Class #4223


55 min - Class


In this Mat class from Maria Earle's Happy Healthy Spine with Maria, you will be focusing on extension and building up to your best Rocking. You will explore the many different ways you can get the entire spine actively participating in spinal extension from the head to the tail. She uses helpful cues from her mentor Kathy Grant in order to help you get the greatest benefits from your hard work. Maria's got your back!
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hello everybody (laughs). Thanks for coming to class with me today. I am super excited to have you here. So today's theme is extension, and we will be working up to the Rocker, or the Rocking depending on what you call it. So let's get started.

The first thing that I want to review with you quickly is a little bit of some cues that you might hear me say repeatedly throughout class today, and these cues come from my mentor, Kathy Grant. So, she would tell us always to sing her song, and in today's class, we'll be singing a part of her song, right? So the first thing that we'll be doing for many of the exercises is what she would call the zip. So it's like you're zipping a zipper from the pubic bone up. Now, you could stop at the belly button and then move to the next cue, but I also like to think often about the zipper going only up to my chin and, well, you'll see where I take that in just a moment.

So there's the zip, and that idea is exactly like what I said: you have to imagine that you are putting on a tight pair of pants and you're physically doing the action of engaging and drawing the abdomen in and up so that you can close the zipper. Then you think belly button to the back of the waistline, and when we're talking about back of the waistline, it's like somewhere down here, and depending, I mean, men and women have different back of the waistlines, so just keep that in mind, but it's not like a fixed place, it's an imaginary place. Then the last one is put a belt on, and the putting a belt on is similar to the zipper in that it's very much an image that then transfers physically into your body. Like, what does it feel like? What do you do to close that belt?

All right, so we're gonna start on all fours. My mat's really sticky. I'm really sticky already, haven't even started yet, oh boy. I'm probably gonna be pulling up my map for the remainder of the class. So here you are in all fours, all right.

So if you're making sure that your knees are underneath your hips and your hands are directly underneath your shoulders. You're also hip width apart with your legs and your hands are shoulder width apart, okay. I also want you to kind of spread your hands out a little bit, not with a lot of stress. I don't want you to like grr, like this, but do kind of open your fingers up and kind of identify that L shape right there, okay. Then pick your heads up for a moment here, because I want you to really fire up the arms, and the head is floating slightly upward, so the gaze is, it's not directly forward but it's like forward on an angle, okay.

In this position, I want you to sing the first part of Kathy's song. So we're gonna zipper and we're also gonna think belly button to the lowest part of the waistline, and we're gonna also put a belt on. So once you feel like you've organized yourself in that position, I want you to go into a flexion for a minute. We're gonna do our Cats, right, so you're just gonna drop your head down, tip the pubic bone forward, exaggerate the spine as much as you can, bring the pelvis through your thigh bones, drop your head through your arm bones, and then we're gonna reverse and we're gonna stop at the point, or our beginning moment, right, right here, head a little lifted. Now we're gonna go into our extension.

You're gonna stick your tailbone up and take your gaze up also, and I want you to lift your chin but keep the arms straight and push the floor away. Now here in this extension, can you also sing Kathy's song? You're gonna zip, you're gonna draw belly button to the lowest part of a waistline, and you're also gonna put a belt on. Then you're gonna exaggerate the bend and the extension just a little bit more by spreading the butt. Yup, I said it (laughs), and then drop your head down, wind your spine, turn your head under, bring your pelvis forward.

Breathe here. Keep pushing away with the arms. Then one more time moving through center and going into your extension, thinking all the while about your zipper and your belly button to the lowest part of your waistline and your belt, and can you spread your butt cheeks a little bit more? Yeah, I said it again. So I want you to really exaggerate this shape, and you're exaggerating it and all the while, you're still supporting with the front body to find your back body, and go back into your roundness.

Now we're gonna add the Hissing Cat, which also comes from Kathy Grant. So as you move and come through center, you're gonna start to hiss (hisses). At the end of your hiss you take a deep breath, and we're going to go back in four parts hissing. (loud hissing) Last moment is a long hiss all the way down to your Child's Pose. (loud hissing) Round and curl up, coming through, through center, start to hiss (hisses).

At the end of your hiss, you take a deep breath and we go back kind of, it's like kind of percussion. (loud hissing) Then your role on up. We're gonna do it one more time, and then exhale with that hiss, and feel how your belly draws up, right, that's cool. Then we're gonna exhale (hisses). Gotta spread it out.

It feels really great if you do, trust me, and then go down (laughs), and then come on up. All right, so now we're still on our, you know, quadruped, and we're gonna take the right arm and the left leg out and come into a balance. All right, pick your head up, and then take it down, and then again, pick your gaze up, and then take it down. All right, so you're gonna alternate, you're gonna continue alternating, okay. So as you shift, I want you to think about how you are replacing your leg and your arm with a pretend phantom leg arm, okay.

So what does that mean exactly? Well basically, when you take away your stable-ness from your arm and you're leg, I don't want you to kind of drop, right? I need you to imagine that there's still a pillar here and then come back like a, you know, Parthenon pillar under the arm, coming down to the floor under the hip coming down, and then bring it back, right, so that actually, nothing shifts, nothing changes in terms of where your torso is (exhales). Woo. All right. Now, I know right, I'm already sweating.

I mean, it's really hot here in Barcelona so, you know, cut me some slack. All right, so (laughs), anybody else having a heat wave? All right, so you're gonna take your, let's, I'm gonna do my right hand, I'm gonna take it behind my head. All right, so already, I have to really connect with this idea that I have a phantom pillar, and then I'm going to drop my head down, and I'm gonna pick it back up again. I'm gonna take my gaze forward to the front of my mat, maybe to a little further than my mat, okay.

Drop it, lift it. All right. So you could keep doing this, and you're really firing up through your arm, or you could add on and take a knee to your forehead and then shoot it out and then bring a knee to your forehead and shoot it out. So it's like a one leg, one arm Cat Cow. Keep thinking about your zipper, belly button to the lowest part of the waistline. Where's your belt?

And then take it down. Other side. So hand comes behind your head. Let's just try a few just like this. Now I'm gonna face you for a minute so that you see what I'm doing here.

I'm just pulling straight through. I'm not rotating at all. I'm just doing like a Cat with one arm. Okay, then we're gonna add the leg. So pick up the knee and drop your head, and then extend it up, and again, and extend it up, and again, extend it up, and again, extend it up, and drop it down.

Great. Come up onto your knees. Okay, first I have to like dab all the sweat off my forehead. All right, so the next series we're gonna do is kneeling, so if you have a towel handy, great. You also might need to fold up your mat surface to give you just a little bit more cushion if you need it. So you might be something like this.

All right, so in a kneeling position we get to also sing Kathy's song. So I'm gonna actually start it a little lower. I'm gonna squeeze my inner thighs towards each other, so I'm gonna face you just a minute. So if my legs are hip width apart, I'm pinching the vinyl together. Not the vinyl, my mat.

I'm squeezing the mat together, so I'm finding my inner thighs. So hold that, do that. Squeeze. Yeah. That's gonna like, get your butt also engaged. Then from there, you zip, belly button to lowest part of the waistline and you belt, okay.

So keep that, don't let that go. You really want your pelvis to be right over your knees, right. So it might feel a little bit like you're gonna fall forward, but don't. All right, so chest expansion, just like what we do on the reformer, we're gonna pull and pause. Spiral the shoulders in those sockets and draw those shoulder blades together, and then look to one side, come back to center, look to the other side, come back to center, and bring your arms to back.

We're gonna do this three times. Pulling, lifting the crown of your head, finding your zipper, zip, zip, zip, crown of the head up, stay here. Find your legs, turn your head to the opposite side, center, turn, center, and then bring it forward. Third time, pull back, but do it from your legs. I wanna see you grow up towards the ceiling (exhales).

Hold it. Turn your head, center. Turn your head, center. Come on back. Now we are going to try the, what did I say I was gonna do? I'm like looking at my cheat sheet over here (laughs).

All right, so okay, hands behind your head. It's not good when I can't read my notes, right? So your hands come behind your head. I wanna, want 'em stacked like this, one hand over the other. All right, elbows a little bit forward, and zip your inner thighs towards each other, zip your low belly up to your belly button.

Do Kathy's song, okay. Then press your head into your hands and your hands into your head and create a tension line that travels from where your hands are all the way down to the base of your spine. Okay, you got that? Then release because we're gonna review that again, or not review it, we're gonna use that when we do neck pull. Yeah, we're doing neck pull today.

Then again, press, hold, you know, 30 seconds, that seems doable. Squeeze your inner thighs together, zip your halves up, lift it, okay, and then rest. Now I'm gonna add a little extension at the upper part of my back. So I want everything up to my ribcage to stay exactly the same. I hope. All right.

So I'm squeezing my inner thighs together, I'm zipping my zipper, doing my Kathy song. Then I'm going to take my gaze upward like I'm watching ants crawl up the wall in front of me until my head is looking up, but I'm not throwing my head back. In fact, I'm gonna bring my elbows forward a little bit, I'm gonna continue pressing my head into my hands and pressing my head, did I just say that? My head into my hands and my hands into my head? Yeah, and so hopefully you're feeling that like up here.

Okay, and then release. Now we're gonna add pull straps and T, at least the idea of pull straps and T. So we're gonna take the arms forward and up. You know, pull the arms. When your arms come to your hips, that's when you're gonna start to lift your chest and take your gaze up, but you're pulling from the front of the thigh.

You gotta take that pubic bone a little bit to the front, and then you gotta pick your ribs up just a little and then bring it back, right? So we're really opening the front body from the top of the knee, okay. So here we go. Squeeze your inner thighs together, do Kathy's song, draw the arms down. Once the arms come to the thighs, that's when you're gonna start to lift the chest, pick the ribs up, take the gaze forward, keep those arms active, keep those shoulder blades engaging towards each other like you're closing sliding glass doors.

Find the shins on the floor and then come back. Ah, all right. Now we're just gonna go right into pull straps, or the T, sorry, the T. So we're gonna take the arms out. I'm doing 'em a little high.

You might wanna start here. It's experimental. So you're gonna pull down, and you're gonna try to take your hands behind you, just a little, and then you're going to lift your ribs, lift your gaze, and see if you can initiate or connect the high arch with the zipper, zipper, zipper, zipper, and then take it back. One more time, we pull it down, we grow, we grow, we grow. We find those inner thighs and we lift our zippers, (exhales) and then we release (exhales).

Okay, so I'm just gonna mention this, 30 second mention. That whole little series could be done against a wall. It's very cool. It's hard. You gotta get your knees, your hip bones, your chest against the wall, nose against the wall, and then try that whole thing with a little high arch and then, you know, get back to me about it later. All right, so let's take the right leg forward.

Okay, I just did my left 'cause, well, we'll do both sides, so don't worry about it. All right, so I gotta get rid of this for a minute, so you can keep yours. I'm gonna move back just a little. All right, so we're gonna take a lunge and then bring it back and take a lung, and bring it back and take a lunge. Now, stay here, push down through your back leg, and then lift, high arch.

Can you zip your zippers, and can you start your backbend? Breathe, breathe, breathe. Take your pelvis forward, forward, down towards the front heel, and then take it back (exhales). Let's do it, ooh, don't fall over. Let's do it again.

Up, and go back, go back, go back, and then come back. Okay, now we're going to take the arms forward. You know, it's just like a forward stretch thing, but we're gonna go back into what we just did, but we're gonna windmill the arms. So we're gonna windmill (exhales), and then take it back (exhales), windmill (exhales), take it back (inhales). Breathe, windmill, woo, don't fall over, take it back (laughs).

Then hang here for a minute and breathe (exhales). Wiggle it out. All right, we're gonna do the other side. Hey, if you need to fold your mat up now, go ahead and do that. If you need to stick that towel under there, it's a good idea, okay.

So you got your other leg forward, here we go. You're gonna lunge into it. For now, I'm just keeping my gaze forward. You know, we're gonna build up to it, right. Okay, that's it, that's our build (laughs).

Here we go. You're gonna lift, zip your zipper, open the front of your chest, pick your ribs up. Take your gaze up but don't throw your head back, and then come back. Let's do that one more time. So it has to start from here: zip, zip.

Lift, oh, and then come back. Go forward, just give me a little stretched here for a minute before we do the windmill arms. All right, so I have my left foot forward so my right arm is is gonna windmill up, and then windmill down, windmill up, windmill down, windmill up, and down, and then take it back, ah, and sit. All right, you with me? (exhales) All right, I'm gonna stick my towel again under my knees. I should have probably just kept them there the whole time.

Yeah. All right (laughs). All right, so we're gonna do a thigh stretch. So I'm gonna have my toes not flexed, but long on the mat, and I'm gonna start with my arms out in front. I'm gonna do the whole Kathy song, but I'm gonna start it by squeezing my inner thighs towards each other even though they're not touching, and then I lean back, and I try to stay as long as I can from my kneecap to the crown of my head. I'm one long line (exhales), and I'm actually thinking about shoulder bridge.

That is what I'm thinking right now. I mean, of course, shoulder bridge, my arms are like here. Woo, that was hard (laughs). Get myself in trouble. Then again, go back (sighs), and then come up.

All right, now we're gonna do Archer. You got me? Take it to the back, and then center, and then pull back on your bow and arrow. You can look back behind you and then let it go (mimics flying arrow), pull it back. All right, so now flex your feet underneath you.

Bring your right hand to your chest, right, just like here. Okay, I call this the Twisted Camel. So I'm gonna twist towards you, which means that this is my presenting right arm. Did I do that right? No, left, that was my left (sighs).

I need to like write it on my hand (laughs). It's not a bad idea. All right, so your hand is just dangling. I want you to turn your head first, and I want you to look back at the floor, right beside your left foot, and then place your palm of your left hand on your left foot, and then take your pelvis forward, and then rotate more up here at the shoulders. Zip your zippers, don't just let your bellies move forward in space.

Organize yourself so that you're a long line that's arching backwards from the top of your knee, and then squeeze your inner thighs together, tighten your buttocks. That's gonna help you get up. Then we do the other side. So left hand comes to the heart, the head is not a fancy head. You just look down at the foot to the outside, and then put the palm down on the heel, take your pelvis forward.

You see where I am there, right? So this is where I wanna start, but that's not where I'm gonna stay (exhales). I gotta get my hip bones forward and twist (exhales), is this lookin' like the Rocker to anybody? We're gettin' there. And then come on up, then we're gonna do the other side again, 'cause I dunno, for me it feels delicious.

So left hand to the heel, hip bones, face them forward, don't twist. Counter-clockwise, no, that's not what I meant, counter-twist with the shoulders, and then zip your zippers. Find your inner thighs, breathe. Ah, and then come on up. One more time other side.

Switch hands, turn, put your hand down on your knee. Hips go forward, chest spins. Just look down at the floor. Like I said, it's not like a fancy head. It's just a head that's looking at the floor, and then come on up (sighs).

Ooh, snap crackle pop, my knees (laughs). All right, good (exhales). It's really hot here. All right, I know (exhales). I don't have air conditioning (laughs).

All right, so now what we're gonna do is we are going to lay on our stomachs, but I'm gonna turn this way, and we are going to work our extension from this position. All right, so if you have a little towel, you can place your towel down. Your forehead will go on that towel. If not, don't worry about it. All right, so the first thing we're gonna do is just place one hand over the other, elbows nice and wide, and put our foreheads down.

Let's extend the right leg, lift it, reach it long. Extend the left leg, lift it, reach it long. We're basically just trying to make a little more space in the front of our hips, okay. So with my elbows down on the floor, I (laughs), and you, we, together, I'm gonna imagine that the crown of my head is moving forward over my hands and that my eyes are like a Xerox copy machine, and I'm that kind of green line, and I'm gonna scan forward over my hands just a little bit, and then I'm gonna start to pick my head up, and I'm gonna look forward, and I have to kind of imagine that someone is sort of picking me up by the top of my head, by my hair, and I'm gonna pause here, and then I'm gonna soften at my spine where I feel the most bendy, and then I'm gonna come down piece by piece until my head and my forehead comes down onto my hands. I'm gonna do that again.

I'm gonna lengthen forward, and it's like I'm scanning my eyes up the wall, an imaginary wall, it's like right here in front of me, and I'm taking my gaze up, up, up, and it's actually picking me up. So I'm coming off of my chest, though I still am very much laying down on my ribs, but I am lifting as much as I can and bending sort of between my shoulder blades and maybe a little bit higher, and then lower it down piece by piece until the head is back down, okay. Now we're just gonna take the arms out like an extended goalpost a little bit, and we're gonna do a similar thing, and I want you to really try to pretend that you're a baby here, and you're gonna lengthen crown of the head forward and you're gonna pick your head up, and you're gonna press down with your palms, and you're gonna continue to lift your head up and extend the arms. You might find that you're coming up just a little bit higher, and then we're gonna soften, keep your gaze up, bend the spine, and then keep your gaze up until the very last moment, and then bring your head down so that you really feel that there is an articulation in the bending that's happening in your upper back. We're gonna do that again.

Scan along your towel or your mat surface. Here for a minute, drag your hands towards you, just a tiny bit. Like, if I were to keep going, I would take my whole rug, but I don't wanna do that. But I do wanna kind of just have a little bit of that sensation. As I scan forward, I press down with my palms, I extend my arms, and I lift and see if I can lift a little bit higher, and then take it down (exhales).

Keep the head up, keep it up, keep it up, and then take it down. All right, now we're gonna bring our hands underneath our shoulders, okay (laughs). I'm just organizing myself. So drop your shoulders forward. Yeah, don't do anything with them.

Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders, fingertips a little bit spread out. All right, don't do anything with your shoulders. Lengthen your legs long on the floor, and then start to lengthen the crown of your head forward, away from your feet. Pick your head up a little bit so that your nose is clearing the floor, and then continue to reach forward. You are at the Xerox machine, and you're gonna pick your head up.

Don't use your arms, don't do anything with your arms. Don't do anything with your shoulders. See how high you can pick yourself up away from the floor just using the muscles of your back, and then go down. Were you surprised at how high you could get? Well, that would be cool.

Please tell me if you were, and then reach forward, reach the legs back, scan the floor, scan the wall that's right, the imaginary wall that's right in front of you. Pick yourself up as high as you can with no arms. Test yourself. Okay, put your hands back down again. All right, pretend someone's got you by the top of your head.

Push down with 10% of the arms, but keep lifting with your back muscles. Not so much arms. Do less with your arms, do less with your arms. Pick yourself up using your back muscles. Lift your chest, take your ribcage forward, and then lower yourself down.

Bring your elbows narrow. Don't take your head down. Take your front body down piece by piece by piece, and then finally, your head comes to the top of your mat. Okay, we're gonna do that again, and we're gonna start with the same kind of idea of not using your arms until you absolutely have to, and then when you have to, you're only gonna use 10%. So legs are gonna start to reach out, kind of the head reaches away from the legs so that you're in that two-way stretch, you're still like lengthening in that two-directional thing.

Gaze forward, pick your eyes up, look where you're going. Okay, if you're feeling tired (exhales), take a moment, organize yourself. Don't pull your shoulders on your back. Don't squeeze them together. Keep your clavicles really wide.

Keep your back really wide. Pick yourself up with your back muscles, only 10% of your arms. reach your legs longer, reach 'em, reach 'em, reach 'em. Draw your belly in. Zip, zipper, belly button to lowest, past the waistline.

Put on your belt, take your chest forward, take your gaze up, and then lower yourself down, but keep your gaze up. Paint down the wall with your eyes until you come back. Whew. Good job you guys. All right, so now we're gonna come up. All right, so you could do this like a sphinx, or you could do it like this, okay, single leg kick.

So I have my elbows pretty wide and I'm pressing down with my forearms, and I have a fist and I'm covering my fist with the other hand. I'm gonna squeeze the legs together tightly, and I'm gonna zip my zipper. I'm gonna draw my belly button up and in and I'm gonna put my belt on, and I'm gonna push down with my arms, and I'm going to take my chest and take it forward. I want you to pretend that you're like, someone's got you at the ribs and it's pulling your ribs front. Yeah, it's kind of gross, right (laughs).

Pull those ribs forward. Okay, open the clavicles. All right, we're going to kick, kick, kick, take it down, kick kick, take it down, pressing the forearms into the floor. Imagine that you're like a rocket and that at any moment you could lift right off your elbows, any moment, right? You got some serious countdown happening right now (laughs).

All right, so now we're going to make it jazzy. We're gonna go flex point, flex point, flex point. Speed it up, flex point. Kathy Grant used to tell us to be jazzy with this exercise, and she would sing it out, flex point and down, flex point and down, flex point and down, flex point and down, flex point and down. Give a little sauce, have a little fun, rest, double leg.

So (quietly sings), I'm going to face you, all right. I'm gonna take my hands up as high as I can on my back, and I'm gonna drop my elbows down. All right, so, you might be feelin' a big stretch. So just stay here for a moment. We're gonna squeeze the legs together, okay.

I'm gonna attempt to squeeze my legs together. Sometimes, I will be honest, I kind of do this with my legs apart if I'm feeling really tight in my low back. So, anyway, do what feels good to you today, okay. So we're gonna squeeze the legs together and you're gonna pick your knees up a little bit off the floor, all right. Pick your legs up.

Can you hover here for a minute? All right, great. Here's where we're gonna kick from, three kicks, one, two, three, extend the elbows up, reach. Imagine that your fingers are attached to your heels, turn your head the other way. Bring your elbows high like a butterfly and then three kicks, one, two, three.

Pick your elbows up and then reach back, legs attached, lift, and then pick your elbows up. Oh, three kicks, one, two three. Lift your elbow, fly, go, go, go, go, go. Lift your gaze, turn your head. Three kicks, one, two, three.

Yeah, I'm out of breath. It's hard. Up, up, up, lift your legs together, turn, and one, two, three, you got this. And lift, lift, lift, and then come down, woo. All right, flip yourself around. We're gonna do neck pull (laughs).

First I have to do that. All right, neck pull. (sighs) Full disclosure, not my favorite exercise. All right. It's hard. But now, we gotta do the hard things, right?

Sometimes our Pilates practice is our resilience practice, so we have to do the hard things. Hands behind our head. You're gonna take your elbows a little bit to the front. I like that. I think it takes the tension out of the shoulders and it helps us find connection.

Do what feels good. However, the thing that I do want you to do and not skip, is finding the head pushing back into your hands in and the hands pushing into your head so that you feel the whole back line, just like we did a little bit earlier in class, okay. So press, find the connection. You gotta zip your zipper. All right, flex your feet, 'cause that's gonna help.

Fire up the legs, like, get those legs active. If taking the legs a little bit apart is your jam, go ahead. I want you to feel successful, okay. So legs apart looks like this, and we're gonna tip it back from deep inside our hip socket. My head is pressing into my hands and my hands are pressing into my head and then there's a moment where I'm like okay, I gotta roll it down 'cause I can't just keep going flat back forever, and then lay down.

Ah, the lay down's the good part. Don't stay here too long, we'll never get back up again, so here we go. Oh, oh boy. Oh yeah, look at those elbows. Bad boys coming forward.

Okay, but you know what? I'm not gonna beat myself up about it, I'm not. I'm gonna move through it, and I am gonna find joy in my neck pull. Take it down, and curl it forward. If that means you've gotta grab your legs, grab your legs, phew, and then take it forward and then pick it up, nice and tall.

Find your head to hand connection and take it back. Push those heels away, push those heels away. Get the back of those legs down into the ground and then roll it through. So it's like the second half of my lean back turns into a rollback, and then I'm gonna come forward. Oh boy, and I'm gonna do my best.

Ooh, oh, forget it. Oh, I know. But you know, it just goes to show, I could have skipped it, but no, I was like, we've got this, because I want you to feel how you're connecting to your extensors here, and then reach out through those legs and then tip and curl. Ah, I'm here again. Here we go, curl forward.

I'm gonna grab my legs and I'm gonna take it as much as I can, and I'm gonna say thank you body, for tryin' that, and then come up. It's no joke. All right, now we're gonna do shoulder bridge. Yeah, this one I like. All right, it's 'cause I'm leggy, so I like this one (laughs).

So we're gonna do a little, little, what are these called, circles, and then we're gonna go the other way with our circles 'cause we deserve some circles. We've been workin' hard. You know what? Not only do we deserve a circle, but we deserve a little twist, so let's go ahead and take a twist (exhales). Then pick it up and let's go the other way.

Take a twist and breathe here (inhaling and exhaling). All right, so shoulder bridge (exhales), we've actually been in shoulder bridge already today, but we were in a kneeling position. Yeah, so now we're gonna find it down here, so we're gonna have our feet hip width apart, and also, I know it's hard to see because, well, I mean, unless you have a mirror, but I'm gonna have you bring your heels in kind of closer to you. I know that's super vague, but I don't want you to have your legs far away from you, because I want your legs to be strong pillars. So instead of tilting the pelvis to come up, we are gonna do Kathy Grant's slant board lift.

So hands are gonna come fingertips to the thigh, and anchor your feet down. I want you to feel big toe little toe to heel, and what you're gonna do here is you're gonna pick your hip bones up and close the space between your hip bone and your forearm, and then go back down again. So you're not actually articulating, you know, I mean, that's how I actually learned shoulder bridge, right, articulating. I mean, it's great, it feels good. But today we're just gonna try something a little different.

You're gonna go straight up, pubic bone, hip bones straight up (exhales). Open the clavicles, open the shoulders. Sometimes they get a little stuck here, yeah, so you gotta kind of open it out a little bit, give yourself a little more space, and then take it down. Then again, hip bones up, close this space, push your fingertips. I kind of, this part, yeah, is gonna push into my thighs and my thighs are gonna push in, maybe, I'm trying to get my palms down onto my thighs.

It's a little hard. I'm also trying to keep my shoulders rolled open, that's hard, and then go down (laughs), right. What's the hashtag? The struggle is real, and let's go again, up. All right, so stay here for a minute.

Check your feet. Are you still really like a tripod on both sides, right and left big toe to little toe to heel? All right, great. Can you magnetize your inner thighs so that the knees are not spinning out, but they're coming towards each other? They're not touching, but they're magnetized.

Then you take your arms back behind you and your reach and your reach and your reach, and then I want you to circle the arms around and I want you to clasp for the hands underneath you, this I learned from yoga, and then you're gonna walk your elbows and your shoulders underneath (exhales), and you're gonna tip the pubic bone a little higher, and you're gonna lift yourself even higher. But I'm also making sure that I'm not pressing my chin into chest or my chest into my chin. I am still trying to keep my throat open, and you can tell because my voice isn't sounding like this, and that's not good (laughs). All right (sighs), now we're gonna just release the bind of your hands and take it down. All right, so we are gonna add kicks.

Now, you get two options right? This is the choose your own adventure moment of class. So you could have hands down, right, and shoulders rolling back in this position for your kicks, right, or you could clasp the hands, kind of walk your arms underneath you and try it like that. Like I said, it's choose your own adventure. There's like no right or wrong, it's just like, hey, you wanna try it out (laughs).

All right, but don't jump off a cliff with me if I tell you to jump off a cliff. All right, so I'm gonna go for this version 'cause I'm here, gonna slide the left leg out, kick it up, flex it down. Point it up, flex it down. Point it up, flex it down. Point, slide it in, switch.

Kick that other leg up, flex it down, point it up, flex it down, point it up, flex it down, slide it in, roll down, take a minute. All right, wiggle it out. We're gonna do it again. You can switch your arms, try it the other way, your call, okay. What I want you to do, and do your best at is trying to keep your hips lifted no matter where your leg is in space.

I know, that's the hard part. You're gonna lift the pelvis (sighs). All right, squeeze the buttocks, magnetizes inner thighs but don't let them touch. Zip your zipper, belly button's the lowest part of the waistline, put on a belt, push down with your arms. Drag your heels towards you.

I forgot that one. Do that. That's a good one. Drag your heels towards you, slide the left leg out, kick it up, flex it down, Kick it up, flex down, kick it out, flex it down all the way, slide it in. Slide the other leg up. Kick it up, flex it down, kick it up, flex it down, make it jazzy.

Kick it up, flex it down, slide it in, and then roll down, articulating. Now you get to articulate, gorgeous. Pull your knees in and then we're gonna do sidekicks. All right, so line yourself up. I'm gonna move my towel a little bit.

Yeah, all right. Elbow, under arm, hip, back of your mat, legs, to front corner. Bring your top hand behind your head. Kick your ribs up. Take your right leg, well, this is my right leg.

I don't know what legs you have. Take your top leg, and we're gonna flex and kick to the front, and then point and reach to the back, flex and kick to the front, point and reach to the back. So I'm gonna try my best to stay lifted off the mat, but I'm gonna pause when my leg goes to the back. Can you stop there for a minute? Okay, hold that.

Fire up the back of your leg, buttocks (exhales). Take your leg back, back, back. How far can you take it? I'm like passing my plant. Ah, I found the wall, awesome.

That is some serious extension, and then, oh my goodness, and then I'm gonna kick forward, and then go back, and maybe not so far back that time. Don't let the plant drop, and then one more time, and then rest. All right, we're just gonna roll, no, actually, you have to come up (exhales), otherwise I would be not facing you, and that would not be nice. Oh, here's my little pretty thing. All right, so, elbow under arm, hip to the back of your mat, kick your legs forward, leg goes up, oh, hands behind your head.

I mean, your hand could be here, that's totally doable, too. We're gonna flex front, point back, flex front, point back. I'm pressing my head into my hands and my hands in my head just a bit. It's helping to stabilize me, and it's firing on my extensors, and take it to the back and hold it. You ready? Here we go.

How far can you take your leg? Wow. Wow. And then kick it front, and then again, one more time. Oh, I forgot to point and flex my foot, but maybe you're still doing that, and then rest, and come up to a sitting position. Come on, stickiness, swing yourself around 'cause that's, well, what I'm doing.

We're gonna lay down on our tummy, and we're gonna do swimming, which, in fact, we just did with our kicks. Good, all right. Arms forward, let's just pick up the right arm and the left leg, and take it down, and then the other side, and take it down. Now let's pick everything up, take your gaze forward, scan the imaginary wall right in front of you, and start to pump or paddle or swim (laughs). Pick an adjective.

Actually pick a verb, oh boy, I don't know. And switch, breathe, keeps switching it. Speed it up, get those arms and legs high, and then rest (sighs). Stay here, hands underneath your shoulders. Tuck your toes under (exhales), fire up your legs.

Pull your belly button up, put a belt on. Don't stop firing up your legs. Push down with your arms (exhales). Push up (exhales). Okay, pick your head up.

Look forward, shift. Lift the leg, take it back, take it forward, put it down. Pick up the other leg, take it back, take it forward, put it down, take it up, take it back, take it forward, put it down. Take it up, take it back, put it forward, put it down. Pick it up, take it back, take it forward, put it down.

Pick it up, take it back, put it down (laughs). I mean, if we're not having fun with it (exhales), well, I don't know, I like to try to have fun with it all, to be honest (exhales), and then rest. Oh no, don't rest, no, no, no. Get back up again, there's no rest. You gotta go down all the way to the floor.

Yeah, sorry about that, no rest. Take your right foot, swing it, sorry, take your right hand, swing it around, grab your right, what's this called, ankle, and then the other hand finds the other ankle. All right, here we are, we are at the working. Let's just stretch it for a minute (inhaling and exhaling). You're gonna have to sing Kathy's song here, even though you're laying on your belly.

I know it can be done (laughs). So pick your head up, take your gaze forward. Now, start to push away with your legs. You feel how that starts to pick you up? Zip, put your belt on, push away with your legs, and then melt it all back down again (exhales).

Okay, so first thing I do is lift my head up off the floor a little bit. With my gaze forward, I start to push my legs into my hands, and that wraps my shoulders back, it picks my rib cage up, it takes me further forward, and then I start to lift my knees as high as I can, but I keep pushing, I keep pushing, and that starts me rocking. Push, push. I keep my gaze up because I don't wanna smash my nose into the floor (exhales). One more, and then melt it down into the floor.

Take your hands down by your shoulders, push yourself up nice and easy, and go back into a Child's Pose, breathe. Yeah, you did it. We made it to the rocking (exhales). Let your spine fold forward over your legs. Take a few deep breaths here to feel how the inhale fills the back's body, fills like a balloon between the shoulder blades as your head cascades down towards the floor, as your tail cascades down towards the floor.

The apex of your spine in this Child's Pose is billowing and expanding upward and sideways. When you're ready, you're gonna slowly roll up to a kneeling position. Take your time. That, my friends, is where we are gonna end class today (exhales). What I want you to do in the next few minutes that we have (exhales), is sit cross-legged for a moment, if cross-legged is feeling good for you.

You could roll up your mat, you could sit on some blocks, and I just want to take you out until the music starts with some just breathing, eyes closed, take a moment here to recalibrate, right? So hands on your thighs. You can close your eyes, you can bow your head forward, just feel all the tingles. Just feel how alive you feel from your bottom of your toes out to your fingertips, to the crown of your head, and while the outer part of you is very still, I want you to connect with this synergy that's bouncing around inside your body (exhales). I want you to feel your heartbeat, and in the last moments of class, I want you to thank your body for moving today.

I know it sounds a little silly, but I actually really want you to do it. So just to yourself quietly, give thanks.

Back Care: Happy, Healthy Spine


Great class, absolutely loved that you brought your own fun personality into the session and showed me I'm not the only one to wreck my set in class!  Made me smile whilst working me hard, my favourite combination! Thank you Maria :)
So much joy in movement, loved it....thank you, am still smiling
Alena K
1 person likes this.
Also,  very pretty light and calming coulours, pleasant to watch :) THank you!
1 person likes this.
Thank you, Maria, for sharing your movement practice with us! I've been enjoying this series so much (sooo much). The work feels so good and your energy is so uplifting! And yes, I was surprised how far I could get in prone extension without using arms! Hugs from Portland, OR
Thanks Maria!  That was fun.  It was like working out with a friend.  I appreciate the light heartedness, vivid imagery, and encouragement.  “Sometimes Pilates practice is Resilience practice.” Haha! Heck yeah!
Body Aligned P
Yes! More Maria! Thank you!
Adi A
amazing class! extentions feels miraclusly more friendly now .... thank you very much!!!
Maria, you are an amazing human and instructor.  Thank you for bringing humanity and joy to our movement practice.  Extension never felt so good!    I found you in Pilates Style and was delighted to see this series pop up.  I can't wait to take the other classes in the series.  Sending love from New England.  Hoping to make it back to Spain on the other side of these crazy times!  
Anne-Françoise/ Anne
thank you for this lesson ! 
Lovely class :)) We never get too much extension do we! My back and hips feel wonderful. Thanks a lot for this work and for sharing your and Kathy Grant's great cueing. Oh, and I love to be reminded to be grateful for what my body can do
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