Class #3110

Big and Wide Mat

25 min - Class


Connect to the space you inhabit with this Mat workout by Jenna Zaffino. She focuses on finding expansion in your body so that you can connect more to your center. By reaching beyond the shape you see in the mirror, you can actually use and enjoy this width in each movement.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video


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One of my secret dreams is to someday have a Pilates studio that's called Big and Wide Pilates. And the reason behind this is that I truly believe that the more we can expand our bodies and actually enjoy and use our largeness, our bigness, and our width, the more we actually can connect to center. There's so many times where there's a part of our body that might be a little wider than another part, and we choose to put the blinders on and kind of not really deal with it in the hopes that by focusing just on the things that are compact that maybe they'll go away, but I believe in reaching beyond the shape that we see in the mirror. I believe in extending our energetic field, and this series today is going to help us really enjoy and connect to the space that we inhabit, and also hopefully expand that space to another dimension. So we're going to start on the ground, on your back.

And I chose not to have a mat today simply because a mat can sometimes be prohibitive in how much we are able to move on the floor. So we're simply going to reach the arms up to the ceiling, parallel, and just for a moment, feel the impression and the shape that your body's making on to the floor. Often times it's a little easier to feel the bony landmarks, but we also wanna see if we can get connected or in touch and aware of also our flesh, also where the lovable parts are landing, and so, from here we'll just begin with a few breaths. We're gonna inhale across the chest (inhales) opening the arms and exhale to reconnect (exhales) back to center. Just to pump some oxygen into the lungs (inhales) (exhales) and I'm not really working too much of a definite shape with my arms, they're curved.

I'm just more trying to feel the air between my fingers and just see what's available for me in the space from side to side. In addition, I'm also trying to bring in a sense of awareness to the way that my shoulder blades are connecting, or not, to the mat, so that I might be aware of the changes that we make as we move throughout this series. So we'll exhale to bring the arms up to the ceiling, and then we're gonna simply shrug the shoulders, protract, reach to the ceiling breathing in (inhales) and then as we exhale, can you keep the connection that you've just found on your back against the floor and place the shoulder blades down. That might mean that your arms come wider apart. Breathing in, feel the middle back get heavy, the space between the shoulder blades and the spine.

Breathe out. Allow that weight to connect even deeper and allow the bones to settle beside the spine. Breathing in (inhales slowly) and breathing out. (exhales slowly) I wanna just do two more here. Breathing into the tight spots, the spaces that maybe aren't moving as easily than the exhale allowing our body to be heavy against the floor. Last one (inhales slowly) and exhale. (exhales slowly) Now we're gonna switch to a single arm and this time as we reach the right arm up to the ceiling, let's internally rotate.

Let's turn the arm all the way in as much as possible. Almost rolling off of that right side and as we exhale, it's like we're rolling out along each rib to place the shoulder blade down even farther away from the spine. So it should almost look asymmetrical between your two arms now. We'll go to the left side reaching up, rotating and finding some stretch there and as you roll out along the left side of your body, reaching out to the end of the rib cage or the side of the rib cage before placing your shoulder blade down. Breathing in (inhales slowly) reaching out through the right.

And now it starts to get curious. How wide is my back? (chuckles) How wide could it actually be? (inhaling) Reaching up. (exhaling) You know, as a woman, a teacher, a mother, a business owner, that back has to carry a lot of things, so the wider the better. (inhales) Wanna do one more on the left, reaching up. (inhales) And (exhales) land. So just notice for a moment the space that we've created beyond both sides of the spine. It's almost as if you could feel the ribs on the back-body connect as well as the shoulder blades. And from here, we're gonna make our shape a little more definite, rounding the arms and going into your Pilates sort of exercise we'll call hug-a-tree.

So like we did before, we're gonna inhale and open the arms. So we're gonna pause the breath for a moment as the arms hover above the floor. I'd like you to reach your arms wider as if they're being pulled to either side of the room, and then as you exhale, see if you can challenge yourself to maintain the width of your back, and of your collar bones. So we breath in to open. (inhales) Reach wider and then exhale. Let the weight of your heart drop to the back of your body (exhales) and your body reconnect to center.

We'll do this three more times. Inhale to open. So we're not using tension or resistance, but we're creating resistance in our own body through expansion, through breath, and through weight. One more time, breathing in (inhales) and exhale wide and through the back. (exhales deeply) And now you might even begin to enjoy the sensation of the inner edge of your shoulder blade against the mats. It's nice to feel your spine in the middle and the inner edge of both scapula down on the floor, not the mat.

And then from here, we'll turn the palms away. We're gonna reach them out to a nice tee. We're gonna extend the legs long onto the ground, and we'll begin just feeling this sense of reaching head to toe, tail as well. And then shoulder blades out to the side. And if we could, we might even walk the fingers a little bit farther away so you've got this nice kind of fascial skin pull across the front and once you feel you've reached out to the potential that your arms have, then we'll take a rested position in that reach.

So we don't have to keep efforting throughout. And from here we're gonna bend the left knee up, place the foot down, and we're gonna begin to, for lack of a more technical term, smoosh, the right side of your hips into the floor. So I'm gonna push down into my left leg, and I'm literally gonna let the flesh of my right hip connect, and it doesn't want to. (laughs) It wants to squeeze up away from the floor. I'm gonna ask it to be soft. I'm gonna ask it to except the way that I'm pouring into it from the left side.

And then, as I come back, it's almost as if I could... If I were laying on a scale, I would see that number go up, because my weight has become heavier. Weight is something that is severely underrated, I believe. And when we know how to control our weight, and become heavy or light we can actually make some really dynamic movement choices throughout the day and in our practice. So we'll breathe in, (inhales) Now on the opposite shoulder if my left hip is pressing up then my left arm is reaching out wider. (exhales) and as I roll back, hopefully getting heavier on that whole side, we'll do one more here. (inhales) Pressing up, actually almost walking my fingers away to get a little more of a pull through the skin, through the muscle, and coming back down.

And then we'll extend the leg long. Feels as thought one arm is wider and longer than the other, so we'll go to the other side. And as we press down rolling, kind of finding a... almost a sense of massage, keeping the opposite shoulder down and walking the fingertips out and coming back. Just being mindful not to arch my back, not to effort so much, but just to feel the weight through the contact points.

That's where the work is. Staying heavy, staying grounded, and connected. Breathing in. (inhales) (exhales) And one more, maybe two more. Walking the arm out. It's always nice to see if there's a little more.

Especially, if you've gotten to the place where you think is your stopping place. Last one. (inhales) Coming all the way up. (exhales) And we'll stretch that leg out. We'll open up the legs for a moment, and just feel the reach through your hips. Feel the reach through your arms. We'll come back to the shape in just a moment.

And from here we're gonna draw the legs together, bend the knees hip-width apart and reach the arms up to the ceiling. So that is a different back already. It feels more like a platform, more like something that can accept more weight of my body, and that's where I'm gonna go with it. So we'll work into a bridge or a pelvic press. We're gonna roll the pelvis back, and instead of concentrating on the spine, let's concentrate on the sides of the body.

The pairs of ribs. As if you can be wider and even flatter, and then from here we'll roll down allowing the heart to move to the back body, the collar bones to move out, the ribs to connect from inside, from center, all the way out to the lateral line of the body. Rolling up. (inhales and exhales deeply) Once we get to the top, we'll breath in and open the arms wide. We're gonna hover the arms above the floor and reach out as we roll down. Again, getting a little gentle tug through the skin, the muscles, the connected tissue, as we roll down.

Arms back to the ceiling, one more like that. We'll roll back. (inhales and exhales deeply) Pressing through the feet. Wide, flat, open, (inhales) and rolling down. (exhales) (inhales and exhales). And as I'm talking to myself in my head I'm thinking wide hamstrings don't cramp 'cause (laughs) I started to make those legs a little bit more expansive as well. So from here we're gonna start to go from one side of the spine and then to the other.

So we're gonna roll up again with the arms to the ceiling. And opening the right arm, tilting the hips to the right, keeping that effort out to the side. We're going to roll down along the right side of the rib cage reaching to the right side of the waist and taking a moment of pause to really imagine that waistline, I know we don't like to think about this, but think about in widening, think about it becoming flatter to the mat, and then reach all the way out to the tail. So the right side is connected, and we roll back up along that right side, peeling, reaching, coming all the way up to connect back to center and we'll go to the other side, opening as we tilt, with the intention of expanding the sensation of the side of the body, the connections of the side of the body. All the way down, and then again, wide and flat waist.

The thing is, if you're freaking out about the language right now, the wider we get, the more narrow we look. (laughs) So let's do one more time, tilting to the right, rolling down along the right side. Tryin to keep a nice connection to my left side, that's challenging for me on this one. Then rolling back up. (exhales) Coming back to the center, last one on the other side. (inhales and exhales) Again, that space between the shoulder blade and the spine, is a real... it's like a pocket of treasure (laughs) for movement, for connection, for release sometimes.

Good. And then we'll bring the arms up we'll bring the arms up and back and then do our last roll down, all the way through to the ground and just let ourselves connect once again to the width of the back along the floor. From here we're gonna go head and extend the legs long, and hopefully we're feeling pretty connected, and I have a pretty significant lordosis so I know that that part of my back is not going to touch the ground. But I can also vision it expanding from side to side. So I can think about my pelvic bones making space for my sacrum.

I can think about my glutes releasing and possibly feel at least a sensation of a connection between the back of my body and my low back and the floor itself. So from here we're going into a breathing exercise. For a moment I'd like you to think of only having an upper body. So from the waist up is where you'll have availability to breath. And as you take your air in (inhales) you're going to breathe in through the nose, in through the back of the throat, down into the chest filling up the under arms filling up the upper arms, continue to breath in down into your wrist, down to the bottom of your waistline, your fingertips, fill it all up and when you think you can no longer breathe in, breathe in a little more. (inhales) And as you exhale, release the weight down.

Empty your fingers, your forearms, your upper arms, your shoulder blades, your chest, your waist, and at the bottom of the exhale, pause, and soften. Can you drop your weight any amount more? Let's take another breath in. Breathing in filling up. (inhales) Opening up the cells with oxygen, stretching, creating more space, and exhale. (exhales) Emptying out the entire upper body and at the bottom. Pausing to soften for one moment, seeing if it's possible to drop your weight any amount more.

And then we'll take the same breath to the lower half of the body. So breathing in almost as if you could bypass your lungs and send the breath down to your pelvis, through your hip joints, down through your knees, your caps, your shins, between the two bones of your lower leg and all through the bones of your feet. And as you exhale, allowing your heels to get heavier, your calves, your hamstrings, maybe your lower back, we'll see what happens. We'll do one more breath in here. (inhales) Filling up the entire lower body. And as we exhale, (exhales) allowing the weight to continue to drop, softening at the end of the exhale, pausing so that we can soften not pausing to grip, but pausing to soften.

So from here, we're gonna imagine that the floor is covered in paint and by the end of the section, we should be too. So from here we're gonna take the left arm across the chest. We're gonna sweep it over and we're gonna roll onto the right side. This is not the easiest thing to accomplish, and sometimes it takes a couple of attempts, but the idea is that you're reaching your arm to meet your opposite arm. You're leaving your leg behind you heavy, and you're starting to find, not only weight through the side of the body that you're rolling on, but stretch through the opposite side.

Should feel pretty good. Then from here, rolling as if we were a roller brush trying to pick up the paint from the floor to our back. And then on the other side, we'll reach across, and stretch, and reach. So this is the real yummy part of class. These last couple of exercises.

We are going to challenge ourselves to move with width, because that's what it's all about. But right now it's like wringing your body out like a towel and being able to reconnect like a floppy rag. (laughs) (exhales) Do one more to come back to center. (exhales) Okay, so from here, we're gonna take this into a little challenge for the hip and also for the spine, especially if we felt like that lumbar spine was up a little bit higher than we wanted it to be off of the mat. Of course, we like those natural curves, but we also want to be able to rest with them too. So from here, we're gonna go ahead and take our hands to the outer edges of the feet.

Now, if this is too challenging for you, you can always use a strap around your foot, or you can even just hold on to your thighs here, but the goal is to be able to bring your hands to the outer edges of your feet. And we're gonna start with the feet up into the air. Kind of like a happy baby situation. I hope this exercise makes you happy, at least, in the hips. So, from here we're going to take your right elbow on the outside of your right knee, and leave your left elbow on the inside of your left knee.

And you an accomplish this in many different ways, but essentially you're trying to just switch from one leg to the other. And then from here we're going to take the elbows up. And we're gonna bring them over to the other side. And so, we have a strong bond between the hand and the foot. We're allowing the hips to move.

We're allowing the low back to stretch and lengthen as we go from side to side. It is a little awkward, but you clicked on the class that said Big and Wide Pilates, so. And then, if we can, we're gonna take it into a little rhythm. So if that pace was good for you, wonderful. And what's happening here is we're starting to explore internal, external rotation of the hip, knee extension and flexion, spine extension and flexion, a little lateral flexion of the spine, and then eversion and inversion of the feet.

So if you're an anatomy person and you needed that information, there you go. If not, your just skating side to side with your feet and your hips. So we're just gonna do a little faster. Side to side. Do the best you can to maintain the connection between the sole of your foot and your hand.

And see if you can find the path of least resistance so it just actually moves for you. We'll do eight more. That's seven, and six, five, and four, three, and two, and one. We're also getting some shoulder stuff there and then you can go ahead and extend all the way back out one more time. Okay, so from here, we're gonna take it into a few more movement challenges, a little more technical.

So we'll bring our arms back down to that tee. Bring your legs together and for the first time, we're gonna extend our legs up into the air. So feel a 90 degree at the hip. Feel your sacrum, your pelvis wide. Try to revisit that wide back 'cause that's what we're looking for here.

And breath into the width and connection on the floor. We're gonna begin much like we did with the shifting of the hips. By shifting the hip down into the right side as we lift to the left leg a little bit higher. A little twist of the pelvis, a big stretch of the right leg, and we'll come back small but big at the same time. Roll onto the left hip by reaching the right leg up a little higher and then roll back.

Once again, start to think about pouring your weight into the side body and being connected. It's really tempting to arch your back in this small movement, but the idea is that you're just staying in the same plane, reaching one leg up at a time and using the width of your body to support you, good. So from here we're gonna reach the left leg up, and we're gonna expand the field by opening the right leg out. This is called the lateral hip opener. Stretch your leg up to the ceiling, stretch your opposite leg out to the side, and feel the weight as much as possible pour down into the right side of your body.

When ready to return, we're gonna pour the weight from the right hip to the left hip and close legs. We reach the right leg up, we open (exhales). We lift, pouring the weight back to the hips. Reach the left leg up to open the right, and then we pour the weight from the center back through the hips. Reach the right leg up, open the left.

Ideally our back is wide enough to maintain connection as we go through this. One more time over to the right, and then let's pour more weight into the right side as we bring the left leg on top of the right. Now in an ideal situation that left shoulder would still be on the ground because we're so wide on the right side. We're gonna stretch it back the way, and then we're gonna take up space as we reach the leg back up and pull the legs back together. Right leg reaches up (inhales) to open. (exhales) We reach on top, stretching to the side.

We lift the leg back to the ceiling to come up, and pour the weight back through the pelvis. One more variation. Left leg reaches up to open to the right. We bring the left leg on top and we roll the spine over making that right shoulder as wide as possible. From here we lift the arm up, to press open, way open, reach way out.

Lift the left leg back up and pour the weight back into the hips to come back. Right leg up to open, reach the leg all the way over. Feel the opposition, and then roll and make the left arm heavy. Reaching to open the chest way back to where it came from, reaching to open the leg and both legs come back to center. One more time.

Lifting up (inhales) to open. (exhales) Closing the legs taking up all that space to the right. Reaching the arm over, bringing the arm up(inhales) to go back. (exhales) lifting the leg, pouring the weight back into the hips. Last time. Right leg lifts up to go over. (exhales) Reaching all the way over beyond where you were last time. Roll onto the left shoulder.

Lift up to open. Press the side body and then pour the weight back into the back. And just bring your knees into your chest for a moment. And then we're gonna extend the legs nice and long. We're gonna go into just an old favorite, the roll up.

So take the arms up over head. We'll circle them around, curling up, connecting to the widths of each bone on your back. Hopefully it felt easier this time. And then from here, we're gonna roll back down. Nice and easy.

We're gonna lift the arms up, reach the arms back, and be in your high vee. And we'll take a little different intention with this one. Coming up in a back bend. So let's see if we can roll and widen the pelvis at the base. (hands squeaking across the floor) Lift the chest up, squeak the floor, and come back up.

Lifting up, (inhales) to roll forward. (exhales) Rolling down. (inhales and exhales) Lifting the arms up to go back. And then allowing the back and the chest to be wide to come up. One more time, up. (inhales) to go over (exhales) rolling down (inhales and exhales) bringing the arms up to go back, and then wide through the hips, wide through the chest to come all the way up. Alright, well come to the front. We're gonna do one more challenge to get our hips nice and wide.

And that is the hip perch. So from here, we're thinking about pouring weight down into what would be your left sit bone, my right, in order to make the opposite hip light, so there's kind of a scale affect. So we're gonna lean over, pressing down and lifting up. Now slow is not always easy, so if you need to use a little momentum, that's okay. Keep dropping weight.

Feel your glute, feel your hip wide. And then as you reach back through the opposite sits bone, we're using control of a wide back and a wide pelvis to settle back in. Hopefully not thumping down. Let's try it to the other side, shifting deep. (speaker vocalizes) Getting over, lifting up, and then slowly shifting back to center.

Ideal is control. Lifting up, feeling that hip wide on the floor. And coming back to a wide pelvis. Last time. Up and all the way down.

We'll close the legs up. Get into a nice small ball so we can feel maybe what it felt like when we first came in, first started. And then from here we're gonna reach the legs forward, and we're gonna open the legs out, and be wider than we think we can and open the chest up, and then gather the body in (exhales) and reach the arms up (inhales) and open out and be wider than we think we can, and gather in One more time. Lift the arms up, and open (exhales) and just pause for a moment. Allow your pelvis to be wide.

Allow your chest to be wide and the area that you're holding, the energy in your legs. We'll come back to center. And I hope that gave you a new experience with the terms big and wide.

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Wonderful session! I feel relaxed and rejuvenated at the same time. Would it be beneficial to add this to the end of almost any other pilates workout? Say, if I did a 45-5-60 min session, and felt like I needed some grounding and a stretch afterward, could I do this also?
Thank you !! :) Blessings to you.
1 person likes this.
Loved the metaphorical focus Miss Jenna- initially was looking for a short intense workout but this was what I was craving- thank you. Nancy
1 person likes this.
Oh thank you Jenna! That feeling of letting go and realizing there is more to let go than you think - feeling weight of the body and stretch. Just lovely. I love your classes so much! Thank you for being you and thank you to PA for having you!
1 person likes this.
Thank you, Jenna! I have spent most of my life trying to be smaller so this is a great class for me! Plus it feels great!
Jenna Zaffino
Thank you Amanda Lutz Bonnie Julia Nancy You can imagine that this was a vulnerable one for me to put out in a world of "long and lean muscles." I'm so glad you liked it and hope you will embrace your space over the weekend! xo
2 people like this.
This really helped me tonight to calm down and feel grounded and settled after a day of stress and anxiety - PhD deadline approaching ((
Both the movements and your kind and warm and wise words really did me so good. Thank you!!!
1 person likes this.
I have a hip and shoulder that "pop" when I move and they did at first but the further into the routine, the more they settled in to proper placement - voila - no more popping! Thank you...good stuff
1 person likes this.
Feeling so good!
1 person likes this.
That felt great! Thank you ❤️
1 person likes this.
Thanks you Jenna Zaffino this was amazing just what I needed and I'm just in the process of doing my Fletcher training and can really feel my hips opening so will be doing this more often to help me with the advance Floorwork 😊😊
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