Class #3822

Beginner Mat 3

35 min - Class


Let go of the tension that prevents you from doing what you want in this Mat workout with Cara Reeser. This is the final class in her Beginner Mat Series and she focuses this class on stretching. She uses props and breath to assist you in the movements that are new to you so that you can bring your attention to the sensations that you feel in your body.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Towel

About This Video


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Hi everybody. I'm Kara Reeser and we're going to do a beginner mat class together. Um, here are the prompts. You're going to need a hand towel and, um, let's go ahead and get it prepped. So our, we're going to fold it into about three or four kind of long folds. Um, so it's something like this and then we'll just set it over here. Um, we're gonna need a theraband. Uh, I'm using a medium strength theraband. Um, you know, whatever you have at home is fine. If it's really lightweight, you might want to double it up though, cause it can kind of let us down and then we're gonna use a, um, blanket or at home you could use a yoga. I mean, um, yeah, Yoga block or a meditation cushion or it's just something to sit up on so that during the seated sections we're comfortable. So I'm going to take my blanket and I'm going to sit it back here and um, sit on my blanket.

So you should do the same and just get into a comfortable seat. So actually that's a little low for me, so I'm going to double that up. Um, and that's going to feel better as we move into the practice. There we go. So the theme of today's class is, um, the attention being on the sensation of stretch or better said would be letting go of tension, letting go of holding, letting go, letting go, right? So muscle tissue actually only knows how to contract. So it doesn't actually stretch, it just contracts less or more.

So this whole class, we're going to be kind of diving into the sensations around stretch and using our mind and our attention to help the contractile tissues let go. So that could be in our, just directly in our muscle, but it could also be kind of in our mind, right? Just sort of right. Letting it go. Um, the other thing I want you to think about is that a lot of times we avoid things like pilates and yoga because, um, the sensation of stretch can be kind of threatening. It can make us nervous, right? It can make us feel like there's harm being done to us. So I love during this practice just to keep leaning into the breathing, particularly the exhales and really reassociating that sensation of stretch with something very positive, something that's gonna make us feel better at the end of the day. So when you notice yourself like, whew, I feel that in the back, my legs, you know, just you're gonna use that XL phase just to let it go, right? Cause it's actually not a threat. Might feel like it, but it's not. So we're going to get started with breathing so that we can, uh, have that right by right in our pockets as we go through the practice.

So find a comfortable upright position. Just take a couple breaths and just notice how you feel. You know, are you wound up? I'm a little wound up, so I'm going to calm it down and hmm. Right. And see if you can imagine your trunk lining up in a central access of support or a center line or a something of a relaxed upright posture is a good way to think of it. We're going to start with some counted breaths, right? So the goal for this breathing series is to going to be to exhale longer than we inhale. There's all sorts of good, smart, scientific reasons I think that will be helpful to you in this session, but you can just trust me and we'll go forward.

So go ahead and close her eyes and we're going to inhale for one, two, three, four, and now we're going to exhale for one, two, three, four, five. Inhale for one, two, three, four, five. Exhale for one, two, three, four, five, six. Now, if that's as far as you feel like you can go, keep doing that. If you can go further with me, let's inhale for one, two, three, four, five, six. Exhale, four. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. And just do two more of those that whatever count felt right for you. Inhaling, exhaling.

Inhale an exhale. Well, that feels so good. Let's just do it one more time. Just getting into the breath. Inhaling, I'm gonna just make that exhale just a little longer than your inhale, right? We're going to keep trying to let the exhale expand throughout this practice. So let's bring our blankets to the back of our mat here and have a seat with our legs straight out. First stretch, hamstrings.

Here we go. So finding that vertical axis of support, that upright posture. Again, let's do the deep inhale and as you drop your head, the elongated exhale as we reach forward into our first stretch, we're going to hold. Inhale, hold, exhale, let it go. Let it go. Inhale, roll back up. Exhale, finding the upright posture, slowing down that exhale. Inhale, exhale, really long gait, the exhalation stretching forward. Take a deep breath in. Take a longer breath out.

Go ahead, go in hell, stack up. Yeah, exhale, find your central access of support. Let's do it one last time. Inhale, elongated. Exhale all the way down. You might find that you go a little further. This time you might find you can touch your toes.

Wrap your hands around your heels like I'm doing okay. Extra breath into the stretch and rural backup. Oh, slip off of your blanket and bring it to the side of your mat. And we're just going to bend our knees and reach our arms out and take a deep breath in and on a very long gated exhale, slowly sequence yourself down, lying on your back, bend your knees, bring your feet about a hip with different distance sitting bones. Pretty close to your heels.

We're going to start with some pelvic movements. Um, we're going to start with the movement first of, um, curling the pubic bone towards the navel. Inhale. Okay. And then exhale, curling the pubic bone away from the naval center. So your back starts to arch. Inhale, elongated. Exhale, take it down. Let's do that twice more.

So what we're working with here is just opening up the joints of the hips and the low spine. So you probably don't feel like a massive stretch here, but you're definitely getting some release and movement in the lumbar spine, sacral area. So the next time you're back to center, you're going to take the right side of your pelvis and move it towards the ribcage. Inhale, exhale. Take the other side towards the rib cage. Yeah. Inhale, right side towards exhale. Left side towards inhale, right? Sights towards elongated. Exhale towards, come back to center. Okay, now moving into the rotational movement of the spine.

Cross your left leg over your right. I like to bring my arms out into like a cactus position here to increase the stretch. We're going to inhale. Go over to the left. Okay, keeping the shoulders down. Exhale, come back up. Inhale over to the right, keeping your shoulders down. Exhale, come back. Now.

Inhale over to the right and take the top of your leg and pull down. So you're in a full twist. Turn your head the opposite direction. And let's take two deep breaths here. Inhale, exhale. Let your shoulder blade come back towards the Mat. The left shoulder blade. Inhale, elongated. Exhale.

Uh Huh let go of the leg. Come back to center. And just for a moment here, bring your ankle to your thighbone and grab your thigh. And let's take two deep breaths in this figure four stretch. Inhale, exhale. Inhale. Okay. Yes. All right, so now take this like straight down.

Take this leg up right, and it might be lower. And then we're going to inhale, cross all the way over in him. Exhale, center. Inhale, twist over. Exhale, center. And then to going this way.

Inhale out. Exhale, center. Ah, inhale out. So my inner thigh goes on the stretch here. Yeah, but it's still a lot of work to pick that leg back up. Bend that knee into your chest, give it a little tug. And let's switch sides. Same series, other sides. So we're going to cross the right leg over the left and you can bring your arms back into this cactus shape or if that's not available to you, your, it's I'm glad for you to have your arms also down by your side, whatever you prefer.

So we're going to go in help the outside of the left foot with stick, trying to keep my right shoulder blade down. Exhale, come back. Okay. In l over right. I might even look a little bit to the right. That might help me keep that shoulder blade down. But I'm getting a nice stretch across the low back on the right side, back to center. And then this time going over, you're going to take the leg, you're going to look away from the legs and you're going to come into a full supine twist. Inhale, [inaudible], elongated. Exhale.

[inaudible]. Inhale, [inaudible] you long get it. Exhale. [inaudible] coming back to center and then we're taking ankle to knee and we're bringing the position in the chest for two deep breaths, right? So this is a pretty big stretch for most of us. Really use that exhale to let go.

Okay, exhale. See if you can tolerate and let go. Inhale, tolerate and let the holding go. Now stretching out to the full expression. We're going to go over across. Inhale, exhale, back to center. So I'm letting my pelvis twist right, I'm getting ready for the single leg circle exercise and the plot is protocol and back to center. Now to going out to the side. Inhale, feeling the stretch on the inner thigh. Inhale, exhale up. Good, no excess tension anywhere else. If you could avoid it, not in the jaw, not in the shoulders and center. Bring that knee into your chest, give it a little tug and then use it to roll yourself up to seat it.

Okay, we're going to do the roll up exercise. We're going to take, um, our tau and we're going to go through like a little series here. So you're going to hold this towel and roll back down. So I want you to slip the tub behind your head and we're going to start with head lifts, little shoulder stretching, and we'll end up in the rollups. So we're going to go inhale. I want you to use the towel to stretch the back of your neck coming forward as high as you can get. I'm really shaking here. This is super difficult.

Rural back. Slip the head tail out from under the head. Reach the arms up and down towards your lap. Inhale, reach. Okay, exhale, slide. Inhale, upper abdominal fold. Exhale back.

Fly the towel out. Inhale, reach, exhale. Okay. Ah, all right. Inhale, exhale. Ah, inhale. So one breath per movement. Exhale.

Ah, okay. Inhale, exhale. [inaudible]. Inhale, exhale. Ah, now from here, reach the tell forward, look at your toes, pull out on the tail and do your best to roll all the way up to that.

What is roll up position. Hook the towel on your feet and take a forward fold stretch. Inhale, touching in with the sensation of stretch and letting go. Reach the arms out. Exhale, you're going to roll down through the spine. Ah, Ben, the elbows. Pick the head up, reach the towel and forward we go all the way.

That's the hardest part. So if you're using momentum or you're cheating, good for you because a doesn't come immediately. Just doing your best is perfect. Rolling Back Down, right? That's the main thing where we're motor learning here, right? We're not just getting stronger, right? We're going to go up one more time, but we're also learning things that we don't do normally, right? That also makes us tense up sometimes.

So this practice of letting go can be really helpful for nervousness, for anxiety, for doubt, all of those things. So all around just a good idea and rest. So now I want you to bring your arms up and then slide your feet in. Pick your knees up, and if this is available to you, put your feet on the towel, like such right. If that's not available to you, um, put the towel underneath your knees and you're gonna Change your grips.

Or you're like this. But I'm going to go for this one. So we're going to just practice a little bit of public and versions here, rollover. So I want you to pull the legs towards you, bend your elbows, and just pick your booty up a little bit. Inhale, exhale. So I'm really now getting a stretch in my lumbar spine, right? So if you're doing the version where you're holding the towel like this, you're just trying to lift your bum up a little bit and back down. All right, three more. Inhale up, right? Maybe you go pretty far. It's up to you. Exhale down, right? But I'm using the towel to assist. Good. And I'm elongating those exhales. Inhale, especially on the way down here. Exhale, nice and slow and let your low back completely melt in to the surface of the mat. Super. Take your left leg into the towel, slide your right leg out, pick your head up, Tuck your Chin and pull that leg towards you, right.

Breathe in, split stretch. Breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in so you can go a little further and lay her head down and switch legs. Now again, I have really flexible hamstrings, so I'm going for it. I'm enjoying the sensation of stretch, which is the goal here, but it doesn't matter how high your leg is, that's not the point. So wherever you are in the practices, perfect. Let's let the head up here. Curl the chin, pull the leg towards you and inhale and exhale because at the end of the day we're having the same sensation, right? I'm getting a stretch at this in this position and you're getting a stretch in whatever position you're in. And that's the goal.

Inhale, exhale. Okay, great. So we're going to go back to the other side and we're going to just take the towel and let it come down to the thigh. Take your hands on this leg and we're going to do tree. You're going to walk up right now. What we're going to do here is you're going to try to grab your foot. If not, grab your ankle and you're going to drop your forehead towards your knee and you're just going to float down to just floating the surface here and back up.

And again, so I'm getting such a full back body stretch here, back of the leg, back of the back, back of the shoulder blades. So much of it. And then we're going to walk down nice and slowly controlling with your trunk muscles, right? And if you go plummeting down again, it's fine. We're in the practice, we're in the zone, here we go, other side and moving that towel out of my way and I'm going up into my tree. So walking up all the way, right? And again, I'm either trying to grab my ankle or my foot if that's available, right? And then dropping the head towards the knee. We're going to float down. Inhale, Oh, I just love the stretch. Exhale, because my head is dropped, right?

I'm also getting a little bit of stretch in my sciatic nerve here. So if you feel that kind of weird sensation, uh, that's what it is, right? And if you feel something that feels dangerous or Yucky, you know what to do. Get out of that. So walk on down. Great. And bring this knee into your chest.

Give it a little bit of a tug and roll yourself up to seated for rolling like a ball. Now we've done the rolling like a ball in all three of these beginner classes. So have you been taking the other two? We should be like getting pretty skilled at this, um, or at least better, right? So we're going to bring those toes up and down a couple times and I want you to notice how that tips your tech pelvis back a little, right?

That's what we want is a Roley Poli pelvis here. So I want to keep the legs in. Inhale, roll back, exhale, home. Inhale. I can glance down. That's going to help my roll. Leanness. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Now, if you have to use momentum, I suggest a big leg swing like this to help you, right?

Cause that's going to get it going. And it doesn't matter if that's not like the way the pros do it, right? We just want to get that moving. Bring your souls, your feet together. I have to scoot back onto the front edge of my sit bones. We're going to go into a long cold butterfly stretch here.

So I want you to just take your flat, his back, you can find right, and then start to bend your elbows and reach your elbows for the Mat. Oh boy. I bet you feel that right? And then drop your head down. Um, and now we're into the hip stretch, right? So inhale, um, long exhale. Inhale, elongated. Exhale. Try to go deeper in him.

Go even deeper. Exhale and slowly stack your spine up. Woo. And now we're going to go onto hands and knees. Okay, so back into our quad or pad position. We're going to do a little bit of cat and cow, which we've been doing in this series, right? So we're also getting more familiar with this. You're going to inhale, curl into your cat, exhale, stretch out into your cow.

Inhale. Oh, I love to breathe. I'll tell Ya. Exhale can really change your day, I'm telling you. In inhale and exhale. So now we're going to push back into child's pose. We're going to go into an exercise called picture cap, where we're really going to get some stretch into our shoulders. So you're going to start by lifting your butt up, walking your fingers forward, and lifting your chest up, getting in how big stretch they're lowering the chest down and walking back. Right now. Again, I'm very flexible in, in most of my joints. So it, this may be up higher like this for you, right? Maybe somewhere here and that is absolutely fine, but we're just looking for a little bit of a stretch across the front of the chest wall.

Yup. Maybe even in the backs of your legs and you're going to go up really stretching my chin out as well. Ah, those good. And back to child's pose. Good. Come on to your, ah, let's take our towel. Just saw it. And I love this cue. We've been doing this throughout this series, right?

Really smart way to protect your low back is to know how to direct your pelvis in space when you're doing prone exercises. So I'm going to lie down and put this right on my hip creases, right? So we've been working on keeping a nice steady press into the hip creases there. So I'm going to start with this same movement where I'm going to lift my pelvis off the towel and then exhale, press my hip creases down into the towel. [inaudible] exhale down.

Now bring your hands under your shoulders. Keep the pelvis pressing down, lift your gaze and come up into swan. Come up as high as you want into your extension and back down in here up. I like to search for it. Big Stretch in my abdominals here, right? Nobody ever lets me stretch my abdominals. So I like to really find a moment where I get a big stretch there.

One more set. Inhale up, stretching, press into that towel, those hip creases. That is crucial that we keep that back body turned on for that and calm down. Good. So let's tackle the quadriceps here for a second. Take your ha forearm to your head. Press your hip, crease your left hip, crease in to the towel. Grab your foot and let's stretch the quads here. Inhale, [inaudible]. Exhale, let it go.

[inaudible] inhale, your knee can be up here. That's fine. Hip creases down. Exhale. [inaudible] last one. You might want to come up on the forearm a little bit here. You could even turn your hand over again a little bit. Inhale and exhale. Okay.

Oh, don't snap out of it. Take your time. Come around and shake it out for a second and go ahead and bring your forehead to your forearm and reach back through your right leg. Again, I'm pressing that hip crease down into really, really important for this lumbar spine here. So you want to make sure you're doing the pressing into the towel. Inhale, oh, exhale. Let it go. Inhale. [inaudible] oh man. Health or deeper. That's great. Exhale, let it go. Dan, I might want to come up a little. I could go like this or I always like to do it, the Yogi way here and get a little bit more. Inhale.

Exhale. [inaudible]. One more breath. Exhale. And without ricocheting here, let it go. And just lie down for a moment. Shake it out a little good and come back up into your quad repaired.

Move your towel out of the way and let's get some rotation on before we finish here. So we're going to do thread the needle. You're going to take your left arm out, you're going to stretch up a second, and then just bring it through. Bend your elbow, keep your hips squared off, and just take a few deep breaths here. Inhale, exhale, whole new landscape twisting rights. And suddenly I'm like, ah, I can't axial. So yeah, slow it down. Inhale, you won't get it XL one more and come up, right? So we all have our areas, right? Other side up that are harder for us to let go of, right?

We all have thoughts that are harder to let go of, right? So this is the practice here. So we're gonna just get into the body to help us slow it down. Let it go. Inhale, exhale. [inaudible]. Inhale, all exhale.

[inaudible]. Inhale, see if he can really long get this lax last exhale and come out of it back in child's pose for a moment and then come up to seated. Just to finish off with this, we're going to do spine stretch seated forward, right? This might be a good place to sit back on your blanket. I'm feeling pretty stretched out, so I'm going to leave it for now and then we're going to finish with a little bit of open leg rocker, which is a a new one in this series, so we'll add that in today. So we're going to go inhale. Okay.

Exhale. Drop your head, reach forward, stretch. Take an extra breath. Inhale, Elongate the exhale. Stay in the forward fold. Roll Up. Exhale stacking to center.

[inaudible]. Inhale, oh yeah. Exhale. Go into the stretch. [inaudible] go deeper in him. Axial [inaudible] roll it up. Let's widen her legs and take a big straddle stretch. Just indulge.

One more time. Inhale. It's why does you can go, okay, exhale. Going forward and then whatever's available to you. Let's go into a full straddle stretch. Just let it go. Take it down wherever you are. Take a deep breath. Exhale, see if you can go lower. Inhale, exhale, let it go.

Use Your hands to come back up because boy, that was a big stretch. And let's finish with the little open like rocker. We'll start with the prep. So we're pretty stretched out for this exercise, so you might surprise yourself. We're going to inhale, stretch your leg up. Exhale. Okay, inhale. Maybe your leg doesn't straighten all the way. Guess what? That doesn't matter. It's fine. It's not about that.

It's about letting go of the tension that doesn't allow you to do your best basically. And here we go. Both legs. Inhale, see if you can roll back and see if you get back up. Whoa. Hale. Exhale. [inaudible].

Inhale, exhale. Ah, soles of the feet together. Take a forward fold, see if you can take one more deep breath. Okay. And with the exhale, just let your mind be blank.

Just marinade in the feeling that you have created in your body by just letting that sense contraction, that holding that like whatever you're doing inside your head, go and, uh, yeah. How could they.

Begin Pilates: Beginner Mat Series


Love your classes and you make it look so easy when it is not!
Loved this workout today! I’m using with my client! Pacing was perfect!
I love all your 3 class :P hamstrings are starting to loosen up !!!
Yoga class??
This was awesome! Now I am ready to head into anything that comes my way. Thank you.
Thanks for this class Cara! Love the 'letting go' and stretches! 
The letting go is key to good movement. Breathing is so under valued. It's everything! Thanks for a lovely class cara.
Joe B
Thank you so much for your careful and caring classes.  I have studied Pilates for years, but really appreciate your clear cues and focused intentions.  I love all three of your classes!
Thank you so much Cara! You have such a beautiful mind and such a great way of carrying that over to your listeners! I feel warm inside and out! Sometimes we all need a class like this, I am grateful!
Thank you so much Cara! would be nice to have more of your lovely classes.
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