Class #4226


60 min - Class


Maria Earle works the flexion of your spine in this episode of Happy Healthy Spine with Maria. She takes you through the many different ways you can access your head to tail connection, giving the beautiful imagery of using your spine as a nautilus shell or fern tip that curls and uncurls. She slowly builds the class so that you can do advanced exercises such as Jackknife, Boomerang, and Control Balance with ease. Grab a towel and roll with it!
What You'll Need: Mat, Towel

About This Video

Sep 28, 2020
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Hi, everybody, welcome to class. I'm really happy to be here. I'm glad you're here. Today's class, we're going to be focusing on flexion of the spine, head to tail. We're going to think about.

We're going to think about how the spine can curl and uncurl like a Nautilus shell, like a fern tip, new fern. So we're going to start sitting. You will need your towel, which I hope you have handy. My towel is already folded up so that it is in thirds right. So I've folded it like this.

So I'll do that again really fast as I've just unfolded my towel and your towel will come around your rib cage. And we are going to do some lateral breathing, some accordion breathing, where we're using our towel. You're pulling the towel across, depending on the length of your towel, depending on the size of your ribcage. Your hands might be crossed like this. That's okay, okay.

You also might be more like me here. What's important is that your, the towel is really across the upper part of your ribs right underneath your underarms. I want you to feel like your shoulders can rest on the shelf that you're creating with this towel, hugging around your rib cage. Take a deep breath here, inhale and exhale. So as you breathe, I want you to release a little bit of your towel.

And as you exhale I want you to kind of tighten your towel around your ribcage so that, so that you can increase the back to center sensation with your exhale. Inhale, gently push the breath out into a little bit of tension but not too much that you're restricting the inhale. I basically want the inhale to feel like it's pushing into the towel and the sides and in the back. We're bringing awareness to the area that we will be bending a lot today. So make your breath as full as possible.

Find your limit of your inhale. Look for it, look for it, look for it. And then as you exhale, exhale slowly and and hug back to your midline and then inhale and make it as expansive and as expressive as you can and then keep resting those shoulders, right on top of that shelf feeling that you have created with your towel. We're going to take the towel away. I'm just going to fold it and put it close by so that we can use it in a moment and let's bring the hands on to your knees.

And what I'm going to ask you to do is this little undulation. It very much comes from my days back in the dance studio. You're going to drop your head forward and then bring it forward lifting and coming up, maybe if I turn sideways, it could be helpful, right? So we're going to drop the head, move forward and then come up. So curl the spine, maybe pull back on your knees and then take the shape of your head through an imaginary something.

And again, so we're kind of doing this snakey wave right? So a lot of the imagery that we're going to use today, I'm going to keep referring to a Nautilus shell and now this movement is more like just the ebb and flow of the tide moving in and out. And then we're going to go the other way. So you're going to kind of lead this time with your chest forward and then pull back with the ribs and then take the chest forward again inhaling and exhaling. You're really just kind of creating your own ebb and flow here.

You're just kind of, you know, waking up the spine. You're bringing awareness to that sensation of tail to head. Okay, and then I'm going to face this way again and we're just going to turn sideways. I'm going to turn over my right leg and I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to take my chest forward, drop my head back.

And I'm going to do this three times this time right? So I'm, I'm actually going to be deliberate about how many we do and then reverse it. So drop your head down and curl forward, curling down, taking it up, right? So it feels a little bit like, I don't know, a galloping horse, a diving dolphin, whatever makes you, whatever you like. Turn and we'll do the other side.

So we'll start with the chest going forward and bring it back. We're doing three, keep breathing. One more and then bring it back. And now we're going to lead with our head tail and up right. So the head and then tail and then up one more time and bring it up and come back to center.

I'm going to turn sideways again, okay. So that you can see where I'm going to take this next little part. Okay, so we're going to take the arms around. I'm going to clasp my hands. Turn my palms and round back.

Take a deep breath here. Pause here. Now really spread the shoulder blades and pull the sternum back. Draw the abdominal wall in. Actually anchor and maybe push down through your feet a little bit right?

And so you're really rounding. You should feel like a C curve from the tailbone up to the tip top of the head. And then you lift those arms open, make fists, bend the elbows and pull the elbows back. Take the chest forward. Take your gaze up and here you are an extension.

And then we circle the arms around hook them, flip them, round the spine. Drop your head, push with the feet, push with your palms. Stay here, find that C curve. Draw your belly button back, draw your rib cage back. And then let's do a little side to side sways and then come back to center and then pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, push the palms up towards the ceiling, open the arms, make fists and then bend the elbows.

And imagine that you're pulling something down from the ceiling and you're bringing it behind you. And then we circle the arms, hook the fingers, turn the palms, round the spine. Take a deep breath here, inhaling exhaling. You can rock it out a little, keep breathing. Feel your tailbone curling under.

Feel the crown of your head curling forward. Then pick it up. Come into your flat back, crown of the head up to the ceiling, push your palms up to the ceiling. Keep growing up as you open the arms, make fists, grab something from the ceiling and pull it down back behind your head and then rest your arms. All right, I'm going to face you once more.

So the next little series we're going to do is taken from the isometric neck exercises that you can do with the magic circle. We are going to do them with our hands. So take your fingertips and place them here, at the top, well, front of your forehead, yeah. And these are great exercises to do in front of a mirror. We don't have that right now.

So I'm going to do my best to be as aligned as I can. I'm thinking top of my head up to the ceiling. In fact, putting my fingertips here is a great reminder of how tall I can actually sit. And I'm feeling that straight plum line straight down. All right, so I, you, we, you're going to press your head gently into your hands and your hands gently into your head.

And you're going to create a tension here and hold it for about 30 seconds. And I want you to feel the front of the neck engaging, toning, and then release. We'll do that one more time. Press, I want you to be very, very specific here and you're not jutting the chin forward and you're not pulling the chin back, rest. Okay, I'll turn sideways for a minute.

I hope that I can show you that I'm doing my best to stay upright and that there's actually nothing really changing in my, in my alignment here. I'm doing my best to keep my chin and my gaze forward. Looking out on a horizon line. So I don't want to tip up. I don't want to tuck down.

I don't want to pull in. There's a lot that I don't want to do and then rest. All right, now we're going to go sideways. So hopefully before we do sideways, hopefully you felt that really actively engaging right through here. Let's like the palm to the side.

I'm a little forward of my ear. You're going to find where you, yeah, it could be side head but I'm a little bit more like my temple yeah. Okay, so same. Keep thinking about the crown of the head going up to the ceiling. You could zip your zipper right?

Use your Pilates lift here and then press your head into your hand and your hand into your head. You're not trying to break your neck. So if you were a volume dial from one to 10, you'd be maybe a six maybe just a five, you know, depending you might be a four right? You gotta do you all right. Let's try the other side.

So palm presses into the head, head presses into the palm. No notice nothing's changing, right? I don't want to shift my head, right? I don't want to like shift my body. I'm trying to stay upright as tall as I can.

And then rest, oh, are you feeling any different in your neck? Let's take your hands one over the other like this and they come behind you. Elbows slightly forward 'cause I think that helps drop your shoulders down. Press your head into your hands and your hand into your head and feel the back of your neck. You probably feel it all the way down to where you're sitting and then release that.

Relax your jaw. Alright, now rest for a moment. And we're just going to take the ear to the shoulder and go directly side. Take a deep breath here and then pick it up. And then we do ear to shoulder on the other side and just notice the difference.

It's okay if one side's a little different than the other. We are only human after all and then come up. All right, now you're going to bring your chin into your chest. Keep your spine tall but just tip the top of your head forward. Think about that fern leaf, that tiny curl at the top of that fern.

Just bend at the top of your fern and then uncoil and come back up. Place your hands right on your sternum. Feel the weight. This is important. Feel weighted.

You don't have to push down, but do feel the weight of your arms on your chest. Now from your chin and your eyes, you're going to look up. Put the tongue at the roof of your mouth while you do this and stretch the whole front of your throat and then bring it down. Okay, notice that I'm not just throwing my head back. I'm actually keeping my lips closed, my tongue to the roof of my mouth.

And I'm lifting my front of my neck, of my throat, and then back. Okay, that's a sequence that I would do two or three times including like from here, all of this, all of this, all of this right? So we're not going to do, we have a lot to do today but I wanted to start with that little sequence. Okay, and I, we could repeat this, but we won't for the sake of time. So I'm going to face sideways.

You're going to extend your legs out. You could take your legs in a comfortable position. They could be a little wider than your mat. If this is not so comfortable for you, roll up your mat, sit up on, up on something. You also could sit like this, in the diamond, an extended diamond.

You also could sit cross-legged. I'm going to go like this, okay. So crown of a heads going up towards the ceiling. This comes from my teacher, Kathy Grant. She called this subway head.

So you have to imagine that you are, you got it, on the subway and you've fallen asleep. And so when you have fallen asleep on the subway your head just kind of nods forward and gets heavy. And then you're gonna pick it back up again. And we're going to do that again. So keep thinking up with the crown of your head, up with your spine, but then just your upper curl, like a, like a Nautilus shell curling, but it's going to stop right when your chin comes towards your chest and then you're going to unfurl it.

And now we're going to take it just a little deeper into what she called the soup head. So this is, you have to use your imagination, you're going to imagine your nose having a long, long spoon and there's a bowl of soup on the floor here. And you're going to stir your soup with your spoon nose all right. So we're going to start with your subway head and we're going to just bring the chin to the chest. Now here are you going to have to kind of soften just a little bit more so that that spoon can go right down into your bowl.

So I'm allowing my upper, my upper back and my shoulders to also kind of melt forward with the weight of my head. And I'm going to pause here and I'm imagining my long soup nose, my soup spoon nose. And then here, I'm going to just do like little stirs, stir and then little stirs the other way. It's really, really gentle. It is a broth soup.

And then you come to stillness and you start to roll up. She was very specific about the kind of soup that you had to visualize. It had to be a broth. It wasn't anything chunky. It wasn't any hardy winter soup thing.

No, no, no no. It was light so that you could stir with ease, okay. So now I want us to lay down. Oh, we're going to do one more thing, with that isometric head thing, all right that I forgot. So I'm going to add it in right here.

So you're back here right, to this little neck presser pressure thing. So pushing your head forward into your hands and your hand into your head. I actually now want you to do like a lowering of your head but push your head with your hands and draw your chin down. There needs to be like a little resistance here and then come up right. So we're curling in with a little resistance that's coming from our hands, which is hopefully, when you get down to the bottom, you should feel your neck and your throat open, but I'm hoping that you feel right up into here, muscularly like to behind the ear, okay.

So one more time. Keep your tongue at the top roof of your mouth. Keep your teeth slightly apart. Don't close your teeth. Okay, do you feel that?

It's like all of this is like zing. Okay, you're going to lay down on your back. So lay down here, just have your knees hip width apart and to take your gaze straight up to the ceiling. All right, so this little series that we're going to do next I originally learned with Irene Dowd and later was, you know, reminded of it and worked with it in movement science made simple which I very much, you know, think that everybody should go and check out those two, those two educational resources which is our, which are amazing. Anyway, so here we are.

There's a little quick something. Okay, so your gaze and your nose are going to shoot up to the ceiling, right? If you have a ponytail, you need to move your ponytail. You can't have anything in the back of your head. So stick your ponytails on the top of your head.

All right, so you're going to gently press the part of your skull that you feel on the floor, into the floor right? And so you feel the whole engagement of the back of the neck and then release. What you don't want to do is to push so hard that you break the floor or that your spine starts to lift off the floor right? It's not that much effort, okay. So one more time, you're going to press it down.

And then without shifting anything here you're going to float the shape straight up but only enough that you could slip a piece of paper right under your head and then take it down, right? So it's, it's almost nothing. It's a centimeter, half a centimeter that you lift. Try it again. Right, you feel the front of your neck.

All right, now from here, I want you to think about that fern or that Nautilus shell and I want you to curl the head forward and look through your knees to the wall or to whatever is in front of you. You should feel this all the way here up to behind your ears and then let it unfurl and take it back down again, okay. We're going to do that one more time but then we're going to move on. So we're going to float just a little and then start to curl, like from the ears, like you have a dowel between your ears and you're curling your head over the dowel or you are part of the dowel and you're curling into your spiral. And then you're going to unfurl and take the gaze up to the ceiling and put your head down.

Okay, great, let's just turn our heads right and left. Breathing right? Give our neck a little bit of a break. All right, so let's take our towels. And this also comes from Kathy.

You have your towels again, folded in these like, in a third and the towel is going to come behind your head. So I think of, I love Lucy, what, am I right? Don't you get it? So I'm closing the towel around my ears a little bit. And my towel is not, you know, it's not up here.

I'm like coming down so that my towel is like a hammock holding my head and I take my elbows a little narrow and I pull my elbows forward, forward. And that brings my head and shoulders up off the floor. And then I take it down. So I'm going to do that on an exhale. We're going to do that three times.

So lead with your elbows, take a tight grip on your towel. Leading with the elbows. The back of the arms are active and then rest your head back into that nice little sling that you've created with your towel and then take it back. And now again, curling forward and I'll take it back and exhale curl forward, resting your head into your sling. I want you to stay here this time, okay.

So see how high you can curl from the base of your sternum. So don't be yanking on your neck here. You have to rest your head back, pull forward with your elbows and you have to keep repeating that. Rest your head back, rest your head back, curl forward, curl forward, right. All right, gonna pick up the right leg.

You're going to hold it. You're going to pick up the left leg. You're going to hold it. You're going to take the right leg down. Take the left leg down, but very lightly, because the left leg comes right back up and then the left.

Oh, what's this my right leg comes up. Then my left leg goes down. My right leg goes down, but doesn't stay down. It comes right back up again and then my left comes up. My right comes down.

My left goes down to come right back up and then my right, then my left, then my right. But my right comes up and my left, keep breathing, inhale, exhale, inhale. We're alternating. Then you pause. Squeeze the legs together.

If you're feeling tired here with your, mostly like your arms are feeling tired, like give yourself a little break. If not, keep curling yourself forward as much as you can. Squeeze your inner thighs together, come into your tabletop. And we're going to take both feet down, squeeze in tight, exhale. So as the knees go away I have to think about curling forward to go with my knees as if my nose were attached to my knees.

That's it. So I'm trying to pick my shoulders up. I am resting my head into my towel, but I am forward bending and folding as much as I can from my spine and my upper abs. And as I lift my knees, I curl into my bend and then rest. All right, these are great.

You can do all sorts of abdominal awesomeness with that towel. All right, so pull the knees in, give yourself a little circle to the right little circle to the left as well. That's always nice, right. All right, so, all right. Put your feet hip width apart.

Now let's take the arms down at our sides and let's think about for a moment. I'm just going to move this out of the way. I love that. Okay, so I want you, we just spent a good part of the beginning of class thinking about the upper body being this upper curl. But now I want you to start thinking about this spiral or curl that happens here.

So go for it. Go for a little tuck, you don't have to lift. And then uncurl it and then curl it up taking that pubic bone forward, feeling your back anchor down into the ground and then release it. So you want to do this with as much ease as possible. So don't grip anything.

Do the least amount of muscle tension to make the movement happen. Think about a pebble beach and how the pebbles curl roll forward as the waves come in and as those pebbles roll out, I love that sound. Can you imagine that sound coming in and then unrolling out and one more time rolling in and then rolling out. Now we're going to roll it in. I want you to stamp down through your feet and you're going to rise all the way up into your bridge.

Arms down at your side. Take a minute here. Squeeze, I want your knees to be higher than your hips. I want your hips to be higher than the lowest ribs. So you have to soften your chest a little.

I want your throat open. Take another deep breath here. Magnetize the inner thighs. Can you feel that they're not touching but they're definitely wanting to go together. Then the other thing I want you to think about is your tripod, big of your feet, big toes, over to little toes to heel.

And then I want you to soften at your throat, soften at your chest and start to roll down. We're going to go up one more time, okay. So curl it forward. Feel the, this kind of turning in. Think about that Nautilus shell.

Stay here, energize those inner thighs towards each other. All right, so don't move your feet, all right, but you're going to drag your heels towards your buttocks. Okay, so do you feel your hamstrings really fire them? Awesome, all right. So keep dragging your heels towards your buttocks without actually moving your feet and make sure that when you do that, you didn't like drag your chest and your chin down right.

So you got to keep that still open and then roll it down. I hope you did really feel your hamstrings 'cause we're going to use that in this next part. We're actually, we're moving into the hundreds. So you're going to slide your left leg down on the floor and your right leg is going to inch out just a bit so that your foot is somewhere between your ankle and your knee. All right, so I want you to step down strong into that right foot.

Can you, in this position, drag your heel towards your buttocks without moving your foot? You feel your hamstring engage, okay? Fantastic, keep that, keep that engagement. Can you fire up your left leg and reach it long? You don't actually have to lift it up yet and then relax everything.

All right, so we're going to do that again. You're going to stamp down with your right foot. You're gonna drag the right heel towards your buttocks. You're going to fire up the left leg and reach it long on the floor. I want you to pick your head up like you're slipping a piece of paper under it.

You're going to curl that Nautilus shell of your head forward. You're going to float the arms up and you're going to keep dragging the heel towards your buttocks. And you're gonna pull yourself up just a little higher. And then you're going to lift your leg off the floor six inches and start to pump, inhaling, exhaling. Keep breathing.

Now I am not a good counter and you have that to your advantage. Now curl forward 'cause I will probably have us come down earlier. So keep standing down into that leg. Keep dragging it into your heels. Keep pumping in your arms and then lower everything down because we have to do the other side.

So slide that right leg out. My hope is that doing this little version and doing your heel drag is actually helping you get into your upper ab curl a whole lot more. That's my goal. That's my aim. So I'll be more explicit about that on this side.

So slide your left foot down a little. Inch it out so that somewhere between your ankle and your knee, take a moment here. Just like we did on the other side. I want you to stamp that foot down into the ground and drag that heel. You should feel it right, right to here, fire up the other leg and reach it long.

Stabilize at the pelvis. Float the head up, slip of paper and then curl. Curling your Nautilus shell forward and now keep dragging your heel towards your buttocks. See if that helps you get up a little higher. Float that leg up off the floor six inches and start to pump.

So the leg that's hovering six inches off the floor is very active. I'm reaching that leg away and my gaze is reaching over the leg. My foot that's on the floor is still dragging towards my buttocks and I'm trying to curl forward. In fact, I should be able to get all the way up, right? All these forward head positions are just preparatory exercises for rolling up, which we're going to do next.

So stretch those legs out. All right, here's where we're going to roll up. I want you to take your fist and a palm. All right, it's a karate kid. You're going to flex your feet.

You can squeeze your legs together. That gives you power. Now pick your head up, press your knuckles into your palms. Now flex your feet and press in to your hand to palm and keep progressing until you've come all the up and you've dropped your head over. Now you can reach those arms forward and then roll down and you can take the arms up, keeping your head between your arms for as long as you can and then stretch back.

Now we try the other fist right. So we switch our arm position, hand position. Push tight into the shape. You should feel that like right up into your pecs right. Flex your feet.

Anchor the back of your legs down into the ground. Can you dig your heels away? Like you're digging a trench with your heels and then press into your fist and come forward. Reach the arms forward and then roll it down. Here when you're rolling it down, can you pull your ribs?

Pull your ribs back, pull your ribs back. Reach your heels long. Tip that pubic bone, Nautilus shell right here. Right here, right here. And then take the arms back, reach.

All right, mew arm position. Bring your hands to the tops of your legs and you aren't going to inch walk, curl forward, your hands down your legs. And notice if there's a moment when your fingers are running or your fingers have stopped moving. Oh, you might need to grab your legs and bring yourself up. And then we roll down.

For me, I know that I'm working through my spine evenly for lack of a better word. No better word came to mind. If I can keep my fingers walking in the same rhythm the whole way without stopping and reach and then roll it down, reaching out. I keep taking the mat with me. So I'm a little sticky here and then reach out and reach back and then bring the arms down.

Alright, so what's next on my list. Oh yeah, we're going to do the rollover. So I'm going to scoot down. Actually, I think I have to scoot down quite a lot because I'm going to bang into that. So make sure that you have room for your rollover.

So before we start with our roll over, I want you to squeeze your inner thighs together. And I want you to think about this curling shell idea. That's going to start at the pubic bone. So what I want you to do more than anything is not take the legs over. Now that's really hard for me because I got a lot of leg here.

So my tendency would be to just do this nice leverage lever thing and just take my legs over. But instead I want to think that my pubic bone is leading, not my legs. And I got to tip my pubic bone up, up to down. That's really, really hard. So push the arms down into the floor and curl the pelvis up, up, up, up, up, and then take it down, right.

So don't throw your legs. Here we go, we're going to go up, up, up, up, up and take it down and again up. Oh all right, so now we're going to try our rollover. Now for some of you, it might be very early in the morning. And if that is the case, do what you can.

All right, your spine is still in its morning spine mode. So let's take arms down into the floor. Tip the pubic bone up, lead with the pubic bone. Lead with the pubic bone. As much as you can take those legs, parallel to the floor.

Now, if you can keep your hips lifted up, but take your feet to the floor. Now open, wider than your mat, wider than your shoulders and start to roll down and then zip the legs together. We're going up and over again. Push with the back of your arms. Take your toes to the floor.

Slide the legs open, roll it down. Push your arms. Where are your arms? Back of your head into the floor. Squeeze the legs together.

Use your arms, take your toes to the floor. Open, open, wide, roll down. All right, now we're going to reverse it and we're going to go faster right. So we're just going to so now you're going to feel a little bit more swingy. Though I am hoping that you're still leading with the pubic bone.

Push the back of the arms into the floor. You know, I think for a lot of us, I think the hardest thing is keeping those palms down on the floor. And then come together. How many was that? I think that must've been three.

Come on up to a sitting position. If it wasn't, fit another one in, before we do rolling like a ball. All right, so rolling like a ball. I got a funny one for you. You can do your regular rolling like ball, all right.

That's totally your choice. Or you could try holding the bottom of your feet and something new to do today. So push your feet into your hands a little bit and then pull your ribs back. Now think about that Nautilus shell at your pelvis and curl in to it and then curl your upper body forward. So push into your feet or push your feet into your hands.

That's what I meant to say. So right down here is the tightest part. Actually, I should be going this way. I need to go this way, right, 'cause I'm curling this way, but my upper body is curling this way up and over. Now I want you to imagine those spirals, use your exhale, roll to the shoulders, roll back, push your feet strongly into your hands.

Like you want to stand up in a moment, inhale. Stand into your hands, good, exhale. And then you're going to pause here. We're going to go into our stomach series and the stomach series we're going to do with our towel. So take your time.

You're going to get up here and we're going to roll down. Bring the right leg into your chest. Extend the left. Bring your elbows marrow, okay. Rest your head back in your towel.

Feel yourself bending as much as you can and switch and switch. Rest your head back and switch. Keep lifting those elbows. Keep trying your best to pick the shoulder blades right up off the floor, resting your head back. And then we're going to hug both knees in, inhale.

Exhale, stay here, hold, hold, hold, take your towel out. Pull it apart, curl it, squeeze the legs together. Take it out and bring it back. So you have to stay curled forward. In fact, don't take your arms back behind you this time.

Take your legs low and take your arms forward and now crawl up and get your knees underneath your towel and then curl up. Shoot your legs out from under your towel. Curl up, pick your towel up. That's hard and then reach those legs out and imagine that your nose is reaching for your toes the whole time, right. Imagine that you could just come on up to a sitting position.

You're so much curling forward and rest. Let's take your head. Your towel, sorry, behind your head again. Pick yourself up. Rest your head.

Let's take both legs up towards the ceiling. Wow, all right. We're going to squeeze the legs together and we're going to take the right leg down and then pick it up again. Left leg down. Pick it up.

Keep picking your elbows up. Exhale, inhale, exhale, always back up at the center. And again, now we're going to lower and lift both legs. Squeeze the legs together. Pick your elbows up.

Keep reaching your nose for your toes. Keep letting your head rest back into your towel. Feel the bend at the rib cage. Let your exhale be the initiation for the legs to come up so that the belly starts to drop down. So the legs can go up.

All right, now we could do twists like this. That makes sense. You also could choose to do twists like this. Breathing, try to curl forward. Don't roll back back, so now slow it down.

Curl up to switch, curl up to switch. Curl up to switch and rest. Come on up to a sitting position. You can get rid of your towel. All right, so we're going to do a spine stretch forward.

Flex your feet. Take a deep breath here. We're going to let the head soften forward. Like how we started. Remember subway head.

You're going to subway head. You're going to soup head. You're gonna let your hands walk forward a bit and you're going to just melt down. I want you to think the crown of the head as going somewhere between the knees on your mat. So don't rock off your sit bones, bend your spine forward.

Keep bending, flex your feet. Feel the C curve from the tailbone all the way up to the crown of your head. Imagine that if we kept breathing, we kept exhaling and I let you stay here long enough that your head would eventually just touch the floor though you haven't at all shifted off your sit bones. You might have had to walk your hands out and then you're going to walk with your hands. Kind of help your spine stack back up again and come on up to a sitting position.

So hopefully that you really felt that as a spine stretch and not as a forward up and over your legs, hamstring stretch, and then roll up. Let's open the arms out and you could repeat that like two or three times but we're moving on. Trying to now speed through the last part of class you're going to twist. All right, so we're going to do our saw and our saw, we're gonna think about the exact same way. So you reach forward right.

Do your saw but instead of reaching the crown of your head for your feet, draw your head down towards your knee and then take your back arm up, take your front arm down and then rotate and twist without shifting off your hips. Look underneath your shoulder and then pick it all up. Okay, we're going to twist and the back arm comes down. The front arm goes forward and don't reach to your pinky toe. Just bring your head down towards your knee and then take the back arm as high up as you can.

And now just take the front hand down to the outside of your ankle and counter rotate through your pelvis as you look underneath your shoulder, trying to twist your upper back and then roll up and then bring your arms down. All right, so I'm hoping that you're really feeling this spinal flexion. Alright next, oh, neck pull. Oh boy, I can't believe I put that one in there. This one's really hard for me.

So you're going to flex your legs, your feet. You're going to squeeze your legs together. Bring your hands behind your head. We're going to start with the sitting up position and then curl it forward. Float those elbows up as high as you can.

Can you see the shape? I want the crown of the head towards your knees. I don't want you head to toes. I want you here. Good, and then you're gonna pick it up, flex out through your heels.

You're gonna start to lean back and then here's your Nautilus curl right under here. And then take it back. Okay, here's the hard part. We've got to try our best to keep the elbows really wide. Reach out through your legs.

Oh, this is where I get stuck. You see that? I grabbed my legs and then come forward, bring your hands behind your head and then roll up. If we only did the things that we were good at, we wouldn't get any better. Flex and lean it back.

Now, curl the tailbone under curl it, curl it, curl it. Oh, and then lay down. I mean I'm really trying to reach my legs away as much as I can right. And then I'm going to keep reaching my legs away. And there's this moment where I get super stuck.

So I'm just gonna come forward using my karate kid arms which really help me and then take it all the way and then up. Alright, now we're going to go right into our jackknife. So we're going to go down. Lift, I think I need to scoot forward. Sorry, you guys.

And then lift and then lower it back right?. We're doing our neck pull and we're just going to stay down. Arms come down, legs come up. Take it over, take the leg straight up and then push the legs away from you. As you soften at the throat, use those arms.

Keep pushing those legs away and then take it down. And then we're going up and lift. Now you can stay here for a moment. Notice I put my hands behind my hips because I really want to test and see how high I can actually take my pelvis. Like I'm really balanced across my upper back, my shoulders but not really on my head.

And then lower down, though my head is really touching. Okay, you ready? Here we go. I'm like really, my mat's like rolling up everywhere. All right, so fun transition.

We're going to roll down after our jackknives and we're going to come into teaser. Okay, ready? Here we go. We're going up, over, roll it down teaser and then take it down. Up jackknife, roll it down teaser.

And again, up jackknife down teaser. Up jackknife, down teaser, hold it. Smile for the camera. All right, stay here. We're just going to bend the knees then the elbows.

I think I need to scoot back. So much from my brilliant transition. You're going to take your legs long. Take your chest open. We're going to do leg pull.

Okay, you're going to lift your hips up. Roll those shoulders back. Now, anchor down through your left leg. Fire that booty and kick that right leg up and down. I did the exact opposite of what I just told you to do but that's okay.

We'll do both sides and then sit down. We're going to do the other side now. I actually can't do the other side 'cause I sprained my ankle. So I'm just gonna hold, hang out here while you do it. So go up, anchor down to the opposite leg and then kick that leg up.

Go, up, down, up, down, up, down and then sit everything down, good job. All right, come forward a little bit. Well, you don't have to. I just have to watch out for that cabinet back there. Okay, boomerang.

So you're going to cross your right leg over your left. Press down with your arms. Pick those legs up, up and over. Open close, come into your teaser. We already practiced that, right.

Bring your elbows in narrow, hook them. Lift them, stretch forward right here. Can you pull your ribs up? Can you drop your head down towards your knees? Float the arms open, reach towards your toes.

We're going to do this one more time. Push down with your arms. Reach your legs out. Curl your tailbone. Tailbone, tailbone, tailbone.

Open close curl your head forward. Look where you're going. Inner thighs, bring your arms through hook them. Curl forward. Pause here.

Head Nautilus shell, curl head towards your knees. Not head towards your toes, circle around and then roll on up. More rolling seal. I want you to take your hands through. You're going to grab the ankles outside.

I want you to prayer foot the legs today. So you're going to bring your palm, sorry, your soles of your feet together. And you're going to try to get your knees up high, okay. Notice my knees are gonna squeeze around my upper arms here and I'm going to roll. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, squeeze the knees into my upper arms and push my legs away.

Push, one more. Should we add claps? Of course we should. One, two, three, take it back. One, two, three, come forward.

One, two, three, take it back. One, two, three, I mean these are fun. One more, 'cause we've gotta find crab cross. Here we go. Take it back, uncross.

Come forward. Place your head lightly on the floor. Pick it up. Can you imagine your whole self, your whole spine, like a little shell spiraling in on yourself. Again, come forward.

And one more. If you're brave, you can come Here into a headstand because it's fun, but you don't have to. That's just something to do. And then come on down. You're going to cross your legs and then you're going to place your feet down, your butt down.

Come forward for our control balance. Roll up and over. Find that jackknife again. Swing your arms, take your right leg down and take your left leg up and then switch balancing across your shoulders. You got this.

Reach and reach. Both legs up and slide your arms down. See if you can get a little higher and then slowly roll down. Hug your knees in, roll up. Good job you guys.

I really wanted to go into pushups right here. Think we can do it like 30 seconds. All right, here we go. Three pushups one. I mean really make it five.

If you can do it, but I'm really tired. I don't know if I got five. Oh okay, I got three. Come on, you might have more you know, I give you like extra bonus points. Come into child's pose.

I should like call this Nautilus pose. Roll up, and thanks for coming to class today. You guys are amazing. It's been so fun to do this series with you guys. Please come to the last class next week.

I'm gonna put it all together obviously 'cause you're going to do that work. So we're going to use all of our happy, healthy spine ideas and tell your friends. Yeah, and you know, connect with me.

Back Care: Happy, Healthy Spine


1 person likes this.
Thank you Maria! 
Fun! loved "working out" with you - excellent cues and progression, jackknife never felt so easy:)  looking forward to next week. 

Sarah M
Amazing! You is strong girl!

Great class! Thanks for the excellent imagery and cues.
Anne-Françoise/ Anne
Thank you Maria, Kiss from Nantes 
Carina H
Absolutely loved it. Thank you! I really enjoyed the sequencing and how you built it up to the challenging stuff in the end. 
For those of you working on rolling up to standing, try Maria's rolling like a ball version holding onto bottoms of feet.  When she said, "Like you want to stand" during this version I thought, "Okay, let's try it."  That strong flexion helped get my weight forward over feet and shins to continue to standing!  Still had to separate feet, though.
Kim B
I’m definitely trying some of those hand to foot strategies for neck pull & rolling as I struggle to roll. Thankyou

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