Class #3505

Mat Foundations

45 min - Class


Build the foundation for your practice with this Mat workout by Malcolm Muirhead. He starts by finding proper alignment so you can begin to build strength on top of that. He encourages you to listen to your body so you can work within your body's limitations and stay safe while you grow in your practice.
What You'll Need: Mat


Read Full Transcript

Hello, and my name is Malcolm Muirhead. And I work with the MK Pilates program of education. Now I want to introduce this class as a foundation class, working within our own version of the method. So the idea is we're teaching foundation techniques principles and some foundation movements. And we will be playing with a little bit of experimentation.

So if you're at home building your knowledge of the Pilates method, building your experience with working with your body for the first time, you've got to learn to listen to your body. And that's what these guys are gonna do for me. So the best way you can honor yourself, the best you can honor this idea, is work within your body's limitations on that day. And as that grows, you develop. So guys, if you can start with me.

They're gonna be with us for the whole class, obviously. Step back off the mat for me, so you're on a solid surface. So if you're going to listen to your alignment, you need a nice, solid surface. Socks and shoes off would be the best thing in the world. Let those feet make contact with the ground.

Now we're gonna work on alignment. So, when we're ready, let's get going, yes? So think about, first of all, just right away, where your feet are. If we take them too wide or too narrow, we change the alignment through the joints. So around about a fist-width distance between your ankles.

If you check down. We're gonna try and release everything from there. So the knee's not locking out. That will happen sometimes. Just correct it.

It keeps the legs free of tension. And we'll move straight to the pelvis. In our alignment, we want the body to be distributing weight through the joints. So the pelvis is where we're gonna focus on to start with. We're going to try and move the pelvis in what we call a backwards or posterior tilt.

We do that without shortening the body. And then, back through the center, another direction. So moving it forward and back. Now this can be seen as a mobility exercise. Listening to how it's moving.

What I want you to do is think about, is this a chance for your back to talk to you and tell you how it feels. The lower back shouldn't be feeling stress or strain. As you do this movement, you're keeping length all the time. The length comes from the crown of the head, not the chin. As you're working now, you'll be feeling muscles working.

Yes? Deep-centered muscles are our friend here. So you want to listen to where the efforts feels equal. And when that happens, if we had a tray with marbles on it, the marbles would be in the center of the tray. Find that place. And I want you to take your hand and check the shape you've got your lower back.

We're gonna call that your natural curve. The spine has its curves and it's your neutral. Okay? With that awareness, we're gonna set up some center strength. We find the alignment, build the strength around the alignment, and then move on top of that. The strength is gonna come from our inner powerhouse, our inner unit.

We're gonna work with the pelvic floor today. So you're gonna go into visualization. At home, if you want to close your eyes, close your eyes. But I'm gonna talk them through a sensation here. What we've got is four points in the bottom of the pelvis.

We have the pubic bone, the tailbone, and the two sit bones. If you can visualize those four points. If I do it that way for you. You want those four points, those bones to be thinking of trying to come together. And as you'd imagine them coming together, you'll feel some muscles working deep inside the pelvis.

And that's our pelvic floor. It's like our support structure, our hammock, that supports all the internal organs, but brings strength to the center. So just relax again for a second. Take your awareness back to that center sensation, those four points. Now as you're trying to hold that sensation, that mild contraction, it's a very subtle feeling.

What we're doing is we're working also deep waist muscles and deep back muscles. And if you're breathing for me, which I hope you are, you're also working the diaphragm. That unit is our powerhouse. So right now, with that conscious contraction, you are training your pelvic floor group, along with the rest of the center muscles. We're gonna challenge that with the movements, of course, but the foundations of any building are what's key.

You can open your eyes for me here. We're gonna work a little bit down. Now obviously, as we've got that strength, we need the muscles fueled. That's gonna come from breathing. So take the hands from your knuckles, onto the base of the ribs, palms facing up.

So turning in like that. Good. There you go. And what I'm gonna ask you to do here, is breathe into just one side. We'll go for the left side first. Breathing into just the left hand.

Now, when you breathe normally you don't think about it. It's an unconscious action. Here we're doing it consciously, breathing in, trying to expand this side deep in the rib cage. The depth gives us the oxygen we need, while we're holding our center muscles. And if you keep that movement going, we're training lots of waist muscles, lots of muscles between the ribs, and also that diaphragm itself.

Does it feel odd? It's hard! It's hard. Well, if it was easy we wouldn't need to do it! And try the other side now. This might be your easier side. You do have tension more on one side than the other.

All of us have a little bit of an imbalance. The lungs are not the same size. So listen, see if this side feels better for you, your right side. Yes? A little bit more expansive? But now try both together.

Now what we're just doing now, keep that going, is the Pilates breathing. It's a deep and wide breath. Lateral thoracic is the term, you might hear people talking, if they're technical in their language. I can be. But that deep and wide breath is a training breath.

The consequence of which means our normal breathing will get better and better and better. We're gonna to be using breath in the movements to help us. The worst breath? Holding your breath. This is your goal. Relax the arms down. We're gonna move into the shoulder girdle.

Roll the shoulders forward, up, around and down. If this area doesn't work well for us, with stability, with movement, the lower body, the back in particular, will become the victim of this imbalance. So we also need to consider how our shoulders are feeling. You know what your daily lifestyle is like. Everything we do in this room is about improving your daily lifestyle.

If you know you're forward, got this text syndrome. Yes? If you know you're forward a lot, you need to open the chest up. You can do this anytime of the day. Anything we've just done already, you could do any time. Bring the elbows in, and start to make it a bit bigger with the arms.

Now as the arms come in and the weight of the arms come in, you're gonna feel more muscles working around here. These are the stabilizers, the ones that control the scapula, the shoulder blade movement. They have to be exercised. They can't just be lengthened. They have to be taught how to be strong. You should feel them working a bit more now.

So take the arm full length, and now try and keep the shoulder blade still. But as you do this, guys, don't let the rib cage pop forward. That means you're using your back muscles and changing your spine shape. Keep the spine long. If that means you're limited in the movement, bring back the control.

Don't go for size, go for quality in the movements in your body. And release that. Now when you finish, you should feel that they've got a little bit of a preparation for us there. Right. We're gonna go to a balance movement, which will challenge the sense you've just set up.

Again, balance is a benefit from working through center. We can specifically try and target it. You're gonna shift the weight over. We'll go onto our left foot. And then we're gonna shift the weight, so that we can take the right foot onto the floor in front of us, the toe just touching the floor.

Remember those marbles in the tray? They're not rolling to the side now. You've got to make sure they're nice and even, not adjusting through the rest of the body. So if you feel yourself shifting laterally to the side, try and bring it back to center. Float that toe off the floor, so the knee can bend, and drop that pelvis away.

So you've got to think: the distance between the ribs and the hips on both sides is staying the same. So drop that down. There we go. So the balance should feel challenging. Yes? Try not to use your toes to grasp. All the time you're challenging yourself with this very simple static balance, you're retraining muscles, deep back muscles.

Will we change legs? Toe down to the floor, which you can always do. Bring it back in. And I'm gonna try and give you options today. So you're gonna take it over, cross again, other side, toe to the floor.

Yeah? And then bring the knee up. If you think of the principle of control and precision, those are gonna work the muscles better. So if you're out of control, if you find yourself wobbling. Can you do it for me? Just touch the toe to the floor.

Don't tense the leg. Just let it be soft. There you go. So you're challenging your control, finding the level that you can bring the quality to, and bring the foot down and bring it back in. Okay. So what I want you to think about now is, if we work with the body, it has to move.

So we're going to work a roll down through the spine. We're gonna try and move the spine and let it talk to us. This first thing I'm gonna ask you to do, is what we call a simple roll down. The head drops, the back of the neck's long. If you want to watch, just now guys, or you can come with me if you know it.

It's a point of tension. If the tension's at the back, you stop; if the legs releasing doesn't release it, you stop. Roll back up, and then you continue that, repeating and repeating, not stopping. So don't hold the movement, off you go. As you're rolling, I'm just gonna talk a bit more.

It's not about the floor as being your destination. It's about the spine talking to you. If it's not moving through the day, so you don't hold the down position, you roll it back up. You see the spine moving, like a slinky, vertebra by vertebra, falling over itself. And then rebuilding, like children building blocks up.

But let it be as slow enough that your center's in place, your breathing's in place, and you can visualize every piece of the spine building up. Stopping at the top for me, guys. So you could stay with just that. So if you feel you've enough challenge, we're gonna take it a bit further, however. When you roll down, I'm gonna show you this one.

When you roll down this time, you gonna come to almost the floor, tailbone up to the ceiling to stretch the back of the legs out. You see my legs are still bent, and then you're gonna reach the arms forward, looking at the floor in front of you, and then release, and gently roll back up. Yes? Off you go. So it's another layer of challenge. We're adding more pieces.

You only add the pieces, if the original movement's working with quality, that feeling of connecting down there, you should feel the stretch in the back of the legs. Yes? Roll it back up. So you don't have to have a straight leg to feel the stretch. One more of those for me. Roll it back up.

Feel good? Yep? So you should have felt a lot of things working. So, you can take any piece of these and do them through the day. We're just gonna do the last piece, a side stretch. You're gonna cross the leg over, one leg in front.

The leg that's in front. That's good, we're going different ways, that's good for the view here. I'm gonna take the arm up for the leg that's in front. Yes? Right?

And then you're gonna stretch up and lift it at the waist, and away and lengthening out. So it's not collapsing down, it's lifting up. Feel that length, bring it back, and try that again. Now when you reach up, it's your rib cage that's reaching up. The other foot is going down into the floor.

So you get that combination of two directions. You should feel it opening your waist. The more we can make our body long and tall the better. And bring it back. Let's try two on the other side, cross the legs the other way.

You could have gone back. That's quite coordinated. Right? So this can be challenging enough. You can see these guys are not finding this balance particularly easy. They're having to think about the control.

So if you are totally out of control in this movement, you've lost the principles. You're no longer teaching the Pilates method, or you're no longer practicing the Pilates method. Lateral reach, feel that waist lifting up. Trying to keep this one as long as possible, at the same time, there, and bring it back through. Right. We okay there?

So guys, what we're gonna do is, I'm gonna do opposing positions. You're gonna come around and sit down just here. Your feet can be on the mat. And you're gonna take yourself down to the floor. Now you want to take yourself down to the floor by using a little bit of an assisted roll up.

You're gonna pull back the leg in, lengthen this one out on the floor and try and control your journey down to the mat. Great. All the way down, leg goes down. The leg goes down on the floor. Now what we call the base position, is the legs are bent.

The legs being bent releases the pelvis for movement. Just a little bit closer there. About 90 degree. Shoulders down the back, it's that soft V we set up before, that connection, long back of the neck and then find your neutral. Roll your pelvis again and find your neutral.

So when you're doing the movement, guys, they're gonna play with this three or four times, you don't want it to be big movements. It wants to be a nice, subtle feeling without collapsing or pushing out. Now, when you find that middle position again, take your hands and just check the shape and then put another hand on top of the tummy. So you take this here from behind. Good. We're gonna work on the strength side now.

So make the connection to your center. So remember that sensation, that area you felt sensation. If there's a small sponge full of water in there, don't squeeze all the water out. Just do a connection to check that there's water in the spine, don't ring it all the way out. So it's a mild contraction.

Keep your hands where they were for the moment. I want you to listen to your body. So the hand doesn't go all the way under the back. Nice, you got a big curve in your back standing. You find where you can take your hand to.

We're gonna challenge this with the weight on one leg. You're gonna use the right leg. And as you breathe out, your out-breath helps the center connection that you've got. The knee comes up into what we call tabletop. While you do that, listen to the pelvis, listen to the lower back.

There's enough weight here to challenge those deep muscles we were talking about. You won't feel a big rewarding strength work here, but we want to get that focus. Holding it there still. Obviously here, if you're in control and you feel you're ready to challenge yourself, you can take it a little bit longer, which adds more weight. You can take it a little bit lower, which adds more weight.

But as soon as you start to feel you're wobbly, you've moved in the sand with the pelvis. You bring it back in a little bit. We're gonna stay with the single leg in this position. Bring it back in and float it back down. So you stay at the level you want to stay at.

And you're gonna float it back down and we'll do the other side. So the right leg comes up, with the out-breath. Now again, we did this standing. One side is different to the other. So I want you to think that you listen to your body, you don't jump ahead and you don't do movement.

You're trying to find the level that you can stay at for around about five to 10 breaths. We never do lots of repetitions in Pilates. You might need to do more than ideal to start with while you're learning it. But listen to the quality. You've got enough movements that we don't have to stay too long in any one movement.

Today, if you listen to how your body's working, you will compare it tomorrow. So again, you find the position you can hold, and don't rush around changing positions on this one. This is a stillness movement, for the legs and the challenge. Even if you don't feel a lot happening, if you trust that this is inside the body doing some good, it will make a difference long term. And then float the leg back down when you go to the right angle.

Remember how you got to the mat? Can you bring the other leg in, grab a hold of the back of the knee. Now, at this point, lengthen out the floor leg, flex up, and push through the thigh, bring yourself up. Now, if that's not working with some ease, you just roll over to the side and sit up, okay? We're gonna do a spine stretch now.

Now I've got the easy job. I'm sitting up on a nice box. You can sit up on a chair or a box at home, but I'm gonna sit with my legs here. The leg position for you guys. They've both done this automatically.

You can tell they've gone to class before. What I want you to think about, is if you have tension in the back of the legs, this is not gonna feel good for your lower back. It's gonna pull you back. So I want you to think that you sit up as tall as you can, soften those knees for me, and then bring the feet a little bit closer and let the knees drop out. So bring the knees closer in, and let the knees drop out.

That way. There we go. Now you should feel you can sit taller. Yes. So I'm not trying to strain the lower back. I'm trying to use good center support and have work going on here, but not straining it. So it's not important to be here. You can see my back.

It's important to be here. So you find if that's how you need to do it. The movement we're doing, spine twist, lovely movement, is we're going to sit tall, arms out to the side, drop the shoulders down. Now, if you stay there too long, you shoulders feel the tension that we just got rid of it at the beginning. Okay? So we're gonna to bring the hands in.

They're gonna touch. Thumbs on the sternum. Okay? Relax the shoulders, relax the arms. Now, in this movement, I want you to visualize that, my hands are right where I'm showing you on me. Think about the rib doing the movement.

So as you breathe in to prepare, you're gonna breathe out and turn, from the bottom of the rib cage. Bring it back on the in breath, and breathe out as you turn the other way. Your focus is to keep the pelvis still. Now in this movement, most of us have this habit of using our eyes and leading with the head. So it becomes this.

And I see people saying, "Look, I'm turning," but there's not a lot happening. So if that's what's happening with you, bring your hands up to touch your chin. So now nothing can move except your ribcage. Turn. Feel different? Yes. Now you've got the isolation of the mid and upper back.

If you sit a lot at home, this is the movement you want. We're gonna try an alternative breath, bring it back to center. This time, breathe out to prepare. And as you breathe in, turn. Does it feel more limiting?

So just changing the breath in your Pilates work will change the muscles that we're working with. We're trying to release the muscles between the rib cage. So if you know that you're quite rounded in the back, closed in the rib cage, you might need to use this breathing pattern first, before we start developing. All the time, listening to your back, keeping the center going. So even now the four points on the floor.

Do a little body check all the time, try and make sure nothing moves here. You're superglued to the mat. And bring it back in. Okay. We're gonna stay in this position. Changing the legs very slightly.

I'll turn to the side so you can see what we're up to. With this position here, we're going to take the hand out to the side. You bring it towards me, guys, so they can see. You're gonna lift the hip bone up. Yes, this hip bone comes up, and reach the arm up.

Now, holding that position, keeping the pelvis back, you're gonna reach diagonally forward, and you should feel it stretching out the back a little bit, flexing the spine. Bring it back around to the side. Now in this position, look up to your hand and open your rib cage like you just did with the spine twist, opening the chest up. Bring it back to center. And hip comes down, transfer to the other side.

This is taken from the spine corrector, which is one of the studio equipment, piece of equipment. In the spine corrector you get a little bit help with holding the pelvis. Here you're gonna have to work. Does it feel that you're opening the back up? Yeah? Come through the center.

And then when you go through the center, open the chest up. Remember your rotation up to the ceiling, at the end, before you go back? Alternating. Keep going guys. It's not a synchronized class, so don't worry. You're gonna do the diagonal reach.

So here, as you do the flection, and reach, this hip stays back, but lifted. Now just stay up, open to the ceiling, and then rotate out from the rib cage. Don't strain your shoulders to do it, do it from the rib cage, and then come back to the center. (slow soft music) Right. So rather than collapsing, lift and stretch. It should feel a bit different. Yes?

And then bring it back around. Great. We're not gonna do too many repetitions of things, we're gonna have a chance for you to feel the movement. Something that feels particularly positive for you, you can do as many repetitions as you want, as long as it's not going into 20s and 15s. Keep it below that 10 range.

Something that you feel you didn't get nothing from, reevaluate it the next day. Change your positions, be in more control of your pelvis. Think of your breath, breathing out as you reach, breathing in as you come back through the center. And at this stage, we're gonna breathe out as we turn as well. So we're not counting the sides.

So this one who we're gonna finish with. Yeah? And you're gonna stay there for one second, as we go to the next movement. You're gonna turn around onto your fronts and we'll do the swan dive. Now the original movement, you could stay sitting to watch if you want, but that's fine.

I don't like you looking in the floor because you'll strain your necks. But the original movement was quite dynamic and big, and there's a floor modified version. But what I want to do with you guys actually, is an alternative version completely. So if you know the movement of the swan dive from others, we're gonna stand up. You're thinking, swan dive, standing. What?

What it's about is opening up the chest, strengthening these back muscles, opening up this area. So what I'm gonna ask you to do is take one foot. You can come on the mat, for grip here, come towards them in the middle. Take one foot behind, and then drop into the front leg, so the knee's above the foot. And if you squeeze your bottom, you'll feel the front of the hip already opening up.

So this is the part we miss when we do very modified versions, we're gonna try and get that. Now in this position, you're gonna take the arms up forward, and open out the chest to the ceiling. And what you've just created from the front of the leg, all the way up, opening the waist, keeping a long supported center, chest expanded. You should feel the work through the back. Yes? Feels nice?

Good. Release that. Bring the leg forward, take the other leg behind. So it becomes back, and as you open, push forward and stretch. Now with this idea, come back and bring it back in. Try not to turn out that back foot.

When you bring it back in. Keep going in your own time. Don't worry. Try and stay parallel for me. It's gonna be a better stretch of the hip. The muscle's going to be targeted better.

That feeling now. Open in the air, squeeze these glute muscles, lifting up. Don't overbend, think of height, and open arms up wide to the side. Good. This leg's bent.

And bring it back out. Keeping alternating. No, no. Here. So the feeling should be that you're ready to jump out of a plane like they do in skydiving. Is that the feeling you've got?

Just pretend. So visualizations of a sensation helps with the body length. We're trying to do body length here. So that front leg, remember. It goes forward as we open out. And this is taken from the end piece of the cadillac, this idea of doing these standing stretches.

But it's replacing a mat movement that's quite closed and small. So if you see a swan dive, this is an alternative for you. And while you're doing that, I just want to show the guys that what you can do is, do the same feeling, sitting at home, on a chair, anytime you're in the office, stuck in traffic. The idea of Pilates is that it changes your daily life patterns. One more?

Yeah, we'll go for it. (slow soft music) And bring it back in. You're gonna use your roll down to take yourself down to the mat. And you're gonna come on to your side, facing me here, and I'll be demonstrating for you. Now, I want you to think about your mat, this time it's gonna support you completely.

You're going to lie out on your side. It's fine, both directions. It doesn't matter. Yeah? Yeah. She's not gonna kick you, don't worry. We're gonna do a balance movement first.

And then we're gonna move into another version of the movement. Lying on your side, if you need something under your heads here, guys, depending on your neck, you can put a towel up here, but the arm is supposed to support the head. Shoulders down. Now my position here, I'm gonna try and show you, that you're not just relaxed. So the feeling of the lower rib cage is connected up.

Now, it's not about big spaces. You know your body shape, you know what you're working with. But if the rib cage is relaxed, there's a different sensation through the inside of the body. So connect to those ribs, make sure that feeling of the lower waist is working. And then the hand is there for support in front of you.

Just through the fingertips for me though. Now in this position, imagine I'm there, in fact, let's not imagine, I'm gonna do it. You're gonna pull from the hip socket, with the top leg out towards the wall, not the ceiling. And you should feel now the whole trunk's working, yes? So make it come from the hip.

So this image is not that you're just working from the foot, keeping the hip stacked. You've got that pulling out of the hip socket and you see there immediately, that it's opened up here. Now that should feel stronger, yes? Now, can you move to one finger? If you're making that finger, you're not gonna to stay at this level, you're gonna put it back to all the fingers, right?

Bottom leg, bring it up to join the top one. Now your balance is in place. So our center's working through balance. Put your shoulders down. Shoulders come down the back. Good.

Can you move that hand to the side? Lengthening out the side to hold the balance. And then we would add movement to this, but I always talk about the idea of, if you're in a rather poorly suspended car and you're trying to have a drink, is that how you feel? If that's how you're feeling, you don't need to challenge it any further. So stillness is good.

We're going to play with this movement now while we're in this position, We've got some nice training from the center. Remember your center. Remember your breath. And control and precision are wonderful principles for Pilates. Bring it back in. Now in this position, you're gonna put the hand right on the floor in front of you.

Yes? So when it rests down with the head, still feel that connection to the lower waist, but bend the bottom leg for me. Now, what you're gonna do is the top leg's gonna come forward. Don't lose the shape of your spine. You're gonna bend the knee, and then keep the heel as close as you can to your glutes and take the leg all the way behind.

Listen to your lower back. They're doing it well guys. And then straighten that leg out behind you, reach it far away from you behind, and then forward. Bend the knee, and forward. We're doing a reverse bicycle.

There's a movement in Pilates that's called the bicycle, and it tries to open up the hip. So what you're trying to do is get that feeling of opening the hip, but controlling the whole trunk. So the lower back doesn't flex. Whoops. It doesn't flatten. And as she goes back with the leg, it doesn't shorten.

So keep this long, keep this long, keep this long. So it's going to limit, there you go. Keep that control. So you feel you're working as much from here, and not being distracted by the leg. Yes?

So that point when you straighten out the back leg, you're trying to find the same place. Bring it forward. Bend the knee in. And now here, keeping all of this control, take it back. Last one.

And then from where you are, just push up, bring the legs around the front and we'll go around the other side. So facing out to me guys. Yeah. So you should now be working the other side. Yes, we're good? Right. Basic side kick first.

I'll do the other side as well. How about that? Holding the position, those hands, fingertips, in front. Try and have it down towards the naval area here, guys, not up towards the chest. Helps the shoulders stay open. And again, the relaxed position is not what we're doing.

We're connecting the lower waist muscles. We're feeling the ribcage light on the floor, those legs are long. If I look at you now, you're in a balanced position as if you were standing. Don't overpoint the feet for me, guys. Don't work on tension too much there.

When you're ready, that top leg reaches out to the wall. Out of your hip. Good. Don't know if you saw the movement there, but she just opened up so much nicer. Nice and long. Ready with the bottom leg?

Can we go to one finger if we try that? Holding the balance? Can we try the hand on the side? We talked about this earlier. Not all sides are balanced. Listen to your body.

This side harder? Right. So you find the level you bring the quality to. It's never a battle. If I was to balance a cup of water on your hip, would it be safe? Would it be there for me to drink afterwards?

Good. That's the level you should be on then. So sidekick does get to leg movement, but it needs a strong foundation to be worked from. There are other versions that are a bit more dynamic, as well. They always all require position and control. How are we doing?

About five to 10 breaths in this position. But if you work on the fatigue levels, if your back is straining, you've gone too long. If your back is working, you're okay. There's a difference. Yeah? We're ready for the bicycle part?

So bottom leg bent. Hand in front, nice and stabilizing. Bend the leg forward from the hip, flex the knee, reach it out and reach away. Straighten it out. Out through a diagonal back corner, there. And back forward.

I really want you to think as you're doing this, what I want them to always be conscious of is what's happening here. Oops! I'm in your way now. I just got kicked and deserved it. I'll just play with you here. I don't want you to think about this collapsing.

I'll bend her like a bendy toy. Collapsing or flexing. So not shortening and lengthening. You ready to move again? I'll let you go. If you think, "This is not doing much for me," then you're not thinking about it enough.

You need to give yourself more challenges. How's your shoulders? What's happening to your breath? What's happening to your lower waist? There should be always something to think about. Just one more of these for me.

(slow soft music) Fantastic. Bend yourself up to sitting. And if you can both face into the center on this one that'd be good. What we're gonna do is, we're gonna do a roll up. Now, a roll up movement, often called roll up because you roll up from the floor, we start from seated, and I'll show you why. You'll play with this position for me.

If you sit with your straight legs, like we did with the spine twist, you felt what happened. So we gonna soften the position by bringing the legs in enough that you can feel tall. Yes? Not so close that you're pushed back, and that's gonna be different for all of us because we all got different flexibilities. Once you've found that position, yes?

We're going to work on the pelvic tilt. You tuck the tailbone under. Now if you look at each other, you can be each other's Pilates police. There's no such thing, but many of us would like to be. Unpaid, of course.

Tilt back. And then when you look forward in this position, you've now got a curve here. You've got a curve here. Keep them, and bring yourself back up. So you're looking down between your knees now.

Then lengthen that one at the end. That will keep your back from tightening up again. So the feeling of being pulled back from the sacrum, the back of the pelvis here, pulled back that way without collapsing, still presenting the jewelry, still being lovely and cool above water, underneath, it's an effort. Breathing in as you go back, breathing out as you come up, this movement progresses quite a lot. So you see here, we've just got a little bit of a collapse.

What I want you to think about, sit up tall for me. Stay looking there. Stay open. There you go. We're all looking at you from here. Keep noticing this work.

Tuck the tailbone under, bring it back through, and then breathe out as you come back up. And you should feel more opening of the spine. Yes? So again, here you've collapsed down. So it's not about flection, it's about tilting the pelvis under. There, there. Go for more, go for more, go for more.

There, and roll it back out. Now, just to show you, this movement does progress into a movement called teasers. I'm gonna give you a taste of teasers, a lovely movement that people use a lot to market themselves. If you see the magazines, they like the teaser. So the teaser movement itself, is done up here.

And you do your roll up while here, keeping the legs still. Yes? We're gonna try and see how that feels, to get to that position. So you're gonna bring your legs in closer, bring yourself to a balance point, hold that balance. And now just try and see how far you can take the legs.

Not too high, not too low. And you'll know the point where you go, "This isn't feeling good." Could you imagine trying to do the roll up combined with that? So bring the legs back in. Take the legs further away. And when you do your roll up, I don't need you to feel that much fight in the body. So if you do find yourself going further, the lowest we're gonna go is the base of the scapula, if you have the facility.

Roll it back up. Breathing would always be useful. Out to come back up is our preference, in to go back. But as you run out of breath, start making it longer breathing, do more breath patterns, always think. That's good with your shoulders. Good. Self-correction.

We love seeing self-correction, cause that means that you're listening to your body. You're checking things. There we go. Keeping the curve a little bit longer and now sit up tall. Last one, the best one, not the biggest, the best quality.

That center is critical here. Without the center the tummy bulges, the baggage is under stress. That feeling of connecting to your inner powerhouse. Great. So, we're gonna move into a lovely, another continuation of the mobility movement, but it's the shoulder bridge prep.

So I want to just show you the setup a little bit. So you can take yourself down to the mat the way, but watch for a second. When the legs are here, I want you to think that if they're too far away, you're gonna cramp here, when we do the movement. If they're too close in, you can't get the pelvis to your neutral. So it's a nice position, and I'll come around and check for you, where you got support through the legs and we're gonna do a simple movement through the spine.

Yes? So take yourself down to the mat, using your transition or your roll up, if you got there anyway. Set yourself up into what we call a shoulder bridge base position. So the feeling here is that you're definitely not in your place where we started with the hundred, and a little bit closer. That's fine. You were fine where you were, it was good.

Yes. Remember your pelvic tilts that we did to start with? You want to use your pelvic tilt, so you'll feel the lower back imprint, the glutes will get light, but then roll it back out again. So we start small, same as we did with the roll up. This is a movement, which is fantastic to do, to open your back up and allow the tensions to disappear from the lower back muscles. So we're trying to use the center focus.

But if you do this without grabbing those glute muscles at the back, without grabbing those leg muscles, then what will happen is the center will automatically be doing the support, to get further each time. So the glutes float, move into the lower back, and then roll it back down. Visuals wise to help you here, guys. I want you to think that your spine is like a bicycle chain and what you're doing is you roll it back out and create your lovely curve in the lower back again, and then you start to roll the bicycle chain up, to make it a lovely circle. And it keeps on rolling up link by link by link, until you may get to this ski slope position.

This is not the priority, the articulation is. And as you roll down, you unroll the bicycle chain. My hands are just following her spine, link by link by link. Obviously I'm going to take it away now, and roll through the sacrum. Good.

The breathing, at this point again, you shouldn't feel as stressed so you can do whatever breath you want, but the articulation of the spine will be better with an outbreath. Roll it back down. As you keep on going on through the movement, I want you to remember that this is a movement you can do morning, soon as you wake up, the back can handle it. You can do this anytime through the day where you don't worry about anyone seeing you lying on the floor. And you can do it anytime at night as well.

So if you know you've got parts of the days where your back just feels wrong, this is the movement to allow you to just open it out, but not switch the center off, not switch that support off. Remember always in Pilates, we build strength from the inside. Well, this inside is working here. The last one you're going to do, I'd like you to take it. So you go into your ski slope, arms come to the ceiling, just in case you were using them in tension.

Just soften them a little bit, try and relax them, there. And then roll through the spine, and see if you notice you're rolling off to one side more than the other, trying to keep it balanced. How does that feel? One more time. Roll it back up.

They said, "Good." They said it quietly, but they did say it. You're gonna do another one. This awareness, this ability to control your body subtly from the inside, it's what's going to take your practice further. The big movements train the superficial muscles. These movements train the inside muscles and keep the spine healthy.

Last one. We've got one more thing to do before bringing you to standing. And it's a movement taken from some work on the cadillac, but also some other work that you can bring into the world, which is breath work. So I'm gonna ask you to roll onto your sides, and facing me and I'll do it with you. Legs are gonna be bent.

Now you can support your head with your hands here, but you're gonna go all the way down. So the elbow's forward of you. And what we're gonna do here is, it's like we did before with that diagonal reach, I want you to think of taking the hand in front, bring it down. I'll come back a bit on the floor. You'll see my hand moving.

And then as you breathe out, you're gonna reach diagonally away. Yes? Let the head relax on the hands, so it can roll in itself. That's an outbreath, let the body flex, and you should feel your back being stretched open, yes? Take the hand round to the front, up over the top, and open the rib cage up, as you open out, the pelvis doesn't move, the knees don't separate, the lower knee's glued to the floor.

And circle around. As you come around, you're gonna reach diagonally. I'm emphasizing the breath, guys. So you can see, we want that out-breath to happen as we reach forward and flex. As you go through, open.

So we're trying to get those lovely muscles between the ribs here. We're also trying to get the diaphragm really working. And if you look at a lot of the classical, more traditional versions of the movements on the equipment, you'll recognize these kinds of actions are happening quite often. We've got the choice here to do it with the focus. And I'm just gonna give you a little extra help here.

So as you breathe out, flex forward, bottom rib drops, reach, reach, reach, reach, reach. Yes? And you should feel it moving into here, and then circle. So as she turns, the hips stay still, the movement comes from the rib cage. Don't strain your shoulder joint, guys, to make this happen, make it come from the ribs. We do have to do the other side, in a second, but we'll do this, feeling, and flex there for me.

Bit deeper? Yeah. Watch your face on the floor. Yes, if you're using someone else's mats, then might want to put a towel down first. And again, that comes from here. And, bring yourself up to sitting and you're gonna turn to face the cameras, guys.

Can you turn to face the other direction, and we'll do the same thing. How's it feel? Feels good. Feel good? Good, good, good. I can be nice.

Foundation work is quite intense until actually you're thinking a lot if you're doing it right, but here we're trying to just get a little bit of a release in the body. You're good there? Ready? So the diagonal reach first. Flex, that rib cage drops in, opening up the back, and then circle. (slow soft music) As before, the worst breath is no breath.

So don't overstress. So when you're doing a movement, find the point where you need the most important breath. And that's here, as we reach diagonally forward, and breathe out. The rest of the time as you rotate, just make sure you don't hold your breath. That's the rotation from here. There we go.

Then you come around and smack me in the face. I've got nice clunk in the pelvis there. Shouldn't be moving the pelvis. So if the pelvis is moving, we're losing something from the spine. So try and think that you just use your center to support your pelvis even here.

So you're not switching everything off. Last one. So one more. (soft gentle music) Fantastic. Bring yourself around onto your hands and knees.

Don't worry about seeing me, just turn onto your hands and knees, simply the way you are. Okay. They're trying to be good and face the center. Bring yourself onto your toes. Walk the hands back, roll up. I won't stand up. Roll up. Step off the map for me.

And just do me a little favor, just move. A little salsa hit, whatever works for you. Just get things free, shoulders as well. We're just gonna do a little bit of a refocus on breath to finish, yes? So the arms are there.

You've got lots of things you can do. How's your body feel? Great. Good, good. Like a nice, simple work for the body.

Closing your eyes for me. So always remember: breath is so key to many of the ways you'll see teachers teaching, but the worst breath is holding it. So here for me, guys, just do a couple more Pilates breath, that training breath. So, if you do it separate from the movements, we can start to learn the sensation better. So when you come to the movements eventually, it will become easier, but you should feel your Pilates breath even feels easier now than when you started the session.

If things feel worse when you finish the session, you need to change levels. You need to stop fighting the movement. Think about how it feels for you, rather than what you're trying to achieve, effort wise. Now naturalize your breath, take a nice full breath. And as you do that one, everything just feels ha ha.

Breathe in. We forget to breathe. Breathe out. And thank you very much for joining us today, and thanks to my wonderful volunteers. (volunteers clap)


What a great way to start the week! Thank you, that was bliss!
1 person likes this.
Excellent class! Thank you
1 person likes this.
Well I feel fabulously open (plus focused)! Thank you for that Malcolm. Motivated for Monday now!
Super class!! back to basics is always amazing, and great way to learn about Pilates principles for budding teachers!!!
6 people like this.
Thank your for your lovely comments. This has to be my favourite level of class to teach and I am passionate about the Principles and understanding of technique make this method what it is! Thanks again!
2 people like this.
Thank Malcolm for a great class. I did my Pilates matwork training with you at the Pilates Institute in 2003 and have always loved your visualisations and how well you explain the principles.
2 people like this.
What brilliant teaching.More please.
1 person likes this.
Loved it. Great teaching style..clear and informative. Thank you.
1 person likes this.
Great class Malcolm, thank you !!
Fantastic class, lovely pace and attention to detail. I really enjoyed it and my body feels much better!
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