Class #3349

Day 5: Thoracic Spine

30 min - Class


Welcome to Day 5! Today, Sarah moves up the body by playing with movements that will help you feel your thoracic spine in a different way. She encourages you to open your heart and mind so you can find joy in these creative movements.
What You'll Need: Reformer, Overball

About This Video


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Moving on up the body today is all about the thoracic spine. Let's play plotters and feel our thoracic spine a little differently. We have a ball, hopefully you have one. Find something that resembles a ball and you can use that. And also we will be using the box today. I've got my spring set for my footwork, but I'm a little lighter than normal because I intend to have a variation that requires lighter spring, so three red springs or three reds and a blue or two reds and a blue, perhaps more full spring if you want.

So I'm going to have you put the ball kind of back where your upper back would be and be a little forward on your reformer than what you're used to and make your way to the ball and use it a little bit like you would a foam roller to find that spot where your, your ball is. Just kind of like on your supporting your thoracic spine. Hold your head with your hands and just find a place for your feet and just kinda relax over that ball. Ah, I could stay here all day. I won't. We're going to keep this a 30 minute class, make sure you get a full workout. But here I just want you to receive the ball and just kind of like let your head go heavy.

You just sort of to move your hands and shoulders and things out of the way. Um, from the reformer shoulder s and I'm pegs back there, but it's all doable. You can even take your arms forward like I'm doing now. If you don't feel like fussing with where your arms are, that feels really nice. And then lift and I'm going to have you do that one more time and just find a place where you can release. So if you don't feel like your head can rest on something, perhaps you need a smaller ball or you can move the ball up or down your back a little bit and try rolling. Just a little bit side to side here. So notice I've got my elbows up and I'm just kind of attaching my hands to my head and my elbow.

Zap gives me a little bit of space to move and the shoulder rest tells me that I've gone as far as I can here. So a little bit of thoracic rotation, a nice little bit of ease and then lift your head and chest, look in the direction of your legs. And now we're going to use our abs a little. I've just scooted my bottom back and I'm going to roll myself back just a little. So now I can, I have to work a little more to be here. So going back to what feels like a neutral position about, and then we come into a little bit of flection here using the ball, inhale to a neutral position and exhale, lift and inhale to a neutral position or a little further down if you have room. But I don't really, and exhale to live. And just one more time.

Exhale to lift your body into a flex position so you can get a little more of your back down. And then just add a little bit of rotation here without rolling all the way off the ball. Just a little bit of rotation back to center and a little bit of rotation here and a little bit of rotation. [inaudible] just one more time each side here, waking up the ABS rather quickly. I hope. Come back to center. Slip that ball out from underneath you.

It's a tricky to do, but totally doable. And just rest for a moment. Oh, that feels nice. It's much like the foam roll. There's this heaviness in your back. Lift your pelvis up and rest your pelvis on the ball. Okay, so now we're going to feel this nice release through our low back by uh, letting the pelvis just rest heavy on the ball and you'll find the spot that suits you. Again, if this doesn't feel good, it's too high, then take a little air out of your ball. That's a good thing to do. Just kinda sway your legs a little bit side to side here and then reach back and hold onto the pegs or the frame and take that sway all the way down. So I'm still still off the ball there, but I'm going to lift up using my abs and I'm going to go kind of all the way down without letting the ball slip out, right?

So just do that one more time and now we add on. So I'm back to the first side and I've rested one side of my pelvis down. Now it says if I want to pull back, but I'm not going to get on top of the ball. I'm pulling my pelvis on the ball and releasing. So I'm working to feel a little bit of a stretch perhaps through my low back and working my abs a little bit.

And really what it feels like I'm doing is flexing my low back a little bit, just a little bit, and then lift yourself all the way back up and then let's go to the other side. So that just feels really nice, like a nice release for me. So here I am and now I'm just kind of pulling into the ball using the ball to create a little resistance and to feel my muscles in a different way. Notice that my body is not moving very much. Just a feeling I've done about five there.

And then I'm gonna lift back up and then we're going to stay settled here for a little bit of time. Arrange your heels so that they're on the bar and settle into what feels like a soft rested pelvis and support with your core. So press out in, in here with your legs. Inhale in. So doing the foot work with your hips, elevated on a ball, changes how you feel, things I invite you to just kind of explore and notice what I like about this as far as the thoracic spine is concerned, is I feel a little more grounded in my upper back. And what I want you to do is try to ground down just a little bit more. The part that's lifted. Just play with that. Yeah. So the part that's lifted because of the ball, you're just going to pull maybe one more rib cage down.

Now pause here and actually drop your tailbone down a little. So find a little arch in your back. Engage your abs and press out. And in a couple of times, as long as your abdominals are working, you should feel fine here. So I'm a little anterior with my pelvis. Just one more time. Come all the way in. And now flex the spine just a bit and go out and in.

So we're just using the ball to feel the spine differently. And we'll do this in all the positions, but if it doesn't feel good to you to stick with wood, a position that does feel good. Yeah, picking up the pace just a bit here. So the toes now where the heels are, settle in neutral pelvis and out you go with an exhale and an inhale and use your legs. Good. So if you feel comfortable with that anterior or slightly arched position, find that right now, dropping the tail, pushing the tail end of the ball as you go out and in, but doesn't feel good on your back. Don't do it. But I'm looking for just an experimentation of, of movements and feeling the body different.

Now flex the spine just a bit and then out you go. Now a lot of these movement is really coming from the low back, but I feel my upper spine in a slightly different way. So I just want you to check in, check it out. Last one, come all the way in here. Slide your heels together, settle, relax, engage. You go [inaudible]. Still try to complete the movement each time where you're pulling up on the kneecaps, stretching the legs to straight, go into the anterior or slightly arched position and out you go. [inaudible] it's a very small shift for me from what feels like neutral to this anterior position, but it's a much bigger shift to now go into flections of flexing the spine.

Now I feel my thoracic spine a little more grounded in the flex position. Personally, I'm inviting you though to just see what you feel. Last one and come on in. So we'll go heels wide on the bar. A classic position where you have the heel connected, rotating from the hips, soft pelvis, which means it's just kinda settling on the ball. Another way you can think about this shifting of the pelvis is what you're pressing into the ball. So as I go into this arched position, if I push my tailbone down a little bit, keeping my abdominals engaged, yeah, it's one way to think about it.

And then here when I shift the flexed spine, if I pushed, pushed the my upper part of the pelvis into the ball, using my apps to support. And again that just feels really wonderful to me and I actually feel sensation all the way up through my upper back while I'm doing this flexed position that feels really nice to me. Come all the way in toes. Same three positions out we go soft pelvis, just sense what you feel. Come all the way in, arch the back a little bit. Feel the tail, use the abs to support and one more time. And then now make that flexed position. Feel the stretch maybe in the low back, but see if you can get it to travel up to the upper back a little [inaudible] and last time here we come all the way in.

Take the ball out from underneath your pelvis. Enjoy that gorgeous light and heavy feeling for just a moment. And certainly if you want to enjoy it longer, pause the video and catch up when you're ready. All right. You can stow your ball away or just place it down somewhere if you'd like. We're not going to need it for a little bit of time.

Change your springs for hip work. I like a red and a blue and we're going to just lie right back down and put feet and straps. So once you're settled in your reformer and what feels like a nice neutral position, put your feet and your straps. And let's start with circles today. Suppress your legs out to straight. Organize your spine and ground yourself. Find that high position where your pelvis is still intact.

And then exhale to press down through center. And you know here, I'm going to queue a neutral pelvis. So I'm only going to do my circles, you know, as big as I can keep my pelvis still. But if you like what we did in yesterday's class, or actually it was two days ago for hip work, and you want to explore a little bit, um, deeper range than go for it, go for it. Reverse your circles here. So feel that carving of the legs, just some Nice, easy movement through your hip joints. Sense the backs of your legs. Breathe. Next thing here, I'd like to work a little with the extended frog. So bend your knees and Nice flexed foot. Press your legs out to straight.

Open your legs wide, keep your legs, feet flexed as long as you can. If you're able to. And then bend the knees, pull the heels in and press up to straight. Good. Open, nice and wide. If you can keep the feet flex, it's a big stretch. If you need to point them to keep your straps on, that's okay. So the rules here for me are that I'm looking for a carriage to stay.

Very stable. As you pull those heels in and then press back out. I am looking for range of motion, but stability through the pelvis as well. So see what you got to give here and press out just one more. Mm.

Just make sure you're breathing please. So from here, now we begin short spine. Exhale the legs to straight point the toes. So folding it, the hips feel the bend in your low back. But I want you to think a little more about your upper back today. So as you roll at, try to feel each of your ribs moving. I was a little stuck so I just made my adjustment there. Ben, your knees big and as you roll down, keep your pelvis lifted as long as you can and feel yourself rolling down through the backs of the ribs through the low back and then flex your ankles and pull through. So here full to get the hips, we often think about the low back.

I want you to think a little more about the upper back. Press down through the arms as you roll yourself up. Bend your knees nice and big. And as you roll down, keep your pelvis lifted and feel your ribs sinking down. Sinking down, sinking down, and then pull through. And again like that.

Okay. Feel the stretch in the low back that embraced the idea of moving each of your ribs, your attached to your thoracic spine. And here I'm flexing my feet through and we'll move into our long spine. Now come up to a 90 degree angle at your hips. Keep your feet soft and your hips external. Same thing. Flex the low spine, but then really feel what's happening at your ribs. As you roll all the way up to a nice straight position, open your legs about hip width and then roll yourself down.

Feel that upper spine going down. Keep that low back, lifted as long as you can, and then it recovers. Bring the legs back together and we roll up. Feel that nice articulation, that rounding, and exhale together. Just one more time, the breath I like. Inhale, exhale to roll up in how nice and why not wide with the legs, but shoulder with exhale to roll down. Really maximizing that articulation and then bring the legs together. Gently bend your knees, take your feet off of your straps or your feet off of your straps, your straps off of your feet please, and let's come on up. Let's change the spring to a one spring so you can use a red or a green, but just one full, full spring is probably a good idea. And let's step up for your pyramid position or your up stretch.

So my heels are lifted. Check in with your feet. Lengthen through your back. Feel nice straight back, work on straight legs, but feel your feet as well and slide the carriage out in, in a few times. So here just feel this idea of lengthening through your back. And the goal here is a nice long straight back. Find your breath [inaudible] and just one more there and look forward at the bars. Step with your right foot on the bar and find a lunge position.

Let's keep the two hands on the bar for a moment. Feel yourself really standing on that front foot, but also reaching back through the back leg and then bring yourself up to a balance position. So should you need to keep your hands down. Go for it. If you're comfortable with this idea of balancing here, I want you to explore your thoracic spine. Take your arms wide, turn your palms up, open your heart, look up, lift the arms, open the arms and look forward. Good. Open the heart lift. Look forward. One more time.

[inaudible] from here. Take the opposite arm as leg that's in front, but the other hand on your thigh, try to keep your pelvis as square as possible. You've got one hand down and keeping your body close to your leg. Rotate and look around. So really feel yourself rotating from your, your upper spine, your thoracic spine, your rib cage. That's where the majority of the rotation happens. Should you feel comfortable here? Reach your arm up, please.

Put your hands down and let's change sides to step your foot back, pause and in a plank position here for a couple moments and just feel yourself powerful and strong. Move back and forth a few times. Pretty easy to do. Ha. Just feel yourself moving through your long stretch. Let your two legs start to feel a little bit more of the same, not so stretched. Now hopefully recovered a little bit. And then here, let's go ahead and change. So take your left foot forward.

That one's a little harder for me to get up there and sit for a couple of moments. Now start with your hands on the bar and then when you feel that you're in the right position and that you're comfortable, try bringing yourself up to balance. Now, changing your gaze when you're balancing is challenging. And that's what I'm asking your body to do right now. Take your arms wide, palms up, stretch. And now here we'll rotate externally, extending the thoracic spine, looking up, lifting the arms up when you do, which intensifies the stretch. The moment I have my fingers spreading, that just feels right. And then look forward to more open the heart. Reach up.

So keep your gaze forward if that's something you need to do for balance. And if you're comfortable here, give it a shot. Okay. And then the right hand goes down, so the opposite hand as leg, the other hand on the thigh. Keep your body close to your thigh and rotate around. Oh, that just feels yummy today. And if you feel comfortable with this, take your arm up too. Hands Down, step your foot back, bend your knees, come to rest. So we're going to spin around and work our arms a little bit.

Sit with your bottom at the very back edge of the reformer. That was not so graceful. I'm just going to say it. I could have done that better. So my bottom is at the very back edge here. Sit Up nice and tall. Use your legs to our use a. Think about where your legs are so you can sit up straighter. Yeah, chest expansion. Exhale. So this is our movement, but what I want you to think about is a hint of extension through your thoracic spine with each and every movement.

So see if you can grow the extension as you continue to do your chest expansion. Now I'm not looking for a dumping in the low back or a bending in the low spine as much as the upper spine is where we're looking for the extension. So change your gays, open your heart. Just do one more there and open your heart. Send your arms forward, palms facing up.

Pull your shoulders onto your back body and let that be your focus. Now just bend your elbows very simply, but focus on what's happening in your upper back, your shoulders. Stay back. Your heart is lifted, your legs are grounded, your feet can be soft or pointed or flexed. I don't care. Focus on what's going on in your upper back. When you do your arm work today. Last to breathe, please. I don't care when just breathe.

I say good. Go ahead and rest that exercise. Put the straps on your elbows, your palms facing your body. Stay for a moment. Draw your shoulders to your back body. Sit Up right. Open your arms to the side. Stay here. Rotate externally and look up. So external rotation is happening from my shoulder joints.

Open out to the side. Feel external. That means my elbows forward, my hands back, and I'm going to look up nice. And I invite you to explore your thoracic range here. Maybe it's bigger than mine. Go for it. Enjoy. What do you want to do? I'm actually bringing the spring with me and kind of leaning back a little more. It feels divine at the moment. We'll do two more like that. Feel that.

Oh yes. Wonderful. Last one please. And here we go. And let's go ahead and rest that. Oops, put your straps away and moving onto a little bit more back extension with our full body though. So arrange yourself on your knees with your feet all the way up against the shoulder rest. And you know, I really like to take time to enjoy the foot stretch. So please do that. Feel. Put your hands on the bar, feel yourself kind of sitting on the feet and enjoy this position a little bit.

And now lift yourself just a little bit away from your feet. But feel this wonderful flection in your spine. Really flexed here. Stay with this for a moment and take just a little bit more flection where the ribs in the low back meet. Just think about that here. Okay, now we're going to keep the carriage still an unrelieved forward extending from the low spine all the way up through the upper spine, keeping the carriage still open the heart. And now we're going to flex. Start the movement in your mind from your upper spine, down to your low spine. Just kind of think of it like that. Yeah. So here it's the low spine undulation, forward, forward.

And then my shoulders pull back, keep the carriage still open, the heart lift, lift, lift. And now you change your gaze. It's the upper spine, the ABS, and then the low spine. And now let's add some more movement here. So we undulate forward. Feel yourself in this wonderful extended position. And then now we go down and we go up two times and we go down and we go up. Keep the carriage still unusually back.

Stay rounded. Push the legs out and in and out. And in. One more here, out in carriage at stopper. Undulate forward. Little faster, down, up and round the back and out. And in just one more time for word finding the flow here.

Chest is open, down and up and round out and rest. Let's take the bar down now for the next exercise here and you can add a few springs for me so that you're locked down. And we're going to do short box climate tree, but with the long box for thoracic extension. So let's get our box up and in position. Long box. Okay, we are going to use the straps. So have a seat. Find your strap, start with both your feet tucked in and try to gauge that you're in the right spot so you'll be able to roll over and feel comfortable.

You'll figure out what that means in just a moment. So pull one leg in toward your chest, okay, and give it a little hug. I don't want it rather than the pumping. I want to go through just the positions. Straighten your leg straight and out your back. Good.

Now pull your leg in, round your back. Now bring your legs so that it's perfectly perpendicular. And then here, walk down. And this is where you want to gauge is the edge of the box right at the center of your thoracic spine. If so, go up and over. If not, make any adjustments needed. Feel that stretch had relaxed arms long, and then just lift your body up. Look at your leg, walk yourself up. Take a stretch, tip forward. Nice straight back, straight leg. Bend the knee. Good without the pumping. Just feel the position. Organize each position, bring the leg closer to you, feel that stretch, and then walk down.

Try to keep that leg perpendicular. That's about where it should be. Reach over. Enjoy that thoracic extension. Let your head hang. Perhaps let your arms relax a little bit. Engaging your abdominals to lift back up, intensify the stretch and take a pause. Change sides. So just to, I think is fine here. Give a little stretch here. Feel that, stretch the leg out straight. Straighten out your back. Good. Pull the leg in, let your back round. Good.

And then walk down. Feel that nice thoracic extension. Release the neck, release the head, at least the arms and then round yourself back up. Feel the abdominals tip forward. Feel straight back, straight leg. And Ben, just one more time. Breathing, moving, stretching. Try to find that perpendicular position. Walk down, reach over [inaudible] and straighten out and rest that [inaudible]. Nice. That felt really good.

So now we're going to use that sensation of the thoracic spine to um, really hopefully maximize your thoracic extension strengthening. So one red spring is perfect and the bar needs to go back up, which sometimes works really well and sometimes doesn't. So if you need to move your box and then put it back on, go for it. So the bar is up. I'm on my belly, my chest off just a bit. Legs energized faces above the bar. Okay.

And just go ahead and press your arms out to straight and stay there. Bend your elbows a couple times and straighten them. So think about this as an arm movement where the back is involved. So we're endeavoring to be in a neutral spine type position. So I don't want you to think of lifting yet and try to gauge that your body is not lifting up and down when staying still. Yeah. So one more just like that.

Keep your elbows straight for me. I'm just going to walk my hands in just a tiny bit so I have a little more feeling here with arms straight. I'm going to see how much I can move my upper spine only and then lower down. So what I mean by that is I'm changing my gaze. The spring is pushing my shoulders onto my back body and helping me extend my back.

And then I'm lowering down some opening the collarbones, letting the spring assist my lift, my gaze changes, my eldest stay straight. And just one more time and change. So now turn your fingers inward, let your elbows go out as you bend in straight in a few times. So my body is now neutral. Again, I'm not extending my back and I'm offering this exercise as a short break from a big back extension. Really. So I'm looking for a little bit of ease in your back and a little bit of work in your triceps. Yeah, one more time. And then turn your hands again so that the fingers wrap over the bar and let's maximize our extensions to let the springs sort of pull you into thoracic expense extension and then kind of ride the spring up, change your gaze, see how high you can lift, feel the ads, feel the upper spine, and then lower yourself all the way down. Again, just like that. So the springs sort of pushes your shoulders onto your back body. Receive it, support, use your legs, use your apps.

Find the joy in this movement. One more time please. Breathing and moving. [inaudible] gently come down, bend your elbows, step off of your reformer please. And let's finish with a roll down from standing with your feet underneath your hips. Take a lift up, open your heart. Feel that thoracic extension. Good.

And as you can roll down and feel yourself articulating through your upper back, bend your knees so that you feel just really comfortable and feel the ease here. Let your hands maybe shake a little bit, your shoulders, your head, and then maybe you can get to the point where you're resting on your thighs. Nod Your Chin a little. Hmm. That feels really nice on my neck and shoulders. And as you roll up, you can start to straighten your legs where you can keep them bent. It's really up to you. But just feel the ease here. Don't shape this too much.

Wiggle. Go around a little bit. Shake out your hands as you come up. Right. Open your heart. Take your arms wide. Look up, enjoy, explore, look, baby behind you. Does that feel good? It feels good to me. Nice. And then roll forward. Release. Release your jaw. Bend your knees a little bit. Yeah. It doesn't have to be so organized. Shake a little. Feel both legs head and as you roll lap, stack your body gently with ease. Soon as you feel rigidity is, try wiggling around a little bit. Hmm. Thank you for playing.

See You tomorrow.

Pilates Play: A 10-Day Challenge of Fun: with Sarah Bertucelli


3 people like this.
Trying to get over my fear of taking my hands off the bar when doing the standing splits. I could do it on one side but had to keep my foot flat on the reformer and not in the high half toe position. Absolutely loved climb a tree on the long box ! This was Great! We’re halfway there !
3 people like this.
Oh man that felt good. Loved the long box variations. Always looking for fun yet safe, effective ways to extend the thoracic spine! Thank you, what a fun series of new innovative moves!
Connie keep working on that split, you will get it. And I think adjusting your foot is a great idea. Most important that you feel safe and grounded. Denee I am such a fan of "finding" thoracic extension. So many of us need to relearn how to move there.
2 people like this.
perfect way to start the day! Thank you, Sarah! xo:)
4 people like this.
Loved the Tree on the Long Box. Beautiful modification.
Much safetier and comfortable for the whole spine.👏👏👏👏👏Perfect
1 person likes this.
Absolutely loved it! The way how you slowly prepare the body for the big extentions. Thank you Sarah. :)
I just did this class after the day 4 class. I feel amazing! Like I just got a massage. I too felt nervous on the standing splits, so i kept my hand s on my leg for a bit. Its been awhile since I've done those, so I'll get back to it eventually! I love thoracic extensions!! Thank you:)
I have a tight low back so I really loved the movements with the ball under the pelvis. And the long box tree variation was fantastic! I actually felt graceful doing tree not a crunched up disaster (do not have flexible hamstrings either , do you see a theme here?) =). Will definitely be incorporating those variations a lot. Thank you!!!
1 person likes this.
Loved this class just what my back needed! Thank you 😀
1 person likes this.
Thank you Sarah Bertucelli loved the ball at the thoracic spine for the extension. It’s got lots more “give”. Great idea!
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