Class #4215

Lateral Flexion

55 min - Class
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Maria Earle joins us from Barcelona for her series Happy Healthy Spine with Maria. Each class will be an exploration of the different movements of the torso and how we can create more space, flexibility, and strength. In this episode, she focuses on the lateral flexion of the spine and structures the class to build up to your best Side Bend and Kneeling Side Kicks. She uses beautiful imagery to help you access the greatest benefits for your body.
What You'll Need: Mat, Towel

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Hello everybody. Good morning for some of you, good afternoon for some of you, I am in my afternoon here in Barcelona. Thank you so much for coming to move with me today. I'm really excited to share with you some of them movement sequences and kind of protocols, sort of, (laughs) that I use to bring more lateral extension, sorry, lateral extraction into my classes. So, let's, we're gonna start sitting.

So if you need a block, oh, and there's another thing that I forgot to tell you, that if you could go get a towel, I mean, you have like, you know, 30 seconds to go get like a small hand towel like this big. Okay, I mean, you don't need one if you can't find one, like tell you what else you can do. Sorry about that. (laughs) All right, so, hope that wasn't too annoying. Let me send you off on a task to get a towel.

Okay, so I have, yeah, I got a whole got whole list. So if you see me look over here, cause I'm like looking at my list of things that we're gonna do, all right. So first thing is, we're just gonna sit here. I'm sitting cross legged, you could sit up on a block. That's why I put it here to kind of remind us that you can sit on a block, so I'm opting out on a block.

You also could roll up your mat, sit on your mat. Whatever's comfortable so that you can just be here and not feel tight in your hips, okay? So, first thing I want you to do is just take your fingers to the top of your head, right? Just like (laughs) yeah. we're gonna like, I'm a little teapot.

So I want you to just very lightly hold your fingertips right here, okay. And then from where you're sitting, I want you to rise up and sort of meet your fingers, right? And see if you can lengthen and grow just a little bit taller up into the light touch of your fingers, right? Okay, now just keep that as you bring your arms down at your sides, all right. Now, take a deep breath here and continue to feel like you are lifting up out of your seat and growing tall, right?

And as you do that, I want us to start thinking about breathing and breathing laterally like an accordion. And so in doing that, I want you to feel the right and the left side expand outwards. And then as you exhale, I want you to feel like everything is cinching towards your midline, right? It's kind of toning, it's like a toning, cinching sensation. And then we inhale, extend exhale.

Good, now if you have a towel, you could fold your towel up into a thirds. So it's like this. And then we take the towel around the rib cage, okay? And depending on the length of your towel and the size of your rib cage, your hold here will be different. Some of you might have to cross at the front of your chest, others of you will be a little bit more like me, kind of holding like this.

All right, so I have it very wide. You can see it behind me, I have it kind of wide, and it's around my ribs. So I'm gonna pull this gently, but tight around your rib cage. A little bit it should feel like a stintching, should feel a little bit like a corset so that when you inhale, you breathe wide outward. I want you actually to feel like you're kind of pushing into your towel just a little bit.

So if you've been hugging with your towel, you might have to let up on it just a little bit so that the rib cage can expand. The point is for you to feel expansive on your inhale, but I also want you to feel that your rib cage is kind of pushing out, right? And it has to push out against something, right? And then as you exhale, that's when you sort of hug yourself just a little bit tighter, it's like you're sort of assisting your rib cage to come to a closure and then we're inhaling again, wide, wide, wide, and then exhale. And you can exhale through your nose, you can exhale through your mouth, can experiment alternate, right?

Make basically, I just want you to feel like how wide you can breathe, how lateral you can breathe, and using that towel is really helpful, if you didn't have a towel you could be hands here breathing into your ribs, and then pressing just a little bit, yeah, okay. So, then bring your hands down, you can again think about the top of your head going up to the ceiling, your crown rising. As your crown rises, I want us to take like an what Kathy Grant my teacher used to call just like rib cage isolations, that she actually learned from the Dunham Technique. But anyway, I digress. You're gonna lift (laughs) and we're gonna go to the side, and then back to center and then to the side and back to center.

So here, nothing below my waist moves, I'm just shifting my upper rib cage. And there's this lift that happens to bring you back to center. So play around with that sensation of a lift back to center, shift the rib cage, lift, come back to center, shift, lift, all right? Okay, right, and we're just kind of taking it side to side, breathing, still breathing like an accordion, and then let's find neutral, or you're no longer shifted to one side or the other. Let's take the right arm up by your ear, okay?

So we're just gonna keep the arm real strong and straight, straight up, and the other hand, so I have my right arm, my left arm. Just so you know, I get my left from my right confused all the time, so I'm just, you know, it's a warning. You're gonna walk your hand out a way and slightly forward on a diagonal, and then place your palm down. So already I'm starting to side-lean, right? Now to add the side bend apart, you're gonna soften the elbow, soften the shoulder and start taking yourself over.

Take a deep breath here. Maybe your elbow rests on the floor, maybe not, right? What's important is that this arm was reaching up not necessarily going over, it's reaching up to where the wall and the ceiling meet. And then you anchor same side hip down into the floor, and you breathe here, you're gonna laterally breathe into this rib cage and then push yourself up and we'll do the other side. We take it up, walk it out, place your Palm down, drop your elbow down, drop your shoulder, do a side bend, take a deep breath here.

Exhale, you might need to side bend a little bit more for it to start feeling delicious, right? And then you sit that hip down so that you're really anchoring, right? And then reaching, and then side bending and then take it up, good. Let's do it one more time, because I wanna also now introduce this idea that I use a lot, which is well before it take my arm up, is that our rib cage is a bell. And as we side bend, we are going to tip our bell this way so that the underside of the bell, which is our rib cage, is going to shine that way, okay?

So let's take the right arm back up again. walk your left arm out, place the palm down, drop the elbow, drop the shoulder, take your side bend, take a moment here, breathe, sit evenly on both hips, and then start to imagine your bell, the rib cage, gets to pick up a little. So, you know, you try to pick it up. So the under side of the rib cage presents itself to the sidewall and then come on up. Let's do that again.

We take the arm up, and we take this other arm out, walking it along the floor, put the palm down, take the elbow down, take the shoulder down, give me a side bend, take a deep breath, here I want you to feel again that you're breathing into this side. And if you get to kind of pick this rib cage up, breathe, shine out this way, right? So keep picking up the rib cage, keep lifting here and then come on up. Yeah, I should feel, I should feel pretty nice, right? And let's go back into our rib cage isolations, keeping the lift, just making a smooth glide, smooth glide, always feeling aligned, always feeling a lift, and then come to neutral.

All right, now we're gonna get quadruped So I want your hands directly underneath your shoulders. I want your, I'm gonna just tuck in here a minute. I want your knees directly underneath your hip, yeah, all right? So firing up those arms, like give a nice and strong here. You can spread your fingertips out a little bit, but don't create too much tension in the spreaded hands.

If that makes sense for you to be somewhere in them with open hands, but not too open. (laughing) All right, and then of course I wanted to do flatties so you have to like make sure that you're not hyperextending your elbows and you're not swinging them out, right? That they're nicely lined up over your wrists all the way up to the shoulders. Pick your head up so that your head is just a little bit higher than your shoulders. Let's draw the belly in, right?

So from the pubic bone up towards your chin, you're like zipping a zipper. We're gonna take, I'm gonna do the left leg, cause it's what's facing you. I'm gonna pick my left foot up, and then I swing that my foot out, I'm gonna pick my head up and look up over my shoulder, and I then wanna swing it the other way. And then bring it back to the center and take it down. Like all this wagging the tail, you swing the leg out and then you so swing it across and you come back to center, you take it down.

We lift, we swing it open, swing it across and bring it down. So here we're working that side bend, right? So we're just warming it up. I want you to think that you're looking up and over the shoulder, and I say that that's important, so stay here for a minute. Really swing that leg out and lift the head and look over the shoulder and find your toes, below toes.

And then you're gonna keep looking for your toes as you go to the other side, and I'll stay here for a minute, and really bend to the side. It's like you're making a crescent half move your spine. Let's switch legs, swing it out first, stick the head up, look over your shoulder, and then cross it over and side bend. So you have one side of your way shortening and one side of your waist lengthening. And then come back to center, and then let's just sit back into child's pose.

But you're gonna walk your hands over to the right, and then sit your hips to the left, and just bow your head down. Take a deep breath here. Now in this position, what I want you to feel is that you can really send the breath into your left side. So exaggerate that a little bit. Imagine that the breath is only going into your left side, and then walk your hands over to the other side.

So now my hands are going to my left and my hips are gonna sit a little bit to my right, and then bow the head down, and take a deep breath here. And then think about how you are breathing into that right side, into the right lung, into the right rib cage. Breathe fully, and then come back to center, and then I want you to go again into your accordion style breathing, and it's back behind, so it should be across the upper part of your back. I mean, yeah, you probably feeling a stretch all the way down to the low back, but where the breath goes. See if you can expand it wide into both lateral sides.

Okay, good. Now (laughs) we're coming back to our quadruped, and we're just going to go from quadruped to biped. So you're gonna slide the right arm and the left leg out and pause here, hold it. Now I want you to really feel the side waist here engaging, and then bring it back, it's stabilizing. You have to zip your zipper from the pubic bone up towards your chin.

Draw your navel up towards your spine, and then down. And what I want you to do is I want you to work so that when you lift your leg and your arm, nothing actually changes. So it's like you're replacing the lifting limbs with phantom limbs that stay echoing where your real limbs were. Inhale, exhale. I'm gonna pause here.

I want you to really stand down into your arm and also into your shin of your foot. And I want you to do your best to stay very even here to not shift into your shoulder or shifting to the outer hip, and then come back and do the other side. We're gonna take a moment there to really identify where is your balance, push down with your shin, drop with your waist, reach out with your arms, and make sure that you're not shifting into your outer arm or your outer hip, and then take it down. And now we're gonna come and lay on our backs, back to it before you lay down. (laughs) Sit on your buttons.

All right, so we're actually gonna go into the hundreds. It's not every exercise that we're gonna do that's going to have flection, a lot lateral flection side bending, but this is gonna be a little bit warm up, and then we're gonna get more into finding our side balance. All right, so I want you to pick your feet up off the floor, right? So you're in that loose tabletop, and you're gonna roll down. I have my hands behind my knees, cause it's gonna help me.

It's gonna push in my legs into my hands, and then I'm rolling down, and I'm gonna stop right before my shoulder blades touch the floor, right? And then I'm gonna try to hover there. I'm gonna extend my legs, squeeze and together, and start to pump, and I'm here in my hundreds, and I'm curling forward, and I'm squeezing my legs, right? Now I remember it's like 5;30 here. You know, I've had a full day today, so I'm gonna go ahead and take my legs down, but you, if you just woke up, you might opt to do another thing.

So you're here breathing, inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling, squeezing those inner thighs. you're in fact zipping your zipper, you're finding you're side waist. And then we take the legs down, take the arms back, stay here a moment, and you're gonna just reach with the right arm and then reach with the left arm and then reach with the heels, so I'm heel sliding also. So I'm reaching heel away from hand and then doing the other side, and lengthening my side body, right? And then I'm gonna squeeze the legs together.

Flex my feet with everything I got, cause I'm gonna roll up. You're coming with me, I hope it's coming with me. Curl forward, rounding, stretching up to come over, and then roll back, push those heels away. Squeeze those intersects, grab your legs if you need to, right? Curl the spine and stretch back and do a little, a little, I don't know what we're calling this.

I don't know, like a little four little four wheel, (laughs) and then come forward, push your heels away. Also, if you can, could you push your back of your legs down into the ground, and then use your exhale, pull your side waist back, back, back, as you reach forward to the crown of your head and then lower yourself down, we're gonna do one more. Take a deep breath, inhale, exhale, stretch it forward, and then roll down, bring your right knee into your chest. Hug it in yourself. And I stretch I can move down a little bit.

Let me see if I can give myself a little more room. All right, so we're here. Bring it on in. We're gonna do a single leg circle. So we're gonna extend that leg up to the ceiling, it's going to be a small one today.

Next week, when we go into rotation, we're gonna do a big one. All right, so push downward with your arms, a lot, like I want your shoulder, I want. If I had a spatula, you know, I love to cook, I wouldn't be able to pick your arms up, If I slid that spatula underneath your shoulders, you know, trying to flip you like a pancake. So, reach, we're gonna cross the leg over, and NOW keep it small, I want you to imagine that the leg is coming from your underarm of the same side, right? So it's like, all of this, all of this side waist is working and then go the other way.

Oh, what I forgot to tell you. Oh yeah, did I tell you to go the other way? Go the other way. What I forgot to tell you when we started class, just bend the knees, in my intro speech that I really flubbed because I was nervous, extend that leg up, is that everything that we're doing today in class, you're gonna do five circles and then go the other way, is getting us ready to do, are you ready? Sidekicks kneeling inside bent.

Yeah, so it's just a ready, take your circles the other way. Draw your belly, use the just side waist, cause they're gonna need it later, right? And so basically this is all the buildup. (laughs) Come on up to a sitting position for rolling like a ball. So with rolling like a ball, you're going to hold where you feel like you wanna hold That could be behind your knees, I'm cool with that.

It could also be pulling yourself really tight, right? Heels to back. Here we go, whoa, inhale, exhale. All right, so when I roll, I'm really thinking about how I lead with my pubic bone. How that initiate my rollback, right?

That's gonna help me with all that, all those exercises to get my butt up off the floor, this curling, I'm gonna have to find my balance, and it's a little precarious here. I don't wanna pop up to be able to have a full conversation with you, I wanna be here going, I don't know how long I can stay. I don't know, right? Okay, now, come up, find your balance. Extend teaser, hold it.

Squeeze your legs together. Think about your hundreds legs. Can you work those inner thighs? Can you reach? Okay, get yourself into a tiny ball again.

Three rolls, inhale, exhale, lead with your pelvis. Exhale one more time, then you're gonna do a teaser again and we're gonna stay here, and reaching. Now think about your side waist, can you pull it back? Okay, now grab imaginary handles. And you're gonna start to bicycle your legs.

Oh yeah, a little love note to Kathy Grant. We're going to go down, down. And then we're not gonna stay there, we're gonna come right back up again. There you go, and then go down, down, down. I'm peddling my legs the exact same way as I go up, and as I go down and you could reverse them.

What's important is that you're keeping the same rhythm throughout the whole rolling up and the whole rolling down. You'll feel it, there's that spot that you wanna just like speed through (laughs) and then you rest. And that's the spot you cut to work, that's the spot that you gotta slow down, all right. One more thing for that exercise. You got to look where you're going, that really helps, do little circles, okay?

So we're gonna try it one more time, we're gonna start from the bottom this time, which is harder than starting from the top. You got to look where you're going and you gotta keep your rhythm. So let's just take the arms forward, grab your imaginary handlebars, and start to bicycle. Once you feel like you've got the good rhythm that you can keep, and remember you're going up a hill and it's hard, so like slow those legs down. Curl forward, make those big circles, you see that's my tough spot.

And then go down and let's do it one more time. Curling forward, work through, let's see, it starts getting easier (laughs) as you breathe and rest, hug both knees in, excellent, all right. So come on up. We are gonna do a side pick series. So you're gonna lay down on your side.

And you know I'm gonna set myself up here with my elbows to the back edge of my mat and my hips to the back edge of my mat. And then I'm gonna kick my legs out to the front corner, and I wanna make sure that my hips are stacked one over the other. And I have my head propped up in my hand, but if that's not comfortable, you can always be down here, okay? All right, so, you're ready? So the first exercise that we're gonna do here, I call gadget leg, all right?

It's like inspector gadget, right? So I got to keep my leg parallel. You could point it if you want, but I'm gonna do a flex and, sorry, that's what I'm gonna say, I'm gonna flex my ankle, cause it helps me feel like I'm really getting into my side waist, You can point if you want, okay. You know, it's like, choose your own adventure with me. So you're gonna zip your abdominal wall up, right, to the chin, right, so it's not just all like hanging out.

(laughs) That's gonna help you balance, all right. So you're gonna pull your hip up and then reach out, pull your hip up and reach out. So it's like a hip shrug, right, pull your hip up and out. So I don't know if you can see that, but it's really small, it's like between here and here, it's like this side waist is shortening, and then I'm reaching it out. So that's like the mini version.

So we can also try a bigger version, which is like stuck that hip up and then reach it out, and actually pick up your side waist. Do you see that? And then come down and then again, so I'm picking myself up. I'm actually walking onto my troll canner, and then back down and then I'm laying down, and then I rock up and bouncing on my troll canner, and then I'm down, and then I'm up, I'm down, right? It's kind of fun (laughs) all right.

Now, lay back down again. So now I have my whole side body on the mat. I'm gonna draw my abdominal wall in, so it helps me balance here, and I'm going to do a side leg lift. All right, pretty easy. So also something that I hope I was clear about is that my top leg is lined up with my hip and my shoulder in the crown of my head, it's my bottom leg that's like a kickstand forward, okay?

Sorry, if I got excited and too ahead of myself and forgot to tell you that part. (laughs) All right, so you're lifting your leg as high as you can. I mean, you should feel that whole side leg right into your waistline right here, right? Side kicks, kneeling, you feel it, you feel it coming, it's coming. All right, then you're gonna rest.

Oh no, don't rest, there's no resting. You're gonna kick your leg forward a little pulse, and then point and take your leg back, okay? So we kick, we flex, we point, we take it back, and you can add a little pulse if you like. I like it, It gives me a little like rhythmic thing to focus on. And then now check it out.

We're gonna take the leg back and you're going to pick up your side waist. Can you see that? Kind of. (laughing) And then front foot, and then pick up your side waist, push down with your elbow, and then again, and then push down with your elbow. Pick up that side waist, and then again, pick it up.

Okay, and then rest. What was next? All right, so now we're gonna take both legs long on your mat, you take your arm down, all right. So I'm one long line. I have my kickstand arm, which is gonna help me not fall over.

I'm gonna zip my zipper, then I'm gonna squeeze my bottom leg up into my top leg, and lift my both legs at the same time. And I hold here, you know what I want you to do? I want you to kind of relax the top leg, so that you don't, like this one's on vacation. And the bottom leg is like doing all the work. And then take it down, and then go up.

Might not actually feel like any of your legs are on vacation, but I want the action to happen from the inner thigh of the bottom leg. All right, now stay right here. How high can you lift your legs? Can you go a little bit higher? Because for some of you, you might feel like, "Ah mom is bony hip, and it's not so comfortable." I sometimes say it's okay to kind of roll back just a little bit so you can get your legs a little higher and then go down.

Or I tell you to suffer through it, I don't know, if you're gonna scissor walk. (laughing) We're not here for very long, let me put it that way. So you got to scissor walk, and you make your scissors as big as you can. And also zip up like keep zipping, right? And then I don't really feel in my top even though I told you, it's like your top leg, like vacation, it's not a vacation anymore.

Legs come together, take it down. All right, so this one's called side blind fish or something, I made up the name. Everyone can call it whatever they want, side fish. So we are just gonna keep this kickstand hand here, and we're gonna pick our heads up and our legs up. Don't you feel like a fish?

And I go down, I really feel like a fish. And then again, reach your fish and then go down. You get bonus points if you could give me a fish, of course I can't actually see you, but it would make me really happy if he did. And then go up, go, go, go, come on. Up, up, up, are you feeling it?

Are you feeling it? Okay, then go down. All right. now we're gonna do a little special KSG, that stands for Kathy Grant, Kathy Stanford Grant. Okay, you're gonna stay here, you're on your fish. Okay, squeeze your knees together, pick them up and pull them forward, take them down, and put your hands underneath you forehead, under your side-head, not forehead, don't put your hands near your forehead.

All right, so you're here in this bent knee position. How you take your knees, it's kind of up to you. I was taught this with my knees kinda up. So do the best you can. Kickstand arm right in front of your chest.

We're gonna squeeze both legs together, and you're gonna pick up both legs, and it happens in like two parts. So I'm gonna say it like Ms. Grant used to say it. You go up, up, you go down, down. You go up, up, you go down, down. You are trying to lift your heel and your knee simultaneously, right?

So you're going up, up, down, down. So it's not just simultaneous, it's like parallel to the floor. That's what I need to say, right? So that you have to imagine that you have something like balancing on your shins, up, up, down, down. All right, we could do that for days, right?

Not really, but we're gonna move on. Now, you got to do it with your under arm and your elbow. So keep your legs alone. Here we go. We're gonna go up, up, down, down, up, up, down, down.

Now, if you have a look at me, you realize that I am really not getting that far off the ground working, but boy I'm working right here. Up, up, down, down, up, up, down, down. Okay, two parts together. Legs, upper body, here we go, ready? Up, up, down, down.

I'm so sticky, I'm like taking the mat with me. I don't know how you guys are doing, but it's hot, it's heck here. And, up, up, and down, down. (laughing) And then up, up, down, down. One more, push down with your top on, get this arm active, it's going to help.

Squeeze your legs together. Up, up, down, down. All right, we're not done, we got one more here. Stretch the legs out. All right, so this also comes from the Kathy Grant repertoire, and I threw it in here last minute, cause I just wanted to kick your butts a little bit high.

So your legs are squeezing. Now, if you had someone to sit on your lower legs, it would be really helpful. I mean, maybe not sit, but like hold your legs down. Otherwise you're with me, and we're struggling through this one. So you're gonna place your hand on your shoulder, and your kickstand arm is in front of you, okay/ And you're gonna line your head up as best you can.

I don't have a mirror, I'm hoping for the best here, that I'm lined up. And then I probably could take my head down a little bit, I don't know, I can't look at actual it doesn't match. And push up, and then go down. I know that was really tricky, right? Okay, squeeze your legs together.

All right, yeah, I think kind of your going that way, I think legs going that way, right? Belly is doing a zipper, and you're gonna push, and then go down. One more time, come on, three is magic, right? Up and then go down, okay? So now what, you're gonna come on up, oh yeah.

Now we're gonna do the old track, that was my sequence. All right, how are we doing? We're doing good? All right, are you having a good time? (laughing) All right, so elbow underarm, hip back into your mat, legs kicking forward.

All right, so we're gonna zip up our zippers, kickstand arm is right here, you're gonna take your top leg and lift it, and swing it so that it's lined up with your hip and your shoulder and the crown of your head, all right? So it's gadget leg, I gonna pull it in, reach it out, pull it in, reach out, pull it in, reach it out, pull it in, you're feeling that there, pull it in and reach it out. All right, so now we're gonna do the bigger version. So you reach and you reach so much that it picks your rib cage right off the floor, and then you lay it down, and then you push, and you reach, you can point, and then lay your rib cage back down, and then point, reach and then lay down, flexing, pulling it up, feel the side waist shortened on this side, and then reach it out again. Pick up point, and then lay down your ribs, flex your foot, kick the leg to the front with a little pulse, swing, point the leg back.

Let's just do a couple here. I want you to imagine your leg like a dragon fly hovering over a body of water. Don't let your leg dip down, don't get your wings wet, stay hovered, and the more you're gonna hover the legs to the front, whoa, it's really gonna get you right here in your obliques. And now lift your ribs. Stay here, push down with your elbow, pick your ribs up, and then bring your leg forward, lay back down, point, lift your ribs up.

Are you think inside bent? I am. Are you thinking sidekicks kneeling? (laughing) One more time, and then take it down. All right, what was next?

You know what, we forgot here, I got excited. Forgot these scoping and I wrote it down, right? So do these, right? So again, my leg is parallel, I have my foot flexed and my heel, my knee, my hip, my shoulder, it's all one line. My bottom leg is really just a supporting leg, that's helping me balance on my mat so that I don't fall off my mat.

So you pick your leg up as high as you can, like get to the edge where you feel like the whole leg, and then you actually also feel your side abdominals, right? Your obliques, you feel like that? And then take it down. Okay, then what? Oh yeah, all right.

Double leg, lower leg. I'm getting excited. I'm totally sticking to my mat, going everywhere I go. All right, so put your head down. You're gonna squeeze your inner thighs together.

You're gonna reach out, gadget legs, zip the belly up this way, right? You have two way stretch, always, right? If someone's reaching one way, you got to find like what's reaching on the other way, all right. So you're gonna squeeze your legs together, and you're gonna lift both legs up, and then lower down. Did I tell you that you need to push your top hand down into the floor?

Well, that's the abdominal. (laughing) So use that arm, push it down, don't put your palm up, because that's really not gonna give you any support, like yeah. All right, so you got both legs up as high as you can, right? And you're like get up there, now you're gonna scissor walk the legs, you could flex, right? That would be good.

that's gonna connect your right up into your side body. You those scissors as big or as small as you need to today, the thing that's important is that you're feeling your side waist working like crazy, and then bring the legs together, take them down. All right, side fish. You're gonna pick your head up, pick your legs up, and then go down. And again, reach the ground of your head out, reach your legs out, get up as high as you can.

One more time, up. Okay, stay here, all right, here we go, we're gonna bend the knees, keep them high. put the knees down, pick your hand up, put it underneath your head. Rest down, but don't rest too much, cause here we go, we're gonna go up, up, down, down, up, up, down, down. I am pressing like crazy with this hand, just so you'll know (laughing) all right?

That is not cheating, up, up, down, down. If you're feeling a majority of the work happening right here, then you're doing it right. If you need to move those legs out a little bit, now go ahead, move them up a little bit. That's okay too. I mean, it's definitely really challenging to keep those knees pulled in tight.

All right, so we might just need to work up to that, if it's the first time you've ever done it, give yourself, you know, cut yourself some slack, right? All right, so your elbow is gonna reach out, and we're gonna try to pick it up. Now, can you also say nice things to yourself when you do this one? Up, up, down, down, up, up, down, down, like I love your side, you're my best side, I got you my side. (laughing) I don't know, whatever works, but like nice things, okay?

No swearing allowed, one more time, and also just take note, like both sides are gonna be totally different. I mean, in my case, maybe in your case. All right, so (laughs) I make a lot of assumptions. Can you tell? All right, so you're gonna progress down.

We're not done, we've got to do both sides at the same time. So we go up, up, down, down. And we up, up, down, down. Yeah, that up was way too fast. We got to go slow, here we go.

Up, up, down, down. We're doing it one more time. Up, up, down, down. It definitely helps with a smile, I promise. (laughing) All right then, all right.

One arm side line push up. All right, so you're balancing on that might not be very comfortable if you have like a little tiny yoga mat. So pick your head up so that you're doing your best to like try to figure out what your neck alignment is. I feel really off, but I have nothing to gauge it on. So you're gonna press down with your arm, and you're gonna side bend, and I take it down.

Here we go. Take it down now. Okay, try not to let your legs come off the floor. I'm mostly telling you for me, cause my legs are, that's all they wanna do, is lift up off the floor. Anchor, anchor, anchor, and then go down.

All right, come on up. How are we doing? We're good? All right, we're almost to kneeling sidekicks, but before we do that, we are going to do like pull front. Yep, the doodle.

All right, so you're back in your quadruped. You're gonna extend the right leg. All right, I got to walk forward a little bit. Okay, extend your right leg, or your left leg. it doesn't really matter, because you're gonna extend both legs.

(laughs) And then I want you to really tuck your toes under and get on the metatarsal of your foot and push that heel back. Can you just walk forward and back from me a few times and then also like pick your head up so that your head isn't dropped down between your shoulders. Get up there. So maybe you have to take your gaze a little bit forward. All right, switch legs.

You know, just because you gotta be even here. All right, so this is our action of our leg pull front. And you could opt to just do this version to be honest, keep pushing your knee cap up to the ceiling and really fire up your thighs, got to stay back there for a minute stretch. All right, so for those of you who wanna do the full version, make sure your hands are underneath your shoulders. Bring yourself up, push your kneecaps up to the ceiling, fire up your size, lift your heads up.

All right, so we're gonna pick up the right leg, rock forward, rock back, put it down, pick up the other leg, you know, whatever that is. And then we're alternating and you're doing this little shift forward, shift back action. You're breathing, right, and you're thinking about your side waist. I don't know, you're thinking about your arms. I have to take a break there for a minute.

You're thinking about here, right? As you're lengthening out through your legs and firing up your legs. All right, so should we do the fancy transition? Yeah, sure, cause it's good for us. All right, so I am gonna start by lifting my right arm and I'm gonna turn my hands, and there's gonna come really close to my other hand, I'm going to come around.

I'm not really in the middle of my mat, I wish it was. But here I am. All right, so you can have your hands like this or like this, okay here we are. We're gonna pick up one leg and then take it down. Let's point up flex down, point up flex down, same leg, point that flex down.

And then I have to sit down. You have to do the other side. That ankle is a little weird on me right now. So I'm gonna point up flex down, I guess it could be like this, point that flex down, and okay, excellent. Let's do our our sidekicks kneeling.

I thought about going for transition there, but we're just gonna start from our kneeling position. Make sure that your knees are directly underneath your hips. All right, let's take our fingertips to the crown of our head. And can we find that length? Same length that we started with at the beginning of class, right?

Before we were finding it from our sit bones, now you're finding it from your knees. And lift, right? Slip your left hand behind your head, right hand comes down, we're gonna extend the bottom, the top leg, one leg, some leg. (laughs) And here we are in our side bend position, all right. I want you to make sure that your hip is directly over your knee here and your hand is under your shoulder.

Let's pick that leg up and take it down three times. I'm flexing, you could point. Now stay up here, I am gonna point now, and I'm gonna start by taking my leg back. And I'm gonna flex and bring my leg forward, and I'm gonna point and bring my leg back. I'm gonna flex and bring my leg forward, point and take it back, and flex, bring it forward.

Now you keep doing this. Think about your ribs here. Think about your bell. Where can you shine the underside of your rib cage. And then take it forward, take it back, line it up, bend the knee, bring yourself up.

And we'll do the other side. So we take it over, slide your other leg out, put your palm down. Let's flex that leg, let's go up and down. Full disclosure, this is one of my most challenging exercises. Now you're gonna hold the leg up here.

I'm gonna point, I'm gonna take my leg back. You know why? Cause it's what feels better. (laughs) So I'm here, I'm gonna use this moment to organize myself, I'm gonna pick up my ribs, I'm gonna breathe here, and I'm gonna kick that leg forward with a flex, and I'm gonna point that leg back. I'm gonna kick that leg with a flex, I'm gonna point to back, and again.

And I am struggling to keep my leg parallel, one more time, kick and then take it back, and then bring it, till it's lined up with your underarm, bend that knee, palm one up. And then I tell ya doing side bend, since I just did the exercise that's my nemesis, doing side bends is gonna feel fantastic. All right, so my mat is super sticky. So I like to like slide my legs out, but it's not gonna happen today. It is a hot sticky mess in my mat.

So, I think I'm just gonna try to set myself up as much as I can here, thinking already that I'm gonna view my legs to be a little longer, than I normally like to start, and then my arm also has to be a little further out, because I'm gonna feel like I'm shooting that way a lot more today, okay? So I have my top leg right in front of my bottom leg, and I have the outside of my feet on the mat, and those outside of my feet, well actually have the inside of the front leg, and outside of back leg, and like those are gonna stay anchored near the ground. I'm gonna keep my legs crossed today. I'm gonna take my arm up, and I'm gonna pick my ribs up, and I'm gonna have side bend and breathe here, breathe and breathe and breathe, and then I'm gonna lower my hips, bring my hand down and breathe into this side underside. I'm gonna lift up, I'm gonna breathe here, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.

And I'm gonna come down and I'm gonna breathe into my underarm. And then I'm gonna pick it up, I'm gonna breathe into this upper part, side bend, and I'm gonna bend my knees and sit down, swing legs over the other side, and set ourselves up here. Three, we're just gonna three. So are you ready? Set yourself up, maybe get yourself a little longer.

Well, I am because I can't slide. So reach it up, balance on your legs. Squeeze your thighs together now, pick it up your rib up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, breathe, and then lower the hips, look at your hands, bring your hand down, breathe into the underarm, and then pick yourself up again, and then breathe here, and then lower it down. Zip it, zip it, zip it. How low can you get your hips without actually dropping into the floor?

Lift, I think this is number three, right? And then take it down. And then just lower yourself down, have those knees in, let 'em mermaid, breathe, inhale, exhale. All right, so I had my knees tucked under. We'll do the other side in a minute.

I have my knees tucked under, I'm gonna pick my ribs up. I'm gonna feel like they're rolling up, I wanna be stretching my intercostal muscles, right? And I wanna feel that rib cage bell, outwards. And I want you to imagine that your bell is moving that way. Come on up, put swing your legs to the other side.

Right, take the arm up, go over. All right, so we've got to still think about how we're gonna send our breath into this side, right? Inhaling and exhaling. Pick it up, roll the ribs up, or even more graphic, imagine that you're got your fingers underneath your rib cage and you can pull them up. So the underside is shining that way.

Breathe, it helps you get over a little bit more, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, stretch, send the breath here, and then come on up. Sit cross legged with me for a moment. Take your hands up to crown of your head, sit as tall as you can, slow the arms down, keep that lift. You can close your eyes for a moment. And I want you to imagine how expansive the inhale is to the right and to the left.

And as you exhale, I want you to cinch it all in towards your midline, and let your midline in your central axis rise. Inhale, expand, now don't just think accordion, but expand your rib cage three-dimensionally with your inhale. It might feel like it starts with the accordion, but then it should also feel like it billows everywhere. And as you exhale, feel it towing into center, like a hug so that your breath is like an internal hug, and embrace. If you have your eyes closed, you can gently flood it open, and that's all we're gonna end class today.

So thank you for coming. Thank you for moving with me, and exploring side bending.

Healthy Happy Spine with Maria: with Maria Earle

Comments

1 person likes this.
Don’t be nervous..this class was clear useful progressively challenging and you are fun
1 person likes this.
What a beautiful, generous, engaging woman and a wonderful class - Maria you are an inspiration thank you.
1 person likes this.
This was excellent! Thank you!
Have not taken this class yet, but I plan to, exactly what I need.
That class was so very enjoyable! I'll definitely be looking for more Maria on Pilates Anytime. Thank you! 
That was a great class! It was fun and challenging at the same time. Thank you!
Agree with all of the above Maria !  Great class and really appreciate your warm personality :)
YESSSS!!! I've been waiting with anticipation for these classes! Yay Maria
Thank you ! I really enjoyed your class.
Big thanks from Dublin
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