Class #3123

Priming Mat Movements

50 min - Class


Learn about the texture of how you move in this Priming Mat warm up with James Crader. He teaches preparatory movements that will teach you how you relate to gravity. He also practices life skills by breaking down the paradigm about how it feels to move. Have fun!
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Jul 17, 2017
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Hey everyone, I'm James Crader, and welcome to my first-ever class on Pilates Anytime, I'm super excited to be here with a couple of friends, Gia and Anula, thank you both so much for coming today, I really, really appreciate it. So the first class we're gonna do today is a mat-based class and I wouldn't exactly call it traditional Pilates. We're gonna be doing a lot of priming, preparatory movements, maybe for your Pilates practice, or maybe it's its own thing. At my studio we call this a movement raw class. So you're gonna learn a lot about the texture of how you move and sort of how you relate to gravity, and probably learn some things to expect out of your movement patterns when you get to your official Pilates practice.

So, you ready ladies? Perfect, go ahead and lay all the way down. Great, so the first thing I want you to do is really easy. You're just gonna lie there, and you're just gonna close your eyes. And you're gonna take an inventory of your body.

And I want you to pay attention to things like what feels good, what feels bad, and what feels neutral, which tends to be the most difficult thing to feel. We gravitate towards what feels bad, then kinda what feels good, then what just feels neutral. And as you're lying there, begin to think about some things that maybe you'd like to shift over today's class. Maybe you wanna turn some of the bad stuff good, or some of the neutral stuff good, or just even just get to neutral or good, or experiment with what feels bad, how can I move that? Maybe better, or just move that in general.

So take a couple more breaths, and then begin to focus on your breath. I don't care how you inhale, and I don't care how you exhale. In fact, maybe just give it a moment and let the inhale invite itself in, and when it feels natural, exhale. And then begin to see if you can make the inhalation more expansive, and the exhalation more of a feeling of decompression. And maybe that inhalation becomes a three dimensional experience, where you feel your chest rise, you feel your kidneys sink, and you feel your rib cage expand.

And your exhale makes your lungs as small as you can make your lungs. Inhale, expand, exhale, decompress. And how does that experience relate to what felt good, what felt bad, and what felt neutral? Can I breathe into the areas that felt good or neutral and do I tend to not breathe into the areas that feel bad? Or how is that breath and that first initial awareness experiment, how are they inter-related?

And at home you could continue this for as long as you'd like, this is just the beginning meditation, a beginning awareness practice. But for today, see if you can begin to wiggle, maybe even your feet kind of go back and forth, maybe your shoulders wiggle. And really let it be wiggle, like if you were three years old and I asked you to wiggle, I want you to wiggle. My studio we call this floppy fish. So literally, make yourself floppy and wiggle.

What's moving on me and what isn't? And how does that relate to what felt good, what felt bad, what felt neutral? How does that shift if my breath becomes more expansive or decompressive, where am I willing to move, and where am I completely unwilling to move? Then just kinda wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, and most important I think is does it move through moments of chaos? And then, how can I get that back to a feeling of resonance?

Where maybe the feet and the shoulders, and the head and the spine are all moving together, or not. And then slowly let that wiggle (exhaling) quiet itself down, and just take another breath. And you have three inventories there, what felt bad, what felt good, what felt neutral? How was I able to breathe, how was I not? And what just moved, randomly, chaotically, resonately, and what didn't move?

'Cause we'll come back to that. Bring your knees into your chest, hold on to whatever you'd like, and then just rock to the right, and rock to the left. And that could be a spinal massage, it could be a rib massage, it could be anything you'd like. But I want you to pay attention to what is my experience with rocking? Do I commit fully to one side, is it small, is it big?

Where can I go? Could I commit to one side, I mean, could I literally just go to the right, and then all the way to the left? What moves on me, what doesn't, and how does that relate to what felt good, what felt bad, what felt neutral? And then if I held on somewhere different, how does that change the experience? Do I move my head?

Do I push with my arms? What's my experience with that? And when that's no longer interesting, find yourself in the center, and instead of rocking side to side, roll head to tail. And I want you to pretend you're like the worst Pilates student ever. It's not a rolling like a ball, it's literally my legs can flop, my head can do whatever, my shoulders and arms can just do whatever.

And then how does that shift if I asymmetrically use my arms, like maybe one hand is one place and one hand is the other place. And at any time, you can switch that. There's not a rule there, you're just literally rolling on the ground. And when that gets boring, stop doing that and go ahead and find yourself lying on your mat again. Good, now let's have the knees bent.

And if you want to get back on the mat properly, go ahead and adjust yourself there. Let the knees and the feet be more or less together, and then just drop your knees to the right, and drop your knees to the left. And allow that low body to just sort of rotate and move, side to side to side. Maybe one more on each side and then we're gonna move on. Next time your legs are in center, hold them there.

Reach your arms up towards the ceiling, interlace the fingers, and take a look at the palms of the hands. Then create a circle with the elbows. And that circle is now a wheel, and we're gonna let the wheel go to the right, and go to the left. And now we're inviting some upper body rotation. Maybe one more on each side.

How does this rotation compare to the low body? Does everything feel symmetrical, or is there a dissociation between how well I move my upper and lower? Just things to kind of consider. And then come back to your center. Good, the next one tends to be really, really difficult.

You're gonna let your knees drop to the right, and you're gonna let the wheel also then go to the right. So they're gonna go together, yep. And in order to get back, your legs are gonna go first, and that's gonna bring your arms back to center, and then your legs go to the other side. And what I want you to think about is maybe, to me, it should look like all of that's traveling at the same time. But to you, it should feel like your legs are just ever so slightly dragging your arms behind them.

And if that's not enough, maybe next time you're on that side, your arms go over your head and your legs start the movement to take you to the other side, and you find your arms over on that other side, good. And you keep going in that direction or switch directions, you're just sort of experimenting of how can that leg movement inform and influence the movement of the ribcage. It's just rotational experiments, it's just, it's not an exercise, it's just well what can I do and what can't I do, and how does that relate to what felt good, what felt bad, and what felt neutral? You know, if it felt bad, it's probably not gonna move well. If I didn't wiggle through my neck, I'm probably not gonna move my head.

If you've been going in one direction, reverse direction and we'll just do two more to kinda finish up there. And then you're gonna lie on your right side. And we're gonna let the knees be bent so that the heels are more or less in alignment with the tailbone, good. And what I want you to do here is practice sort of like a hip hike and a hip lower, but we're gonna think of it from tailbone, let your tailbone point to the right and point to the left. Good, and you'll notice because you're side-lying that my tailbone points to the floor and my tailbone points to the ceiling.

And as you get more and more finessed with that, notice what happens to the ribcage and the spine as you point your tail towards the floor. It kinda lengthens the ribcage, creates a little space in those low abs. You know every time we lie on the side and it's like, oh lift those ribs, lift those low abs, what if you now influenced the spine via the tailbone instead? Once your tail points mostly to the floor, hold there, and then experiment with what now happens if I tuck, and I untuck, and I tuck and I untuck. And neither one is the right place, right?

It's just a process, it's a process of moving through a posterior and anterior pelvic tilt, finding what feels best to you, where do my SI joints feel the most supported, my spine feels the most lengthened, my body feels like it's got the most space from brain to tail. Once you're there, hold. At this point, you may find it beneficial to move off of your mat, because sometimes the mats get sticky, and now we're gonna do some kinda funky weird movement. So if you just wanna move forward, you're going to go, okay, what if I tuck my tail, and that transforms me into the smallest shape imaginable. Maybe like a fetal position might be handy there.

And in that fetal small shape, could I be soft, could I be small? Then as I untuck my pelvis, could that inform me to go into my long shape? How robust and big and long can I be? Maybe my arms are straight, maybe my legs are straight, what's goin' on there, good. Tuck my pelvis, back to small.

Untuck my pelvis, back to big. Tuck, small. Untuck, big. Next time you're in big, stay big. What if now from my big shape, that became a toe touch, where both arms, both legs reach out in front of me, and I literally try to touch my toes out in front of me.

And then I go back to my big shape, and I go back to my toe touch. Good, if you find yourself a small shape 'cause it feels good, travel that route, doesn't really matter. What matters is that we have three shapes, we have a big shape, a small shape, and a toe touch. You're gonna choose one of those, doesn't matter to me. Choose the shape, use that shape to roll over to your other side.

So if you're big, you're gonna roll over big. If you're small, you're gonna roll over small, and if you're in toe touch, you're gonna roll over there. If you'd like to move off of your mat, we're gonna do the same thing a little quicker on this side. So once you're there you're gonna have your knees bent, heels in alignment with my tailbone, and I'm gonna rock my tail right and left. To the floor, to the ceiling.

So it's just my tailbone rock right now, floor, ceiling. Two more times, floor, ceiling. One more time, maybe ending with my tail more or less toward the floor, not just to do it but because that lengthens my spine. Tuck my tail underneath me, untuck my tail. And as I go through this, what I'm gonna notice is it's not just a tailbone tuck that's gonna do the movement, it's like because I tuck my tail, it brings my head towards me and I end up in a small shape.

And because I untuck my tail, it influences my head to go back and I end up in my biggest shape. It is the tailbone tuck that does that. We're working with head with tail connectivity, of how does my spine resonate with myself, and allow that to be a continuum of movement. It's not just shapes, although it could be just shapes. Next time you're big, stay big and go into your toe touch.

Good. Two more, toe touch, and one more, good. Now, stay big and for a moment just roll onto your mat, maybe so that your side-lying, back-lying on your mat. And then just roll onto one side, I don't care which side that one is, and we're gonna experiment. I've got three shapes, I've got a big shape, a small shape, and a toe touch shape.

Choose one, and use that to roll onto your other side. So, good, doesn't matter, you're not, here's the thing, you're not gonna do it wrong. Good, choose a different shape, yes, and go there. And roll, you're gonna get real silly in this class, it's about movement, it's about having fun, it's about breaking down the paradigms of what it feels like to move. I have a quote in my class, it's only silly to the ignorant.

Good, one more. And you're gonna find yourself back on your mat. Now's the time to get adjusted on your mat if you need. End back in your big shape, fun, right? So end back in your big shape and you could do another inventory there, what feels good, what feels bad, what feels neutral, blah, blah, blah.

Then you're gonna take your hands and put them on your chest. And take an inhale. Let your exhale decompress the lungs so that you feel your hands sink into your chest. Inhale, I feel my lungs expand underneath my hands, exhale, I feel my lungs shrink. It's like your hands have become sensory tools.

Then, could the decompression of the lungs lift my head and shoulders up? Exhale, decompress, and allow that to lift your head and your shoulders up. My inhale influences my spine to go back down. It's not two separate things, because I have exhaled, I lift, and because I am in the process of an inhalation, I lower back down. Let's do one more of those, because I exhale, I lift.

And through a process of inhalation, I travel back down. Now, take your hands and just move them down the center line to somewhere in the upper abdominal region. Somewhere, if you have the anatomical knowledge you know linea alba, it's that center line of the six pack. So, from there, inhale, can I feel that expand? Exhale, do I feel that contract?

I want you to pay attention to texture. What I notice is that too many times we either keep the abdominals super tight or there's no texture shift. It should be inhale, things get soft, exhale, things shift and become a little more contracted. Could I now let my exhalation and that portion of my center line influence my head and shoulders to lift? It should feel different than the first round, let's do one more of those.

And here's the thing, you can go up or down that center line a centimeter, a millimeter, an inch, whatever you'd like, and back down. For the sake of this class, you could be there as much as you'd like, and we'll revisit that in a reformer class later. But for now, we're gonna let this center line fingertip experiment go all the way down to lower than the belly button, higher than the pubic bone. We're gonna shift, we're done messin' with the head. We're gonna say take an inhale, does that expand?

Exhale, could that lift both legs together one inch off the mat, just an inch, more isn't more. Good, and back down. If the answer is yes, if that felt coordinated, place your hands down by the mat and see if you can do it again. What we're interested in is the center line and the breath lifting the legs, versus the legs lifting the low back. It should be a sensation that maybe my spine sinks and decompresses, good, and back down.

If you have that, take your inhale, exhale, head lifts, feet lift, inhalation takes me back down. If I can do that well, that becomes my hundred. Exhale I lift up, and I can go into whatever version of hundred I know to do, so let's just kinda play with that. We'll do maybe a few seconds of hundred. I don't, if it's this, if it's this, if it's flexed, if it's pointed, that's lineage, that's what you know to do.

I'm just helping you get there. And then rest, all the way down. Go into your big shape, so arms are gonna stretch. Keep your feet where they're at, take an exhale, decompress the lungs, come up and touch your feet. Feet stay down, you come up to touch them.

Stretch forward and beyond the feet, hang out there. Could you make it anything other than a shoulder exercise? I don't care where else does it, it's just not your shoulders. On the way down, traveling down, tail to head, vertebrae by vertebrae by vertebrae, all the way down. Then reach your arms over your head, we'll keep the hands there, could your feet now come up and visit your hands?

And on the way down, decompress, vertebrae by vertebrae by vertebrae, by vertebrae. Now it could stay that slow, that rhythmic, I could just gently come up, or there could be a little rhythm. (snapping) I come up, I touch my toes, I stretch forward, no shoulders, I roll back down. The second I'm down, my legs are already up and over. If you find it difficult there, just move your arms down by your side.

You know where your arms work best for you. Now, go back down, all the way, take your feet with you. When you come up, see if you can make that like a teaser shape. Good, and then lie back down into your big shape, all the way down, so we've come up to touch our toes, we've come up to touch our hands, let them meet in the middle for a teaser. Good, now hang out there.

Could I, when I roll down, instead of being on my back, roll down, lie on my right side, in my big shape, come up, teaser. Uh-huh, go back down, other side. Yes, come up, teaser. One more each side. By now, you're feeling that in the abs.

And back up, good, one more, all the way. Come up, teaser, lie all the way down, 'cause if that wasn't enough, you're gonna be in your big shape, you're gonna come back one last abdominal fun game. Take your feet over. Look at your shins, and I want you to push your hands into your shins, I don't want you to grab ahold, I want you to push, and I want you to push your shins into your hand. And now could I make it a rocking teaser?

So I'm gonna come up, can I be there, can I push, and then rock back down, good, just two more. And up, and back down. Good, one more, come up, can I stick it, can I stick it, can I stick it? And then lie down, big shape, all the way down. (exhaling deeply) Just take a breath there.

Good, arms can go wherever you're comfortable now, just kinda wiggle it out, (rapidly exhaling). Good, from there, bend your right knee, beautiful. Take your left arm out to the side, and your right hand's gonna rest on your chest or just somewhere that is comfortable for you to rest. This I think is probably one of the more difficult to process brain-wise, this is a sequential roll. So I'm gonna just cue it and then I'll get up and kinda do it too.

So, what we're gonna do, is push down on the right foot to lift the right hip, good, rolling yourself all the way over onto your side and side-lying. Ideally, this knee is gonna stay pointed up, and if we can get the hips to stay stacked. On the way down, what if your brain went back first? And then the shoulders went back, and then rib by rib, then maybe some kidneys, then maybe low back, then maybe pelvis, until you're all the way down. And they your gonna do it again.

I'm going to, good, yes, yes, yes, yes. Sequentially roll. Brain is gonna come back first, then I'm gonna go back down. We're gonna do two more of those, and whatever internal cue you're giving yourself, switch it. Switch it to being oceanic.

I want you to be an octopus, I want you to be a squid, I want you to think my bones are really just soft tissue. And as I move, there's not a hard thing in the way. I can literally undulate and roll all the way through that tissue. And you're gonna end up on your side and you're gonna stay on your side, and then at that point, you're going to take the top hand and you're going to grab ahold of the ankle. Good, now my knees are gonna be stacked, my head can be rested on a pillow, or I could prop it up, whatever feels good there, and I'm gonna make some little knees circles there, so my top knee makes a circle for two, and one, and then I'm gonna reverse it, for three, good, for two, and one.

Now, whatever I'm holding onto, I'm gonna keep holding onto as I lift that foot up towards the ceiling. And then yes, and then back down to that knee bend. Good, again, I'm gonna lift that all the way up and back down, and we have one more of those. I'm gonna lift it all the way up, and I'm gonna take it back down. And I'm still gonna hold onto it, because now I'm gonna roll onto my stomach, still holding onto that leg.

Could I keep that knee off the floor? Just a question, if you can, you can. Now, can I roll back onto that same side? Can I keep the knee off the floor? I know, I know, ridiculous, huh?

Again, can I keep that knee off the floor as I roll onto my belly? And can I resist the urge to use it as a kickstand when I come back up? I know, I know. One more, you're gonna learn real quick how those hip flexors and anterior leg work or don't work for ya. Lie on your side, you're gonna put that foot back where you found it, and you're gonna sequentially roll backwards (exhaling), head all the way down.

Straighten out both legs, other side. This side's gonna move just a little quicker. So my right arm is out to the side, my left arm just has to be outta the way. I'm gonna sequentially roll by pushing the foot down, rolling through the hip, through the low back spine, through the rib spine, and I'm just gonna keep moving. Head is gonna go back, ribs, all the way back.

Three more, I push down, vertebrae by vertebrae, and then right back. Let's just do one more of those. Push down, roll onto my side, grab ahold of my foot. I have three circles in each direction, so my knee makes a circle for three, and a two, and a one. And then it's gonna reverse, for three, and two, and one.

I'm gonna keep holding onto that foot, as I reach it up towards the ceiling. And then I'm gonna bring it back down. Two more, up, and down, good. One more, up, and back down. From there, can I now roll onto my belly, keeping the knee off the floor?

Back onto my side. Two more, I know, two more, two more of those. Again, it's just a movement we're not used to in the Pilates repertoire. There isn't a movement in the Pilates repertoire to prepare for this, but this certainly is preparing you for rocking, for single leg stretches. Good, this time you're gonna end up on your belly.

Good, and now you can adjust yourself onto your mat. 'Cause we're gonna have you just completely lying there. Good, both legs can be straight. Arms have two options, they can either be out to the letter T or they can be down by the hips, your choice. Forehead is just gonna rest as comfortably as you can rest into the floor.

And we're gonna experiment with some extension, or some back body movement. So, here's what I'd like you to experiment with, what if you thought of floating off the floor, fingertips and toes first. It's like my fingertips and toes lift, that invites my arms to lift, that invites my shoulders to lift, that invites my brain and my tail to lift. And on the way back down I can take whatever route feels best, all the way back down. We're gonna do two more like that.

It's not about the lift, I don't care how high or how low, it's about where I lift from. It is my fingernails and my toenails that inspire everything else to lift, and maybe that also helps me come back down. How does my extension stack up against what felt good, what felt bad, what felt neutral? Against what could wiggle, where I could breathe? How 'bout the kidneys, was I able to breathe into the kidneys, and if not, how's that effecting my extension, am I compressed down there somewhere?

And all the way down. And then we're gonna switch the cue. We're gonna do the same movement, but I want you to think of yourself as a puddle or a pond, still body of water. And someone drops a marble into that, and envision the ripples that would come off that marble. So somewhere along your spine someone has dropped a marble, and from your spine, you begin to lift where your fingers and your toes are the very last thing to levitate up, and then you get to float back down.

Let's do one more of those. So from my inside, I now get to levitate up, and I get to float back down. Same movement, two different experiences. I want you to choose which one felt best, which one felt like it needed the most work, which one brought the most to the party without you having to think, squeeze. Then, lift back up into your extension, as high as feels good for you, pause there, and let the arms and the legs begin to explore.

Could one reach forward, one reach out? Could the legs move? And when your spine, head to tail, feels stable there, I want the legs to go more quiet. They can be wherever they'd like, but I want the arms to begin to reach out in front of you. Do my arms feel connected into my body, or does it feel like there's a shoulder joint and then there two heavy things?

Could I find a way to connect my arms into the trunk of the body? And then they're just gonna move wherever they are comfortable, and you're gonna come all the way down, and you're gonna rest. From there, the next movement is my favorite. In fact, in my studio we call this, my favorite exercise. So, from there, you're gonna take and put your hands underneath your armpits, with the elbows in relatively tight.

Toes are going to tuck. Knees are gonna be on the mat. Pelvis is on the mat, nose is on the mat, everything's rested on the mat. From there just take a moment and breathe. And I'm curious, if without making it a pushup, could I lift all of my ribs one centimeter off the mat?

Just my ribcage, not my pelvis, not my knees, not my nose, all the way down. So, here's where we're gonna go with this. Could I keep everything down and just lift my ribs without it being a push? So, it's can I get that ribcage to move, and then back down? Good, do one more of those.

Can I get, can I get those knees down, thank you. And get the ribs to move, and back down, good. And this'll come in later. Now, instead of my ribs, could I retract my face from the floor? So it's just my nose coming off and back down.

I think of this as, what if all of the sudden the floor stunk? Somethin' nasty down there, you wouldn't put your chin into the floor, you'd pull your face away. To you this may feel as if the back of the neck lengthens, the front of the throat contracts, and then back down. So we have a nose, and we have ribs. They're gonna stay down.

What if now your heels reached further back than your toes? And notice how that lifts your knees. And then let your knees rest. This is sorta like a revers drawbridge. It's like because my heels reach, my kneecaps lift, and back down.

Now, could I find a way to make that more back of the leg activity instead of my kneecaps squeezing? And once I feel the back of the legs active, can I now lift my pelvis off the floor, without my ribs or my nose moving? This is pelvis off the floor, and back down. So, there's only three there. That whole knee pelvis thing, that's one thing.

So when I say pelvis off the floor, that is your knees reaching, back of the legs connecting into your low abs, and then back down. So, let's play, can I lift my ribs off the floor? And put 'em back down. Can I lift my nose off the floor? And back down.

Can I lift my pelvis off the floor, that's legs. And back down. Could I lift my ribs off the floor and my nose off the floor? Just a centimeter, maybe an inch at most, and back down. Could I lift my pelvis off the floor, and my ribs off the floor, and my nose off the floor?

And if I can, can I use my feet to push me forward, and my hands to push me back. It's like a little crocodile move, it's like (swooshing), forward, back, forward, back. Where's my weak link and how did that stuck up to what I felt earlier in class? And I'm gonna take a moment and rest. (exhaling deeply) From there, I just want you to jiggle. So, wiggling is kinda side to side, jiggle is forward and back.

So you're gonna use your feet to jiggle you, head to toe, head to toe, head to toe, head to toe, head to toe, head to toe. What jiggles and what doesn't? How does that stack up against everything else? And then you're gonna rest. From there you're gonna take both hands behind your back.

You're gonna have one hand grab ahold of the other, and you're gonna slide your hands up towards your shoulder blade, bra-line area, as far you can go, as long as you can get your elbows closer to the floor. From there, all you're gonna do is slide your hands down your back, towards your tail, to invite your head and your shoulders to lift, and you're gonna take a look in front of you. You're gonna turn your head in one direction, and you're gonna let your hands caress your tailbone, your sacrum, all the way up your spine as you go back down. Next time your hands give your spine a massage, you're gonna lift up yet again, and when you wanna come out of it, you're gonna turn your head the other way. And you're gonna go back down.

You could turn this into a Pilates exercise at any moment you'd like by lifting up. Am I still relaxed in my low back, I just gave it a massage. And when I go back down, you could add the leg kicks in or not, I don't care. One more of those, lifting up, (exhaling) and all the way back down. Beautiful, put your hands underneath your shoulders, come up to a hands and knees position, and then I just want you from that shape to just reach your legs out in front of you.

Good, let's even have you two face each other there. And we're gonna bring the soles of the feet together, and then you're just gonna rock, and rock, and rock. And what I want you to notice is, do I keep my head still as I rock? Or do I train my vestibular system to actually interpret movement, can I get my head to rock? And rock, and rock.

And then find your center, both sits bones. From there, pick a foot, and you're gonna pick your foot up and you're literally gonna start inspecting it as if you've stepped on a shard of glass, as if there is a torn in there. And it's not an exercise, it's not oh yeah, I'm suppose to go here with this. It's literally like, what is on the bottom of my foot? You might even wanna pick it up and kind of inspect, or bring it to the side, you're just moving.

You're moving in this fashion so that for the rest of your life you can inspect the bottom of your foot, that's what it's about. It's not about, yes you're getting hip mobility, you're getting knee movement, you're stretching muscle, but you are literally just practicing looking at the bottom of your foot for the rest of your life. And when that gets boring, do the other side. Good. It's about practicing life skills, and how those movements can enhance the life skills.

Good, maybe just one more. I'm curious, what happens if you literally take that to the side, what do you learn about your foot and your hip joint over there? Good, could you get more over there? And can you really see the inside of your arch if you do that? And if not, like maybe that's somethin' I need to work on.

No, no, I can't. (laughing) And then bring the soles of the feet back together and see if that has shifted your rocking experience. Maybe the hips feel more open, maybe they don't. Either way is fine, you just kinda learn something about yourself. And then reach both legs out in front of you, open them up to mat distance, open your arms out to the side and forget you're a Pilates instructor and just twirl. Literally, twirl, twirl in a way that invites the hip to lift, and lift, and lift, and start making conclusions, it's like okay, well that right leg didn't lift as much, or I couldn't get it over here, so now that I'm doing this, it's probably not moving as much, so when I go to move later in my Pilates practice, maybe it's not gonna move as well.

Now, keep the pelvis still, and what if your low back did the spin? And then what if your rib spine did the spin? And what if your shoulders did the spin? Where do I need to practice spinning from as I go down into my saw? I twist, I go down to touch, and I'm back up.

And this can take whatever shape of saw you know to do. I don't care if I go down and pulse, I don't care if the conversation of my knee is heard by my ear, if the back hand is up or dawn, that's up to you. What we're experimenting with is, what movement patterns does my body do or don't do, and how's that influencing my Pilates practice? And how can I better prime myself? And how can I become more aware of what's going on?

One more to each side. Good. Then you're going to lie on your right side. Side-lying, head to tail as long as it can be. You can use your arms as a prop, whatever it is.

Keep your lungs stacked, keep your shoulders stacked, keep your ears stacked, and then let the top hip roll back and forth. Top hip gets to roll, ribs do not. Can I move that, can I get that dissociation there? And if I can, let gravity pull my hip backwards, and then could I use some abdominal to escort the top hip forward? Good, so you have so far two variations, just move, abs do the work, or could the abs invite the pelvis so far forward, and I'm gonna pause where my abs feel the most intrigued and invested in that side-lying.

Is my tail still pointed more or less toward the floor? So I've already built the building blocks of how to be in side-lying. I'm gonna be in my side-lying, and then I'm gonna lift my top leg as high as I can lift it, keeping my abs invested and interested, and back down. I'm curious, if your abs could really be invested in that, and now how high can I go, keeping those abs invested. And then back down, and up.

Now we all get stuck, right? So if you're inclined to point your foot, what happens if you flex, what if you flex and then maybe you switch it to a point? Maybe you sickle your foot, maybe you collapse your arch, I don't care what it is. You're just looking for things that you don't typically do. One more of those, lift it up to your highest, most difficult area, maybe that's not your highest, maybe your difficult is down low.

Do three circles in one direction, and then three circles in the other direction, bring both legs together, roll onto your belly to get to your other side. Experiment there. This side's gonna go just a little quicker. I'm gonna let the top hip move forward and back, I'm going to invite the abs to influence the pelvis. Once I reach the point where I am most intrigued and invested throughout my entire body, I'm gonna pause.

I'm gonna lift that leg up as high as the abs can do it, and then back down, two more. I'm gonna lift it up, and I'm gonna go back down. What if I just switched my foot a little bit, and I lift up, and then I do my circles wherever on that spectrum of up and down I need to do 'em today. Maybe it shifts, Monday through Friday. Once I've done six circles, three in one direction, three in the other direction, you're gonna end up back on your belly one more time.

You're gonna put your hands underneath your armpits, you're gonna pull your nose off the floor, your ribs off the floor, and you're gonna come up to a hands and knees position. Once you're in your hands and knees position, just explore some cat cow for a moment. What is moving well, what isn't? Do I just approach it from one way, maybe each time, there's that one ab, what would it feel like if to me it continued to look like cat cow, but to you it felt like hip movement? Or maybe it was shoulder movement, or maybe your hands push, or maybe you knees push.

Just switch where the action is coming from. And then, use your cat to come up on to just knees. Good, so knees'll, I'm sorry, knees will stay down and you're gonna come up to just like a high kneeling. Good, take your right hand behind your back, good, and once it's there, what happens if I flip my palm around, and then flip it back around? So maybe I go from palm to back, to back of the hand to back.

And then what if I started to explore how high could I take that, how low could I take that? And can that get some shoulder movement? One more of those. And now let's do the other side real quick. Which side feels grimy and congested, which side feels good?

How does that relate to everything I've learned about my body so far? Good, and then end with your arms out in the letter T. Beautiful, from there I'm gonna weight-shift to my right knee, maybe so much that my left knee just barely lifts. And then other side, barely lift. Do I let my head go with me, or do I keep my head centered?

I know because it's probably exactly what I did with the seating experiment. And if that feels good, could I use that to make a connection with the ground? Could I go over so that my one hand ends on the floor and that opposite knee ends up? Extend the leg, flex or point the foot, it's your choice, and kick the leg forward, and kick the leg back. Now I could stay there, or as I kick it forward I could go forward and toe touch it, and then come open and take an inhale, and forward to toe touch, and open back up.

One more to toe touch, and open back up. Bend that knee, use gravity to help you get back up, and let's do the other side. We're goin' down, I'm gonna straighten out the leg, it is a kick, and a back, and a kick, and a back. If I want, I can toe touch. I know what this side's gonna feel like compared to the other, 'cause I've already done side-lying toe touches, I did them at the beginning of my class, so I know what my two sides feel like.

End with that knee bent, come back up onto my knees, reach my arms out in front of me, transform back into a cat, hey train. A little cat cow, how does it feel now? And then, tuck your toes. Good, could I pull my nose off the floor? Could I pull my ribs off the floor?

That's what those cues are about. Now, can I use the pelvis to hover my knees off of the floor? From there, can my feet push me forward, and my hands push me back, a little Kathy Grant moment. Now maybe it's a whole body movement, forward and back. What can I anticipate from what felt good, what felt bad, what felt indifferent?

And how's that influencing my movement now? If that feels good, could I keep moving forward and back, but come up into a pike position? I don't want a plank, I want it piked, but my hands and my feet moving me forward and back. How are those shoulders influencing that? And then transform back down into your cat shape.

This time we're gonna go neutrally-spined, that's nose off the floor, ribs off the floor, pelvis wide. And we're gonna now lift the feet off the floor. This is a little different than Kathy's cat pushups, where her feet were down. We're gonna lift, and I want you to take a look out in front of you, and as you go down, elbows are gonna pull backwards as you take your nose forward, not letting it fall into the stinky floor. And back up, good.

So can I keep that 90 degree angle in my hip joint? Uh-huh, and pull my ribs off the floor. And now go down here, super, super difficult. Just two more, it's like really tight in there. Beautiful, set the feet down.

Flex the feet, and step back into your plank shape. Could you bring your hands more underneath your armpits rather than out in front of your shoulders? Could the thumbs and the index fingers look a little more towards one another? And that little pinky that always likes to act as a kickstand, could it come more to center line? Yep, from there, nose off the floor, ribs off the floor, back of the legs, pelvis all working together.

And then, can my body weight send itself forward and back, so it's that same hand to toe movement. And if I have that, how 'bout I lift a right leg? And do that, I don't know, it kinda looks familiar. And then set that foot down, and other side. Thinking back to how I could breathe expansively, and decompressively.

Set both feet down, and I can either continue to do that, or maybe try to knock out three or four pushups. If you got more in you, do more in you. One more, beautiful. Pike up, walk your, let's do hands to feet. It doesn't really matter, good.

And then from there, walk, actually just roll up. This is, good. For the sake of videoing, let's have both of you go to the other edges of your mat and look inward there. And I want you to go down into your squat. Not the squat that you think you have to go down into, but the squat you would go down into if you were on the beach.

Good, and here's what I want you to explore. Often in squats, I don't even, yes I do ultimately care what's going on down there, but what I'm more concerned with is people will often go here with their squat. What if you had to get some authority in the spine? So if the squat actually had to be a back line activity, versus an abdominal activity. From there, could I use the back line of my body to come up to stand?

On the way down, can I keep authority and go back down into my squat? Two more like that. Good, one more, this time, before you come up into your stand, see if you can use more of your full foot. So it's like my heal has to be down before I stand up. Let's do one more of those.

Go down into your squat, back line authority, come on feet, work for me. Good, then let's transform that into a Pilates squat. Take you hands behind your head, bring your heals together, toes apart, if you wanna be on your mat, great, if you wanna move off of your mat, that's cool too. From there, could I now, before I even move into that, pull my nose off the floor, pull my ribs off the floor, get the pelvis off the floor, that's back of the legs to abs, gingerly lift my heals and go down into my Pilates squat. Pull your nose off the floor, pull your ribs off the floor, pull your nose off the floor, pull your ribs off the floor, when you come back up, full foot.

Full foot, foot, there it is, good, two more. I go down, and I come back up. One more, I know my shoulders and how they feel. I know my hips and how they feel. I know what's difficult for me to do, and I'm gonna come back up, and I'm gonna move my arms down to my side.

I'm gonna parallel my feet, and then I'm just gonna jiggle, and I'm gonna add in a wiggle, and I'm gonna add in some rotations, and finally we're rebounding, so we're just moving. I know, imagine you're three, and I gave you that exercise. There you go, yeah get silly with it. Then from there take a walk across your mat in a rebounding fashion. Again, it's only silly to the ignorant, and if you don't know rebound, and then walk backwards with that, rebounding is the best movement you can do for your fascia.

It's just, it's reactive, it's just moving. And then what if you got so inspired that you literally just started jumping with that, and jumping and walking, and jumping and moving, and jumping and moving, and jumping and moving, and then everything quieted down. (exhaling deeply) And you got to take an inhale, and you got to take an exhale. And you thought, what feels good, what feels bad, what feels neutral, what's my breath like? And here's the key, right, we're always considering, we're always anticipating that everything is gonna get better from a movement practice.

And sometimes it just doesn't, right, like sometimes you overuse that one wonky area. So it's okay if it feels bad, because you just learned something new about yourself. So, final inventory, inhale, exhale, what did I learn, and what can I continue into my practice? Thank you ladies so much, I really appreciate it. Thank you at home for watching, and I can't wait for you to join me for more classes.


I have lots of good stuff to say about this class. I felt a bit of Brent Anderson, a bit of Tom McCook...and some Philip Beach..and active aging! Which is where I am. The rebounding at the end clinched it for me...that I have some grief trapped in my body. So much I hold in my muscles and fascia. I also felt some real sadness over my limited mobility, STILL in my ankles and wrists, from a couple of injuries that happened over a year ago. Important information. James, your teaching style is authoritative and friendly and challenging and gentle. Really liked spending some time with you. Thanks again PA! You really rock my world!
Wow!! I can't say Thank You enough for watching my video, taking the time to leave such an honest and vulnerable heart felt comment, and the amazing comparisons (some of my favorite Men of Movement)! It sounds as if you're body is exactly where it needs to be and I'm grateful to be a part of your caretaking process, friend! You've made my day! Martha "Mars" Hart
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James that was a wonderful exploratory movement class. ..learned heaps about how I move and felt relaxed and juicy in my body afterwards ☺
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👍👍 Vicky That's exactly what it's about ... exploring and learning about how your body moves and feels ... and (hopefully) ending up a lil' juicier! Thank you for watching and commenting, friend.
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I loved the way you conducted the class, very interesting, fun yet challenging. I hope to see more videos and maybe reformer classes in the future.
Hi Helen! I'm so glad you enjoyed the class ... thank you for taking the time to comment. You're in luck - I believe my Reformer class comes out next week. It's very different from this style (more easily Pilates identified) but the two classes are designed to coexist beautifully.
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Yum! My modern dancer body thanks you immensely! I geek out on this stuff, so important!
Thank You Stacy!! I appreciate the support.
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Sorry don't get it
Hi xeres! That's the great thing about websites and online libraries like this ... there's so much material for you to choose from that you have access to stuff you really love and "get," and then there's stuff like this that challenges your paradigms and leaves you with ???

Thanks for watching and sharing your thoughts, friend. If you're interested in exploring some of the theories behind the class check out: Bartinieff Technique / Katy Bowman / Continuum Movement / MovNat / and current research on Fascia.
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