Class #4055

Upper Body Stretch Reformer

25 min - Class


Now that you've created power in your upper body, you can move inward to open your shoulders with this Reformer workout by Sarah Bertucelli. She invites you to be patient and pay attention to your sticky spots so that you can find ways to make each stretch feel good on your body. By the end of the class, you will feel open, lengthened, and relaxed.
What You'll Need: Reformer (No Box)

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Let's stretch the upper body today. So in this short work in, I'm calling it a work in because I want you to have the opportunity to kind of go inward and find sticky spots in your shoulders and upper body and wherever you may feel it is the right place. The most important thing is to pay attention to yourself. Not only listen, but hear what your body's telling you and make sure you're adhering to the pleasure principle that the moves should feel good. Seek something that feels good. I also invite you to be patient and curious in each position and see what you find. So let's stand with our feet right underneath our hips and just kind of squirm around a little bit and see how you feel in this exact moment with no judgment.

I feel a few things that I'm just taking note of. Lift your arms up, Bri, look up and nothing needs to be really neat here. I kind of say this is sloppy Palladio's if you will. It's not really [inaudible] that it's an ex exploration of your body. I'm going to reach up with one arm and just see what I feel. Where does my head want to go, retreats, reach.

And then I'm going to change sides. And just kind of maybe look up, look down, decide what feels good, where you might need to release something or where you might be a little sticky. So I'm on a blue spring right now. Set up for the cat stretch. So we're going to roll forward one vertebra at a time. This nice, nice light spring is going to allow me freedom of movement, pushing out, stretching out through the back, tipping the tailbone back. Feel a release in your shoulders, in your arms, and then exhale maybe and round in. And you'll hear me a lot of times today, say maybe I don't actually care when you breathe, I care that you do breathe. And I also would invite you to explore a movement longer if, if and when it makes sense to you. And so here as you reach forward, really think about what's happening in your upper body and your shoulders.

Stir Rach through those shoulders. Maybe press the heart down if it feels good or squirm a little bit from side to side. See what feels good. And then as you round in, do this a little differently. And I want you to stay in your arms a little bit, pressing into your hands and try to feel a little bit of a stretch perhaps through your wrists. And then reach out again, flattening your back, stretching through the body, pressing the heart down. Perhaps what feels good. So I decide, just notice what you feel warm up. Get ready to iron out some of your kinks. So as you come in, you're going to press maybe into a wrist stretch, perhaps press it to the right, press to the left, let your head relax and then reach back out. One more time. Breathing and moving, beautiful.

And then round all the way in. Let your head relax. Sometimes I'm saying things that I know I need to do so I could feel my head not completely relaxed, side to side. Shift back to the legs, rounding up through the back. Just notice where you might feel some, some kinks that need ironing. So now from here, let's shift the spring to a full spring, probably a red spring. I know for me that that's a good choice. I want you to be aware that I've taken the risers up, the straps, the pulleys up higher so that I have a little more stretch and I've shortened my straps. If you don't feel like you can find the exact right position, feel free to do that. Now I'm going to sit on my knees here for this next piece.

You're welcome to sit in a cross legged position if that suits you. So whatever works here, I've wrapped the straps around my wrists and then that way I can kind of loosely grab but also stay pretty relaxed. I'm just like, I'm writing a, I dunno, a carriage driving a carriage or something just occurred to me. So here, let the straps pull you forward, flex your spine, shoulders go with head relaxes. I am not holding anything back. What do you feel? Maybe you sway side to side and then you're going to stack your spine sitting tall, opening the heart, pull the shoulders back, look up and bring the arms behind you. So yes, I'm using muscles, but I'm doing so in such a soft way that I'm trying to relax and release and find the edges. Now if you feel yourself kneeling, if you're kneeling like I am, you may be taxing a little bit more. Um, the, the stretch across the front of your leg, especially if you lean back a little bit. Yeah. Now if you're sitting in a cross legged position, you might be stretching a little bit, your glutes and whatnot as you go forward.

So just decide what you need and feel free to change at any time. So here sitting nice and tall, just nice to surveying the scene, seeing what I feel opening. I'm going to lean back a little into the spring. I'm just finding a little pull and then I'm gonna lean and round forward and I'm actually feeling a really nice stretch and release through my back. Little bit in my arms and my upper back. But it really actually in my lower back cause that's why I tend to be tight.

So I'm going to put uh, the bat, the strap behind down and I'm going to turn around to sit and face you. And so I've got the strap in the hand that is across here. So whatever hand you're on is fine. Have to move my jewelry out of the way. It's doesn't feel right. So for those of you that prefer to be sitting with your feet down, you can sit like this.

And here you want to make sure you can put your hand on one of the shoulder rests, but you're kind of far away. So I'm going to let the spring, I'm pushing with my arm on the shoulder rest and I'm letting the spring pull me into flection, letting my head relax. So I'm in flection and rotation using my abs a bit. And then I'm just in that same effortless way. Gonna pull myself up, bend the elbow. Once I'm in that bent elbow position, I'm going to lean over a little bit. My hand will just come away. Good. So just checking out that move. Now, if you know that this, um, that you can handle more here, you can assume a mermaid. Sit aside, sit here, which I'll show as I come up. So this time when I come up, I'm going to pull my arm across. Feel that I'm just looking, checking it out. I can lean into it a little bit.

And then I'm just going to cross my legs underneath me and take this little mermaid sit, which gives me a little more range of motion. But for some people it doesn't feel great in their knees. So here I can reach across. Feel that stretch. We'll just do it one more time. Oh, it's such a deeper stretch. And the, now I want you to lean out and keep your arms straight so you can hold a little with your hand if you need to. And you're just going to feel this idea of leaning into the spring and letting the spring pull your shoulder into a little bit of a stretch. Yeah.

And then as you come forward this time, allow the arm to go out to the side, stretching a little bit more. So I'm reaching outward, getting a different type of stretch through my whole back body. And then as I lean a way, I'm just letting this spring kind of pull me a little bit, right? So at any time if the spring feels too heavy or you feel like you need a little bit more, don't hesitate to adjust. But remember you're not controlling the spring. The spring is actually holding you and supporting you.

So I've turned around and I'm holding the same strap. If this is too much, then hold the strap that's forward. Once again, you can sit with your two feet down or you can assume that mermaid position, which is what works for me here. So I've got the mermaid and my hand is on the bar. I'm going to reach out here and just lean, lean, lean. Now I know I'm flexible and that it feels like a good idea. So I'm going to come a little lower, my hand on the foot platform and then I'm going to come up. Now again, the gentle traction of the spring is where the stretch happens and what I'm doing in this moment, which you may or may not be able to see from your viewpoint right now is I'm pressing my heart forward while my arm is being pulled back by the spring.

As I lean into the stretch and now we can make it a little deeper and roll a little bit forward, a hint of support from the abs and notice my hand is supporting me. I'm going to do that one more time. I'm going to press my heart forward and roll into it. A beautiful stretch across my pack, across my front deltoid, my neck, my trap. It feels wonderful. So here you can take this strap and place it on your elbow. Okay, now this is going to get you just a little bit deeper into the pack maybe or wherever you happen to feel it is fine.

So here I'm going to let my arm stay pretty relaxed and passive and, and then I'm just going to lean over and see what that feels like. So the spring again is pulling my arm as I lean away and create a feeling of stretch so you could stick with just that or you can come over to that lean. You can reach around with your hand and just pull your arm in a little bit and see you've got a, I'm holding onto my hand with my other hand and now I'm going to wave in the wind a little bit. So I'm leaning my heart forward and rotating around slightly and then I'm going to just lean back a little bit. Nice. Now here's where you have to find that sweet spot where you can feel something.

And this is where I feel it when I lean my heart forward. I feel a little bit of a stretch and a few places. It's not the kind of stretch that I expect, but it's definitely something that I like. Now gently come on up here and we can make a change. We can take the arm behind you. If the arm goes behind you, then you're ready for this change. If the arm doesn't go behind you, you might want to just stick with one of the first versions.

And so here I'm going to press my heart forward. My arm is pulled behind me as I come into a beautiful stretch here. And then as I roll back, I round back, my arm is just pulled forward. I'm going to change my gaze, so I'm extending, opening through the heart. My arm has pulled behind and I can actually use my hand to take it back a little more. And then I'm a rounding and the spring, uh, or the arm kind of comes forward as I pull into it.

And that maybe feels like a stretch there. That one is not as intense for me, but as I press forward and open and extend, it feels like a beautiful stretch. And then we can gently release that. Go ahead and put your strap down. And now we're going to change arms, but I'm going to have to face the other way to start that. So you're going to want to grab the forward strap with the other arm. Um, and again, I'm going to assume right away that sidesaddle or mermaid seat that we were just in. But you're welcome to put your two feet on the ground. It still is quite wonderful. So hook the strap around, your wrist, hand is on the shoulder rest and feel that opposition as you move into that beautiful stretch. And boy, that one is so much more intense for me here.

And then I'm going to gently, I'm pulling out of it and leaning with a bent elbow first. Just checking that out here. You can go right away to that straight elbow if you want. But I like this idea of having to work a little and then we're going to reach, let the spring pull forward, push with the opposing arm and feel this beautiful stretch. Now taking the arm a little out to the side may change the stretch it does for me.

So there I'm pushing into the strap a little bit and I'm pulling across here bent arm and then let the arms straighten and relax into this. So you're kind of relaxing into the spring and just waving around and seeing what you feel. This doesn't feel so intense for me right here, but for some of you it may. And then one more time here, we're going to find the shoulder rest with the hand. Allow that opposition to happen. The head is relaxed, big stretch through the back body, big mermaid type stretch here, gentle pull and a lean. And so then gently come out of that and you can just continue to hold onto that strap and just spin around to face the other way. Once again, you can have a seat if you want with your feet down or you can take that side saddle seat, which works for me here. So here now we're going to work a little bit more, this idea of opening.

So you want to find a spot where you feel like you can lean into the spring and enjoy that bit of traction that the spring offers you as you wave forward and back. Don't hesitate to put your hand down wherever it makes sense to you and don't hesitate to spin around a little bit. I did forget to say that on the other side, I apologize. But you can always turn your arm in, turn your arm out and see where you feel the stretch that suits you here. And then here, um, go ahead and press your heart forward a little bit, see what that feels like, and pull your heart back a little bit and then you can kind of come up and we can do it again, right?

So if I actually like coming up and feeling the pull outward, it feels really wonderful to me pressing forward and pulling back. But certainly if you just want to stay in the position and explore where your, where your stretches, where you need to work out the kinks, go ahead and scratch that itch as I might say. So let's go ahead and put the strap now on the elbow. Okay. And I'm just letting the spring pull me out and that feels a little different here because of the placement. Nice and relaxed. Feel free to loosen around and see what you move around and see what loosens up.

Um, it's funny when I do this stretching, I start to lose my ability to speak a little bit home, trying to keep it straight for you. But uh, working in means I start to mellow out a little bit. So here I'm going to lean out a little bit, see how that feels. If it feels like a good idea, you can go ahead and just reach around and hold here and then you're going to kind of roll open through your heart. This way I'm getting nice stretch through my neck, through my chest and you're going to round a little bit and just open this way to see what happens. And feel free to use your hand to help you. I felt like on the side I needed my hand over here just to feel it and then gently come up.

So now we can make this change where you placed the hand at the small of your back if that suits you. If not just continue doing where whatever position does suit you, but I'm giving you options. So I'm actually pressing into the small on my back here to get this open feeling here as I press forward. So I press my heart forward, my arm goes back and I'm getting a delicious stretch and then to come out of it, I'm rounding, I'm rounding a little, letting my arm come forward and just sort of feeling what I feel there. And that's not as much of a thing for me, but it's a bit of a release. And then I'm going to press into the stretch a little bit, opening my heart and then I'm going to release and just one more time like that.

So I invite you at any time if you feel like, man, I just wish I could stretch a little longer, pause me and stick with the stretch a little bit longer. But I want to make sure an offer you a fair amount in a short period of time. So let's go ahead and rest that and we can move on. So, um, here I would like to change the spring to a blue spring, something light and just one spring. And then you'll come to your knees for me. And we're going to do a kind of a reverse knee stretch, but with the knees back. Yeah. So a little bit of work here, but I want to really focus on feeling the stretch through the low back.

So I'm sitting back into a child's pose. You can rest your head for a moment and then I'm going to come forward into my hands, into my knees, squeeze my knees together, round through my back, and really try to go for that feeling of stretch. So I'm, I'm not trying to hold everything together. In fact, I'm opening through my heart. Maybe my shoulders are even up by my ears. I'm getting a stretch through my back body. My neck is relaxed and hopefully getting a stretch through my low back. And then I'm in a press down through the tops of my feet, pull the legs in and keep that feeling of stretch. So rather than moving, hold this position and round up, stretch up a little more. So yes, I'm asking you to work your abs, but I'm looking for a stretch through the back and then just gently let it go.

And whatever way makes sense to you. Sit in your child's pose for a moment. Sway your hips side to side. And let's just do that one more time. Again, seeking the feeling of stretch more than the feeling of work here. So we come forward onto the arms, we're pressing up, we're opening through the back body, relaxing the head in the neck here, hollowing the belly and rounding through the low back. Push down through the feet and pull those legs in. So we're tightening the ball, finding that tightest ball.

And then rounding up again. I know I've lost it a little bit. So I'm going to breathe here and try to find that rounding, stretching and then gently rest that. So from here we're going to move into um, a stretch more for the arms on the side body. Bring the knees all the way up to the shoulder rest. And then with the hands on the frame of the reformer walkout until you can hold on up high here.

So I like to put my elbows right on the shoulder rest and just get organized. I realized I would like my head rest up just so it's out of the way. So I'll do that now. And then here I'm looking more for stretch. So if the spring is too heavy or your shoulders or feel vulnerable, you'll lighten. We'll take the elbows away and we'll allow ourselves to come to a feeling of stretch. Now here's where I want you to explore.

Does it feel good for you to press your heart down and let your head rest maybe on the headrest, so your forehead, if not, don't wag your tail side to side. Roll a little bit. And then you're going to kind of pull your shoulders away from your ears a little bit. Look forward and bring your body up, round yourself in. Feel a nice little stretch through the back body and then undo that. So again, does it feel like a good idea for you to go all the way down? Heart open, shoulder stretch, rest your forehead on the headdress sway side to side.

My shoulders are up by my ears here. They're stretched, they're relaxed. Now I'm going to pull them down to support a little bit and then I'm going to look forward. I'm going to curl my belly and I'm using more my abs than my arms here. I'm just supporting with my arms. Feeling a nice little stretch here and then I'm going to undo it.

And then now without going to your extreme position, will you gently change your arms? So I'm going to take my one arm across, it doesn't matter which one, and I'm going to turn my hand so I can maximize my lat stretch. I've got both arms engaged here, so I'm pushing with my hand on the frame while pulling or letting the spring pull me into a stretch up here. Now if this hand position is too intense, just turn your hand so it's not too intense. Also, you could take your hand lower. There's no reason you couldn't have your hand down here, which would be a little bit less intense on the arm. I happen to be pretty flexible in my shoulders and this feels delicious. Explore what your body wants to do here by letting my legs go back and, and a few times I feel more stretch in a different way through my side body.

Just one more moment here and then we can change sides so carefully. Find the way to change. If you need to come to rest, you'll come to rest again. Feel that beautiful stretch through the side body. Use your other arm to support a little bit and receive the stretch in whatever way works. Some of my clients really prefer this on a yellow spring, a really, really light spring, so don't hesitate to make that change.

I happen to like this heavier spring because I, I like to, um, I like to really be to use the spring, right? But if my shoulders are also quite safe here, swaying side to side, finding what you need, breathing in and breathing out so carefully, your arms might feel a little jealous. After that, you'll walk yourself all the way back. Find rest with the spring, maybe fix your hair and get ready to move on. All right, so now we're going to change the spring. Let's change the spring to probably a red spring is going to be good here. Once again, if the spring feels too heavy for you at any time, simply lighten it or change it because it should feel pleasurable.

Remember that that is rule number one. So we're going to sit here in a position that's comfortable so I'm not committed to the legs needing to be really straight. You can do that if you want, but see if you can just find a position where it feels comfortable and relaxed, which for me, I can have straight legs here or you could go cross legged if you prefer cause I want you to enjoy it. So reach back and grab your straps, pull your straps forward and then I'm going to ask you to put the straps kind of on your elbows here. And with that position, notice what it feels like when your arms are behind you. Is that an okay position for you? And then pull forward and notice what it feels like when your arms are out to the side a bit. Is that an okay position for you? So if the spring feels too heavy now, then you should change it.

If it feels fine or light, then then you're doing a good job. So in this open position, can you spread your collarbones in your shoulder blades a little bit and then reach your arms out to straight and notice what you feel there? I feel some stretch there. Soften your elbows. So I'm looking for my biceps to be facing straight forward. So the point of my elbow is straight back. I'm in neutral alignment.

I'm going to spread through the collarbones and the shoulder blades and then I'm going a straight in my arms and I'm going to maybe go back a little bit more and start to feel more stretched through my chest and through my bicep perhaps. And then a bend the arms and I'm going to pull forward, spread the collarbones in the shoulder blades straight in the arms now and you might feel more stretch and then it feels like a good idea. Go back just a little bit more. Oh, that feels so good to me. Here's where you'll bend. It's a little easier to pull forward. Yeah, I'll just one more time like that. So spread the collar bones and shoulder blades straight in the arms.

Big stretch. Let's actually not go back here because let's see if we can take our arms up and try to hold your hands at some point. So I'm looking hands is not the right choice. I'm trying to hold my elbows. So if you can hold your elbows here, we're in a good spot for moving on. If you can't quite hold your elbows, you might need to modify a little bit and the modification would be to practice this stretch without um, without the straps probably.

So bring the arms forward. Okay. Take the arms up. I want you to clasp your hands together, hands together and I want you to bend your elbows and let your arms kinda hang behind you. So your elbows are trying to stay narrow here. See how that feels? That feels like a good idea. I'm going to change to a cross legged position because it feels like it would be more comfortable for me and I'm going to up heart forward, lean into the spring and then I'm going to round through my low back and I'm going to come all the way up. Okay. So believe it or not, this is is, it is a kind of easier version for the shoulders. So here with my straps in my hands as I come forward, there's a little bit less pull than if it were to be on my upper arms, which is the change I'm about to make here. Okay.

So this is a modified version. If you feel comfortable here, try putting the straps on the like AMI forearm area and then reached back and get a hold of your elbows and try to keep your straps hooked. So I'm holding the straps and kind of holding my elbows or my forearms in some way. So here, try leaning on the diagonal in one direction and try leaning on the diagonal and the other direction. See how that feels? Yeah. And then try folding forward. The heart leads the way the arms stay back there. And then the arms will kind of fold forward a little bit as you round and then come all the way back at and then sit tall. So let the spring pull your arms back and try leaning to one side. Big stretch, looking up, maybe looking down. You decide. Lean the other way.

Oh that so wonderful. Come back through. Let the arms be pulled back. As you come into a folded position, relax your head, bring your arms down a little bit and then round and roll back up. Let's just do that one more time please. So sitting tall, I'm going to lean the other way just for fun. Stretch that side and then stretch the other side and then come back through and fold forward.

Now if you wanted to even yourself out with your legs, at some point you would pay attention to which leg is crossed in front and maybe change that. Whoops. So we'll take the straps off the arms and gently put them down. And I have just one more thing for you and that is a nice little exploration of your mermaid. So we'll keep the same spring and sit in the mermaid, the classic mermaid here, and we just finished with more [inaudible] basically. But take, take this understanding of your stretches and see where you can scratch some itches if you will. So sitting nice and tall. Feel your pelvis and try to find unglue a few things. Yeah, inhale to reach away. Perhaps an exhale doesn't really matter.

Round through. Put two hands on the bar here. I like to hook my fingers around and push with my other arm to create more stretch. Take this maybe a little deeper by pressing your heart down. Take this maybe a little deeper by pressing into your hooked arm or the one that you reached around you. Press your head to that and stretch your side body a little more. We're only going to do one here today.

So we're enjoying each and every position. Come back to what feels centered and then unwind and then come in. Beautiful. Let's change sides. So finding a position that suits you with your legs. Sit and find yourself comfortable here.

Maybe feel where your pelvis is and where you're sticky and see if you can ground. Let your arm be straight. The one that's supporting you, reach away. Maybe it's an inhale, maybe it's an exhale. Notice what you feel. Rotate around two hands on the bar. The hand might hook around. You're pushing with the other hand as you deepen the stretch through that side body. Let the head maybe relax a little bit, not completely, but I tend to press or relax my ear toward my arm as I pushed to the side and I received the most delicious stretch there. And then gently undo that. Come around, sit tall and come in.

And I sure hope that your shoulders feel open and relaxed and he's scratched a few inches. I'll see you again soon. Thank you for playing.


1 person likes this.
Oh lucky us for more delicious Sarah stretches to appear on Monday morning! I loved your recent upper body workout, so I immediately got on my Reformer to stretch out and get ready for my day. Thanks Sarah!
Only remark I would have is that it was a bit unfortunate to have to turn away from you for the second half of the first section - it's a bit difficult to plan such a choreography of course, but maybe a good choice would have been to just take the other strap or something.
But otherwise, wonderful work again Sarah, looking forward to seeing more from you!
Sara Ellis-Owen
Great stretch for my stiff neck! Thank you! X
1 person likes this.
Sarah, this was pretty yummy. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. As teachers, we rarely take this much time for ourselves to stretch, but we should! I'm six months post op rotator cuff surgery (all four tendons), so I cannot begin to tell you how good that felt on both shoulders. Thanks again.
1 person likes this.
Gerri M
1 person likes this.
Beautiful class..feels like some of the weight of the world just dropped off my shoulders...nice job!
Julia R thank you for your feedback.  I will keep your thoughts in mind next time. "see" you again soon. 
Lori M I am so pleased this class suited your shoulders.  Thank YOU for playing!

Gerri this class was filmed before Covid spread world wide.  I am so pleased to hear your shoulders felt light after.  thank you so much! 

1 person likes this.
I love this class! Hope you have a lower body stretch release class coming too!? This is perfect for the modern tech neck /sitting lifestyle and especially for surfers. My clients will love this as much as I did! Sooo needed and I love the gentle pull and resistance of the reformer leaving me stretched and open. Thanks!
Frances A
Please can I close my account
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