Class #4145

Upper Body Strength and Flow

50 min - Class


Explore the joy of movement along with the important aspects of Prenatal Pilates in Leah Stewart's series Move and Bloom with Leah. This class will focus on strengthening your upper body and mobilizing your shoulders and spine in order to support your posture. Although this series is geared towards prenatal women, all women can benefit from the diversity of the classes and explore movement in a new way that remains true to the ideology of Pilates.
What You'll Need: Mat

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So let's just go to Orange County and say hi Leah. Hi Kristi, how are you. It's so good to see you. Thank you so much to you and Pilates Anytime. I'm so happy to be here for this fourth prenatal series as I am in my fourth pregnancy.

I am in my 29th week so I'm in my third trimester. And this time, we're gonna be exploring just the joy of movement. And also, we're gonna be tackling some of those wonderful aspects of prenatal pilates that everybody is concerned about, and everybody thinks about and everybody talks about. So we're gonna start with kind of exploring the upper body and then in the following classes, we're gonna go into really what good abdominal work looks like during pregnancy. We're gonna go into two classes that have to do with a variety dynamic pelvic floor work, and then we're gonna go into our final fifth class, which is gonna be all about kind of fun lower body cardio dance which is gonna be really, really fun and really, really nice.

So I'm so excited to be here again just to explore prenatal movement, and just all the options that it has to offer us as women. And this class is certainly not just for pregnant women, all women could definitely get a lot out of these classes just because they're so diverse and they really explored movement in a whole new way, honoring the methods and the methodology and the ideology behind just the pilates work. So I'm really happy to be here. Thank you so much, Kristi. It's my pleasure, it's just so good to see you.

And I'm looking very much forward. I'm not pregnant never have been but I'm very much looking forward to taking your class today live. Not quite in person, but live is good. So thank you for being here. Without further ado, I'm just gonna let you get going and I can't wait, thank you.

Awesome, okay thanks Kristi. We're gonna be talking upper body strength and flow. So when we think about pregnancy, we think about prenatal fitness, we don't often think about upper body initially. We go right into kind of pelvic floor, we go right into abdominal work. We kind of think about those things first.

But the upper body is actually really, really important and I'll tell you why. The first thing is we have to think about posture, we have to think about postural control. We wanna think about kind of keeping the chest nice and supple and open and keeping the upper back extensors nice and strong and functional. So that becomes really, really important. And the second thing is actually, when we're preparing for labor and for birth, and we're preparing for the healing and the postpartum season of having children, we also wanna think about the role that the upper body plays.

We wanna be able to have good posture for when we're in nursing or we're feeding or rocking or caring for our babies. We have to have upper body control and upper body kind of full body strength and full body connection when we're in the act of labor. And certainly when the act of birth itself. So upper body becomes really, really important. So just as a side note, I'm gonna start each of these classes with these little short tutorials just kind of explaining to you what we're doing and why we're doing it and we'll get right into movement, I promise you.

So today we're gonna do a lot of seated work and kneeling work. So if you wanna go grab a little cushion that you can maybe put it under your bottom, on top of your heels that that's gonna feel better, I would encourage you to do that right now. We're gonna be doing a lot of shoulder mobility, a lot of shoulder work. And so I'm hoping that we tie that into the core connection into the spinal connection. And by the time the class is over, you feel that beautiful warmth and your upper body and your spine, that beautiful opening across your chest.

So that's why we're doing upper body work in this first class of this five class series. So let's go ahead and get started. So I want you to sit on your bottom with your legs crossed. I love to start a lot of my prenatal classes in a seated position. And that's mostly because it gives us a lot of freedom.

So again, if you wanna be up a little bit higher at any point when our legs are extended or crossed go ahead and put a cushion underneath your bottoms so that you can feel a little bit more lifted because it's more important that your spine is elevated, rather than that you're sitting on the ground. So I don't want you to be sitting here. I want you to try to get right on top of your sits bones and really elevating through your spine. Let's go ahead and place our hands on our knees. And if you've been familiar with my classes, you know, again, this is kind of one of the things I really like to do to start classes.

So we're gonna inhale, we're gonna lift our sternum up toward the ceiling, just feeling that beautiful lift. And then we're gonna exhale and we're gonna rock back. Inhale lifting up, feel that gorgeous lift. And then exhale, rocking back. Inhale.

So as we do this little warm up and we start to get ourselves mentally and physically prepared for the rest of class, I want you to start thinking about how your arm bones connect up to your shoulder blades and how that connects to your collarbones and how that connects to your spine. And your spine flows down your back and next to your pelvis and how the muscles of the abdominals, the spinal extensors, the muscles of the chest and the shoulders, they all help move those bones. And that the upper body is deeply connected to the rest of the body. So now we're gonna pause here. Now on this next one, you're gonna lift your arms up.

Now you don't have to push it, you can go really gentle here. But I just want you to start to get that flow of how your arms move with your spine. Inhale. I'm sorry, inhale as you come up. And then exhale, contract.

And inhale up, two more. Exhale. And inhale. One more time, exhale. So I want you to hold this position, I want you to put your hands on top of your knees, and I want you to lift them at your pubic bone and I want you to scoop your pelvis underneath you a little bit more and relax your glutes here.

And then in this position, I want you to take your hands forward bringing your palms together and I want you to just gently rotate towards the camera, so whichever way that is and tap your hand on top of your knees and then go to the other side. So very gentle rotation here, I want you to make sure that you're not squeezing your glutes here. So relax your glutes as much as you can and feel like you're gonna get that internal connection through your abdominals. As you rotate here, you're gonna go toward the camera, exhale away from the camera. So keep going.

Last one, come in the center and put your hands back on your knees. Now this time, you're gonna glide your shoulder blades together as you pull your chest out. So if I were to turn to the back, you're gonna see my shoulder blades drawn together. I'm gonna pull my chest forward, and then I'm gonna reach and I'm gonna open them as wide as I possibly can, so I feel that great stretch across my upper back. Exhale, draw them together as tight as you possibly can almost like they're gonna touch two windows closing, and then open them back up.

So the same focus less on your spine and more on your scapula, your shoulder blades. And you'll feel your spinal muscles will start to contract and that's exactly what they want. So draw together and glide them open. Two more. Exhale, draw together.

Inhale, glide them up. And you can see my elbows are closing and opening as well glide them together. So once you get a hold there. So you can see my back is arched. I'm reaching my tailbone away from me, my sternum is lifted up.

So it should keep your shoulder blades together, but I want you to correct your spine. So I want you to sit right on top of your sits bones, take your arms out to the side. And now you're gonna pull your shoulder blades together very gently. Now I want you to hold here, you can extend your fingertips nice and wide. And I want you to feel that stretch across your sternum.

Now check yourself, make sure you're not popping your ribcage forward, which is really hard to do during pregnancy because the rib cage opens naturally. So you wanna try to keep it as close as you can, but I want you to glide your shoulder blades together. Feel that stretch, you might feel the stretch radiating down the inside of the arms out through the palm of the hands. Now release your shoulder blades and bring your arms together. We're gonna do this three more times.

You're gonna come to the shoulder line here. Then without moving your arms to initiate, move your shoulder blades to initiate, bring your scapula together. Make sure you're breathing. Just go where you feel comfortable controlling the rib contraction here. Bring the shoulder blades apart and close.

So here what we're doing here is we're understanding that gliding action of the shoulder blades as they glide in towards the spine, and how that demands almost a release or a stretch of the shoulders. If you're not getting as far as I am, no worries, you go where your range of motion is. Open, glide the scapula together. Glide them together. Now come back to to the shoulder line and turn the palms up.

A little pause, back thumbs going back. One, two, just do 10 of these three, trying to hold that abdominal control and I pasted up a little bit higher, challenge your posture. Can you hug your abdominals in towards your spine feeling that nice, beautiful connection? You guys a disclaimer, I don't count really well. So I apologize if my counting is off.

Let's go, two more. Hold it here, come back to the midline, lift your arms up. Now you're gonna pull your shoulder blades open like this. Lift your arms up here, hold this contraction here. Now you're gonna bend your elbows, lift your sternum and bring your elbows in towards your waistline and back up.

Exhale, pull them down. Feel like you're pulling weight down. Lift that sternum up so you find this beautiful position, and then bring it back up. Exhale. Inhale up.

Exhale. Inhale up and hold this position. And now rotate toward the camera and open the arms. So here in this position, as we're bringing the arms down, we wanna reach the arms out and you feel the stretch here particularly across this part of the shoulder as you're rotating your spine here. So rotation is actually not, rotation in this manner is safe during pregnancy.

You wanna keep your opposite hip down away from you. You wanna feel like you're presenting yourself really nice and lifted, and then come up to the center. So think they're going out or up rather, and then rotating and back up to the center. So go up, and rotate and back to the center. The breathing is gonna be an exhale as you rotate.

And inhale up and exhale. And inhale up, one more time exhale and inhale up. Hold this position, good. A little bit more of the spine a warm up. We're gonna curb all the way down.

So we're gonna bow forward, you're gonna tap your fingertips on your mat, right here. Then you're gonna do a big circle, tap your hands down and up. So you're gonna fall forward with your abdominals reaching, feel that stretch across your back all those muscles that we just been contracted in that arm work, you feel them releasing here. Then circle up and tap your fingertips down. Up and contract over.

Threading the belly button in towards the spine, and lift up and stretch. Two more times, reach and you're diving up and over and up and back one more time and lifting up and diving over. And lift up and back, hold it here. Kind of release your arms here. Use your breath, kind of shake your shoulders here, feel that you're lengthening your upper body, bring it back up, hold this position.

Now I want you to walk one leg out and then the other, so we're in the seated position. Now depending on where you are in your pregnancy, or where you are with your body, if you're not taking this class pregnant, I don't care exactly where your legs are. They can be wider than your hips, they can be narrow, but I do want you to get into a position where you absolutely feel like you can sit right on top of the sit bones. So you feel that elevation, you feel those sit bones driving down. So arms are gonna be up here.

You're gonna hold this position, you're gonna reach up and you're gonna place the hill the hands down on your mat your fingertips are facing out toward the sides. So here we're gonna continue to open the chest. We're gonna glide the shoulder blades together, lift the chest up, and release and lift and release. So you can see you get that nice arc in your upper back, actually through your whole back. And just gliding the shoulder blades together, you'll all keep going with that rhythm for me, and you'll feel the arm bones, the humerus, will actually start to rotate as well.

Just so that beautiful connection of scapula lighting and external and internal rotation of your arms. Let's do a couple more reaching up and relaxed. Last one reaching out. So I want you to hold here. Now you're gonna straighten your spine.

To see how I pull my abdominals and then I come to that straight position. You can bring your feet in a little bit closer, if you need to. So I want you to lift your arms up and then I want you to hold on that slight diagonal. Now depending on your abdominal strength, and your capability to hold this, you may need to come up a little bit further. Or you may wanna challenge yourself by hinging back a little bit more.

I want you to find that sweet spot that works for you. And I want you to just place your hands gently down on the mat beside you. Now you're gonna hinge straight up and hinge straight back. So we're thinking of our abdominals and our spinal extensors working together here in what we call the core contraction. And the secret here is to keep the energy elevated out through the tip of the head, and down through the sit bones.

You have this opposition here you can see my arms. I want your arms up here if you can and reach forward and back. Two more, reaching forward and back. Last time and hold this position. Now from here you're gonna rotate toward the camera.

You're gonna bring the opposite hand to that foot that's in toward the camera. So I want you to match this line here. So here depending on where you are in your pregnancy or how tight or loose your back is, I want you to not feel like you're hunched over here, but I want you to reach your spine as much as you can. So feel that connection through the upper body, reach that arm out. So you're feeling that deep rotation and then back.

Opposite side, exhale and inhale. Now as much as you can keep your hips planted down, and your feet planted down. So you can create a little bit more pizzazz with this exercise. If you go from this position, reach that sternum out. If I can reach the energy out and up, as I sit up, I get a lot more connection in the trunk, in the core musculature.

And that's exactly what I want. So reach and hinge and up. Last set, rotate, reach, hinge and up Last one, rotate, hinge and come up. Hold this position right here, bring the arms above the head, feel that contraction, feel that lift, feel that elevation, and you're gonna reach back. Now the hands are gonna come in between the legs there.

If you can't, I want you to tap your fingertips down to your mat. Once you feel the pelvis drawing underneath you as deep as you can. You're gonna lift the right leg up, you're gonna take it out to the side, you're gonna bring it in, down and keep the palms together. So by keeping the palms together, we're narrowing the angle at the shoulder line, challenging that mobility. So pull it down.

Lift up to the side. Left leg now, bring it in and up draw down. Long exhale, if you can, where you can grab more breath. I just wanna make sure you're breathing and up. Exhale, lift up.

So you're gonna hold this connection, draw in and down up and up. Out and I hope you're feeling good. And up again and down and up, reach out and in and up. And this time you're gonna hold it down, hold it down. Now bring your hands up one on top of the other.

Actually I want you to bring your-- I'm in the right but the leg and the arm that's closest to the camera, you're gonna rotate toward the camera, you're gonna pull your elbow back and center. So you wanna make sure that as you're doing this rotation, that you're keeping the abdominal musculature hugged in towards your spine. So if you feel like it's popping out or you feel like you're lacking control, you can come up a little bit more with your body. If you want a little bit more challenge, you can hinge back. But again, what you're doing is you're pulling your arm or connecting the upper body work with the core work, keeping that pelvis nice and stable.

And I want you to lift up, keep your hands together. Lift up, how far can you push your hands back feel the bottom tips of the shoulder blades start to come together. Feel that lift, feel that contraction, switch arms and come down. So now it's the opposite arm away from the camera and press and center. So the elbow pulls back almost like it's coming back behind you and center.

And exhale. And inhale. And exhale. And inhale, three more. Inhale.

Inhale last one. And come back up to as tall as you can. Lift the arms above the head. Feel that elevation. Sit right on top of those sit bones, reach the arms up.

Thumbs are gonna be facing back, you're gonna pull back 10 times, one with a little exhale, two, three, four. Try to keep the elbow straight, try to keep the rib cage nice and controlled. Four more, four, three stay elevated two and one, open the body. Bring the arms down and shake it out. So that my friends is a lovely sequence.

I don't know about you, but I'm sweating a little bit. I could feel that beautiful warmth in my upper body and my core musculature, it feels really, really nice. So now we're gonna go into a little bit of a different seated sequence. So I'm gonna say kind of on the diagonal here so that you can see my body. But now we're gonna be doing a little bit more of a flow and we're gonna be doing some really fun kind of alternatives to kind of push ups which is really prenatal friendly.

And I think you guys will enjoy the sequence. So hands are gonna be right here on your knees. Now, I want you to take the rib cage that's closest to me and I want you to take the same arm and I want you to reach it out. So I'm pushing the heel of the hand forward, then I'm gonna circle the hand in, I'm gonna draw my abdominals and I'm gonna come here. And I'm gonna reach making this beautiful big circle.

Now this time, I'm gonna tell you, you don't have to keep your hips stable. You don't have to keep your pelvis stable. You can just let it rock and roll baby and half, But what I'm getting is rotation of my spine, contraction of my abdominals as well with that rotation about the contraction of the abdominals with flexion and rotation. And I'm getting this beautiful flow through my arm. So you can now see I'm kind of releasing it a little bit more, kinda letting it flow.

So you guys are watching me, but nobody's watching you so you can just let it go. That's a nice slow. And in one more time, I want you to reach it. Now this time I want you to bring your weight safely over onto the hip that is holding that. I feel a little bit of a stretch and the opposite side.

I want you to reach that hand forward. Now you're gonna bring it down, you can bring your foot in front of you, and you do a big side bend over to the side. So you're gonna bend your elbow here, you're gonna feel this beautiful stretch on that side, keeping that hip down. Now you're gonna reach over, press the heel out, and rock onto that hip. So we're getting a little kind of different type of oblique work here.

And reach and over. Inhale, exhale, reach. And I'm holding on to my knee with my opposite hand. I don't wanna fall off my mat here. I know most of you guys are on the ground, so you don't have to worry about that so much.

And reach one more time. And reach, it's kind of a fun exercise. Now we're gonna bring that hand down. Now this hand, which is my right hand here, is down behind on the diagonal away from my hip. I'm gonna bring my other arm over my head.

Now you're gonna play with your position here, but what we're gonna do is we're gonna elevate the spine. So I'm lifting that sternum up. I'm gonna bend my elbow down with an inhale and exhale, press out. So as you do this, this is our fun kind of alternative modification of a pushup. But it's a single arm push up with the body in rotation.

And if you draw that elbow down slowly, like it's being pulled toward the mat and keep your elbow low, bring your elbow or excuse me, your shoulder low, bring your elbows slightly forward, you're gonna feel that beautiful tricep work. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. You guys feeling that in your arm? So really keep your body lifted and elevated.

Movement is all about the transfer of energy, the holding of energy, the giving of energy through our body. So if I were to collapse in this, it feel different if I really feel that nice stretch in elevation. Two more, exhale, one more. Now you're gonna spring off and over. Down and spring off and over.

Now see if you can increase that beautiful side bend. And over practicing that control where the control comes together with the flow and over last one and spring and come to the center and roll yourself up. So as you sit here, I want you to feel the difference between how your arm feels here versus on the back. Hold that and then I'm gonna switch to the other side. I'm gonna be on the diagonal so you can see me and I'm also gonna switch my feet or my legs rather, so which leg is in front.

So finding the position here, so we're gonna start slow. We're gonna swing the body out and back in. And just find your breath here. It doesn't really matter where you inhale or exhale, you just wanna feel that beautiful flow And reach but here, what I do want you to think about is using your abdominals to pull your spine in and let your upper body follow it. So let your torso be the leader here and the upper body follows.

So it's kind of like your torso saying, I got it. Your upper body says okay, I'm just gonna flow here and reach. And I'm hoping this kind of puts a little smile on your face. And for my ladies that are joining me today that are pregnant, this sort of rotational movement and flow and release is so important during labor. And just to feel that circular motion.

And that's why I do these types of things in these concepts because it kind of gives you that little bit of that tidbit into what you can be doing. And now we're gonna in this next one, we're gonna hold it out. So whenever we tipped forward, and we feel that reach. And then we swing over and we feel that stretch. So keep our opposite hip down, feeling that nice stretch on that side.

Reach and tip, so you're gonna feel as you tip as you come over with that kind of little bit more percussive quality. You're gonna feel that need to kind of use your core musculature to hold it and then control the movement as you come down so you don't plop down. And reach over feel that control through your abdominals through your torso, feel that energy reaching out, then control go over the top and down. Reach and over the top and down. So I'm hoping that your spine feels good.

You're feeling that warmth in your upper body over the top. And down, one more time reach. So you notice that one side maybe feels a little tighter or looser than the other and you're gonna come over. I'm gonna switch my position a little bit here. Hand is gonna come behind you on that diagonal.

Take a little breath. So here you go arm over. You're gonna bend the elbow, like you're pulling it down with resistance towards your mat and back in towards your hip, and exhale reach. Keep that sternum lifting and exhale reach. If you can get that arm overhead, that's great.

You can see how long my line here is of my arm. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Dragging that elbow down to the mat with as much control as you can. And up filling it in that tricep, filling it in that shoulder.

And up, filling it in the torso in the waist. And press up one more time. Inhale and all the way hold it here. Good, now you're gonna spring off and reach over, down. Spring and reach over down.

And press and reach and over down. Three more and press and reach. Good just feeling that beautiful flow that swaying back and forth of your body. Press and reach. Last one, and press over and come up to the center.

Hold this position for me. Arms up, take the arms out to the side. Feeling that beautiful presence of your body, you're gonna hug in and this is gonna be our last little seated part of our sequence exercise in our seated sequence and you're gonna press forward. And in, so now feel that warmth in your arms. Both shoulders are nice and warm now.

Feeling that gorgeous movement of your shoulder blades in conjunction with the flow of your spine. You can kind of let your head go here if you want, it doesn't have to be perfectly aligned as you reach forward. This makes me feel like I'm swimming. And reach out and let your pelvis go. Last one, and reach out.

Come to the center and stand on your knees. Let's do a little check in a little self check in. Adjusting my microphone here. Your heart rate's up a little bit, let's just bring it down. Now take notice of how your spine feels.

So we've been sitting here for quite a while doing this sequence, doing this flow and you should feel like almost spaced in your lower vertebrae. You should feel lighter in your spine, you should have lighter in your pelvis. You should feel a lot of warmth in your shoulders, in your upper body. Just kind of this contrast, this duality of this kind of, I feel almost like a warmth like a burning sensation, but I feel really light in my spine. And that's what we want you to feel.

So now we're gonna go into a kneeling sequence here. So we're gonna start in on four point position. So come up onto your hands and knees. I'm gonna be working with some scapular work. I'm gonna be working with some arm work and we're just gonna be transitioning at any point.

If your wrists are uncomfortable here, or if you feel a little bit of pressure in your belly, you can bring your hips back a little bit, or you can do the same sequence, or you can place a cushion underneath your bottom between your bottom and your heels and that will provide that as well. Another option is to go on to your fist if you need to, or if you're on a mat, you can roll up your mat and provide a little bit more cushion that way. I just want you to feel nice and comfortable. Okay, so we're in this four point kneeling position right here. So first thing, you're not gonna be able to see it on me very well but I'm gonna drop my chest down and pull my shoulder blades together.

And then I'm gonna press up and away and I'm gonna hug my abdominals in toward my spine. So when I drop my shoulder blades down, I'm certainly not gonna let everything go here, but I'm just gonna allow that natural stretch in my front body to happen as I pull my shoulder blades together. Now the energy here is to press down through the heel of the hands, draw the abdominals up toward the spine and widen those shoulder blades. Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale, so this is really great for shoulder mobility. This is really great for spinal control. This is really great for gentle abdominal work for pregnant women or anybody else. This is a great little sequence. Last one, inhale.

Now exhale, hold here. Now I want you to bring your hands in a little bit more narrow underneath you. Now this is gonna be a challenge to keep your shoulders nice and even here. We're gonna bring the arm this closest to the camera up, circle around to the tee, and down. Bring it up, around to the tee and down.

So this is very straightforward, but not simple, not easy. So bring the arms up, arm rather one arm not two. Last two up. So I want you to focus on how you can move that arm without altering the position of your body. Bring that arm in, transfer your weight to that arm and then do the arm away from the camera.

And down, still lift up and down. So make sure you're constantly doing yourself body check here. Shoulder over wrist, spine is beautifully neutral and solid and strong. The abdominals are supporting it. You're not squeezing your glutes.

Last one, exhale and bring the hand in. Now switch hands again. You're gonna bring that arm that's closest to the camera out to the side. You're gonna pull it back towards your waist. So it comes all the way to your hip and out and exhale.

Now think about where your energy here is. With your upper body, your head, energy reaching out to the crown of head and out through the sit bones. So I want you to think endurance here. I want you to think control. I want you to think longevity.

I know you can feel it in the arm that's down on the mat, I know you can feel it through your whole body. I want you to breathe through it. Now this time, you're gonna keep that arm back. You're gonna transfer to this position. So my arms are gonna be in a diagonal.

I'm gonna transfer forward, land on my hand, bring it back. Transfer up and out to the side. So this is more intricacy, with our core control as we move the arm. Reach up and down to the side. One more time.

Reach, now this time, bring your hand weight back onto your hand and do this beautiful stretch here. Feel that stretch you can bend that back elbow, bring it around, hold it and we're gonna go the other side. So arm away from the camera. Bring it back and out. So I want you to feel that work in the shoulders.

I want you to feel that your spine is in your abdominals are kind of like, okay, I'm done. I don't really wanna do this anymore. But I want you to tap into that. And I want you to keep that control. So it's not just enough to just hold the position, but I want you to hold the position with energy.

I want you to hold that position with purpose. I want you to have that drive behind it. Now bring the arm back, find this position here, bring it forward, catch yourself strong shoulder and back to the center. Transfer and over the top, center. Transfer and over the top, center.

Two more transfer. So I'm keeping that beautiful core control. Last one, and we're gonna come back, we're gonna find the stretch opening the body. Feeling that stretch and reach it back and both hands down here. So hold this position here.

I want your toes to come underneath you so you're feeling really solid and strong hip. You're gonna bend your elbows out to the side, reaching down, reaching down as wide as you can, almost like you're gonna kiss your mat. I want you, you don't have to shake your booty like I am, but you wanna keep your pelvis or you can, you can do what you want. And you can feel that nice stretch to your pelvis and then up and I want you to come into a curve here. Come back to center.

Now this initiate does have my elbows are being pulled to both ends of the room. Now I'm gonna let my chest drop a little bit. You can see him to let my pelvis come back behind me. I'm gonna stretch, stretch, stretch. Does that work in the upper body?

And now here I'm gonna initiate through my pelvis curving up, feeling that contraction here, all the way up. Elbows out to the side. Feel that resistance, palms are wide. Feel that beautiful control as you go down. Hold it here and then exhale, coming up.

One more time, bringing it down. Bringing it down, holding it there. A little pulses with your elbows. One, two, elbows out to the side. Three, four, five and press.

Oh, that was tricky. I didn't tell you we were gonna do that. And come up. So I'm sitting on, my toes are tucked under, my arms are up. I'm gonna reach back down.

Now this is what I want you to challenge your control here and your shoulders stability. Bring the hands down, then the elbows out to the side. Five more pulses. One, two, three, four and the fifth one spring up, boom all the way up. And then transfer, hold that control back to center.

Elbows out to the side, pulling with energy pulling, pulling, resisting like you don't wanna go down but you're being drawn to your mat and press one, two pelvis nice and wide. Three, four and press up. Hold it there. Now contract in, bring your hands down to your knees in this beautiful rounded position. You feel that abdominal work, you feel that curve coming up underneath you.

And then lift up and I want you to go past the straight line and into the arc and pull drawing the abdominals in. And reaching up. You can slow your heart rate down a little bit here by nice steady breath. If your feet are really uncomfortable in that position, go ahead and take your feet back but if you can hold this here, that'd be great. And one more time.

So hold this right here, hold this decision and I'm just gonna adjust myself a little bit hold it here. Good, now bring your hands together, and you're gonna sway toward the camera. Some kind of like, oh, look, look at my beautiful carpet, right there and back to the center and sway back to center. So I'm keeping that beautiful roundedness in my spine, the top of my pelvis and you're not gonna feel a lot of strong oblique work here, it's just more of a flow of your spine. You can let your hand kind of flow.

Let's go, one more set, exhale, center, last one. And come back and lift up. So now this time, I want you to bring your toes underneath you and I want you to bring your feet together. So correct your position here so making sure you feel nice and solid. And I want you to bring your chest up.

Bring your hands back behind you. So here we have our stretcher through our chest. Now I want you to keep your arms there and I want you to correct your spine. So adjust yourself where you need to. You are gonna feel your systems nice and wide.

Now your pinky fingers are gonna come toward each other. One, two, it's a very small movement. But I'm doing this toward the end of our class because your chest should be nice and open. Make sure you're breathing. How are you guys doing, you are doing good?

And press and press and press. Now correct yourself, bring the arms up. Bring the arms up. Oh my gosh, I even noticed bring arms right down. Do you feel a greater range of motion in your arms?

Do you feel more free in your arms? Settle good? I hope so. So now this time you're gonna dive forward. So feel as I contract those abdominals.

I'm gonna bring my hands down to my mat. And I'm gonna slide out. So I'm gonna be here. So now we're stretching the latissimus dorsi even more, a different aspect of the shoulder work. So I'm gonna keep my hips up, my hands are out.

Now, hopefully your mat doesn't crinkle up too much here as you do this. You're gonna pull your body in. So if you can kind of walk your fingertips, bring it up. Dive down, literally, my hands are together. Like I'm diving into a pool and I'm gonna reach out.

Walk your fingertips out if you have a mat that's kind of rolling up underneath you. Feel that stretch, feel that stretch. Now you can align your neck here so your nose is down onto the mat or you can look forward. I feel like both are really beneficial, it just kind of depends on what feels better for you. Now you're gonna initiate through your abdominals.

Exhale, even walking your hands back in. Because I know most of you are probably on mats, and I don't want it to peak left or if you're on a carpeted floor or even a harbor floor, you can step off your mat for this for a moment. And walk yourself out, hold this position, stretch out that pelvis. Feel that beautiful stretch through your latissimus dorsi. And exhale, draw your abdominals in and up.

One more time, diving down and reaching out. Holding it there. Now, I'm hoping that your legs can swing here, but what I want you to do is I want you to lift your feet and make your legs parallel. And then I want you to bring your feet back together and sit down a little bit. So your energy is gonna come up slightly.

Rotate your legs, you're rotating on your knees, you're lifting your feet up routine, your legs are parallel and then bringing it back and up, rotate. So now you're gonna feel a little bit more work in your hips. But as you bring your hips down here, your bottom down, you'd feel that stretch through your spine, through your waist, and through your shoulders sit down, opening up the pelvic floor, two more rotate. And sitting down one more time, before the lower back open here. And sitting down.

Right here, walk your hands in. I know, I understand it's a little bit awkward. But we'll get it and we're gonna come up into this position. So we're gonna bend the elbows down. Then I want you to feel like you're the Sphinx at Giza.

And you're gonna be nice to mutual here. So your spine is really nice and straight. Now you're gonna elevate your sternum, like you're gonna pull your elbows back towards your legs. So the energy of my arms is going back as my energy, my sternum and my head are going forward. Then I'm gonna relax.

And if you need to go into a little bit of a curve, you're more than welcome to do that, come back to center and pull the elbows back as you lift your sternum up. So we're tapping into a little bit more back extension in a different manner and back to center. Pull the elbows back with that sternum up with that beautiful work through the front body, and back to all those abdominals in. And last one. Now with that extension, you're gonna come up, now hold up that extension and bend down.

Exhale up. Inhale down. So notice that my elbows are sticking straight down to my mat. They're not coming out to the side, this time, they are staying really low and press. And I'm keeping that lift up through my sternum.

Press during the arc in the back. So even though I'm arched in my spine, I'm still holding my abdominal energy in to help support the spinal position and press. Elbows come down. Now I want you to walk your hands out a little bit forward. I want you to lift your hips up a little bit more, hold the energy in and do it again.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, exhale. Now get ready. We're gonna rotate the legs and go down.

So a little bit of a funny, awkward position. Rotate the leg back in as you bring the elbows extended to straighten the elbows rather. Bend inhale. Exhale, bend inhale Exhale. So keeping that abdominal connection.

Exhale, last two. Inhale, you guys we're almost done. We're getting there. Last one. And hold it there, now reaching back.

Now this is gonna be a little bit harder. But I want you to make sure a nice comfortable position, your knees are nice and open. And I want you to bring your hands down on the sides of your face here, your nose down to the mat. You're gonna lift your back up, back extension. Now, you're gonna challenge yourself by holding that position, bringing your arms up to the side like a goalpost.

Bring your hands back down and bring your body down. So now notice how I reach out to the crown of the head. Feel that lift. I hold it there, throwing the elbows out, bring the arms up rather, hands come down, body goes down. Head, neck and chest reaches out, feeling that full body control, use your abdominals to support your spine, draw them in toward your spine.

Hold that position, reach the arms out. Bring it back hands down, body down, two more like that. Lift up some abdominal support. Energy reaching out through the sits bones through the pelvis, extend the arms. Bring them back, down.

One more time, please. Lifting up, arms come up, extend. Now this time, we're gonna sit up, sit up, sit up, bring the palms forward, and then reach, reach and reach. And as you out through the crown of the head, lengthening the spine as you come up, and the palms go down as you reach forward. So you're nice and warm, able to do this, you have that control through your body, the mobilization through your shoulders, the mobilization through your hips.

And reach out this is the hardest part. Reach up and down. Three more like that. Feel the energy reaching hold on to your control and down exhale, feel that link. Feel that power through your body.

Feel the focus, feel the control. Arms come up, all the way, sitting up, sitting up. Feeling that nice center body here. Release. As you open, kind of shake out the shoulders a little bit.

Find yourself coming back forward to a seated position. Hi, how are you? Feeling good? Feeling your upper body? So, however you wanna move here.

Just move close your eyes, open your eyes, whatever feels good. Just shoulders back and forth. And then I want you to come to center and I just want you to circle to your left, just feeling that release. If you need to kind of drop your head a little bit you can. Just kind of doing a little bit of a cool down.

Make sure you're breathing, come up and then go the other way. Just circling. Feeling that nice, curving, that nice release. Then finally come back to center. Find yourself if you're comfortable here great, if you need to find another position to sit in, go for it.

I want you to close your eyes. So we did a check in at the beginning of class in the middle of the class, not the end of class. And I want you to notice again, the sensations that you feel in your body, hopefully they're all good sensations. They may not be though, and if you feel a little bit of pain or discomfort or tightness, that's your body telling you that something's a little bit imbalanced. Maybe your movement patterns can improve.

But it's communicating with you. That's what pain is. That's what discomfort is and we wanna honor that. This is a class that you can certainly repeat. Once it's available to do that, and you can try over and over again, and you'll start to feel that improvement in your shoulder mobility, your shoulder capability, you'll start to feel how that will improve your ability to kind of feel like you're opening your chest through the daily activities of life.

You're able to feel like your rhythm of your shoulders and your arms work. You won't be so acutely aware of that, but it'll be subtle. It'll be things like feeling like you're standing taller, it'll be things like having a little less discomfort when you're holding your child or when you're carrying groceries or when you're sitting at your computer working or if you're doing dishes or cooking. Whatever you do in your daily life, you'll start to notice those differences. Pilates is so good to make us feel good.

It's so good to even make us look good. There's nothing wrong with that. But really, at the root of it, it's really about us function better in our daily life. It's really about us, understanding the way our body works, understanding and loving the gift of movement and the gift of our body. And when it comes to being pregnant, it really ties us in and really connects us with the growth of life that is occurring within our body, and teaches us to really honor and kind of hold this sacred mess around our whole body and how we need to take care of it and idea that our body is a temple.

And literally during pregnancy, it literally is the area of life of growth. And so when we have our upper body engaged and we find strength and find mobility in our upper body, it carries into the way we carry ourselves forever, it carries into our abdominal support into our pelvic floor support. And that's gonna better help us feel more comfortable. And Jerry even say, just really helped facilitate that beautiful growth that's coming in our body. So I hope that you feel good in your upper body.

I hope that you do this class over and over again once it's available to you. And I hope that you join me for the next class where we're gonna really be tapping into what it means to do safe abdominal work during pregnancy. And this also applies to everybody because often, we aren't doing our abdominal work as good as we can. We're gonna address topics like diastasis recti, which is a hot topic in the pre and postnatal fitness realm. And so we're gonna talk about that and I'm gonna show you all sorts of beautiful ways that you can move your abdominals.

We did a lot of that today, but we're gonna tap into that even more during the next class. So thank you so much for joining me today. I feel wonderful. I hope that you feel wonderful, and I'm so excited and so happy to be here and I am so excited to see you for the next class where we tackle into our abdominals.


Great upper body workout, thank you! I can't wait for the next class in this series! 
Lina S
I've loved that class suitable for everybody! A brilliant mix of strength and stretch.
Hannah W
Loved this class. Nearly 37 weeks so my upper body needed that! 
Great upper body stretch after a tough night’s sleep on a new mattress! Feel 100% better. Many thanks for the neck & shoulder release :)
Hagar S
So glad Leah's back! I have been doing her prenatal workouts for a while and she has truly saved me during this time. Week 35 and feeling great thanks to these amazing classes!
Congratulations Leah! Didn't know you were pregnant again. That is such joyful news. Maybe a little girl this time to help you keep all those little men in line?? Either way , here is to a happy & healthy pregnancy . You're a pro at this now. Cant wait to watch your class. I am getting new Mamas in lately into my studio so I am back pedaling and watching all of your classes!! 
Shelley M
Excellent class, Leah. Wonderful idea of starting with the upper body. Your cueing is fantastic and this is really an amazing pre-natal workshop.
Paula H
great class Leah, thank you!
Karen S Hi Karen! Thank you so much for the feedback! Yes, I love the balance of strength and stretch in this class, too! Feels great!
Lina S Oh, yes! Every-BODY could enjoy this class!
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