Welcome. My name is Hallee Altman. I am joined by Gloria and Angelique. Today you are gonna experience MELTed Pilates, the beautiful marriage between the MELT Method and classical Pilates network. I highly encourage you, if you haven't already, to watch Sue Hitzmann's discussion on the MELT Method and her MELT class.
Because as I teach, I'm gonna be referring to the techniques and language of the MELT Method, and you'll get it all from her, from the source. So, we always started MELTed Pilates class with an assessment to be able to see where our bodies are in space before we add movement to that. I invite you to join Gloria and Angelique to lie down on your back. Good. Arms and legs extended, as long as that's okay for your lower back, and then rotate your palms to face up towards the ceiling.
Great. In our assessment, we're looking for something in MELT that we call stuck stress or dehydrated connective tissue. We know that stuck stress likes to live in three places in the body: the shoulder blades, the diaphragm, and the pelvis. As you're lying down there, just take a breath and kind of come into your body. Just at first glance, I just want you to notice where your weight is distributed on the mat, what parts are heavy on the mat, what parts might not be touching the mat.
And then I'm gonna teach you how to figure out whether you have stuck stress in your body and what it might be affecting in terms of your postural alignment. Let's start at the top of the body. What I want you to do is just notice the masses of the upper body: the head, the arms, and the mid torso. As you do, notice for yourself whether your head is weighted directly behind the bridge of your nose or whether it feels slightly off-center. Notice also in your arms whether they feel even or asymmetrical.
Does one feel longer or more externally rotated? And then finally, where's the weight in your upper back? Do you notice most of the weight propped up on the shoulder blades, or do you notice it actually coming down to that mid-rib wall? If you don't know what you feel, that's okay too. What we're gonna do is use a common sense of movement to see what's going on.
So, slowly turn your head from left to right. And then just notice for yourself, do you have a difference in range, restriction, or even pain? And there, once your head comes back to center, if you notice any of those things, if you notice an offset arms or offset weight in the upper back, it's a sure sign of stuck stress in the shoulder girdle. Let's move down to stuck stress in the diaphragm. What I'm gonna have you do is use your body sense and actually heighten that body awareness.
Instead of touching your lower back, which is what we're gonna be thinking about, I want you to use the finger and touch the front of your body. So, you're gonna put a finger right in your belly button and evaluate the size and scope of your lower back curve but from the front of your body. Where is that low back curve nestled? Is it just behind the finger, or has it migrated its way up towards the ribcage? And if I'm describing what you feel, again we've got a telltale sign that there's stuck stress in your diaphragm.
Go ahead and take your hand out, and rest it next to you. Finally, let's figure out if there's any stuck stress in the pelvis. Here, stuck stress displaces the mass of the lower body. What we're looking for is two evenly weighted butt cheeks, the backs of thighs nicely evenly weighted on the mat, and then evenness in the legs. What most people feel, because they have stuck stress in the pelvis, is instead of two butt cheeks, they kind of feel one center bone or they're not sure of what they feel.
Some people actually need to go digging to feel where the back of their thighs are relative to the mat. And then as you continue down the leg, notice the lift in the back of the knees, notice the weight of the calves, and then notice where the heels have met the mat. Ideally we're looking for the heels to land on the outer 1/3 of the heel pad. Now evaluate for yourself. Do you have stuck stress in one or more of those three places, the shoulder girdle, the diaphragm, and the pelvis?
Anyone? Yes. I would be the same way if I were lying on the mat. Super common. You're not broken.
This is just what happens from daily living. Now we're gonna one more assessment. That's called an autopilot assessment. I know we talk about the autopilot as a regulator of this much larger neurofascial system that keeps us centered and grounded. To figure out whether you have autopilot efficiency, I want you to divide your body into a right and left half and then notice for yourself, does my whole right side or whole left side feel longer or heavier than the other?
Or maybe it's just happening in your legs. Does one side of your body feel more off balance? Again if I'm describing what you feel, your autopilot has kind of directed where your center of gravity and it's my job to get you back to your center before we add classical mat work. The thing that we don't want to do is add to our inefficiency or strengthen our dysfunction. From here, take a breath, roll yourselves on over to the side.
We're gonna use a MELT half roller for class today. I'm gonna ask these ladies to just edge their bottom up on the very front edge of their half roller. Yep. Sit down in the center. Let me help you.
There we go. And then even yourself all the way down until you're lying down and your head is also gonna land on the roller. You can reach back and feel to make sure you've got, yep, head on the roller. Good. Legs are ideally hipbone width apart and the forms are resting on the mat as a frame of reference and to help you balance.
The first thing we're gonna do is start with gentle rocking. I'd just like you to tip your body over until you run into one arm and tip your body over until you run into the other arm and just take your time with this. Remember that line we drew down our center? Now you're lying directly on your spine and your body is picking up a lot of information about where it is in space. Give it time to just settle for a moment and continue that gentle rocking.
And then come on back to center. In Pilates, we use our core and then add movement to that, but we want to make sure that that core system is really on and working for us. The easiest way to get it turned on is through breath. But before we do, we need to make sure that our pelvis is in the right place to again fully support that system. I'd like your heels of your hands on your front hipbones and then your fingertips are just gonna rest long on the pubis bone.
Now from here, typical if you've done this in a Pilates class before, you're gonna add a tucking motion to your pelvis. The thumbs are gonna weight down and you're gonna curl in. Yep. And then you're gonna untuck back to center and then tilt, allowing the fingertips to go heavy on the pubis bone. Again tucking, passing back through center, and tilting.
Good. And then notice what is initiating that movement? When you tuck, are you pushing into your feet, are you squeezing your butt cheeks? When you tilting, you notice that your ribcage is getting lighter on the roller. Take another focused breath.
There is no real wrong way to do this. It's just more efficient and less efficient. Just remember where it was. And then we're gonna actually use it to reassess and do after our 3D breath. We're gonna take that 3D breath breakdown and we're gonna take one hands below belly and one hands for the lower ribs.
In equal and opposite timing, I want you to breathe out your belly and your back. Inhale and let your whole body expand. You need to throw that notion of keeping your powerhouse in out the window for this point and really just let that belly go and then just naturally deflate your breath. Again one more time, inhaling top and bottom, beautiful, and exhaling. From here, migrate your hands to your side body.
Do heel of the hand around the side and fingertips rest on the front of the ribs. Take an inhale wide into the heels of your hands and then again just a nice, easy deflate that breath on your exhale. No squeezing or pushing or wringing out your lungs. Just a nice, easy exhale. One more time.
Inhale wide to the side and exhale, let the air go. The third breath, the third dimension we're gonna explore is the top bottom dimension. This one's gonna become a hand right up around your throat collarbone area and the other one low at the pubis bone. Here we're gonna get a little more specific. I want you to breathe in two directions, but can you send that air all the way down to the bottom hand and then all the way up to the top hand and then a nice, easy exhale.
Good. Almost a shortening in your torso. One more time. Inhale long to the bottom hand up to the top hand and then exhale, let that go. Great.
Keep your bottom hand where it is, move the top hand right down to your belly 'cause I want you to feel the changes that are about to happen. We're gonna change our focus away from the inhale and now to the exhale. Take that six-sided inhale that you just found, the top bottom, side side, front back. And then on your exhale, first just a natural deflate of the air. Now let's really add to it.
A six-side inhale and then you're gonna force the air out with a strong shh sound. Notice what happens right underneath your fingertips. It's almost a corseting that happens, a wrapping around from the back right to the front. Try it again and change your sound to an S-E sound. (hissing) And then the third sound that tends to work for people really in terms of engaging that core is an H-A, like you're fogging a mirror.
Ha. Go ahead and try that. I want you to do two more time with this focused exhale, sound of your choice. Figure out which worked the best for you to really find that core contact, find that core engagement. One more time.
Ha. Now remember that feeling as a reflex. Now I'm gonna ask you to mindfully recreate that core connection. A normal size inhale, a normal size exhale. And at the tail end of that exhale, just feel and follow and see if you can recreate.
This is essentially your pre-Pilates. When we go and start Pilates movement, we engage the core first and then we add. Here we're prepping it on our roller, getting feedback from the spine. Good. Now let's test that out.
Now that the core is engaged, redo your tuck and tilt. Yes. And then notice it may not be as big of a movement but hopefully you feel it a little bit more internally where you're engaging from the core to make that tuck happen and then allowing the tilt happen and you also may notice that the ribs don't lift off the roller as much. One more time. Looks good.
And then I want you to land in home or neutral. That's really where we're gonna practice being strong. One of the overlaps between MELTs and Pilates is the ability to move one part of the body and keep the other still. Here you're moving the pelvis while the ribs are staying still. What's much harder is moving the ribs while keeping the pelvis still.
We're gonna add a MELT move called the rib curl. I'd like you guys to hug your upper body. If you have a delicate or sensitive neck, one that likes to strain or take over, then you can choose one hand and place it behind the back of your head throughout. From here, you're gonna take just an inhale to prepare. On your exhale, with or without the sound, find that core contact and then you're gonna allow those arms to get heavy on the ribs as you curl forward looking right between your knees.
Now once you're there, the pelvis is gonna want to tuck to help you. I want you to think heavy tail, light feet. Shift your focus up and then lift up slightly and then lower the whole thing back down. We don't want to stay there for an extended period of time. We get into it and then get right back out of it.
Again take an inhale to prepare. On your exhale, use the sound or not to connect to the core. Curl head and shoulders forward. Good. Untuck that tail or reset your pelvis.
Shift your focus up. Lift up slightly. Lower right back down and relax. Recross your arms the other way. Take an inhale.
On your exhale, connect to your core. Curl head and shoulders forward. Nice. Reset that pelvis. Heavy bottom, light feet.
Look up, lift up. A little quiver perhaps going on in that neurocore. And then lower back down. One more time. Take an inhale to prepare, exhale, engage your core, curl head and shoulders forward, reset the pelvis.
Even if you don't think you've tucked your pelvis, reset that pelvis. Light feet. Look up, lift up slightly, and then lower down and release. Now one more thing before I transition you off this roller, we're actually gonna do our 100 here on the half roller to give the spine better feedback. What you might notice is that you actually curl up a little bit higher.
Before we start pumping the arms, let's make sure our shoulders are on the back the way we want them to. You're gonna extend your arms forward on an angle. Palms face each other. Perfect. It's almost like the arms have the same forward angle as the thighs.
And then I just want you to reach forward slightly and then glide those shoulder blades right back down around the roller. Reach forward and glide back. It should feel good letting those blades butt up against the roller. Beautiful. Head stays down and heavy.
Looks good. One more. All right. From here, turn the palms to face forward. Take an inhale.
On your exhale, find your core first. We did all of that setup to practice. Curl head and shoulders forward keeping your arms the height of your body. Reset that pelvis. Heavy tail, light feet.
And then begin pumping. In with the air and exhale the air. Excellent. You have a nice bird's-eye view of what's going on in your abdominals. Remember that core sitting.
And exhale, pumping from the back of your arms. In with the air and exhale. Cycle through the cues. Is your tail still heavy? Are your feet still light?
Now as we get about halfway through, we may have lost the core contact. If you even want to add your percussive breath sound here to re-signal that core, go ahead and inhale. And then a nice, steady shh as you exhale. Good. Three more times by my count.
Never count. Last one. And exhale, two, three, four, five. Beautiful. Lower the arms down.
Lower the head, neck, and shoulders. Pause. Take one more focused breath here. Inhale. Exhale.
Choose one leg. Straighten it long on your mat. And then you're gonna drip yourself off that roller, hips then ribs then head. Move your half roller out of the way and let's reassess. Let's see the changes that we made in the body.
Rotating palms to face up towards the ceiling, take a moment. Remember we were looking for stuck stress in the three places it likes to live: the shoulder girdle, the diaphragm, and the pelvis. I asked you to slowly turn your head from side to side to notice if there was any difference in range or restriction. Let's reassess that neck turn. Go ahead.
Any differences, ladies? Yes, more range. Love it. I can see the difference. And then bring your head back to center.
And then really what I see on the two of them and hopefully what you feel at home is that the ribs have come down. Instead of just feeling the weight propped up on those shoulder blades, you actually have a sense of weight on that midrib wall, which is fantastic. Then there's the result of that most likely. Smaller low back curve, anyone? Yes, fantastic.
And then you might also experience an indirect change in the lower body. If you feel more buoyant butt cheeks and evenly weighted, fantastic, you've got a good, well-hydrated body with good communication. Continue traveling down. See if you got any closer in the backs of the thighs. We might need some more direct.
Oh we got it. All right. We might need some more direct work. If you don't feel it, don't worry, we've got more work coming. But the real goal of that rebalance sequence is to turn on that autopilot and really get the communication system working.
Let's reassess our autopilot. Divide your body into a right and left half. Remember how you felt at the beginning. Now notice the difference or similarities between your right and left sides. Do you feel more balanced?
Yes, excellent. You look more balanced, which I love. Now we're just a little bit closer to that ideal body to do Pilates with, which is what I love. From here, I actually want you guys to work on our roll-up. We're gonna use our Pilates roll-up exercise as a little bit of an assessment today.
Roll over the side. I'll do this one with you. Yep. Safely roll to the side. Come on up to sitting.
And then join me for a half roll down. Knees bent, feet flat on the mat, and hands are gonna go behind your thighs. Sitting nice and tall through your spine, take an inhale. And then I want you to use that same initiation that you did for your pelvic tuck and tilt. You're gonna curl that pubic bone towards your belly button and you only need to really go halfway down on this first one almost until your arms are barely extended.
Pause here. Take an inhale. On your exhale, hug through the midline, draw in, and come back up. I want you to keep going over, uh huh, and just take a stretch to see what's going on in the back line. From here, initiate through that belly and one more time rounding back.
We're trying to keep a bit of length through the spine. It's more like a capital letter C as opposed to a lowercase C. You still want to hollow out that body. Hug through the belly, come on up, and then round forward. All right.
I'm gonna challenge you guys to now go down as far as you know you can get back up. Inhaling on the way down, exhale, pause at your working level. Inhale on the way back up. And then let's progress it. Lengthen your legs and round forward.
The arms are gonna reach forward, the belly is gonna scoop back and just take that reach. Bend your knees again. Let's do one more time. This time, I want you to think about what you feel, what's easy about your roll-up here, what's more difficult about your roll-up, how far are you getting back, notice. Pause at your working level.
Exhale deep in through the belly, come on up, and then notice the stretch forward too. As you lengthen your legs and reach forward, where do you feel the restriction? What's keeping you from going further? What's keeping you from scooping up? And then draw that navel in and just sit and nice tall.
We're gonna use the half roller as a prop to work on the pelvis stability component of this exercise. Half roller flat side down. Bottom is gonna go on the front edge. We're gonna do the same thing. Now we're only doing three of them because it's not the most comfortable position, but that's okay.
Really plant your feet on the ground. Hands go behind the thighs. We're essentially gonna do the same thing but on a half roller. Draw that navel in on your inhale, exhale, curl through the tail. Now here I only want you to go as far back as you wobble.
As soon as that wobble happens, pause. Maybe come up out of it a little bit. Really hug through your center, and then curl all the way back up to sit nice and tall. Inhale, exhale, draw that navel in, round, carve out that low back. Keep going.
As soon as that wobble happens, pause. Remember we don't want to strengthen the instability. Draw that navel in, come on up, and sit nice and tall. One more time. Take an inhale.
On your exhale, curl the tail. You might only go two inches and that's fine. That's just where we are. Remember we're trying to strengthen. Stability, not instability.
How far you go isn't important. It's how stable you stay. Draw that navel in, come back up. How you guys doing? Good.
All right. You're gonna edge off of your roller, flip it over, and now we go on the flat side. We have three chances to make a very stable pelvis. Now we have our very stable pelvis on an unstable object. Good luck. (laughs) You're only 2 1/2 inches off the ground.
I'm a little bit higher. (laughs) Hands go behind your thighs. You're gonna inhale. On your exhale, curl that navel in. Yep, we've got more surface area under your pelvis, but it changes the game a little bit. Pause.
Draw the belly in, come back up. Sit nice and tall. Inhale, exhale. Start from that low belly. Curl back, drawing the navel in.
Yep. Stop before you wobble, hug your belly, and come back in and up. Sit nice and tall. One more time. Take an inhale, exhale.
Draw the navel in, yep, keep the feet planted, head nice and easy. You're looking straight ahead instead of down and towards your chin. And then come back up. And sit nice and tall. Good.
Done with that. Move your half roller out of the way because now it's you and gravity again. Let's roll up, reassess. Arms are gonna reach forward. Yep.
If you need to hold on your legs, go for it, but otherwise let's challenge ourselves. Draw the belly in and round back again to your working level. How far can you successfully go and get back up? Inhale, exhale, draw that chin to your chest, and then inhale on the way up. Lengthen the legs and exhale, scoop as you round forward.
Maybe keep your legs straight. Draw that belly in, connect your heels, and round back. Yup. Go for it. And release, reaching the arms over head for a nice stretch if you can.
Then arms come up. Curl chin to chest. Grab ahold of those legs as needed and round up and round forward. Good. Did we notice any changes just from that stability work?
A little bit. Fantastic. But we've got more to do. What I'd like you to do is grab your half rollers. They're gonna go flat side down underneath your legs.
You're gonna lie down and then we're gonna set that roller underneath your pelvis. Just like when we took the MELT class and used the full roller underneath the pelvis, it's the same setup with the half roller. Here you can see on Angelique that the roller is underneath her pelvis but way below her natural waist. You can even, in this position, take a little pelvis tuck and tilt and make sure, yep, you can arrive in both places adjusting the roller accordingly. One of my favorite things to do to know if the setup is right is pick up one leg and the other and bend both knees into your chest.
You can even move your hands out of the way. I love this position because as someone who has been always cued about my splaying ribs, I can actually feel my back ribs on the mat, which is I think what my teachers have been asking for for 18 years, and it feels fantastic to have your ribs on the mat, and it feels great on the low back 'cause the pelvis is just kind of floating. From here, take an inhale. On your exhale, use your sound. Connect to your core in this position and then we're gonna slowly move the knees away.
Heels are slat to your bottom. But if you can see, the knees are not going directly up to the ceiling. They're still kinda pointing overhead. And then check in because as Pilates people, we tend to do a lot. We tend to hold tension.
Take a moment and make sure that pelvis is actually weighted on the roller and you're not gripping or tucking unbeknownst to you. We're gonna use the hands underneath the seat to make a frame to make sure that our range stays small. Yep, perfect. From here, we're gonna add the shearing of the shearing of the SI joint. The knees are gonna angle slightly over to the right.
You can see on Gloria that she's run right into her hand. So, her position is perfect. Just pause and notice what you feel. Any kind of sensation going on in the back or the right side of the pelvis. Then transition the legs back through center and over to the left and see what you feel on that side.
Notice if there's a difference. Notice if that one side when we did our autopilot assessment that was more weighted. Is that the side that you feel a little more sensation? Is it opposite side? All these are clues to how our body functions.
All right. Let's head back over to the right. And then we're gonna add two different types of shearing here. We're gonna make circles, small circles like the little bullseye behind the back of the right hip. You can notice that Gloria's knees stay angled towards her as she circles.
And then we're gonna morph those into slow walking steps or marches. Take your time. You don't want to rush through this. It feels good. Less is more.
And then just pause. You always, in shearing, want to wait and take a focused breath so that tissue underneath can adapt. We'll transition back through center and then angle over to the left until you run into your left hand. We'll do the same two types of shearing. Little circles and then slow, indulgent front back marches.
Beautiful. That should feel good too. Pause, take focused breath, and then transition the legs back to center. Great. From here, we're gonna add a more advanced MELT move called the pelvis tuck and tilt challenge.
I'd like you to take the palms of your hands, touch them to the fronts of your thighs, and then lengthen them all the way up until your elbows are straight. That's the only rule on this one. Keep those elbow straight. And then in a very Pilates way, we're gonna keep a wide collarbone and almost give a little bit, a tiny little bit of effort coming from almost the armpit, behind the armpit area. Yep.
Stay here. Take an inhale. On your exhale, use your sound to connect to that core. That's all I want you to do on the first breath. Again take an inhale.
On this exhale, the core is engaged, you've added a little effort into the heel of the hand, and now I want you to resist that by pressing the thighs into the heel of the hands. You know you've done it when you feel a tightening across that low belly. We've actually turned on hip flexors. Now they have a job. One more time.
Let's take an inhale and then exhale, finding your push-pull resistance, finding that deep core. Now remember back when we were on our roller lengthwise, I asked you to practice your tuck and tilt. Now I want you to do it here. Curling the pubic bone towards the belly button and then uncurling and landing that pelvis directly back down on the roller. Yes.
Keep going. It should be hard trying to figure out how can I move my pelvis in this position and then uncurl. For those of you that feel fatigued in your hip flexor, especially when you're doing Pilates and you feel like I can't get out of my hip flexors, this is a great one for you because it gives the hip flexors a job of hip flexion and now we get to move the pelvis from that core system. Good. One more time.
And then untuck or tilt and pause here. Good. We're gonna actually add on a decompression of the low back. Take an inhale. On your exhale, connect to that core.
Find your push-pull resistance. What I want you to add is a deflating of the ribs. I'm reaching all around you to find those ribs. There we go. Again take an inhale.
On your exhale, find that core. Yes. Tilt the pelvis. Try not to let that pelvis tuck, yep, and ribs. I'm asking for a lot.
We're gonna do one more time. Take an inhale. On your exhale, a nice push-pull resistance, connect to that belly, untuck the tail, and then I also want the ribs heavy. Hold it, two, three, and then relax out of it. Nice job.
I know, it's a big one. All right. From here, we're gonna add a lengthening technique. Sue Hitzmann talked about the ways to affect connective tissue. We can either compress it to make a change or we can tug on it and lengthen it.
You guys in your SI joint shear compressed the tissue to rehydrate the pelvis. Now we're gonna add a lengthening technique called bent knee press. What I'd like you to do is hug your right knee into your chest, lower the left leg, and just line the foot up with the pelvis. Yup. Knee in line with your hip also.
Now you can either hold on top of the shin or you can go underneath the thigh depending on what's better for your own body. Take an inhale. On your exhale, the first thing I want you to do is find that core and tuck your pelvis. Yes. Then you can draw that shin in towards your shoulder.
What we're looking for is a length across the top of the thighs. I'm even gonna give you a little. There we go. Ease up a little bit on your inhale and then again start with that tuck. That's gonna make, yes, this lengthening technique happen.
Yep. Feel it? Yes. Lovely. And then relax and it's that fast.
You just get in and get out. Go ahead and lower that right thigh. Pick up the left. Good. Notice here if right away the knee wants to kinda wing open to the side, we want to keep, yep, thank you, keep it in line with the hip.
Take an inhale. On your exhale, tucking the pelvis first, drawing that shin in, finding the length across the top of the thigh. Ease up a little bit. Take an inhale. Exhale, actively tuck that pelvis, draw the shin, find the length in.
Even if it's a little sensation, that's okay. We're not looking for a huge change, we're looking just to find that tissue and make a little change in the tissue. And then release. Excellent. Lower this leg and stay.
Now before we assess our MELT work, we're actually gonna add more Pilates. What I'd like you to do is separate your feet and are hipbone distance apart again. Press down equally into those feet. Lift the pelvis up almost like our shoulder bridge exercise. And then with your hands, flip your half roller over.
Now the flat side of the roller is gonna be underneath the pelvis. You can set your pelvis right back down. And then bend both knees into your chest. Now there's an important set of cue here. Instead of having the roller parallel to the floor, I actually want the roller angled towards you.
You may need to adjust it slightly if that's the case. Gloria looks good. You can see that slight tilt of the roller. That's gonna allow her to keep her pelvis in a neutral position and her low back safe. The second her legs reach out and that roller moves, now we have a precarious position for her low back.
We don't want that. It also again lets you feel those back ribs anchored so that we can get the work of the upper abdominals without even lifting the head. Head gets to stay down, neck gets to stay relaxed. Your first exercise here is part of our stomach series, the series of five. Let's go ahead and take that position of right hand reaches down towards right ankle, left hand comes just south of the kneecap.
Draw your navel in and in opposition as you send your left leg out to 45 degrees. Good. Now make sure that you haven't tipped your roller. Now you have a visual cue about what your pelvis is doing as well. Really draw that navel in.
Let's take an inhale and then change legs, exhale. Yes. Inhale, hug right. You got it. And exhale, hug left.
You are still working, finding that opposition from the navel, scooping one way, and the legs lengthening out the other way. Good. Keep going. Inhale and exhale. Looks good, ladies.
Inhale and exhale. Really send that leg. You can challenge yourself. There we go. Excellent.
One more time. Make it more about the tummy, less about the legs. Think of them light as a feather as they exchange midair. One more time. And then bend both knees into your chest and pause just for a moment.
Our single leg stretch is almost like a preparation. One leg at a time, you got the control. Now we have both legs for double leg stretch. We're actually gonna start with just the legs. You can drape your hands over your half roller.
Heels stay connected. Knees are gonna be shoulder width apart. Take an inhale to prepare. And then on your exhale, draw the navel in and send the legs out to your working level. By that, I mean that place where you can find your scoop and you haven't moved the roller.
Inhale, retract those legs back in, and then exhale, scoop, and send the legs out. You can even add a little inner thigh work. Inhale, come back home, and exhale, send the legs out. Let's do one more this way. And then let's make it more challenging.
Bend your knees into your chest. This time, we're gonna incorporate the upper body as well. Hands are gonna be on shins. We're gonna change the breath for a more challenging breath. Ready?
All right. Take a breath to prepare. Exhale, draw that navel in, and then it stays in. As you inhale, arms and legs reach in opposition. Squeeze those inner thighs together.
Exhale, hug everything back in. Inhale, reach. Head's gonna stay down, but you're reaching away from your core. And exhale, hug it right back in. Three more time.
Inhale, reaching, and exhale, hug on those legs. Don't forget about your inner thighs. Inhale, go, and exhale, hug, trying to keep your roller still. And hug the knees back in and pause. My own personal favorite, single straight leg stretch or scissors, both legs are gonna come up to the sky.
And then depending on your flexibility, you can either hold behind the thigh or walk up to the calf. Head's gonna stay down on this one. But we're gonna do a little preparation before we actually flow. Keeping the right leg where it is, lower the left leg about halfway, and then I want you to pause. I actually want you to turn on the back of that right thigh by pressing your leg into your hands.
Yes. Do you feel that shift that happens forward a little bit? It resets your pelvis out of the tuck. Get rid of that tucking tendency. Now you've got a neutral pelvis on top of an angled roller.
Scissor the legs. Let's do the same thing. Activate that left. Yes. Find the oppositional scoop.
Now we found it. We can go up tempo. So, we go. Pull, pull right, and change, pull, pull left. And right, right, left, left.
Looks good. Keep breathing. Inhale and exhale. Right, right. Try and bounce only the top leg, not the bottom leg.
One more time. And last round, right, right, left, left. Excellent. Bend your knees into your chest and rest. Double straight leg.
One hand goes on top of the other. Both hands go behind the back of the head. Again we're gonna keep the head down. There is a version where we lift the head, but there's so much going on. It's such a big exercise that I'd rather start you guys out this way.
Both legs go up to the ceiling. I want you to think outer hip squeezes towards inner thigh. If you customarily do it in a little rotation, go ahead and do that. If you normally do it in parallel, go ahead and pick your way. But find that deep core.
If you need to use the sound, go for it. And then I want you to inhale, lengthen and lower those legs. Three, two, one, and then reach out to come back up. Yes. Only going as low as you can manage the half roller staying still.
Yes, beautiful. And come back up. And inhale and exhale. When I was first taught this exercise, it became a quad exercise for me 'cause my hamstrings were so short and tight. I couldn't figure out how to get my legs down and up.
But when you had that half roller underneath, now you actually feel your lower abdominals, right? Yes. (laughs) One more time. Lengthen and lower. Squeeze, lengthen, and lift, and then bend your knees into your chest. All right.
Ladies, let's actually move your half roller out of the way and go back to our rest reassess and roll-up reassess to see what changes we made in the body. Lengthen those legs long, rotate your palms to face up towards the ceiling, again evaluating how much closer we might be now to that ideal alignment. Noticing in the body any indirect changes that you might get in the upper body. Turn your head from side to side. More space perhaps?
This is one of my favorites. When you rehydrate the back of the pelvis, the change that you get in the upper body is one of my favorite. It looks like everyone has more space, which I love. Again check in with the weight of the arms, the weight distribution there. Check in with the weight on the shoulder blades versus the midrib wall.
See if we've let those ribs come down and maintain our changes from our rebalance sequence. Go ahead and notice your low back curve. You can even take your finger and press it into your belly button again. Here the change that you might notice if you actually have a more buoyant low back curve, but it's a little more specifically located just opposite that finger. I love it.
And then take your hand out. And then we get to the real, direct change in the lower body. Two butt cheeks now. Anyone notice the backs of their thighs a little bit closer to the mat? Yes.
We've really made some nice changes in your body. Let's check back in and make sure that we've kept our autopilot alignment. Divide yourself into a right and left half. And notice whether you feel evenly balanced or whether some of those exercises pulled you out of ideal alignment in that way. Check in with your body.
Excellent. Okay. Now we have a taller task of redoing our roll-up to see if the changes in the lower body actually helped our roll-up. Bending your knees if that was your way or keeping your legs straight if that was your way, take an inhale to prepare. Exhale, engage that core.
Curl chin to chest, and inhale on the way up. Exhale rounding over, straightening the legs. Go ahead and reach. Draw the navel in. We're gonna do two or three.
Inhale, roll back, and exhale, lower back down, taking the arms overhead for a stretch. Arms come up, inhale on the way up, holding the backs of the thighs as needed. Nice. Exhale, keeping that belly in as you curve and round forward. One more time.
Yes. Exhale, articulate down. Extend the arms overhead, arms come up. And inhale, come back up. I'm gonna keep you up.
Beautiful. As you round forward, enjoy that stretch. Notice the difference. I asked you what you felt in your first roll-up and let's see if we noticed a change in either the work, the connection, yes, the articulation, the stretch forward, all of it. It all looked better.
Okay. Adding on a challenging exercise, crisscross. We're gonna take the half roller again lengthwise behind us, flat side down. One more time, I'm gonna ask you to lie down on it like you did in the very beginning of class. Tail at the very front edge, ease your way on back, check and make room.
Make sure that your head has space on the roller. Every time we get on the roller lengthwise on the spine, we always redo that gentle rocking. Take that time to breathe and just tip your body from side to side. Good. And come on back to center.
Okay. Our crisscross exercise, again so many things going on jampacked into this exercise. What we're gonna do is break it down on the roller to give your spine a little more feedback. And then when we get off the roller, we'll just do our regular mat crisscross exercise, I know, to see how it goes. It's a lot of crisscrossing.
Your right form is gonna stay on the mat. Left hand is gonna go behind the back of the head. Yep. Feet are inner hipbone distance apart. Yes, perfect.
I'm gonna bring your heels a little bit closer to your bottom. Excellent. All right. The first step is much like our rib crawl, making sure that we have our proper pelvic position. Take an inhale to prepare.
On your exhale, with or without the sound, find that core contact. I recommend the sound. And then curl head and shoulders forward. Pause there. Untuck that tail or think heavy bottom, light feet.
Now I want your left armpit to cross your body towards your right knee and then uncross and lie down. Gorgeous. It's not a hugely satisfying range of motion, but it's because we're keeping the pelvis still. Let's try it again. Take an inhale.
Exhale, engage that core, curl head and shoulders forward, and then cross left armpit towards right knee. Beautiful. Uncurl and lie back down. One more time like this and then we're gonna add on. Take an inhale.
Exhale, connect to your core. Curl head and shoulders forward, twist. Yes, beautiful. Heavy head in your hand and then untwist and lie down. Now we add on.
Inhale, exhale, engage that core, curl head and shoulders forward, arrive in your twist. Stay in your twist. I'd like you to float that right leg up to tabletop. Use your right arm to help. Breathe when you need to.
You're gonna tap that right toe down and pick it up without changing your upper body. Tap it down and pick it up. One more time. Tap it down, pick it up, lower the right leg entirely, then untwist and lie back down. Well done.
Good. Can we take one more progression? All right. Let's do it. Take an inhale.
On your exhale, connect to your core. Curl head and shoulders forward. Now remember this position. You're in your curl, but you haven't twisted yet. Then twist that left armpit towards your right knee.
Pause there. Float your right thigh up to tabletop. Then from here, you're going to untwist as you straighten the leg. Twist and bend. I know.
Untwist and straighten. No lying down. Twist and bend. One more time. Untwist, straighten.
Twist and bend. And then lower that right leg, lower your upper body. Well done. Let's do the other side. Left arm goes down onto the mat, right hand comes behind the back of the head.
Take an inhale. On your exhale, curl head and shoulders forward. Find that core. Yep. And then twist right armpit towards left knee.
Untwist and lie down. You may notice that one side is a harder twisting side. We all have them. That roller brings out those imbalances quite nicely. Take an inhale.
On your exhale, engage your core. Curl head and shoulders forward first. Twist armpit towards knee without letting that pelvis move. Untwist and lie down. Last one this way.
Take an inhale. Exhale, find your core, curl head and shoulders forward, twist armpit towards knee. Yes. Untwist and lie down. Now we add on.
Take an inhale. On your exhale, find that corseting. Curl forward, untuck that tail. Twist, hold. Now you're gonna use your left form as your left thigh floats up to tabletop.
Breathe when you need to, tapping the leg down and picking it up, keeping your upper body still and pick it up. One more. Tap it down. Hang in there. Pick it up.
Lower the leg down and lower the upper body and pause. Okay, the big one is next. Take an inhale. Exhale, find your core, curl head and shoulders forward, reset the pelvis. Now remember this position.
Twist, pause, float the left thigh up. And then from here, I want you to just untwist as you straighten the leg. You come center and then twist and bend. You got it. Come center.
No lying down. Twist and bend. One more time. Come center. Keep curling.
Twist and bend. You got it. Lower that left thigh, lower your upper body. Thank goodness that's over and that I didn't have to do it with you. Take your arm down by your side.
Good. Take a focused breath here. And then on your exhale, lengthen one leg long, drip yourself off that half roller, push your half roller out of the way. All right. But let's see what it did.
Bend your knees into your chest, one hand on top of the other, both hands behind the back of the head. Take an inhale. On your exhale, curl forward into your crisscross position. Good. Let those legs float a little bit away.
And then I want you to lift and spiral to the right as you extend your left leg. And then come through the center and twist. Good. And lift through the center and twist. And lift through the center and twist.
Excellent. Challenging still but way more efficient in the body after all of the setup that we did. One more right, one more left. Excellent. Come back to center.
Lower head, neck, and shoulders. Relax. Extend those legs long. Take a brief moment in your rest reassess position. Good.
We were on the roller lengthwise. Let's see if we were able to maintain nice space on our neck. Whether we were able to maintain that weight on the midrib wall, on the little lift in the low back. Anyone keep their butt cheeks? Good.
Keep the backs of their thighs. Any improvements? I'll take the improvements. All right. But we're gonna roll-up reassess to transition.
Gather those legs together. Bend knees as needed. Take an inhale. On your exhale, draw the navel in. Curl head and shoulders, reach behind the thighs as you need, and roll, really nice, roll up and round forward.
I love it. Last exercise of the class is gonna be spine stretch forward. We're gonna actually use the half roller to create a little bit of lift to help the spine. From here, I want you to flip your roller over to flat side up and you're gonna sit on top of the flat side. Extend the legs slightly wider than shoulder width.
And then I actually want you to pick up the fleshy part of your bottom and move it out of the way. So, you can really feel those sitz bones on top of the half roller. And then you also want to keep the roller parallel again to the floor. In this case, the tipping roller, no good. We want to keep the roller where it is.
All right. A gentle flex in the ankle. But because we've got the pelvis higher than the heels, I want you to protect the backs of those knees to give me a little buckle in the back of the knee. Draw the navel in and extend your arms. Take an inhale.
Really lift up through your center. On your exhale, crown of the head goes forward and down as belly and ribs go back and up. Inhale, draw that navel in, sitting up nice and tall and exhale right back down. Remember this is a breathing exercise. So, really empty your lungs.
Draw the navel in, fill your lungs. Find that tall spine. Exhale, empty the stale air out. Beautiful. One more time.
Sit nice and tall. Exhale, empty the lungs as you round forward, scooping that belly back in and up. Inhale, come nice and tall, and then exhale and relax. To transition off the mat and into the rest of your day, I actually want you to come off the roller. Yep.
And then you're just gonna find a little squat position just in front of your half roller with your hands on the mat in front of you. You're gonna press those heels down as your belly lifts up and off your thighs. Find that equal weight in your feet as you draw the navel in. Head is heavy, shoulders are heavy. Slowly roll up to the spine until shoulders are on top of hips, head is on top of shoulders, standing nice and tall, ready to continue on with your day.
I hope you enjoyed this beautiful combination or MELT and Pilates. Happy MELTing, everyone.
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