enjoyed this! We haven't published all of the series yet so there is still more to come!
1 person likes this.
I really liked this class and am looking forward to working through all 10 classes. Will definitely do this class again.
Monica Wilson
So glad you are all enjoying it!
2 people like this.
I loved this class. Monica is such an excellent teacher. It was so good to start all over again!
2 people like this.
Enjoyed them so much! when will the next one be?
3 people like this.
Loved it. Could someone just list the classes in order? It's slow, but SO refreshing to hear the step by step from Monica!
2 people like this.
This was absolutely fantastic! I loved every minute- especially how you taught how to lengthen the muscles - it felt sooooo good! Thank you Monica
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