Class #3312

Functional Mat Practice

50 min - Class


You will create an active mind/body connection with this Mat workout by Tom McCook. He focuses on increasing function for something we do all the time - walking. He goes over what the joints are designed to do in basic terms and then practices loading the muscles related to gait while standing. By the time you get down to the Mat, your body will already move in a more functional way.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hi everybody, I'm Tom McCook, back here at Pilates Anytime. Very happy to be back. This is a mat class and the focus of this class is to increase function, based on what we do all the time, which is walk. And we're gonna go through what the joints are designed to do in simple terms in all three planes and then practice loading the muscles, in standing, that are related to gait so you can make your body a little more functional before you come down onto the mat and then we'll apply these spinal awarenesses to what we do when we come down. So we're gonna start with just noticing what we're doing.

So the first thing I'd like you guys to do is just stand with your feet under your sit bones and just take a moment to just close your eyes and without any corrections, just take a moment to notice your weight bearing on your feet. Front to back. Left to right. Inside to outside. And as you're noticing, just start to notice like you're looking down from the ceiling at your feet, the imprints your feet are making on the mat.

And when you get a sense of that, when you get a picture of, oh, I'm noticing how my feet are imprinting, open your eyes. And just remember that when we come back to the end so when you heighten your awareness, your body starts to feel what it's doing, then your body can start to create other choices and that's what we're trying to do. So now we're going to bring up our right arm and we're going to tap. And we're going to tap all sides of the arm. Tapping is a great tool to heighten your proprioception, which is a big word that means to know where you are in space.

It's also related to position, effort. All that is related to proprioception. And it's free and it feels good. I'll take it. Now across your ribcage to the other side.

Tap, tap, tap. It goes very well in the afternoon with a latte. (laughter) Good combo. Very nice. Now tap your abdominal wall.

So we want our brain body connection to be alive and active. Now right around the bottom of your ribcage is where your kidneys are. I'd like you to tap your kidney area and make a little noise to vibrate them. (humming) Now we're going to wake up our butt 'cause our butt tends to get sleepy from sitting on it too much. So as you tap your butt, I want you to hinge and come back up.

And then tap your neighbor's butt. No, just kidding. (laughter) That's it. There you go. Tap all around your hip muscles.

Now tap down the outside of your legs, up the front of your legs, down the back of your legs, up your inseams. One more time. Outer. Front. Back.

Inseams. And then tap your head. Waking up that gray matter. Looking forward to our movement experience. Ah.

And just shake out your limbs. Now we're going to go into the movements of the spine and the whole body from the ground up. First the sagittal plane, which is this plane. From a side view it would be anything I do this way, this way, this is all sagittal. This is sagittal.

So everybody take your hands like this and visualize this is you're holding your pelvis. So what you're gonna do is you're gonna tip your pubic bone down the front by anteriorly tipping your pelvis forward. Now posteriorly tip your pelvis. And as you do that really slowly with your body imagine your pelvis, the back of your ribcage, and your head are still close to an imaginary wall so you're not shifting back and forth. You're just tipping on top of your legs.

Now start to notice when you tip forward, is it possible to relax your lower back, opposed to pulling up on it. Let the pubic bone get heavy down the front. And as you tip it back, start to notice that the sit bones narrow. Now tip it forward and hold it there for a moment. Now notice when you tip it forward, if you let the weight roll a little more to your big toe and the inside of your feet, the feet will pronate and it kinda makes the movement a little easier.

And as you go back, as you tip it back, notice if you let the weight rock to your lateral heel that the arch lifts and that makes it a little easier. So, what we're feeling is that pronation goes with an anterior tip, supination goes with a posterior tip. And they kinda go together. Now we're gonna work our way up the chain. So as you go into an anterior tip, the general rule is, I want you to put your hand on your abdomen and one on your chest.

The general rule is, in gait, your lumbar and your thoracic spine do the same thing at the same time. Your neck does the opposite. See that? So we're gonna feel that. So as you tip your pelvis anterior, touch around your pubic bone level, now lengthen up the front of your spine to the top of your breastbone, then up the back of your neck.

So that's extension, lumbar, thoracic, flexion in the neck. Now the reverse. Draw the pubic bone and breastbone towards one another, posterior tip, but keep your eyes on the horizon so the neck will extend. And again, tip it forward, anterior so feel the lengthening up the front, up the back of the neck, and posterior. Now we're going to include the shoulder girdle so tip it forward, go up the front, up the back of the neck, notice the shoulder girdle naturally wants to come back.

Let it come back. Let your arms lengthen and externally rotate the arms. Now posteriorly tip. This time as you posteriorly tip, touch your front ribs and let the ribs come back so you feel a little more lumbar flexion. 'Cause if you can tuck your pelvis in and out, I can, and not too much of my lower back.

Now protract and internally rotate. Feel the supination of your feet. Keep your eyes right up on the horizon. Anteriorly tip. Go up the front, up the back of the neck, retract, feel the length of your abdominal wall.

Now posterior. Shoulders forward. We're just gonna do that one more time. Anteriorly tip. Go for a fluid motion up the front, up the back of the neck.

Retract. Posteriorly tip. Ribs go back. Shoulders protract. Eyes on the horizon.

And then rest for a moment and notice how just that feels quite lovely. Now we're going to go into the frontal plane, which is this way. Swing. Now in the frontal plane, you have two options. The first one is, if you imagine you had a skewer through your belly button, that would be the axis.

And if I take my hips way over here, that's called off-axis 'cause I took the axis with me. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna shift our hips to the left, but keep your eyes on the horizon. And shift to where you're feeling like you're challenging that outer border of your foot and the other foot's becoming seriously unweighted. And then come back and shift to the other side. And notice, you're letting your head counter cause your neck does the opposite.

And, as best you can, relax your shoulder girdle. Now this time, go over to the first side. Shift to where you're feeling that mild stretch. Now we're loading our hip. Take the same side arm up overhead.

Now from the outer border of the arm, not from around the neck, reach up and just keep shifting. Take the other arm forward with the palm up. Now reach up, shift out, and pull forward. Level the eyes with the horizon. Take a breath.

Slowly come back. Shift to the second side. Shift, eyes level, arm goes up. Now pull it up, feel the lateral shift, pull the other arm forward. Feel the tissue stretching on that outside.

You're loading it. Reach and take a breath. And back. Now we're going to go into what's called on-axis. So for on-axis, imagine my belly button stays in the middle, and as I bend my right knee, my left hip lifts.

Little samba party. And just do that a few times. Just feel, okay, now I'm moving in the frontal plane by my hips hiking and dropping. And that's affecting your lower back. Now notice something.

Just bend one and hold it there. So on the bending side your foot is pronating more. On the straightening side the foot is supinating. Now notice, remember when I mentioned lumbar, thoracic, same thing at the same time? So your side bending towards the high hip and let your ribcage come towards it but your head's the opposite.

And now go the other way. That's it. Ribcage, pelvis towards one another on the high hip side. Head's opposite. And go back and forth, nice and slow.

This plane, I found, can be a little foreign at first 'cause we're not used to moving in this plane as much. Really good idea to introduce this back into your body. Help your gait pattern, your lower back, your posture. And you can put on a little music, too. And now back to the center.

Now we're going to do the transverse plane. The last one. And the transverse plane, the challenge when we do rotation, we all tend to initiate the rotation from up here. I want you to initiate the rotation from your feet, but leave the big toe ball, the little toe ball, and the center of your heel on the floor even though the feet are gonna change shape. So when you turn to your right, let both ankles turn to the right and let the left knee bend a little bit.

And then come back. Now as you turn to the left, bend the right knee and let the ankles turn, let the hips turn, fully straighten your left leg, let the spine turn and look back over your shoulder. Just take it nice and slow. You're feeling all the joints in the chain are moving. All the way up the chain.

That feels kinda lovely, doesn't it? And again we'll turn. Imagine on the side you're turning toward, your big toe ball of your foot is being sucked into the floor, even though your arch is lifting away from the floor. Toes are relaxed. Not gripping with the toes.

That's it. One more. And back to the center. Very nice. Notice posture, standing, feels kinda lovely after that.

Now we're gonna go into loading our butt. So your butt muscle, we tend... Our strategies for strengthening it have a lot of lying down doing bridging, footwork, all's good, but what I've learned about muscles is, muscles need to lengthen before they can shorten under load in what we do most of the time, which is relate to gravity. So what we're gonna do is, I'm gonna face this way so you guys can do it with me, and just step your right foot forward and have the lunge be smaller than you're used to. So, only maybe a foot distance between your two feet, front to back.

Then have about a six inch gap, left to right, so you feel stable. Now put your hands on your pelvis and with your head over your pelvis just shift the pelvis a little bit forward without your head leaning forward so you start to feel your butt on the front leg. Can you guys feel that? You wanna feel like you're loading this one by getting on top of the leg. Now what we're gonna do is, from there we're gonna anteriorly tip the pelvis.

We're gonna tip the pelvis over the leg to load the muscle that's lengthening. And then come right back up. And again, first shift forward to load. Now keep the load, let it stretch and lengthen under load. And then come back up.

Now we'll add the breathing. So we'll shift and hinge. That's it. One more. Shift.

It's gonna get more exciting in a moment. It's pretty exciting, no? And then come up. So now we're gonna add a second plane. So the second plane would be you'll shift, now I'm going to let my pelvis rotate a little bit back to the left 'cause that happens when you're walking.

You're still upright but let your right hip hike a little bit and let the knee come in into adduction. Now keep all that. Keep your shoulders square and now hinge over. You're gonna feel even more glute on that front leg. And then come right back up.

So first it's a shift, it's a hike, pelvis is rotating a little back to your left, shoulders square to the front, hinge over. Now we're gonna include the final plane, which is the rotational plane. So we'll shift, let the hip hike, let the knee come in, now as you tip over reach your left arm across to add a rotational torque. And load. And come right back up.

We're gonna do two more. Shift, hike, adduct, tip, reach. Now you just do it all on your own. I'm not going to say anything. Just do it.

There you go. The other arm. There ya go. Here ya go. It's all good.

That's it. Last one. Now reach across with your... There ya go. And then come right back up.

Nice, you guys. That's waking it up, huh? So shift sides. I'll come this way. So now, again, first thing, make sure your gap is small.

So just in general, you guys, whenever you're doing... Whenever your legs are in this position, the hips are not designed to be square. The pelvis is turning a little bit to the back leg side. That's happening when you walk. So you don't need to keep everything square 'cause that will actually inhibit your muscles from firing correctly.

So let it rotate. Now shift the pelvis forward. Now feel like you're starting to feel your glute. Let the pelvis tip a little anterior. That's gonna let your glutes lengthen.

Now tip over the leg while you're loading that front leg as much as you can. Then come right back up. And again, shift, tip, and hinge. And breathe your way all the way through it. As you're going into this, the foot is pronating.

So let the foot spread. Let the toes be long. There we go. Now we'll add. So you'll do the same shift.

Let the hip hike on that front knee side. Let the knee come in slightly. Now tip over it again. Keep tipping. Stay square with your shoulders to the front.

That's it. Resist the temptation to round your back. Stick your butt out. That's it. There we go.

Nice, you guys. Smooth breathing. Now let's add the rotation. Shift, hike, adduct, tip, and then reach across with the back side arm. That's it.

And come right back up. Nice and smooth. Do the shoulders rotate in? They do, they do. She was asking does the shoulder rotate.

They do when you add that torso rotation. So you're gonna turn the torso towards the front side, but the pelvis is still attempting to turn the other way. That's it. Then you get that counter twist that wakes up your muscles a little more. Just do two more.

Nice and smooth. Your lower back and your butt will be very happy about this. One more. There ya go. Awesome, everybody.

I feel it. You're feeling it, huh? Alright, now switch your legs. Now we're going to go into a stretch for the hip flexors. So when you switch your legs, have the gap between your legs be really small again front to back, maybe like a foot, foot and a half, and about six inches, left to right.

Now put your hands on your pelvis for a moment. Now bring your awareness to your back foot. Think of your little toe ball of your back foot and your big toe ball are on the floor, even if the heel is lifted a little bit. You don't want to go into high heel 'cause you'll lose your little toe. Now keep those two and just practice with your head right above your pelvis, completely straighten your back leg.

Straighten the knee. Now keep the knee straight and on the exhale, I want you to posteriorly tip your pelvis. Draw the pubic bone towards the belly button. Really small but it's pretty alive. Then let it go.

And again. And if you feel like you can't keep your back knee straight, step your foot a little closer. So the movement is here, straight back knee, the little toe side of the foot stays down, the leg stays straight. Now posteriorly tip. Pretty small.

And release it. Do three more. Helpful to use your exhale on that 'cause then you can follow the belly in. That's it. And again.

You should feel even your adductor. Hip flexors, adductors. This is what this is for. Last one. Let's put a little spring in your swing of your leg.

Now we'll take side two. Nice work, everybody. That's a little bit of love, huh? (laughter) So you've got this small. So think of what you're really trying to do is be loaded, opposed to unloaded.

The more upright you are, you'll feel the load. Now just shift your pelvis a little bit forward so you'll feel the load, and with your back foot let the heel lift, but don't lose the little toe or the big toe sides of the foot. So the foot is actually moving into supination on that back foot. Now straighten the back knee. Even just doing that you might already feel the stretch.

Now on the exhale, posteriorly tip the pelvis. And then let it go. And let it be really small and concentrated so you feel your glute turn on on the back leg, your abdominal wall, you feel that tissue in the inner thigh and the hip flexor being loaded. That's it. Do two more.

And one more, everybody. Very nice. Now we're going to do hamstrings. Shake that out. So for hamstrings, take your right foot forward, maybe about six inches in front of the other leg.

Really small. Now, be nice and upright. Lift your forefoot off the floor and feel more of your lateral heel. So, you're gonna do what's called inversion, where you're gonna draw the inner edge of the foot up more. So now you're actually in supination.

And that's part of where you want to strike your heel when you walk. You want to feel that lateral heel come in contact with the floor which promotes your foot doing the right thing in the gait cycle. So you'll lift, now from your pelvis, posteriorly tip, take your ribs back, and as you bend the back knee shift back and reach for your foot, and come back up. And that's just working on the basic mechanics. Then I'll add something in a moment.

So again, foot, pelvis, ribs, shift and reach. Now, see, is when you go into it, if you can put more weight into the front foot. So foot, pelvis, ribs. Now load the front here as you go back and you're gonna feel more of the stretch and the loading of the muscles. And come back up.

We'll do one more before we add a rotation. So foot, pelvis, ribs, load the leg. Nice. And because the hamstring's attached on different sides of the knee and pelvis, we're gonna add a little side to side. So this next time, you'll lift the foot, pelvis, as you shift, reach for the outside of the foot.

And come back up. Still loading, as best you can, the leg through the going down, staying with that lumbar flexion. And again, foot, pelvis, ribs. One more time, nice and smooth. Foot, pelvis, ribs.

Now let's do three where we reach for the inside of the foot. Foot, pelvis, ribs. That's a little more lively. And again, foot, pelvis, ribs. And you can even let that load, let that hip shift out a little more towards the heel that you're weight bearing on.

Let this be a little more of a lateral movement where you get that tissue to feel it a little more. That's it. One more. Foot... I'm a bad counter.

Sorry about that. (laughter) And we'll come on up. And we'll change sides. Very nice. So side two.

So first thing is foot. Feel the lateral heel so the foot is doing what's called inversion. Posteriorly tip the pelvis. Flex your lumbar and reach. And then come up.

And again, foot, pelvis, ribs, add your exhale. And now add, as best you can, putting more load into the front leg. All the way through the stretch cycle. Two more. Take it nice and slow.

And don't worry if you get all the way down here. Focus, can I flex my lower back using my abdominal wall. Then you'll feel like, oh, there's a relationship here between the front and the back. That's it. And now go for the outside of the foot for three.

Foot, pelvis, ribs, reach for the outside. It's all good. No worries. As long as you do both, it's all good. The order doesn't matter.

One more. And now go to the second side, whatever that is for you. Foot, pelvis, ribs. That's right in there. Foot, pelvis, ribs.

Let's do two more. Foot, pelvis, ribs. And one more. Foot, pelvis, ribs. Very nice.

Then come up and take a moment. Now we're feeling a little up on top or our legs. Now we're gonna come down onto all fours so, just take a breath and bend your knees and curl down and help yourself down onto all fours. Alright, so here we are on all fours now and we're gonna combine the movements of the spine that we did standing, on all fours. So what I'd like you guys to do is first, just have your hands directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips, and create a straight line from your head to your tail and imagine the top of your head is the end of your spine.

The head's kinda heavy so it likes to fall out of the line when we're in this position so keep it slightly lifted. Now let's just do some scapula glides. So as you inhale, let the shoulder blades slide closer to the spine. Let the body drop between the arms. Now float the body up, but also widen and lower the shoulder blades, opposed to just widening them.

And notice, can I do that without going into a cat stretch. Can I just move the shoulder blades around the ribcage. (laughter) That's my job to help with that. There ya go. And then widen low and go...

A little less effort. That's it. Nice. Now start to feel... Let's just come to where you let the shoulder blades retract slightly.

Now imagine you're gonna lengthen your pubic bone and your breast bone away from each other without lifting your head at all. So just traction the pubic bone straight back between your legs, slide the breastbone away from your pubic bone, and then lengthen through the back of your neck. The chin is dropped. And just sense that right now you're feeling the upper back muscles and maybe a mild stretch in your abdominal wall. Now on the exhale, focus on your pelvis and lumbar.

Curl the tail, lift your ribs, and round your spine, but focus mostly on your lumbar. Now inhale again. Let the pelvis roll over your legs, let the pubic bone pull back, let the breast bone traction forward, keep the back of the neck long. And reverse again from your lumbar. And sit bones narrow, the front ribs lift so you get a nice opening in your lower back.

And now again, let the pelvis roll over your legs. Now feel like you're essentricly lengthening your abdominal wall. You're tractioning your abdominal wall. That's it. And let the blades come in slightly.

And do one more. Curl. Feel the abs lift. Feel the sit bones narrow. And now come back and find that extended position.

Hold the extended position where your gaze is still down, the back of the neck is long, the shoulder blades are slightly in. Now holding that, on the exhale, reach one arm forward without the top of the chest closing. Feel like your shoulder slides more down your back and the back of the neck stays long. And just alternate like that. Do a couple.

And just take it to where it works for you. Still feel like you're tractioning the pubic bone away from the breast bone. That's it. There ya go. You might feel a little more of your middle upper back when you have that little bit of extension.

Now on the next one, reach and then reach the opposite leg all the way back to hip height. Now with your leg that's back there, let your pelvis turn slightly towards the ceiling on the back leg side because the pelvis does that when you're walking. And then bring it back down. Keep the top of the chest open, back of the neck long. Just do two on each side.

And feel like you're lifting your leg from your glute. Let the pelvis rotate a little bit away from the floor on the lifting side. That's it. One more, each side like that. Feel that.

Feel how you're getting a sense of there's a rotational dynamic in the body. One more. Very nice. On the next one, you're gonna add to it. So one more time, reach.

Feel the lengthening of the front of the spine, the back of the neck. Now start to round your lower back to bring your elbow to your opposite knee. So you're putting the movements you did earlier together with the limbs. Now reach. The spine lengthens through the front, through the back of the neck.

As you round, the front ribs lift, the sit bones narrow. Inhale on the reach. Exhale on the curl so your diaphragm is drawing up. The belly is following the diaphragm in and up. One more.

Exhale. And as you come back to center, we'll take side two. First just get your body position. That's working. OK, no worries.

You can just rest. That's perfect. And now curl. On the exhale, round. Feel the sit bones narrow, the front ribs lift, the emptying of the lungs.

Inhale to reach. Open the chest, feel that lift from your glute. And round. Beautiful, you guys. And just two more, nice and smooth.

Feel how you're filling, then you're emptying, like an accordion. Using the movement to empty and fill the lungs. Get fresh blood moving all your muscles. One more. Very nice.

As you complete the one you're on, help yourself onto your back with your legs bent. We're going to do a few bridges. And then just have your feet in line with your sit bones when you're ready. That's it. And just have your arms along and just let yourself first acclimate to this position with gravity where you're sensing that your tail's in line with your nose and just take a breath and let the front of the body fall into the back of the body so you can sense your body on the floor.

And just notice, does the weight feel relatively even on the back of my pelvis. And start to feel your three key foot points, the heel, center of the heel, under the ball of the big toe and little toe, and keep them on the floor throughout. On the next exhale, initiating from your pelvis, curl the tail towards the back of the knees, let the front ribs come in as you peel into a bridge. That's it. Now at the top of the bridge, inhale, reach the arms to the back into a high V, thumbs towards the floor.

As you exhale, use your abdominal wall to roll down. Right below the breastbone, let it sink so you can traction your back, back down into the mat. Let the sit bones widen at the bottom, and float the arms to your side. Just two more. Exhale the curl, feel your three foot points so you got a nice stable base while you curl.

Reach on the inhale once you're up. Palms facing each other. That's it. Exhale, traction away from your fingertips to lengthen out your back. And float the arms all the way down by your sides.

Just gonna do one more. Exhale, peel, and bridge. Inhale to reach. Think as your tractioning down, your belly is going in, and your diaphragm is stretching on the exhale. Inhale to your side.

Now we're gonna do one with rotation. So take a breath and curl into the bridge again. Now imagine the rotation is just from the bottom of your ribcage to your sit bones. So as you inhale, let your right hip rotate down towards the floor. Exhale, squeeze back to center.

Inhale, side two. Exhale, back to center. And on the side you're turning away from, anchor that shoulder blade into the floor. And start to feel your oblique muscles, your hips, your inner thighs, and then sense your feet. You've got nice weighted pressure into those foot points.

Easy on the neck. One more, each side. Last one. Back to center. Reach the arms back for one more reach overhead.

Exhale, traction down. As you get to the bottom, bring the heels together, toes apart in a small V position. Then interlace the fingers behind your head. So we're gonna go to an abdominal curl. So just, while you're there, do a slight posterior tip to lengthen the lower back a little closer to the floor.

That's it. Now take a breath and on the exhale, curl up and feel like you goal is to empty your lungs and slide your abdominal wall fully together. And inhale to lengthen back down, releasing it. And again. Exhale to curl.

That's it. Feel the shoulder blades widen and lower through the curl. And start to feel that when you're curling you can press your heels together and you can include the back of your hips and your inner thighs as part of the muscles that are working with you. That's it. One more.

Nice and smooth. There we go. Beautiful, you guys. As you lengthen down, let your feet turn to parallel. Your feet are about six inches apart now.

Now we're gonna do a small rotation of the knees and pelvis one way, as the torso turns the other way. Just like that. There ya go. So, let your knees go to your right and on the exhale, curl up and do an oblique turn to the left. As you lengthen down, let the knees come to the center.

Rotate to the second side. Really small with the knees. Not really far. Just like that far. Now turn the other way.

There ya go. Now we're talking. And inhale to center. Let the knees come to center as the upper body comes down. There ya go.

Just take it nice and slow like that. Just feel that. Feel the ribs are sliding towards the opposite hip. That's it. Inhale back to center.

And you start to feel that your torso and your pelvis are counter rotating. That's it. Now we're getting warm. One more, each side. That's it.

There ya go. Last one. Exhale to turn. Back to center. Draw your knees into your chest and rock right up to a seated position.

We're gonna do the roll down but you're gonna start with your legs a little bit bent. We'll do a few with the feet down, then we're gonna do a few with the leg. We'll reach while you're rolling back. So take your arms up. Set your shoulders low and imagine.

Initiate the movement from the pelvic wheels. Think of the wheels of the pelvis roll back and the sit bones start to narrow as you exhale down. All the way down onto your back. Now as you inhale, let the abdominal wall lengthen, let the tail drop, let the top of the chest open, the back of the neck lengthen. There ya go.

Just like we did a moment ago. Now, inhale, let the arms come forward, let the head follow. Now curl all the way back up using your abdominal wall. Inhale, grow tall. Initiate from the bottom of the pelvis and peel back.

Feel the sit bones are narrow, which helps you lengthen the back. Now you can release the tail at the bottom and let the front of the body lengthen, back of the neck long. Arms first, head. Now slide the breastbone towards the back of the pelvis to come up. There ya go.

Inhale, up tall. Now this time, on the way back, right as you start to move, reach one leg out in line with the other knee. So as you exhale, roll, reach. Keep it all the way up at the height of the other knee. Roll all the way back.

As the arms go back, place the foot on the floor. Exhale the arms forward and peel back up. So we're working on the essentric lengthening of your abdominal wall and your inner thighs. And now curl back and take side two. Feel the sit bones.

Feel the inner thighs. Feel your abs lengthening to control the movement. And reach and let your foot come to the floor. We're gonna just do one more, each side. Arms come forward, curl back up, grow tall at the top.

And one more each side. Feel the control as you go back. Reach out of the leg. Feel that opposition. Arms go back.

Place the foot on the floor. Arms come forward. Shoulders widen and lower. There ya go. Beautiful, you guys.

One last time. And again, exhale back. Feel that control, that oppositional reach as the belly draws back. That's it. Last time up.

Curl, curl, curl. Very nice. Now stretch your legs out in front of you straight and we're gonna go into do some arm rotations. So take your arms out like this. You might want to stagger just a little bit.

There ya go. Now take your arms up and to the side. Now rotate your right palm up, your left palm down. And start to generate the rotation all the way to your shoulder girdle where you feel your shoulder blade slides down on the palm that's going up, slides up on the palm that's turning down. Now start to let the ribcage translate a little bit towards the palm that's going up so you're getting a little bit of lateral flexion into it.

There ya go. Now come back to center. Now we're gonna take that into spine twists. So flex your feet and reach your arms out. Grow tall.

And we'll start turning. You guys will turn towards me. So inhale to grow tall. On the exhale, rotate towards me, and pulse. Inhale center.

Exhale to turn. Inhale center. And turn. As you're turning, press the legs down. Grow tall to come to center.

That's it. One more each way. Nice and smooth. Last one. Now open the feet shoulder width for the saw.

And you're gonna include what you did with your arms will be part of the saw movement. So as you inhale, rotate towards me. Now feel like the forward hand, that palm, that arm's gonna externally rotate. The other one will internal and look towards your back hand. Now hold for a moment and get heavy in the hip that you're moving away from.

Inhale back to center. Exhale, rotate, and reach. Feel that spiral of the arms. Heavy in both hips, especially the one you're moving away from. Inhale center.

Exhale to turn. Now feel like you're emptying the lungs as you go into it. The diaphragm is lifting. The belly is lifting. Inhale center.

Exhale to turn and reach. One more, each side, you guys. Nice and fluid. Just feel it at your own breath rate. Inhale center.

Last time. Exhale. Beautiful. Now help yourself onto your side, facing me for side leg kicks. Cradle your head with the bottom arm but bend your bottom leg like you're sitting in a chair.

Bring it all the way up to hip height and stretch the top leg straight off your shoulder so you feel a straight line from your ankle to your hip to your shoulder to your ear. And then the top hand will be on the floor in front of you. Now float your top leg up four to six inches. Flex the foot and pull through the heel so you feel your bottom waist come away from the floor. Now feel that body line.

Now inhale, kick the leg forward, hinging at your hip joint. Exhale, point, and reach back. Now hold it back there for a moment. Now activate your down knee towards your chest and just sense that you can let the pelvis turn open a little bit towards the back leg. And again, inhale, kick to the front.

Exhale, point, and reach to the back. That's it. Now, if you wanna take it a step further, take your top arm straight up to the ceiling and absorb it into your shoulder joint. That's it. Exhale back.

Feel the legs working together. So as your leg goes back, imagine you're striding up a hill. That's it. Three more. Nice and smooth.

And two. And one. As the leg goes back this next time, bend at the knee, take hold of your ankle. Now draw a straight line from your knee to your shoulder. Draw down through the tail, up through the belly so you take the arch out of the back.

Now start to contract your butt muscle on that side. Kick the foot into your hand and see if you can draw the heel a little tighter to your backside, as long as there's no knee stress. Take two more breaths like that. Follow the abdomen in on the exhale phase to help you support that balance of the back of the leg, the quad stretching, center support. And then slowly release.

And roll onto side two. Very nice. Perfect. Now bend your bottom leg like you're sitting in a chair. Bring your head back in line with the spine.

And with that top leg, visualize ankle, hip, our trochanter, shoulder, ear all in one line. Then float the leg up a few inches. Flex the foot and reach through the heel so you feel the bottom of your waist come away from the floor. And now just keep that line. And inhale, kick to the front.

Exhale, point, and reach to the back and hold for a moment. Now activate the down knee towards your chest and let the top hip rotate open just a little bit. And again. Inhale, kick to the front. Exhale, point, and reach to the back.

Now let your top arm go straight up if you want to take it a step further. And absorb it into your body. Nice and smooth. Exhale on the backward stride so you can combine the back of your leg, your abdominal wall drawing in, for strength, support. Fluid motion.

Three more. That's it. Beautiful, you guys. Two more. And one more.

As you go back now, bend the leg, take hold of the ankle. As best you can, create a straight line from the knee to the shoulder. Think down through the back of the pelvis, up through the lower belly. Start to contract your butt, if you can, on that side. And if you can take it further, resist the foot into your hand and draw the heel slightly tighter to your backside.

Take two more breaths. One more breath, everybody. Then gently release and help yourself forward onto your belly and rest your forehead on the back of your hands. We're going to do a breathing exercise, then take it into a couple extension movements. So rest your forehead on the back of your hands.

We're gonna do what's called diaphragmatic breathing, but in this position we're going to call it crocodile breathing. So when you breathe in, see if you can imagine that your diaphragm is going down, which is at the level of the bottom of the breastbone, and it comes up a little above that and it's a dome that's flattening and pushing the abdominal organs down and the abdominal wall out the front. So let that happen as you breathe in. Let the abdominal muscles push into the floor and that's telling you that you're using your diaphragm correctly. So breathe deeply.

If you feel your chest moves first, it's telling you you're breathing a little shallow and high so you wanna work on that. So as you're breathing, you wanna feel your lower back lengthens and moves away from the floor. And as you exhale, just deflate and see if you can soften any neck and shoulder tension you might notice from this position. It's a great way to just make your body more parasympathetic. Let go of tension and come into good, natural diaphragmatic breathing, which is good for all the systems in your body.

Take two more breaths like that. One more breath. Now, for the next three breaths, on the exhale phase, follow it in a little further. Draw the abdominal wall in and imagine the abdominal wall is going in and the diaphragm is doming up inside the body which allows the belly to come in a little bit more. So go a little further into your exhale.

And as you inhale, let your belly expand into the floor again. One more. From there, bring your arms outside of your mat with your forearms on the floor. Put your fingertips a little forward of your shoulders. That's it.

Now just lift your head about an inch or two off the floor. Now we're gonna bring in that spinal movement we've been practicing today. So set the shoulders low. Now just imagine, with your shoulders low and your head off the floor, you're gonna slide the shoulders towards the back pockets. Lift the head up just a little bit.

Now imagine you're lengthening up the front of the spine like the breastbone is tractioning away from your pubic bone. The neck will come up a little bit more. Let the head come up with it. Now start to come up into extension, feeling that you're initiating it from that upper back, but you're keeping the back of the neck nice and long. And then lengthen back down.

And imagine all the way through on the up, the shoulder blades are sliding towards the back pockets. You're inhaling on the up phase, you're exhaling on the downward phase. So feel the length before you lift. That's it. Nice and smooth, everybody.

So now you're targeting a little bit more of that upper back. Let's do one more. There ya go. Feel that long. There ya go.

Nice. Now, from there, come up onto your forearms for single leg kicks. And you can have your elbows in close. So just first sag into your shoulders for a moment. Now push the floor away and lift out of your shoulders.

Now just practice that same similar movement of tractioning up the front of your spine to the top of your breastbone, then up the back of your neck. Now tone the bottom back of your glutes and your inner thighs. On the exhale phase, you're going to exhale through your mouth where you feel that lifting of your belly. So inhale through the nose, then exhale. That's it.

And feel in each, the belly is drawing in following the diaphragm as you pulse. Long through the front of the spine. Long through the back of the neck. Two more, each side. Nice and fluid.

One more, each side. Very nice, you guys. Come all the way down and press yourself back to a child's pose. This lets your back round on the way back. Sit back, whatever way you can do that and just let yourself rest for a moment.

Let your body become foldable. Hips, knees, ankles, neck. Just take two more breaths. Fluid breathing. One more breath, everybody.

And now slowly roll up through the spine. Come onto all fours and just do two cat stretches, just to release any back tension that you might have developed. Hands directly under your shoulders, but again, the same way we've been doing it. First feel that nice line through the body. Let the shoulder blades come slightly into retraction.

Now traction the breastbone and the pubic bone away from each other, keeping the back of the neck long. And now round from your tail to your belly button as your ribs lift, focusing on your lumbar spine. And then inhale to extend. One more time. Exhale to round.

As you come into the extended position this next time, hold the extended position and tuck your toes. (sneezing) Bless you. Bless you. Now shift back with your toes tucked and lift up to a downward dog. Let your knees be a little bit bent the first time.

Now just sense that you can still practice the same thing here, which is to lengthen up the front of your spine, knees are a little soft, up the back of your neck. Now slowly straighten one leg as you bend the other. And let the hips shift that way a little bit, towards the straightening leg. And reach the heel towards the floor. Take one more, each side.

And then bend both knees and then straighten both knees. Do that three times. Nice and smooth. Follow the belly in on the straightening phase. One more.

And then bend slightly. Walk your hands to your feet. Soft knees. Slowly roll up through the spine. Now we're going to finish with a standing exercise for your feet and your posture.

So it'll look like this. I'm going to put the weight on my left leg and I want to stay vertical. And as I bend my leg, I'm feeling my foot flatten but I'm not shifting back. And I'm going to reach my right foot out to three o'clock. Then I'm going to come all the way up, fully straighten, and then turn in to the leg so I feel my foot supinate and the hip fully extend.

And I'll talk you through that. So we'll start. You might wanna do it on the wood. I think you'll feel it feels more stable. So just practice just shifting onto your left leg, bending the leg a little bit.

And feel how you're still vertical. So you're up on top of the leg. Now just slowly turn your pelvis towards the right. Don't put any weight on that right leg. Just slide it out to three o'clock.

Now straighten. Square the pelvis. Now turn your pelvis into the left leg and get right up on top of that leg. Feel the arch lift. See if you can still keep your big toe and your lateral heel connection.

We'll do two more. Reach out. Lift. Spiral in. And one more.

Reach. Lift. And spiral in. Very nice. We'll take side two.

That's kinda lovely. So shift onto your right, small bend. Stay as vertical as you can so you feel like the arch is going into pronation, and it's going to go more into pronation when we reach out to nine o'clock. Keep the head right over the pelvis. Lengthen up.

Let the pelvis turn in to the right leg. Fully open the front of the right hip. And again. Reach. Lengthen up.

Spiral in. Feel the ankle moving. Heel. Talus bone. Last time.

Come up. Spiral in. Come back to center. Come onto your mat in a V position. Now bend your legs.

Just a small plie and feel the feet swipe out and widen. Imagine your feet swipe in, zip up your legs, and float your heels. Now float the arms. Stay nice and tall. Open and lower.

One more time. Bend. Zip up the midline. Float. Reach.

Open. As you lower, turn back to parallel. Close the eyes for a moment. Come back to centering the weight. Let the breathing drop.

And relax behind the eyes. Acknowledge yourself, your focus. You guys, good to be with you all. Hope you enjoyed. Hope to see more of you on Pilates Anytime.

Thank you so much.


3 people like this.
Loved the basic movements and to feel the response of the body. Thanks!
8 people like this.
Tom, have you every done a workshop on Pilates anytime on breathing? I get confused when teachers say to do lateral breathing while keeping the abdominals engaged. It seems so unnatural/restrictive etc. Thanks. loved that class.
1 person likes this.
Fabulous as always Tom. Need to be doing this class every day. Thank you
8 people like this.
We are all so lucky to learn with Tom McCook! I love the way you so generously share years of study of different disciplines with your students in such an accessible way. Your relaxed style, kindness and ease of delivery inspire me. Thank you!
4 people like this.
Ok, excuse me while I become an over zealous commentor. I watched this class before work and practiced it after. I feel like I have a whole new low back. Thank you, Pilates Anytime and Tom McCook!
3 people like this.
Loved this classTom. Working a whole class devoted to gait is so great. I am wondering if some of this was based on your course with Gary Ward? Obviously there is lots of great Franklin method here too.
1 person likes this.
Hello. Id love to watch this class but it won't load, any suggestions? Thanks very much.
Andrea~I'm sorry you're having trouble with the video playback. Here is a link to some FAQs that might be helpful. If you continue to have issues, please email us at I hope this helps!
Thank you for my new back!! really lovely exercises so beautifully taught and explained - wonderful!
Loved it! Simply genius!
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