Class #4022

Mat Basics

25 min - Class


Learn the basics that will get you started with your Pilates practice with this Mat workout by Kristi Cooper. She encourages you to pay attention to what is happening in your body so that you can increase your awareness and find a strong mind/body connection. She includes movements in all planes to prepare you for what's to come as you advance in your practice.
What You'll Need: Mat, Theraband

About This Video


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Hi everybody. Welcome to class. My name is Kristy Cooper and I'm happy you're here. I'm happy you're interested in starting Palladio's or getting back to [inaudible]. So this class will be all about just reconnecting or connecting. Finally, uh, I am using a TheraBand or I have one by my side for possible assist. It's not critical that you have it.

It may be that you want a large towel for a couple of things just for again to help you. Other than that, let's just do it so we start standing just so that we can find ourselves in space so that we can have a measurement from where we started to where we're going to go with your feet parallel. The outer edges of your feet is what I'm looking at. So when you look down, look at yourself. That's a large part of [inaudible] awareness. See the outer edges of your feet parallel about sits bones, distance apart, rock your weight forward just a little bit and back and just sort of notice yourself in space. No judgment, no nothing to do about it. Just see it, feel it, and then find a place that feels like it's in the middle of your foot, maybe a little more forward. So if I were leaning forward, that's too much, but does a subtle sense of more weight in the forward foot. You're tall, you're, your knees are pointed straight ahead. Your hips are right over your ankles, let's say, right?

So there's a tendency for some of us to really arch our back and there's this tendency for, some of us are really around our back in a natural way. Let's aim for the pelvis to be level. So just and right over the ankles, moving up the body a little further. The rib cage right on top of those hips. So if you have, you might be noticing this sense of pressing the ribs forward or again, maybe not, but let's just try to let it be right on top and then we move to the shoulders and they two are right on top. Okay, well what about your head? If you think about it, let's just take the eyes back a little bit into your head. It's a, it's an image, not a reality there, but you just want to be head over shoulders.

So head, shoulders, ribs, pelvis, knees, ankles, simple or already successful. From there, just take an inhale. I turned my arms out. Take an inhale. Big inhale. Feel good about what you're about to do for yourself. Exhale, let it go. One more time. Inhale and exhale. So you'll hear a lot about breathing and [inaudible].


I'm not going to spend too much time on it today, but if you do have a TheraBand, I'm going to ask you to wrap it around your back. I'll, I'll give you another option if you don't, so don't worry, you're gonna wrap it around your back, right? It say shoulder blade level, maybe a little lower than that. And then I've crossed it. So that's, that's how that's going to go. If you don't have a band, what you get to do is simply hold the ribs, like hands on the ribs. That's not always a great position for some shoulders. So you could also cross your arms and hold your ribs like that. Okay. And all we're trying to do is create sensation an of how the breath is going to really help all these moves that we end up doing. So I'm going to go back to the band.

You've got your hands wherever you need to and the idea is that as I am starting with a band pulled tight, so if your hands are on your ribs, you've got some compression there. We inhale to press the ribs or allow the ribs to press into the hands and I even kind of lighten up on the band there and then I exhale and just to help me feel the sensation of when I blow out, I can bring those ribs, say a little closer together. Inhale, allow them to expand in all directions. An exhale. Okay, that's just keep doing that a few more. Just inhale and excellent. I'm going to get rid of my band and go with those of you who don't have a band and let's put one hand on the belly one hand or on the ribs, either the back or the side. It doesn't matter. I'm just trying to get you to feel that when you inhale the whole trunk cause the whole body that really widens expands and then as you exhale everything just naturally, you don't have to do anything. Exhale and everything comes together.


Okay. Another way to think of it is go ahead. Inhale. It's like you're fogging up a mirror for now. Just open your mouth and for as long as you can and you'll start to get the sensation of maybe some tightening in the middle. I'm just going to say keep that in mind and that'll be reinforced as we go. Let's move to the floor. Make sure you can see your screen.

I like to put it off to the side rather than in front of me cause then you have to pick your head up and that's annoying. So off to the side. I'll keep my band nearby and we're lying on our backs with our knees bent, feet flat and the same position otherwise, right the feet are parallel, arms are down into the mat. Press them into the mat, try to get a sense of your entire back body. From here. We're just doing that same inhale. Exhale like you're fogging up the mirror or the window and notice the sinking of the belly even a little bit. If it doesn't sink, it might tighten a little inhale. Again, I'm going to change it not by much though. As you exhale, start that first start, exhaling and allow your low back to press into the floor so the tip of your tailbone comes off and you get a little stretch there. Hopefully inhale, release it back down. Start that exhale and that sinks the Valley enough that it ends up starting to move. Body. Inhale, release it.

Pelvic Tilt

Going back to this sort of natural position. Exhale and allow the pelvis to tilt. We can take it further. Inhale back to the start. Start your exhale. Now start the rolling, but let's go to the middle of the back and now check this. It's you're in the middle of your back. It's not a big move. I get it, but you are maybe starting to feel some opening in the front of the hips.

Pelvic Curl

Your butt's a little bit tighter, your hamstrings are a little tighter. Hopefully your knees haven't turned out. If they did, you're squeezing too hard on your button. I'd rather you keep the inner thighs sorta engaged or knee straight up. When you're ready, just come back down. Inhale. We'll do the same thing and start the exhale.

Just roll to the middle of your back. You are starting to step into your feet as you do that. No doubt. Inhale, hold it there. See if you can deepen it as you start exhaling and roll it back down. One more like that and we'll take it higher and exhale to the middle portion of your back. Most of your butts off. Inhale and exhale down. All right, we're going to keep the sensation and go a little higher. Inhale, start your exhale. Let the belly start to sing. You put your hand there.

Sometimes that helps just to notice what's going on. Roll up. You're at the middle back, but now go up to the lower part of your shoulder blades and make sure that you still have the sense of my butts coming with me. I've, I'm in a, what I would call a tucked position, a rounded low back position as I go even higher still to the shoulder blades. All right, so I'm using my upper arm to that's pressed into the mat. Hopefully I'm in like you breathe right, breathe whenever you can or whenever you need to. You're in a slant board position.


So things to check for while we're here is that you didn't drop your butt down, right? So you feel it in the low back and you've got this sort of crease in the hips. You want to bring that pubic bone closer to the breastbone and then step into your feet. Alright, altogether. Now we're at the top. We inhale, we start excelling, and we go down. Then reverse order, right? Your upper back goes down. You keep that tuck, he Brea tucking middle back, and your lower back all the way down. Let's do a few more of these. Inhale to prepare. Start your exhale. Rola.

Technically, this isn't a [inaudible] exercise, but it's a really good way to warm up and so many of the skills are involved in every exercise. So it's a good way to start. I think. Inhale at the top. Xcel just sorta drop or soften your chest and keep the curve of the back till the very last moment when the tailbone goes back down. Inhale, start your Xcel rolling up. It's really just about figuring some of it out and, and then you really get to fly with bodies. You really start to feel the point of it, which is more vitality, more zest, feeling good. Just in the moment. Come on down and last one like that. Inhale at the bottom.

Exhale, start the roll. Keep going. Notice that your knees are still going forward. Maybe even a sense of reaching forward. Now here, check your shoulders. Have they crept up to your ears? If so, just slide them down the mat. Press pressing back a little bit. Inhale and exhale. Roll down there. From here. Just walk your feet and ankles, knees together and zip up like like it's one leg. In fact, I'm going to bring my feet even closer, some up on the ball of feet.

Windshield Wiper Legs

Now from here. Now we're going to reach the knees towards the front or toward the window in my case or hoped to the screen torque for you. When you do this, take a peak at your knees and keep them lined up right, so one is not out further than the other. You want to line them up so you're getting a little bit of rotation in the waist and then we'll just bring it back. Simple move. I know, but it's again, part of the warmup. Inhale, as we reach over, it's like you're reaching the top leg, even maybe even more than the bottom, so they stay aligned. Start exhaling and me and maybe you'll feel the sense of heavy ribs that start the rotation back. Inhale to the front, keep that other shoulder down. Exhale back to the center. Just a little bit of sort of side to side action.

Inhaling over and exhale you're in charge of the movement. Inhale over. Imagine your knees were sort of stuck on the front wall and then pull the ribs back away from them first and then the waist, and then the top hip, and then everything comes with. You've got to kind of create some of this in the beginning here and exhale. Just do one more to each side. Inhale over, exhale back last time.

Try to find the stretch, right? Try to make it feel good. I can't tell you how to do that. I'm just trying to tell you how to get there. Okay? Take your arms behind your head. I like to lace my fingers and I do lay some fully, so it's not this sort of half commitment. It's really in there to make a a hammock for your head and you'll feel that sort of the Ridge of your occipital Ridge, you. That's where I hook.

I kinda hook under that so it feels like I'm really being almost traction or knees are still together. From here, all we do is inhale. Your hips are not going to move. You're going to start exhaling and notice how that can actually float your head up and shoulders even off the mat. I'm not doing a full crunch yet, but I will inhale. Take it back down. Start the XL first and as you do, you might notice your belly sinking a little or tightening and then you get to almost pull your head in the opposite direction to float every your upper body off and by upper body I just mean head and shoulders. We'll take it further, but that's how it starts. Inhale, start that exhale curling up. Keep going now.

Chest Lift

So where you curl enough to see your knees. Inhale, hold it there and exhale back down. I'm purposely keeping my elbows wide, but not so wide that I can't see them. Exhale, start to come up. [inaudible] inhale to come down and exhale back up. Yeah.

Inhale, come back down. If you, I'm going to ask you to look for something at the next one. Exhale. Come up. Stay up there when you get there and just inhale, but is your head still in your hands or do you need to pull it back into your hands and re lengthen it? Maybe then you can exhale and go higher. Maybe then we can inhale and reach to the back of the legs. Hold onto them, actually exhale and pull yourself a little higher. Oh, there we are. Now the trick is holding that. Let go the arms. Inhale, put them back behind your head without falling backwards. Exhale down. Ah, so subtle, but not inhale, hold. Exhale, start to curl up. You can nod your chin towards your chest a little, but try not to pinch it off. Completely. Inhale, let's go right to grabbing the legs. Exhale, sink the belly. Use the biceps.

Chest Lift w/ Arm Reach

Why not squeeze the inner thighs again? Let go the arms. Inhale, take them back behind your head and exhale down. We could do two more of those. Inhale, start the exhale. A little nod of the chin. Start looking for the knees, but mostly just pressing the spine into the ground in how reach to grab the legs. Exhale, bend and pull those elbows wide so you can go closer to your thighs. Let go. Inhale, put the arms behind your head. Exhale down. I hope you feel it. I do. Inhale, I'm going to add onto this.

Exhale, curl up. [inaudible]. Inhale, grab your legs. Exhale, sink to belly, look at it, watch it, drop. It's really cool now. Then inhale, taking one hand over the other line of ups of just one over the other. Exhale toward the front of the room. Just skim over to one side, just outside the knees, not very far in.

Chest Lift w/ Rotation

He'll stay that high as you touch the knees or try to the other side. Exhale, ENL, skim across. Exhale, inhale and just moving through. [inaudible] it's not a huge rotation, but I'll let you feel it. Check to make sure you haven't picked your butter off the floor too. [inaudible] keep it down. Keep it heavy. Make your upper count, go to it. That's good. Come to the center. Separate the arms and come on down, right arms straight up.

Reach the shoulders to the ceiling and then just let them drop so you know where they are on the mat. That's where we want to keep them. Basically, at least when you're in this position, we're going to start this exercise called the a hundred the classic echos exercise that traditionally you would start with more. We'll work into it. Inhale, we exhale. Just press the arms forward like you're pushing through a solid. Bring your head, neck and shoulders, arms right by your side, close to you and right off the floor. Inhale, go back down, right to where you started. Exhale, curl back up. It's as if the body is all one piece, including the arms, I suppose it is.

Hundred Preparation

When I think about it. Inhale back down. Okay, we're going to stay up there this time. Exhale, curl up and from here, just inhale for two counts and exhale, inhale and exhale. Two sounds like this in, in, in, in. Keep curling towards your legs and in, in. If you can pump the arms and out. Inhale. Inhale, exhale, exhale. Inhale. Inhale. Xcel. Xcel, keep it going. I know it's hard. It gets harder every day. Inhale, inhale, exhale, but not in a bad way. All right, take it all the way down. That builds to something really fun.

Hundred Variation

We'll do it in the intermittent immediate version of this for now. Just hug your knees to your chest, feel good about that. And then let's sit up for a second. But not just by doing that, not just by rocking yourself up, hold on behind your legs. It doesn't really matter how the feeder, but just kind of let them be. Hold on. Push your legs into your hands and hold the legs too, right? So you could have that resistance, bolts, directions and curl up to where you're in a like a, Oh no.

The scooped position and just start rocking. Just easy rock back and forth. And the, the trick here is not letting the legs come in and then back out in the back out. So wherever you got to with your arms, they're not to move now and still try to rock. I think butt up, butt down, butt up or inhale, big. Exhale, inhale, big exit. You keep the shape is the thing. Again, this is all building towards exercises that are pretty classic and get just more fun. We're making it bigger. If you haven't noticed or if I haven't said it, make sure your hips come up but the thighs don't get any closer. It's inhale, exhale, inhale. We're going to end up sitting up in three more. One to keep the resistance with the legs to the arms. The arms was that three already. If it wasn't to the next one and come on seated roll rollback so you're sitting tall. If this doesn't work for you and it doesn't for a lot of people initially, I'm going to suggest a little bit of a towel.

Rolling Like A Ball Prep

It doesn't work to sit on a box or anything like that at this point, but otherwise you can just stretch your legs out a little bit more but keep them bent when you've toes. Don't have to be down now. All right, I'm using my arms again cause I want to feel myself pulling up and my back extensors working. We inhale, we exhale to just tuck and roll back, pull forward and straighten it up. Inhale, exhale. You lead the movement from the hipbones, they go back, your body just follows until your arms are almost straight. Inhale and exhale, come back up. Only going to do a couple more, cause we, we did fair amount of the similar thing on the flat back. Exhale. I just want you to get the sense of where we're going to be going and up in this position. Pull those legs apart really. But don't let them actually come apart. So that's the, the assist really that gives you that upper back extension and one more time back. Cool.

Roll Back

So we're just going to tap into all sides of the bottom and have us land our side for now. So we did felt the abs, I hope lying on her back. I'm sorry. On our side you can rest your head. Your body for now is in a bit of a banana, like shape, right? So the way I really think of that is if I look down, I want to be able to see my feet or my toes. But otherwise, we're pretty straight top, hand in front of your chest and use it like a kickstand. Okay. The shoulders are down. We're just gonna lift the legs. No big deal. Inhale, start the XL.

Side Double Leg Lift

Try and feel that sense of the middle of the body engaging and then push the bottom leg into the top leg so they lift. Inhale, lower down, but lower like set the toes further down than where you picked him up first. Exhale, lift again and inhale down. If you can keep the balance, what you could do is take two fingers right here at the top of your waist. I guess. Feel that breath kick in the abs hardened. Then lift the leg. Yeah, and down.

Yay. And just one more. No big deal, right? Just getting the sense. You come back to the next class from here. Put the hand back as a kickstand. Take the top like ever. So slightly higher, but a lot longer or at least try and we'll live for five, four. Actually we'll do 10 so you won five more. One, two, three, four and five. Great.

Side Double Leg Lift Variation

We're just going to flip Brown face the other direction. I'm not facing the direction. Just put your head on the other end of the mat so you could still follow along. Our setup is kind of everything and that's why I'm spending time in this class doing that kicks Dan shoulder down, abs in body straight with the exception of a small banana like shake. Exhale to lift.

Hello and again. Exhale to lift and lower and it's something to think about is can you keep the lower side lifted too? I mean it's not really lifted, but it's, you don't want to just collapse at the end. You're kind of always in action. We'll have two more. If you want to do the two finger dig, go for it. One more. This will be the one we stay up on and really press that bottom inner thigh into the top leg. From there, you're going to leave it with the top leg and lift up.

Side Double Leg Lift

One, two, always getting a little longer. Three still using the breaths for tightening the abs. Six ish, seven, eight, nine and 10 bring it on down. Turn onto your belly to live on over. And we're going to take the arms by her side if you can, and not everyone can based on tight lads, big lads, all sorts of things. Um, press the palms into your thighs if you can. If you can't just get them close, but keep your arms straight, right?

Side Double Leg Lift Variation

It's not going to be as good if you bend the elbows and I'll tell you next time. But for now we're just like an arrow. You can put your forehead down for the moment. From there, all we're doing, we're going to leave our feet down so let's not get crazy or we're just going to lengthen our backs. So we inhale. Start as if you're going to roll a marble on the floor. Start looking forward as you start to lift your chest just a little, but also reach the arms to your ankles so it's not high. In fact, I don't want you to come off your chest. I want the chest to be pressed, the sternum to be pressed into the mat as you attempt to arch your upper back.

Swan Prep

Oh boy. Somebody quit talking. Go back down and I'm going to do a two breath cycle here. Inhale, we start to exhale. It's like you're the back of your head is the start of the spine. As you look forward a little bit, you start to peel the spine off, reach the arms back, tighten those arms against your side. Inhale, hold, exhale, come back down and again, inhale. That's where it starts. You start to look forward. You feel the back of your body starting to curve, much like we did in that first exercise with the chest lift.

It's just the reverse of it. Inhale and exhale down. So posture stuff. If you can keep your legs together, do. If you can't, they can be a part a little bit, not, not a big deal. Let's keep the pressure out of the low back and come forward and half. Inhale, exhale, come down. And one more time. Excellent reach. Looking forward, doing our best to keep some engagement of the abdominals, but if you breathe and you probably are, so not a big deal there, stay here.

Inhale, turn your palms toward the floor. Take them out to a T position. Inhale, take them back and exhale day one more. This is it. Inhale to look forward. Ken, it's, you don't want to break it the next so much, right? It's just you look a couple inches, most likely. If we have an exhale, do you, then let's turn those palms down and in house he can out to a tee and reach like that. Michael Jordan poster. Way, way, way long wingspan. Bring him back and come on down. All right, relax. Turn your head to one side or the other. Bring your arms around, kind of let your back loosen up a little. The accident, we just really don't get that much, but it's really good for us.


So just coming to a, what we call a child's position or rest position. If your knees won't do that, you can be on your back. You could separate your knees, but basically just trying to get a curve to your spine and release that tension. So come on up, take inventory of yourself. It's not, wasn't long. I know it was the basics that will really keep you going. So come on back, do it again and again.

Child's Pose

Get used to some of those movements and then we'll kick it up and really get into it in the next, next class. Thanks for coming.


7 people like this.
I loved starting from the beginning with you Kristi; thank you so much
4 people like this.
Always good to revisit the basics! Thanks Kristi! 
Maureen N
5 people like this.
I really like this instructor's style!
2 people like this.
Thanks Kristi - as an instructor I feel the hardest thing is to keep finding ways of teaching the basics to beginners in a new and exciting way.  More ideas please x
2 people like this.
I always love starting with the basics again. Thank you, great class.
It was good to focus on the basics again. Thanks!
Tilla F
2 people like this.
Thank you Kristi for the lesson, also in the basics there is always something new to learn.
Lina S
1 person likes this.
This class was perfect tonight as I was very tired.  With the basics, you get grounded. Thank you!
Thank you all. I agree with everything said here and so happy to hear you feel the same!  Maureen thank you! I hope you will try some of my other classes too. 
A lovely class to start a the day. I presume you are adding another class to this one Kristi?
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