Class #3821

Beginner Mat 2

35 min - Class


You will bring awareness to the backside of your body with this Mat workout by Cara Reeser. She continues to build on the skills you learned in the previous class adding more attention to the contraction and release of your back and shoulders. By the end of the class, everything will feel a bit more stimulated and awake.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Towel, Theraband

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi, I'm Cara Reeser and I'm here to do a beginner Matt class with you. These are the props. We're gonna use a hand towel. Um, and you might as well go ahead and just fold it up right now. The way we're gonna use it, you're gonna, I fold mine into three strips depending on how thick yours are. But something like this, I'm just going to set that side to the back of my mat. We're going to be using a theraband. Uh, I have like a medium strength theraband. Whatever you have is fine, but I kinda am going to need this to help me.

So a little weight to it would be helpful. And then lastly, we need a blanket. Um, or you could sit on anything at home if you have meditation cushion or Yoga Block. Um, but I take my blanket and I generally fold it three ways like this. The goal being just to get your bum a little higher than your leg. So you're comfortable, particularly with this beginning part, which is going to be seated and you can go ahead and just face me and cross your legs. And if crossing your legs isn't comfortable, you can find whatever is a good seated position for you. Okay. So we're going to enter into the practice and I have two other classes attached to this one with the theme.

And the theme of this class is to bring awareness to our back body. Um, so I feel like we spend a lot of time really aware of the front of ourselves. It's how we look at ourselves. It's how we kind of move forward. Um, I feel like we leave the back of ourselves out a lot. So the concentration, the attention will be brought to, um, thinking about the backside of our body and I'm getting it to contract and getting it to stretch and release. So we're going to start with our theraband and I'm going to take my theraband and I'm going to bring it around my back rib cage, right?

And so right away I want to start with breathing, which I'm going to start with all of these classes because breathing is really important in this practice. I'm an across the band and I'm going to pull it, uh, pretty snugly around the back of my rib cage and I'm going to close my eyes. Used to close your eyes too, cause it's very relaxing and I'm gonna find my sense of center right, my central access of support, my upright postural position and feeling the band around my back ribs. I'm going to inhale slowly letting my back fill out into the band, really stretching that band with your ribs and then exhale. Inhale into the band and exhale. I like to breathe in and out through my nose during this practice.

It just helps slow the breathing down a little and exhale. One more time, feeling the back rib cage and exhale. Now take your band and you're going to bring your band forward. Now we're going to use that breathing. I want you to imagine that band there was the whole class right wide deep back body breathing the whole time we're working right now, we're going to take this bend forward. We're going to inhale, we're going to pull and bring our shoulder blades towards each other in the back. Inhaling, exhaling, bring the band forward.

Uh, again, inhale, pull the shoulder blades together. Now we're warming up that upper back, right. Exhale. So again, this is about awareness, right? Mindfulness, being aware of the feelings in your back, body, sensations of the muscles between your shoulder blades. Two more. Inhale, pull. Try not to let your ribs come jutting forward during this one. It's really easy to kind of shift forward here. Let just the blades come around.

Exhale, and just bring the band up a little bit to the high diagonal and just do a little bit of pulling out in, in here, right? We're just heating up the back of our shoulders here. So just breathing steadily, just pulling in and out and just feeling the shoulders heat up a little bit, right back body awareness. Yes. Exhale and bring your arms down, right?

So you already feel that kind of getting you warmed up back there. We're going to slide this blanket aside. We're going to turn facing this way. Now we're going to get started in the practice. We're going to come to the front of our mats. If you're at home this first exercise and you have a slippery surface, it's going to be the best. If you're on a carpet or something.

I want to be off my yoga mat and might be a little harder. So just bear with us. But we're going to grab our toes. We call this exercise sand tunnels. And I'm going to pretend I'm making sand tunnels. Actually what am I going to do to make life easier is I'm going to use my hand towel here. I'm going to put under my heels. Okay, cause that's going to be real slippery on the floor. So I'm going to pretend I'm digging sand tunnels into the sand with my heels.

I'm gonna push my heels forward. I'm going to bend down and stretch and then I'm going to pull my heels right? So this is going to get me going in the back side of my legs again. Inhale, push, full inhalation, stretching the back body as your forward. Exhale, pull the heels towards you right now. Maybe you're not as flexible as me. That's fine. You could also use your theraband here, right? And just do it this way, right? So it doesn't matter.

I have a lot of flexibility, but the real goal is to feel the stretch in the back of the leg, the legs and the contraction as you come in. So you modify that however you need, but we would just want to get that sensation. You're going to hop off the towel and come back a little bit. You're going to reach our arms forward. Actually, let's use our therapy room for this too. Let's take our theraband under our balls of our feet and I'm going to choke up on my band like this. We're going to start with some setups, which I know can be intimidating, but the band is going to help us.

So we're going to go inhale and we start to roll back through my pelvis, right? Feeling my spine move. We did these in the other classes as well, so if you took that, it might be familiar and you're going to roll back up. I'm going to use my man's and say, pull up on it to help me come back to seated. So I'm thinking about that breathing in my back body, the sensations of my back body, making it to the mat. Lower, middle, upper head coming up its head, upper back, middle back, lower back, pelvis, two more times. Breathing. Exhale. Right? So this is a pretty hard abdominal exercise. Not to mention that it's using my arm muscles a lot. All right?

So you might feel a little fatigue and that's what we're looking for is getting everything going here. So you're going to go down and down. Good. So now take the band and bring it under your knees. And um, I think the handhold is best if your palms are facing each other and sitz bones. Distance apart with the feet, right? You're going to inhale, pull the band. Inhale, exhale.

Ah, right. So I feel the back of my spine long gating on the mat and now I feel the back of my shoulders heating up as they pull the band. Right? So we're feeling the back of the shoulder girdle. Inhale. Exhale. [inaudible] two more in exhale.

Oh, last time. Feel your shoulder blades moving along the mat surface. That's exactly right. And down and just bring this bend down and just let it rest under your legs. We're going to do some bridging now. So you're going to bring your arms up to thighs, right?

And you're going to plant your feet and press your feet into the, and what's gonna happen is you're gonna start to curl your pubic bone up, right? You're going to feel your pubic bone curling towards your navel center. And then you're going to bring your thighs up into your hands and risks. And I want you to press firmly, hands to thighs, thighs, hands, good, easy on your neck and take a deep breath in an exhale. Are you going to roll through the upper spine, middle spine, lower spine release. And again, you're going to curl through, right?

And I'm going to do that same action of really pressing right? And what you're going to notice is this is making you work the back of your Tush, the back of your leg. So we're in a back body practice here. Breathing. Yeah. Exhale. Rolling down. One more time. Up, pressing the feet.

Really gaining a little bit more power in the back side of the Turkish back of the legs. Press the hands down, press the thighs up, breathe in. Exhale, roll down. I don't know about you, but I feel the back of my legs heating up right away. And then just bring your arms down by your side. So the next thing we're going to do is straighten your legs out. Now this is pretty, this is a really hard one.

So you're going to straighten your legs out. I would just scooting back to get off that towel. And what we're going to do is at ice and Mac isometric contraction of our back body in a straight leg bridge. So basically you're going to try to pick your bum up off the mat. Inhale, exhale back down. Right now my boom doesn't really come off the mat.

I have kind of like a nice round Bob. So if you don't clear the map, that's fine, but you're just looking to cake. Take some weight off and hold. Okay. And back down. I'm really pushing my heels into the mat. Inhale, firing up the back of my legs, back of my butt, back on my arms, back of my back, back down.

One more time. I know this is like one of my least favorite ones. Oh so hard and back down. Good. Bend your knees and plant your feet. Scoot your pelvis back under you and rest. So now you're going to do Pistons.

You're going to bring your right knee into your chest, right? And then I want you to keep that leg there. Keep your pelvis still and try to pick your left leg up, right? That's hard. So now we're going to keep our backs heavy on the Mat, right? So you're not going to lift your rib cage, lower the right leg down.

Try not to archer back here and lower your left leg down. So the single leg pistons again, left leg up right now, just feel close your eyes and be aware of your entire spine on the mat or you know, areas that are lifted. Just be aware of how far off the mat they are and don't change that as you bring this leg in, right? So that's heating up your core, your stomach muscles, right? You there helping, but you're also really needing to use the awareness of your back body to control that. Right? Like in, so I feel my back body, I feel where it is in space. I don't let it change. Right leg down. I don't let the back body change. Oh at once too. I don't let it cause I have control of my body because I have a mind and here we go. Good and left like that.

Oh, it's was getting tired and stretch both legs out along the Mat. Good. I like to use my hand toe for this next one, which is all the way at the bottom of my mat. So I'm just going to get up and bring it back down. Okay, so here we go. We're going to take that hand towel behind her head, right? We're going to do roll up with the Intel, right?

You're gonna lift your head, float it, curl it. Right. And we're going to try that. We're going to reach the Telford and we're going to try to roll all the way up to our feet. Stretching over our legs and we're going to roll back. Now this is pretty advanced movement here. I'm is difficult.

So if this is not available to you, then what I want you to do is take your knee into the towel and do your roll up with a little bit of assistance stretching forward and coming back, other knee into the towel to help you roll back, right? So either way, I'm going to chew two more, not using my knees so you can kind of work on that reaching forward. Inhale, roll back. Okay. Oh, x Hillary, job. Good. Again, if you're using the knee, we're going inhale. Exhale using the knee and the towel just to help us make it through that movement.

Next thing you're going to do is bring that knee into your chest and either bring your foot into the towel or if that's too much for you, bring the tower to the back of your thigh, right? I'm going to go with the foot version and we're going to stretch into our hamstrings. Good. So you're going to take a deep breath in and deep breath out. Okay. You could bend your knee, inhale and exhale, straighten it if you prefer. Or You could use this. Do a static stretch whole to either way. Inhale, exhale. Again. Inhale, Eh, that's hell. I love the feeling of stretching my hamstrings. So now I'm going to bring that leg down and I'm just going to switch legs.

I'm going to bring the other foot in and I'm going to go with the same thing. Now I'm tighter on this side so the leg doesn't, you know our sides aren't equal. A leg does it come up as high here? Inhale, exhale. Inhale. I often find more stretch in the exhale, some to kind of push it a little. Exhale. Inhale.

Excellent. Good. Now I'm going to leave this leg up. I'm going to drop the towel down to my thigh and I'm going to try to walk up this leg. I'm going to lower this leg a little bit. This is called tree. Lift the head up and I'm gonna walk up up right now. That's harder than I just made it look. So you can use momentum, do your best, but we're getting really big stretch across that back body line.

As we do this, we're going to lift the head up again. If you need momentum, he might swing up a little bit like that, but just see if you can get here and then just have a moment where you drop your head and really stretch into your back of your back, back of your leg and walk back down. Yeah, right. And we get better at these movements as we go, so don't worry about that. Let's bring the left leg up, right? And then take it to a lower, like maybe 45 degrees or a little higher, maybe 55 and lift your head and find your way up, right? Again, use momentum if you need to. And then we're going to come back down and if you need to use the momentum, maybe it looks more like that, right?

But we're going to get up there and then we're going to do some dropping of the head and some stretching along the back line there. Right? Breathing into the back of your rib cage. Okay. Exhale, walk back down. [inaudible] good.

Bring both knees into your chest and using a little bit of a momentum. Roll yourself up to a seated position. Okay, so now we're going to do rolling like a ball. We did this in the last class. Um, so if you took that one already, we're probably getting better at this. Um, so we're gonna good. We're rolling through the back body, right? So the theme is backed by, you're going to lift the legs up and down. You're going to inhale, roll back, exhale, right. Try to keep your chin tucked in. Right? Sometimes we use our head, we throw our head back is momentum. I would much rather you use your, your butts side as your momentum here. And two more. Inhale, roll up, roll back. Exhale, roll up. Inhale, exhale up. Right. And I always ended up scooting a little to the right on that, which is, uh, you might find that yourself too, right? So, you know, take that right knee into your chest and let's find our way back again.

Rolling back. Okay. We're going to do an exercise called scissors are going to hold the right leg, left leg floating, and you're going to pull that leg into your chest. One, two. You're going to switch one, two, switch, one, two, switch. Big Hamstring stretch again, right? So we're really into that back body. Yeah. Now if this is hard on your neck, you know what to do, right?

You take that towel, you hold your head up with that towel and you still do the leg gesture, right? Which I really recommend. If all you could think about as hell fatigued your neck is, that's not where we want to keep the attention. Bring the leg up, lie down, take a deep breath in. Exhale, come back up. [inaudible] take your legs up and now we're going to straight leg, lower lift. Our legs are going to inhale, lower down.

Exhale up. Now I only want to take my legs as low as my back stays the same, right? So if you feel like your back arches really quickly don't go very far. The other option is to put something like a towel or your blanket under your pelvis. Here and that might help keep your lumbar spine more stable as you lower and lift your legs. One more time.

Exhale, knees, Zen and roll yourself up to seated. Now we're going to go onto our hands and knees and a we call this quadrant pet in the movement world. Um, we're going to do some back body, uh, exercises in this position. So let's just start with cat and cow, which probably most of you have heard of before. You're going to inhale, curl your pelvis and Tuck your head in. Rounding your spine like a cat, and exhale tail up. Head up like the sway back of a cow.

Inhale, curling under. I press my shins and hands into the mat here. Exhale, lift the head, lift the tail, keeping my breath into my back body in him. Yes. Nice. Stretching my ribs there. And exhale. Now coming to center, right? So I'm going to not be too arched or too rounded.

We're going to slide the left leg out, right? This is called bird dog. I think in the yoga world, we're gonna pick that leg up right now. I'm really charging up my back of my leg. I'm not changing my lumbar spine. And then I'm gonna reach my arm out and I'm going to breathe for one. Exhale, breathe for two.

Exhale, breathe for three. Exhale, why the arm under took the lake back in, right? So that's a lot of back body and a lot of balance and stability. So if you're tipping, it's cool, just keep going for it. Just fall and get back into it. That's how we get better at things.

This is all a practice. So send that leg out up. Sorry. Send that leg out. Lift the leg right, get the back of the leg turned on and bring your arm out. And we're going to breathe in for one. Exhale. Breathe in for to exhale. [inaudible] breathe in for three. Exhale. [inaudible] hands down, leg down, hand down, hand down, leg up, whatever.

Get out of the position and go back onto all fours. Just push back into child's pose for a minute. Just feel that stretch in the back. And let's take our towel and we're about to go onto our bellies. So let's take our towel folded up, right to a little kind of sausage or you know, a narrow strip.

And I want you to put your hip creases right on that towel, right? This is going to be to help us que what we need to do for a pelvis during our, our, um, prone series, right? Whoops, I'm a little too close to the front of my mat. I'm going to pull this back a little, right? So here we go. So I've got this right under my hip creases, hands under my forehead, and we're gonna start with some, um, prone leg lifts. So what I'm going to do here is just pick your hip creases up off that towel for a second.

Now push them down into the towel until you feel them muscles around your buttocks in the back of your legs working. Straighten your knees and we're going to lift both legs up off the Mat, but I'm going to keep pressing the crease of my hips into the towel so that my back is not arching a whole bunch here. It's pretty stable. And then I'm going to come down. Inhale, straighten the knees with the legs and hold. Breathe in for one axiom. Breathe in for two. Excellent.

Breathe in for three. Keep pressing the crease exit legs down. Now keeping your knees straight and your hip creases pressing. Just pick your upper body up a little bit. Inhale, exhale. [inaudible] again, pressing the crease of your hips into the towel. Inhale, upper body comes up a little bit. Exhale, keep the knees straight. I know it's fatiguing. Pressing the crease of the hips into the towel.

Lift up and now bring your hands right under your elbows or under your shoulders. I should say actually since I'm doing polite to not yoga and coming up slowly into your first one. Inhale, exhale. Now I'm keeping my legs apart, which is easier. Closed is to harder and I'm keeping my knees straight and pressing the hip crease as they come up to. Maybe your swan is only this big today. That's awesome. Maybe you go all the way up today. That's also awesome. Whatever it is, you want it to feel good cure in your pelvis and not crunchy in your back.

One more time. Time up and down. We're going to come onto our forearms now and we're just going to prepare for the single leg kick exercise. So I want you to pick your left leg up and bring your heel to your sit bone. Pulse, pulse, and stretch other like up heel to sit, pulse, pulse, and out. Let's keep doing that.

And what I want you to notice is that you're pressing your hips into the towel, right? And that you're not crunchy in your low back and at the back of your legs and the back. Your tissues are working like mad, right? Full hamstring contraction, no doubt about it. I can feel it. You can feel it and Whoa, take arrest. Take a deep breath in axiom. [inaudible] okay, come back up. We're going to do two legs at the same time. Three kicks. We're going to go up. One, two, three, stretch down, up. One, two, three. Stretch down, up. One, two, three.

Stretch down, head down. Pull back into child's pose. Separate your knees pretty wide and drop your bum back to your heels. Drop your head down. Take a deep breath in, back body. Exhale. Coming back to the practice, back to the theme. Inhale, back body, exhale, breathing into the sacrum. Maybe in inhale, exhale.

So we're going to come on up. And so those exercises we just did are all moving towards sort of traditional or classical. Applaud these protocol exercises, right? So again, the point being in these classes is to kind of get our skill set up right so that in a few months from now we're going to like turn on this channel and jump into an intermediate or advanced class, right? So, so we're going to be building on these skills throughout this beginner series. So now we're going to go onto our back to the last part of this class. We're going to lie on our backs. I'm going to put my towels yeah, side and I'm just going to come down to a supine position. Feet pretty close to my sitting bones and hip with the part arms down by my side, right? I want to start with a sort of mini version, a challenging version of shoulder bridge where I'm going to bring my right knee into my chest. Uh, not really into my chest, but at 90 degree angle.

And then I'm going to actually just lift my hip bomb up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. And maybe you're not even moving your bum that much. It doesn't matter. As long as you're contracting back, there is what we want and rest, foot down other sides. So I'm trying to curl my palace and just lift up the beginnings of a shoulder bridge down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, foot, down. Now come into your shoulder bridge. Put your hands right back there so you can feel this and contract the backs of those hamstrings and glutes to come up into that shoulder. Ridge. Arms down by your side. Take a deep breath in.

Exhale, come down. Yeah. Again, curling the pubic bone towards the navel, reaching the thigh crease like imagine the towels here, right? Just push into that magic fairy tale right here. Push the arms back so you can get up a little higher. This time, breathing, breathe out. Rolling down, right. You can use your arms pressing backs. Right.

So get your triceps back. Your arms really toned up here. One more time up. Yeah. Everybody should be doing bridging. I'm a real believer, right? We sit on this way too much. We need to activate it. Here we are and roll it back down all the way and rest. Now we're going to turn onto our side and do a little side leg variations.

So you're going to have your knees bent to 90 degrees angle to your trunk and your head can be down. I think that's the best, right? We want to keep our hips stacked so sometimes they, I use my hand to kind of reach my up, down over and I'm going to keep my hand there actually to help me and I'm going to lift my knee up and down. Okay, so maybe you've done these before. If you've been to PT, you probably have done these because this is a real famous PT exercise called clam. But what we're doing here is we're really toning up the, the rotator muscles in our hip here, getting the back of the hip going, and I'll keep this and then just pick your leg up and down, off your foot from your hip crease, you know, and down, up and down, up and down. Up. No. Oh boy. You're feeling that now. Up and down. Yep. It's going to get harder. Here we go. Keep your leg like this and go out an n, I n n o n n out, an n, n out, N in, down. Stretch both legs out. Keep your top leg turned out. Kick up, calm down.

Kick up, calm down. So you've noticed I put my hand to the front here. That helps with balance. Kick. Yeah. Up and down. Up and down, up and down. Good. And then we're gonna switch over to those side. Just bend your knees and I'm going to come on up and I'm going to swing around and do the other sides. We're gonna lie again.

We're hip, a 90 degree angle here, hip to trunk, and we've got our clams to start up and down again. I like to keep my hand on this top hip and make sure I'm not like kind of moving my pelvis around, but I'm just moving my leg, targeting the muscles, the back side back on my hip here, up and down, up and down. Now we're going to do that little hump movements like doing a little hop, a little bunny hop. Go up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. And now the worst part out, n n out in, out, in, out, in, out. Yeah. In stretch your legs and kick up, down, up, down, up, down. Two more down again. Your leg might not be this high. It doesn't matter. Yeah, it's just about getting that movement going.

And then we're going to come on up to seated and swivel around. Back to the front of our mat. Place your hands back here. Feet really close to your sitting bones. And we're going to come up into a tabletop position, uh, so to speak.

And we're going to lift our hips up, wrap our blades back, and take a deep breath in. Okay. And exhale in Haleigh. Exhale down. Now I'm really pushing with my arms or morality, my shoulder blades.

I'm reaching my hip crease into the towel and back down. One more time. Up you go. Exhale and reach your arms forward. Last exercise of this class, you're gonna wrap your hands under your legs and hold the outside of your Shin. This is similar to rolling like a ball, which we did earlier. I want you to clap your feet together. One, two, three.

Let's just the fun part and then rollback and try to balance when you come up. One, two, three, roll back. Roll Up. One, two, three. Tuck the chin. Lift the booty, and back. Two more. One, two, three. I don't know. Yeah, back body, right.

We really feel that spine opening up and come to seated. Yeah, and just bring yourself forward into a little bit of a butterfly stretch. Take a deep breath into the back of your ribs. Exhale, [inaudible]. Stack your spine up.

Come back to a comfortable seat. Just for a moment and just close your eyes and just bring your awareness back to your back. Body back of the head, probably all feels a little bit more stimulated, even just for the attention you brought to it, which is a lot of it. Bringing your awareness to your shoulder blades, your mid back, low back, safe, safe from back of the hips. Deep breath in. Exhale. Thank you.


Very nice class Cara Totally enjoyed thi nice clear cueing! Thank you
Karen D
2 people like this.
A treat for my back—thanks
Melanie M
2 people like this.
Good morning Cara.  I was wondering if you could recommend some modifications for some of the movements for someone who had spinal fusion in the neck.  I don't know if I should even bother with using the towel.  I look forward to your feedback.  Great class! Thank you.
1 person likes this.
Cara this is such a  skilled and aware introduction to the main "gestures" ( as you say)! Just getting back to Pilates Anytime I have not been using it and here this is!!! Thank you!! 
1 person likes this.
I love these 3 classes, I am just getting back to Pilates after I had a concussion two years ago and it is amazing to do it and feel good and energized afterwards. I want to do this with my mom and sister next time I go visit. :):) Will let you know how it goes.
Thank you so much for these amazing classes.
Lina S
1 person likes this.
Great cues!
1 person likes this.
I really enjoyed your clear instructions and the tempo of the class - slow and controlled! This is my first class with you and i will definitely check out your other classes. Thank you!
Cara Reeser, thank you for this so well explained class! I would kindly ask you if there some clue to make "Seal" in ease way. Or some prep for it. Thank you in advance! 
1 person likes this.
Enjoyable class, difficult.  I can't do roll ups and a few other things.  2nd time I did it.  Can I go on to #3?
Julie C
@Cara Reeser this is great, I've done your first class and this today during Covid19, you explain very clearly and I'm looking forward to session 3 tomorrow
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