Class #3917

Contracting & Expanding Mat

25 min - Class


Play with oppositional movements with this creative Mat workout by Rebekah Rotstein. She focuses on contraction and expansion, showing how you can find a contraction while maintaining the integrity in your body. She also demonstrates the interplay of tension and compression using a Theraband as a metaphor for good tension.
What You'll Need: Mat, Theraband

About This Video

Oct 30, 2019
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Hello, I'm Rebecca Rotstein and this class is going to focus on contraction and expansion. I'm really fascinated by how often we speak about finding length through the body or to lengthen through a movement. But it's almost as if the opposite of that we're to shorten. And I'd like to explore this idea about contraction because contraction does not necessarily mean collapse. How we can find contraction and still have integrity within the body.

And this comes into play with the idea of bio tensegrity, this combination of tension and compression that are constantly at an interplay within the human body that enables us to be this self sustaining, self organizing, self stabilizing system without the need for some external support. How we can constantly change shapes. So we don't have to think of bio tensegrity as something that is highly esoteric, but it's something that is the basis for our integrated movement. So we're gonna play with this and also with polarities and dualities and opposition. So we're going to use a medium tension band. And my friend Lisa Hubbard is joining us today. And Lisa, let's get started though. Without the band. We're gonna lie on our stomachs.

And we're going to first find a little release through the chest. So we're going to go onto our stomach and we're going to place our hands sort of in a V shape, and we're going to turn her head to one side. And let's lift our right foot and we're going to roll onto the side. And we can plant that foot down and feel the stretch through that left arm. And now you can take the other hand, the right hand, and push down to give yourself an intensity and intensification of that stretch and exhale. And if you want, you can move your hand, slide it maybe a little bit lower down toward your foot. If you'd prefer, maybe you get a little more stretched there.

I actually prefer it in that diagonal V position. And let's try on the other side. Oh, it feels good. So we roll onto the side and I find that this also helps me to alleviate all the extra tension that's there in the chest. So we're going to talk about tension. That is good tension intention, that's unnecessary tension. And that's where the band is going to serve as a metaphor.

And it's also going to guide us in this interplay. So let's do one more breath in, maybe move the hand if you'd like or keep it where it is and Xcel. And then we're going to sit up and I'm going to sit and face you and you can face me here and let's take the band and let's place the band around one foot. So I'm going to place it around my right foot and we're going to have our knees bent and we're going to place the band in the opposite hand so that the toes are actually covered. And this is important, at least in the way that I approached the band. I like the toes to be covered because it also gives feedback of the entire foot and throughout the entire chain.

So we're going to place the free hand out in front of us. That's it. Good. And now we're going to pull back on the band and then we're going to start to roll back. And imagine that you're pulling something with the free hand so it becomes a little roll down and pull. Let's inhale and exhale so we can sense this. Nice opposition.

Inhale an XL. So we start to get that contrast between contract and relax and contract and expand. And last time we're now going to add in a spiral. So we're going to spiral around and then we're going to reach and pull with the band though. And so there's this opposition of what's happening in both sides. And let's do one more.

And now let's stay here and hold on and then pull yourself up. And let's switch feet. So we'll place the other foot in the band. And so it's the opposite hand that is holding on and we're going to pull back on the band and reach forward and we start to roll back. So there's a sense of pulling and pushing. So we push and reach with the free hand pulling of the band hand and then it swaps good and up. And so Ian Hill and [inaudible] and now we're going to add in the spiral and we look outside.

Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Inhale. Let's do one more and exhale and rolling up. And this time we'll stay. We'll place the other foot in the band and we're going to do a little roll up here. So it's an assistant role up.

I love this because it helps me get into the tight part of my lower back. So we're going to start rolling down. It's kind of taught and then we're going to get into that area that is just between the ribs and the sacrum. That is often hard to get to connect to the ground and start [inaudible] rolling up. Yeah. And you can pull and then the knees can bend when it feels appropriate and exhale, start rolling back. And then we can spiral through the arms.

And I love this assistance right here in this area and rising back. Yup. And let's do it again. Exhale. So I'm really pushing out through my feet and I'm linking out through the feet, but I'm still funding the stretch around the shoulders and kind of going all the way back up. And last one. We're going to go all the way down this time. So we'll [inaudible]. We lengthen, we push into the bandwidth, our feet. And then we let our, let her head drop.

And then we're going to do a roll up here. So the chin drops and the band us rise. Yes. And then the knees bend, just sort of an organic, natural continuation of the movement. And we start to lower back down and the head is the last thing to drop. And the Chin's the first thing to rise as we roll up and then pulling on the van. Now as we go into the next roll down, let's loosen or choke on the reins here. So we come up to the end of our bands and these bands are pretty long, by the way. These are probably about six feet, I'm guessing.

And we're going to slowly lower down and notice what it's like not to have that tension. The tension is absent from the band, more or less. And then we're gonna reach our hands all the way up overhead. And here we do get the tension. So now the tension is on the band and it allows the shoulders to feel a great sense of compression. So there's a healthy compression of the, as the arm bones are plugged down into the sockets. That feels really comforting and just stay here for a moment because it also is essentially what that sensation could be like when you're in a handstand.

So how the upper traps can relax and how you can get a little bit more lower. Trap activation here. Breathing in and exhale, drop your chin and we're going to do one more roll up, but it's going to be very, very different on on this angle. Now we're going to place one fit one foot into the band again. Let's place our, I'm going to place my right foot in. You're good right there and we're gonna place the band behind the head. Actually, I think we're going to go like this where we will flip the palms up and then we can place the band behind the elbows and slowly stretch the other, the free foot out and lower yourself all the way onto your back.

And we're going to come into a scissor like action. So we have sort of hammock that is supporting our head and we're going to lower it and lift that free foot. So you want to have just enough tension as necessary on the band to keep you supported here and up and to more and lower down and up. And now let's stay here. Let's lower that foot and bend that knee in. And let's put a little bit more tension on the band as we lower the foot.

And then we're extending the free foot and the lower. So again, trying to relax the head into the hammock here that we've created. And once again we've created this wonderful little tensegrity structure and up and down and back up. Let's switch feet so that we never lose that tension. Good and lower this foot down and lift it back up and down and back up. And again in our self created hammock tense Hickory structure, we can relax that neck a little bit, at least the back of the neck.

There is a little bit of effort through the front of it. And let's do one more down and up. Now let's lower it down and bend the knee in and we'll push against the band a little bit and extend through the leg and push and extend. So there's all this external yet internal support here that we've created. And let's do two more.

Down and up and down and up. Let's switch feet. Once again, this time we can lower the head and we can open the arms out to the sides, giving ourselves just enough tension as necessary. Let's do a bridging sequence. So one foot's planted down into the ground and let's do a single leg bridge pushing up and lower down. So we feel this great connection like a T shape through the arms and into the trunk. Four and down three and down to [inaudible] down one and stay.

Let's just shift the like side to side just a little bit and crossing over the midline, out in in three and two or isometrically. Working that back quite a bit in the shoulders one and lower the hips down. Relax the arms again, just so we reduce the tension for a moment. We switch feet. We plant the other foot down, we extend out through the arms and single leg bridge up and the lower and up and lower and up. It feels really wonderful on my back as I'm activating through the post to your hip. And then one more and down.

Let's go up once more and stay this time. And now we're going to shift the weight side to side. I shouldn't say the weight, but it's really the foot because the weight doesn't actually shift. The pelvis stays where it is. And two more and last the one. Whoo. And slowly lower your hips down. Now relax. Lacks the arms a little bit.

Place both feet into the band. And we're going to roll onto our side. But first we're gonna place the band behind her head. So we essentially bring it over our head or like it's around her shoulder and we're going to roll onto the side. So now we have the band behind her head and we're going to push into the feet and stretch on the band. So we get a little bit of a back bend. But at the same time, we're technically contracting through the front body.

And exhale, release. Let's do that two more times. Push. So you're stretching the band, feeling that tension and exhale. So we're really messing around with what happens with these concepts of contraction and expansion and turning them on their head. All pun intended. Let's do one more and relax note, keep the bottom foot in the band, lift the top foot up to the ceiling and you're going to allow that neat to be bent. Imagine that you're resting a little tea cup on it. So we're going to hammock the head with our hands in the band and start to roll onto our back. And we come into a little nod and curl here.

And then we shift and roll onto the side again. And once again, exhale. And so that knee will lift just a little bit. It depends on what is comfortable for you and onto the side and once more and hold it. Stay, stay, stay. And now we return onto the side and then we're going to switch feet.

So we're gonna try and find that band with the top foot. And take the bottom foot out of the band. And then we reached the foot up to the ceiling and the band goes around the shoulder. Yup. And so we feel again this postier shoulder connection as we stay here. And we're going to try small circles. Six, five, four, three, two, one reverse and six, five, four, three, two, one.

And now let's actually roll onto the back here, the exact same thing and then return. And I'm allowing the keep keeping that knee straight and return and last time and return. So let's see what would happen if we went back into the foot behind us. Bring the arm up toward the side. Reach the foot out in front of you and sit up.

Now let's see how we can get to side too. Let's bring the feet over to the second side. We'll place that top foot in the band. Nice. Exactly. And we're going to come onto the second side. Whew. So we place the band behind us. It's kinda like wrapping it over your, over your head. Does that really? It's behind your head, I guess is the best way to state it. So we're going to extend and stretch and relax and reach.

Yeah. [inaudible] relax. And once more, reach and relax. So we keep the bottom foot on the band. We lift the top foot up to the ceiling. Imaginary tea cup on here, and we're gonna roll onto our back and keeping, preventing that tea cup from sliding and roll onto the side again and roll onto the back. And here's our hammock head and roll onto the side. And once more roll onto the back and just notice how you feel. So supported. You feel the effort in the belly, but you feel this connection throughout the whole body and roll onto the side again.

Then we placed the top foot into the band and we remove the bottom foot, and then we're going to bring that leg all the way up toward the ceiling. We're going to push the shoulder against the band here to me. Yeah, against the band. I'm just making sure I'm saying that right. And then we're going to do small circles. Eight actually, I think it was six, five, four, three, two, one and reverse. I'm trying to become a better Palladio's counter six, five, four, three, two, one, and pause here because now we're going to go back into our little tea cup and we're rolling onto the back. And here's our expansion and here's our contraction and here's our expansion. And last time, here's our contraction. Here's our expansion.

Now we're going to start to bring that foot behind us again and we just get a little stretch. And then we're going to bring the arm out, lift the foot up toward the ceiling, help ourselves sit up, and then we can come into a kneeling position facing one another. So let's hold on to the band. Let's say a little bit wider than shoulder with, and you know what's actually tuck the toes to start. So let's lift for an expansion and exhale for a contraction. Lift for an expansion. Exhale for contraction.

Now keep doing this and notice the sensation. You feel the stretch on the band. And then you notice the absence of the stretch on the band. And it's a little bit surprising to your body because your body likes tension. So we have to distinguish between good tension and bad tension. There should always be some form of tension and there is always some form of tension going on through the body, but it doesn't have to be the unnecessary excess tension that we're often thinking about.

Now this time stay up and let's go over to the side and contract down a little. It's reverse that circling up and over and circling up. Here's our expansion. Here's our contraction. Never a collapse though, right up and down last time and up, and let's just stay up at this point. Now let's untuck the toes and let's try a little thigh stretch. So we're going to lean back, push through those feet to grow. And again, lean back, push through the feet to grow. And last time, lean back.

Now stay here. Lift the arms. Oh God, I'm dying and lower the hands. And now let's lower the band. Let's do a little chest expansion, right and release. And again, the absence of that tension feels strange and reach. Now let's turn our head to one side. Let's turn our head to the other side. Let's look straight ahead. Let's feel that strange absence of tension. Let's push again. Let's turn her head toward the window.

Let's look away from the window release. Let's try that same site again. Let's look toward the window away from the window and release. Lifting the arms up. Let's actually do one more thigh stretch, leaning back and all the way up. And now let's try this. Let's lower the hands down. Let's slide one foot behind us and we're going to come into a side bend as we pivot the knee.

So we're going to lift the arm up and I'm going to choke up just a little bit more because I'd like a little bit more tension and feel the stretch, feel and enjoy the sensation of the lengthening. Supposedly that's happening up on the top side of the body here. Breathe in and exhale. And now let's lift that free foot and let's bring it forward and let's go up and down. One, two, three, four, five. And now lower the foot. Breathe in. I know, bring the hand behind you and lift up toward the ceiling and then we're going to contract and then we're going to expand.

So we're going to contract and the band's going to hug around us and we're going to straighten that knee again and contract and expand. I think I made my band too tight, but that's okay. Contract and expand and saver this for a moment. As you lift up and side bend the other direction and comb all the way up. And then let's try it on the other side. So let's bring that knee in.

Let's bring the other foot out and let side bend straight over to the second side. So first just enjoy and savor that stretch breathing in. Exhale once more. Inhale. And I'm going to let my shoulder lift and elevate to enhance this Drudge and then drop it. And then I'm going to lift that foot and I'm going to bring it forward and I'm going to tap up and down. One, two. I lost count of how many I did on the other side.

Three four I think I'm gonna do five and five and then I'm gonna bring it back. And then I'm gonna bring the band behind me and then lifted up toward the ceiling. And I'm going to contract on curl inward and expanding the length and up and contract and curl and lengthen up. And again, the band facilitates the contraction because the contraction is not a collapse. You're stretching in the process. Let's do one more contract and expand and stay here for a moment. Let's bring the band all the way up overhead. One more stretch, and then we're going to sit upright. Nice.

Now let's stand up. So bring your feet together, lower the band, and let's relate this experience of the contraction expansion without the band. So let's have our feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Pull up your pants as they may have been falling down and we're going to contract. And then we're going to expand and contract and expand. One more contract. Full body contraction, full body expansion.

Pause. Let's now go into a curtsy. So we're going to contract and expand and let your hands be active in it. Contract and expand and contract and expand once more. Contract and expand. This time we're going to spiral and rotate. Contract and expand and contract and expand and contract.

I had forgotten to rotate and expand last time and contract and expand and one more in the center contract and expand. Ah, thanks for joining me.


Loved the spirals, Rebekah!  The stretch and compression movements were a perfect antidote for a long drive home from PMA!
1 person likes this.
Wow what a nice creative series you made!
1 person likes this.
Very graceful and effective! We all need this type of workout with a lot of extension! Thank u!
Really enjoying the variety and hidden challenges in your repertoire 
3 people like this.
Loved the flow. The band was my enemy, but I'll try again soon.
Kathy W
Love love love that Rebekah! Really working on that fascia
Kellyann A
Would love to see more of this type of movement..  Also somatics using the band... I love the idea of opposing full body movement... the added band was great.
Sensational!! Thank you from Toronto,  Rebekah!
Hi Rebekah,
Is this osteoporosis friendly?

Rajashree Srirangarajan
Enjoyed every moment of this! Thank you!
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