Class #2401

Back to Basics Mat

35 min - Class


Go back to the basics in this flowing Mat workout with Meredith Rogers! Whether you are new to Pilates or a Pilates veteran, it is always valuable to go back to the fundamentals to help build strength for more intricate choreography. She includes simple movements that generate heat and work in your body.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hi, it's my intention today to go back to the basics for all of you who are new to Pilates. But also to remind all of us who have been doing Pilates for however long that it is valuable always to return to the basics. So here we go. So what I'd like for you to do to start is sit directly upright. And what that means to me is sit right on top of the sitting bones, your sitting bones, and take a hold of the back sides of your legs.

Take just a moment and close your eyes, we'll take two or three breaths here. So as you do this, this inhale breath, you could feel the spine elongating. And then you can gently support, with an exhale breath, feeling the structure of the spine, very tall, very energized, and again inhale, bringing awareness into the movement that you can create in your ribcage. So breathing in and trying to expand the ribs. And then exhale and just gently support that, and then inhale again.

This time as we exhale, we're gonna slide the tailbone under and just curl the lower spine. So I want you to hold yourself up pretty, pretty firmly with your arms, and then inhale, lift the back. And exhale draw the abdominals backward, tip the tail under. Keep the eyes just right in front of you at this moment. And inhale, sitting all the way up tall.

And exhale, working, moving the pelvis so that the lower spine can feel a little bit of a stretch. And inhale to lift the spine, and just one more like that, exhale round. And inhale to lift. Lighten up the hold on your hands but keep your hands on your legs, and inhale. Exhale going to that rounded shape with the pelvis again, and this time start letting the arms straighten, letting the spine move further down, allow the arms to just slide down the legs as you roll yourself down to your shoulder blades, inhale.

Exhale, either hold your legs to assist you or push into your legs with your hands, roll yourself back up so your shoulders are over your hip joint. And lift the spine tall, inhale. Exhale, first flex the spine. Then round the spine backward, drawing in, using the abdominals to manipulate the spine, inhale feel energy in the upper arms pressing into the thighs, and exhale, curl yourself back up. Find shoulders over hips, and lift the spine again, and inhale.

And exhale, deep and into that rounded position. Roll yourself back. Finding your way down through your spine to the very tips of your shoulder blades and inhale. And roll back up. Shoulders over pelvis, lifting the spine tall, and inhale.

And exhale, feel the feet, almost trying to slide backwards towards your pelvis as you're rolling down. Pause as you arrive just at the tips of your shoulder blades inhale, take one arm up. And exhale that arm down. So we use the weight of the arm to create some challenge in the center of the body. Inhale one arm up, and exhale one arm down.

So stabilizing through the center of the body, inhale. And exhale, and inhale, reach behind you if you can without losing the curl of your upper body. Inhale, reach, and exhale down. Take one breath to hold. Exhale, roll the spine back up, using your arms, if necessary, to help you through that, and lift the back, inhale.

And exhale, rolling yourself down. Down, down, finding that same place that just right off the tips of the shoulder blades, and now we're gonna take the one arm out to the side, and back. You can use the opposite arm to hold you in space. And exhale back. Breathe into the space that the arm is creating.

And back. And inhale, and back. And one more time to each side, and back. And inhale, and back. And take one breath to hold.

Exhale, roll up. As you come up to straight, bring the arms up over the towards the ceiling, just let the knees separate, and then fold forward over your legs. Roll the spine back up, arms are out in front, just bring the knees back up, so that they're facing the ceiling, and then roll the spine, all the way down. Bend your knees so your feet are just slightly in front of your knees. Bring your arms down along your side.

Inhale. We're going into a pelvic curl. So first, we feel that same action of the pelvis that we started with a posterior rotation. We flatten the lower spine and then pressing down into the feet, and lifting one vertebra at a time. Up, away from the mat, inhale to pause.

Exhale, drop the breastbone down between the arms. Keep the collarbones open and long, so the arms can be reaching forwards. And inhale, as you exhale, flatten through the spine and then feel the ribs sticky on the mat. Let the pelvis pass the ribs, and then continue to lift the pelvis, but don't let the ribs get higher than the pelvis. Inhale, and exhale to roll down.

If you're unsure of what I'm speaking about there, a good thing to do is just to reach your arms forward, place your fingertips on your thighs, and start rolling up again. So as you're rounding up, you feel the ribs drop below the arms, but then you wanna bring the thigh bones up so that they are flush with the hands. And then roll down. So if that makes sense to you, continue to do it that way. If you're happier with your hands down on the mat, continue to do it that way.

But that's what we're after. Lifting up, up, up. Now I want you to stay at the top. Transition all of your weight onto one leg without being able to tell which, without being able to see any movement in your body, and then the leg that you're not standing on, just floats up, and down. Exhale to float up, and down.

I want you to imagine that you're pulling from the center of the body to bring the knee up towards the body. Last two. And one more. So now, as that leg goes back down to the floor, can we put it down, without being able to tell if there's any shifting in the body at all. Transfer the weight onto that opposite leg, and inhale, exhale.

Bring the leg up. And inhale to drop it back down. And exhale, draw in. Bring the leg up. So nice and stable.

The rest of the body is so still. Just that one leg floating through space. And one more time. Reach up. Place the leg down.

Can we place it down without shifting. Bring the arms up towards the ceiling. And then reach the arms back overhead, keep them floating just off the floor as you roll down through your spine, reach your arms oppositionally to your tailbone. Come all the way down, into a neutral spinal position or a flat, a tailbone down position. And then arch the spine.

Allow the lower back to lift a little. And then settle back into where the hip bones, the two front hip bones and the pubic bone are nice and flat. Bring your arms out to your sides. Lift one leg. Lift the other leg.

So now we're gonna do what we just did within out bridge position. We're gonna inhale and drop the right leg to the mat, and exhale to lift it up. And inhale to drop the left leg to the mat, and exhale to lift it up. So a different choice for the hands would be to put your hands, rest your hands on your belly. So that as your legs are moving through space, you feel if there's any intention, any up intention of the belly.

And you try to keep the belly really pulled down flat. Almost as though you're trying to create space between your clothing and your skin. One more time. And lift, so now we're gonna hold the legs up. We call this table top position.

Arms out to the sides. So from here, we're gonna take the knees over towards me, on the inhale. And then exhale, feel where the stretch is in your body. Contract the muscles around the stretch and bring your legs back through center. Inhale as you go away from me.

Feel the stretch in your body. Contract the muscles that are feeling the stretch. Bring yourself back to center. So as we rotate from side to side, we're endeavoring to work through the center of the body, through the abdominals, through your powerhouse, or your core, or all those words that we use for our abdominal muscles. And exhale to come back.

We're gonna do one more to each side. Inhale to reach across, exhale to come back. Inhale to reach across, keeping the opposite shoulder still, down, stable and back. As you place your hands behind your head, lower one leg at a time. Press the legs together here, and imagine that your feet are stuck.

Sticky glued to the mat, inhale. As you exhale, curl your head and chest up. I want you to feel as though you're trying to lift your feet up off the mat. That however, is impossible because we just mentioned that they're stuck, they're sticky. Inhale to stay.

And exhale to come back down. So just that energy, of trying to pull the feet up off the mat, inhale, and exhale. Will help you to, helps me anyway, to feel a little bit of a deeper connection to my center. And down. And inhale, and exhale as you lift up.

Up, up, try to lift the feet up just a little bit. And down. So when I say just a little bit, I'm not actually letting my feet leave the surface of the mat. I'm just going lighter on the mat. And again, one more time.

Lift, holding here. Take your hands behind your thighs, curl up a little bit deeper. Not higher, deeper. So just think of going forward. Arms reach up, they come back behind the head.

Now I want you to lift one foot. One inch off the mat, and down. And exhale as you lift the other foot one inch off the mat. And down, and as you're doing that, feel that you're not allowing the pelvis to shift at all. And down.

And lift, and down. And lift, ooh, I just went, look, it's five or six inches. That's not what I was asking you to do. And down, and inhale. And lower all the way down.

So that should generate some heat in the body. We're gonna take it through a rotational movement next. So we're gonna curl the head and chest up. Lift the leg that's closest to me. Just up into that table top position, and turn your body towards it.

So now take the hands from behind the head, hold just below the knee, and just below the hand. So that both hands are on the outside of that leg. Curl up a little higher, feel the rib that's coming over, crosses the hip joint on that side, the rib that's towards the bottom of your body pulls in, and I want you hold that position. Take one hand behind your head, take the other hand behind your head. Memorize this feeling.

(train horn blows) Find center. Lower your body and your leg. Inhale. Exhale, lift the body up. Lift the opposite leg now.

Rotate towards it. So I'm rotating towards my left leg, my right hand holds just below the knee, my left hand holds just below my right, my right ribcage is pulling over towards my left side pelvis, my left ribcage is pulling into that left side pelvis, and that's how we're finding the contraction that we're looking for here. Building on these fundamentals. All exercises in the Pilates work, one hand and then other, all build on these fundamental movements. So it's so important that we get them in a very integrated way.

Find center, and place that leg down. Stretch your legs out straight. Bring your arms up behind your head. Inhale to lift the head and chest. Exhale to curl the spine.

We bring the shoulders just over the pelvis. Inhale. Think about keeping a long but lifted spine, and then exhale, roll down. The tailbone rotates under, the lower spine flattens, reach back with your arms. Inhale to bring the head, chest, and arms up.

The hands reach for the thighs. Exhale to roll the spine. Shoulders just over the hips. So you should be able to look down the line of your body and see that the shoulders are right over the pelvis. And then rolling down, and this is all about it bringing one bone at a time into the mat.

And arms up. And inhale, lift. And exhale, curl the body. Stay round at the top. Inhale, and exhale.

Sliding the tailbone under, rolling the spine down. And reaching all the way back. Last time, lifting up. Articulating the spine, pause to inhale, exhale to roll the spine back down again. All the way.

Keep the arms just next to you now. Bend the leg closest to me. Stretch that leg up towards the ceiling. Not a big deal if the leg can't straighten all the way but if it can please do. Flex that foot.

Make a tiny circle coming into the body, around, and up. And then an exhale. Around and up. So you're breathing, each circle gets a breath. And what you're trying to do here, as you're circling that leg in the hip joint is create stability through your trunk.

We're gonna do one more. How to do that? Well, firstly, let's reverse that circle. We wanna bring awareness to the center of the body. Notice how the muscular, musculature there has to adapt to the movement of the leg.

The bottom leg, the one that's on the mat, can press down to help you stabilize. Last time. Bend that knee, take the opposite hand to the outside of that thigh, and just twist. Looking over the shoulder that's closest to me. Giving it a little stretch, a little spinal stretch, a little hip stretch.

Come back through center. Stretch that leg out on the mat. Bring the opposite leg up. Stretch that leg up into the air. Again, so not a big deal if the leg needs to stay bent.

If it can straighten all the way, do that. Arms down and long. And we inhale for a circle. And exhale for a circle. So there's a drop catch kind of an energy in this movement.

Drop catch, one more breath cycle. Inhale, and exhale. Feel that bottom leg supporting us. Other direction. Inhale, drop, pull up.

And exhale. Feeling the stability through the trunk. The ease of movement in the hip. One more breath cycle, inhale. And exhale.

We're gonna bend that knee, reach across the thigh, twist towards me, and look away from me. Come back through center, place both feet down bent on the mat. Hands back behind the head. So now we're gonna take that rotational lesson and we're gonna make it a little more challenging. So curl the head and chest up.

Reach behind the thighs. Get a nice firm lift through the spine, make sure the lower spine is flat on the mat. And try to keep the tailbone down as well. Then the arms are gonna come up. They're gonna come behind the head again, and now that same movement that we did when you're holding on the leg.

We rotate, looking just past that outside thigh, and center. And rotate. And center. Remember one rib, the top ribs go over the top of the bottom ribs which slide in towards the center of the spine. That's the way I think about it anyway.

We wanna bring awareness to both sides of the ribcage. And twist. We're gonna do one more to each side. Twist. And center.

And twist. And center. And reach forward. Lift one leg. Stabilize your body.

Lift the other leg. Squeeze the legs together. Lift the arms up towards the ceiling. And then place the head down. Arms are reaching back, all of the ribs are on the mat.

Bring the arms up, press like you're pushing something down. Pushing something heavy down. Bring the arms all the way to the mat and try to pull up a little higher. And then lift the arms, as the arms pass the ears or come to the ears, the upper body comes down. Inhale.

Exhale, draw in, navel to spine. Reach past the thighs, as your arms are moving through space press into the mat. Try to pull the shoulders away from the ears. And then reach up with the arms and come back. We're gonna go one more time, staying at the top.

Exhale to lift arms, head, chest, reach forward. Arms to the mat. Curl a little higher. And now take the hands to the back sides of the thighs, and do a little rock. Just a little rock.

Making the rock bigger, and bigger, and all the way. So, for rolling like a ball, you can have that same kinda open position or you can get in nice and tight. It's up to you, the open position is a little bit easier. Lift the feet. Feel that same, the very first movement that we started with today, that drawing back of the abdominals.

Rounding through the lower spine. That's what pushes us back. So we rock back to the shoulders, and then we find our balance at the top. And inhale, shoulder blades are down. Elbows are wide.

Hands are pushing into the shins. So that there's a lot of activity happening in my body whilst at the same time, I'm trying to maintain a very still position. One more. Inhale to rock back, exhale to lift up. Place your feet down onto the floor.

Straighten out the legs. So it's not always possible to sit totally upright with straight legs, so you could keep the knees bent. Or you could prop yourself up on something. I'm gonna straighten my legs all the way because that's available to me. But if you need to bend, you should.

Nah, I'll bend. I'll bend too, hands behind the head. Inhale. So now what I want you to do is I want you to rotate your spine, press your head into your hands. Feel that you're using your arms to pull your head up, and center.

And with that idea of using the arms to pull the head up, perhaps you feel that the spine elongates even more. So because the spine is attached to the head, by pulling up on the head, we can pull up on the spine. In theory. And then also, as you're doing this just side to side movement, feel that you're not pulling up on your head by pulling up on your shoulders. So, the hands pull up on the head and the shoulders pull down the back.

And just one more to each side. So we twist, and center. And twist, and center. And then lower the arms, bend your knees. There's two hand choices here, one is that the fingers can face in, that's not comfortable for everybody's wrist and shoulders, so I'm also gonna offer for you to take your hands and face your fingers away from one another.

I'm gonna do a bridging exercise. So with the hands behind you, I want you to push your back up. So you're very lifted through your spine. Feel that lifted energy. This is an exercise in itself.

'Cause this is the energy you need to keep the shoulders in the right place on the way down. Now, press into the feet and lift the pelvis, trying to create a table top position with the body. So, the hips drop down, the shoulders stay down. So that's where we get that pushing forward energy and we lift the hips up. And lower the hips down.

Stay nice and still through the arms and the shoulders, lift the hips up. And lower the hips down. And three more, so we work through the backs of the legs. Nice, strong work through the backs of the legs. Last two.

And just allowing these simple movements to generate work and heat through the whole of your body. Sit all the way down. Straighten your legs all the way out again, or keep them slightly bent. But this time, we're gonna keep them a little bit apart. Take your arms out in front of you and imagine that you're sitting up against a wall.

So your spine is totally vertical. Inhale, draw the chin into the chest and start to roll the spine down. Now I want for you to create abdominal contraction with the spine as you're going down. Send the spine, send the arms forward. Inhale, press down through the heels.

If your legs are straight, press down through the knees. And roll back up to sitting. Lifting tall, imagine that you're still holding your head so that you could pull yourself up a little straighter. Exhale to roll the spine down. Reaching the body forwards.

Try not to lift with the arms into the ears, it's not gonna do anything in terms of the stretch that you're feeling except for potentially create a little bit of neck tension. And we're gonna try and avoid that. Three more, inhale. And exhale as we roll down. And inhale.

Trying to go further each time and lift. Sitting tall. And exhale to roll down, down, down, inhale. And exhale to roll up. I'm gonna make a change at the bottom this time.

Exhale, chin into the chest. Roll down, take your hands, and rest them, just to me probably around the ankles or the center of the shins. Now I want you to use your arms to pull your back into a flat line, a straight line. So it'll feel like the tailbone is pressing back, the chest is reaching up, and then from there, let go. Take your arms out to your sides, and then just a little back with the arms.

Little back pushes. So it's like you're letting your spine go out and forward, working so hard through the upper back, through the lower back, your hamstrings will feel a stretch. We'll do three, two, one, and now as we we come up from that position, sitting up tall, might just feel a little easier. Turn and face me. Lay all the way down onto your arm.

So we're gonna line the body up straight with the feet and the pelvis in alignment, the head is gonna be on the arm, the arm that you're not laying on is gonna go just in front of the ribs. Inhale here. Draw the abdominals in up to the spine. Feel that the legs reach away from you to lift. And lower.

And again, reach the legs so far away from you that they just lift right up off the mat and then when they lower, they just they just hover, they don't go all the way down. And lift. And down. And lift. So what we're looking for here in this exercise is to bring awareness into that upside waist, but also into the lower side waist.

It's an abdominal exercise. A lateral exercise. We're gonna do two more. And last one. And then pause.

Bend your knee so that your heels now line up with your tailbone. You can just keep your head right where it is. We're gonna take the top knee and push up, and down. In fact, instead of having the arm on the mat, let's put the hand on the pelvis. So as you're pushing up with your knee, I want you to feel that the pelvis is solid.

It doesn't change. It doesn't move back and forth in space. Sometimes it'll wanna get pulled backward with the movement of that leg. But we're just gonna keep it nice and steady. We wanna feel the work in the hip.

Last three. And two, feel that the abdominals are continuing to stabilize the spine. Last one. Now continue to hold the pelvis with the hand. Now lift the whole leg up.

And down. Up, so we should be feeling a little bit of work here by now in the outer part of that leg. I know I do. And five more, let's exhale, and inhale. And four.

Checking in that there's no tension in the neck. Here is number three. And number two. And number one. So now, the last thing that we're gonna do on this side is to bring that knee into the chest, keep the pelvis still.

Press that knee up, push it around behind you. This is the toughest one, in my opinion. And then through. Inhale as it goes up. Exhale as it presses around behind you.

Really feeling the work in that outer hip. Inhale. Exhale, press around behind you. And two more. Up and back.

And one more. Up and back. And now, we reverse. Go back, lift the knee, bring it right into the center of the chest, and back. Push the leg behind you as far as you can without allowing the pelvis to move.

Here is three. Out of five. So two more to go. And one. And that is a lot, for me.

Bring your knee into your chest. See if you can put your foot just on the mat, somewhere. And then push that knee away from you so you get a little stretch in that hip. And then help yourself up. Swing your legs around to the opposite side of your mat.

Lie down onto your other side. Lining the legs up, lining the knees up with the feet, I always like to look down my body to make sure I'm nice and even. Arm inline with the spine, and here we go. You reach out to lift up, and down. So in essence we're trying to shorten the space between the top rib and the pelvis on that upper side.

Feel here with the hand that's on the floor that it doesn't crawl up into the ears. But instead, it stays nice and down. I think about pulling my hand backward towards my feet as my feet are lifting. And that, for me, actually creates a little stretch in my neck. So we're gonna do three more here.

Again, bringing awareness into the trunk. And two. And one. And then we're gonna stop there. Bend the knees, the knees go forward and the heels slide back.

So you still have that nice straight body. Hand on the pelvis and we're gonna open and close. Imagine that you're trying to push something heavy away from you with your knee. And don't just make it work on the up, we can also squeeze the leg back down. So, there's a (breathing heavily) I can on, often, we can create oppositional energy in our body.

Just by thinking about where we're working. So we have three to go, here's number one. Keep the abdominals drawing back away from the clothing, or back into the spine. Last one. Knee goes down, and now we lift the whole leg up, and squeeze down.

And lift up, and squeeze down. If you want it to be harder, you could actually push with your arm and give yourself a little resistance. I don't need that. This is hard enough for me as it is. So here is number five.

I love these fundamental movements. As I mentioned before, they really help to generate and build strength for the more challenging or intricate choreography that comes later. And now we're gonna bring the knee into the chest. Goes up around to the back, again this is where the pelvis is most likely gonna wanna move. So really hold still.

Up, around to the back and down. And three more. In, up around to the back, and down. Two more. Around to the back and down.

Making sure that the spine isn't changing positions. Here's the reverse. We go back. Up, down into the chest, and then back again. Up, down into the chest, and back again.

Here's number three of five. Number two of five. (exhales loudly) And last one. Lower the leg, bring the knee into the body. I give it a little hug.

Place your foot onto the mat, wherever it suits you. And just take that leg and try to press it away from you. Sometimes if you just think of sticking your butt out a little bit when you're doing this, it'll help you to intensify that stretch. So now we're gonna just roll over onto our stomach. And what I'd like for you to do is just line yourself up straight again.

Straight from the head to the toes. And place the arms just so that they're bent with the forearms down on the mat. You can rest your head on the mat or you can keep it just floating right off. So first things first, draw the abdominals inward towards the spine, and energize through the legs. Then, feel that you're trying to glide your elbows, your forearms a couple of inches back.

So that should allow you to feel the work, starting to feel the work in the upper back. From there, send the head forward and then imagine that you're rolling a marble along the mat. So we just lift the chest, it's not very high. I'm still on the bottom of my ribs. And down.

So I'm just using ideas to create muscular engagement. First idea, sliding the arms backwards, sliding the shoulder bones, the wing bones down. Then drawing or pushing a marble forward that allows us to feel the arch, a slight arch in the upper back. And with that, feel that this body's getting pulled forward as the arms are trying to slide backwards. I'm hoping everyone feels this as much as I do.

And lower down. And just do one more. So shoulder blades glide down. Head reaches forwards, lifting the body. And down.

And then take your arms out straight in front of you. Lift the chest just a little bit, the head is floating off the mat. The arms are out in front. I'm not very high up in my back. I'm still resting on my ribs.

I'm almost all the way down on my chest. Now what I want us to do, again, navel to spine, always is the first rule in Pilates. And then we're gonna lift the left arm and the right leg, reach them away from one another, and down. And right arm, left leg. Reach out, and down.

And left arm, right leg, reach out. You wanna think if anything is your focus here, it's the height of the arm. Rather than the height of the leg. 'Cause eventually, all of those limbs are gonna be lifting up off the floor. And it's the arm that's mostly, relative to the upper back.

And that's where we wanna get more work. So let's do two more. Or one more to each side now. And lift. And reach.

And lift. And then allow your body just to relax, allow yourself to settle for just a moment. And place again, your forearms underneath you on the mat. Push up with your forearms, you can move your knees in a little closer to you. You can separate them if necessary, and then just sit back on your feet.

Taking a stretch through the spine. The last thing that we're gonna do is to come up onto our knees. Check to see that the knees are directly under the hip joints. And the hands are directly under the shoulder joints. Eyes of the elbows facing inwards.

Fingers spread, spine straight. Inhale here. As you exhale, start with that same motion of the pelvis that we started class with. Tucking the tail under, like a dog pulling its tail between its legs. So pull in around the lower spine.

And then come back through center, and extend. So you reach up through your breastbone, you lift your head, you slide your arms backward just to create upper back energy. And then we find a straight line again. Exhale, round the lower spine. It helps to push the shins into the mat.

Inhale, find a straight back. Exhale pull the spine forward. And find a straight back one more time through. Exhale round the spine, push the floor away from you. And find center.

And extend the spine. And find center. And then just looking down towards the abdominals, towards the center of the body. Lighten up on your hands, and roll yourself all the way up. And just turn and face me if you're not already.

And take the arms up, reaching up through the spine. Creating a little moving energy through the whole body. And then reaching the arms down. And let's just do that one more time. Feel the energetic outward reach, a very light lifting of the spine.

And just relaxing the arms down. Feeling the moving energy in your body. Coming all the way to your sides. And thank you for taking class with me.


5 people like this.
Thank you :)
It was very helpful for beginners
I will work hard to learn
1 person likes this.
I really like the clear, very deliberate coaching. The fact that she's doing this with you really works for pacing.
1 person likes this.
Excellent class, very good tempo
2 people like this.
My new favourite!!!!
Thanks, y'all!
Thanks Meri xoxo Felt the heat and feelin' good :)
1 person likes this.
excellent class for beginners who want to understand the dynamics of pilates and engagement of body. Great queuing, lovely tone - Meredith is great! Loved every bit of it!
Thanks, gals!

Nicole..I'm so excited to see you here and glad you're feeling good!
2 people like this.
Love the clear cueing! Thank you!
1 person likes this.
this was excellent workout after 5 weeks since my umbilical hernia surgery, thank you !!!
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