This video is part of a course.

Class #4323

Unwinding and Centering

30 min - Class


Wind down and release tension with this Reformer class from Gia Calhoun's The Pilates Daily. You will get a full workout in a short amount of time, centering yourself through challenging abdominal work and then letting it all go at the end with a variation on Mermaid. Finish your week strong, focused, and decompressed.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video

Feb 23, 2021
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Hi, I'm Gia, and we're gonna do a reformer class today. We've made it to the end of the series, and this is a great class for the end of the week, when you want to wind down, center yourself, and just release any tension. So we're gonna start with a little footwork to get moving. I have three reds, one blue spring on. I'm just gonna place my feet on the foot bar, hip-distance apart, on the balls of my feet.

Before we actually push out, I want you to just think of anchoring your tailbone down, feeling heavy in your pelvis, heavy in the back of the ribs, abs are pulled in, arms are just on the mat, reaching long. Just take a deep inhale and exhale. Just find your center. Inhale. If you want to close your eyes, you can. And exhale. Inhale through the nose.

And exhale, just grounding down into the carriage. You almost feel like you're sinking. One more deep breath. Inhale and exhale. Now, keeping that weight into the carriage with your pelvis and the back of the ribs, chest is open, I'm gonna bring the balls of my feet onto the bar. Toes are wrapping over, heels are pushing under for a prehensile position.

So, I inhale, stretch long, push the heels under the bar. Exhale to come all the way in. Nice and slow for this one, really feel the full extension of the legs, bend to come in. Heels are reaching under the foot bar, exhale to return. So, with my legs hip-distance apart, I'm trying to keep the knees going straight up and down.

Sometimes, they have a tendency to wobble in or out. So you wanna just focus on everything staying centered. Exhale, in. We have three more. And two. Last one. And then, slide up to the heels, still hip-distance apart.

Flex all five toes back, inhale, stretch long. Really feel that extension, all the way in as you exhale. Inhale, stretch, exhale, release. Good, so I'm keeping the feet active, keeping the pelvis heavy as I extend and return. Four more, the chest is open, neck is long. Last two.

Really pushing into the heels, so it engages the backs of the legs, not just the quads. Come all the way in. Come back to the balls of your feet, heels lifted high. We're gonna push all the way out and hold. And just lower the heels under the bar for a little tendon stretch, and then lift the heels back up.

Got a little crack in my ankles. Inhale through lower, exhale, lift. Inhale lower, exhale, lift. Lengthening those legs, pulling up in the quads. Lift, four more, nice and slow, really control that movement.

And three, last two, getting that deep stretch in the quads, last one. And then, just hold your heels under, pause. Bend one knee, push the other heel under a little bit further, should feel nice, lift up and switch sides. Lift back up, both heels under, one more time. You can bend your knees a little bit.

It's a slightly different spot in the calves and more into the Achilles. And then, bend your knees all the way in. And then, we're gonna come on up and change springs. So I'm gonna do two red springs, take off everything else. And then, lie down on your back.

This time, I'm away from the shoulder rests, grabbing the straps, legs are gonna come to tabletop. I'm gonna keep my legs glued together, arms right over my shoulders, arms are reaching long, and I'm gonna keep them straight the whole time. I'm gonna bring the arms out to the side, down by my hips, back up to the ceiling for a circle. Open, keeping my head down, neck is still long, pulling into my abdominals to hold my legs still while I'm moving my arms. Two more in this direction, trying to make an even circle with both arms, and then, reverse.

Push down, open out, and lift back up, just keeping it fluid, and smooth, and controlled. Making sure, as I push the arms down, I'm not letting my shoulders lift up off the mat, I'm trying to keep my chest open. Just one more in this direction. Now, you wanna press your arms down and hold, keeping the elbows on the mat, I'm gonna bend my arms, and stretch for a little tricep press. And bend, and stretch.

My abdominals are still working to stabilize the rest of my body, and bend, and stretch. Four more, trying to connect to the ribs, so they're not flaring open. Last two, and last one. Bring the arms up. You can bring the feet down for a second.

Hold onto your shoulder rests, and then, just rock the knees side to side. Now, I'm gonna bring my legs back up to tabletop, arms back over my shoulders. This time, I'm gonna push my arms down, curl my head up as I exhale. So, deep inhale to prepare, exhale, press down, curl up. I'm gonna keep my right knee into my chest.

Left leg is gonna stretch long for a single-leg stretch. So I'm just gonna keep switching my legs right through the center of the body, trying to go directly to the position. A lot of times, people go in and up like this, and I wanna go directly to the position. So I'm always aiming for the same spot with my toes each time, instead of going a roundabout way, keeping it nice and precise. Keep curling the chest up.

We have two more sets. Last set, both knees in, arms come up, rest your head down. So now, we're gonna curl back up, arms reaching long, legs up to the ceiling this time. Keeping the legs straight, I'm gonna lower the left leg down, right leg stays up. And then, scissor the legs to switch.

Again, keeping it nice and precise, passing right through the center of the body. And switch, legs are reaching long, arms are reaching past that foot bar to help curl me up a little bit higher. We have two more sets. Last one, both legs up, bend back to tabletop. Arms come back down.

I slid up a little bit, so I'm gonna scoot back down some, away from the shoulder rests. I'm gonna bring my legs back to tabletop. This time, I'm gonna have my legs in a diamond, so, feet together, knees apart. I'm gonna curl up with my right hand on the outside of my legs. My left hand's gonna go through the center.

So I'm gonna curl up into a twist, and then, lower all the way down. Other side, so right hand between my legs, left hand on the outside, and back. So I'm gonna keep alternating. While I'm twisting in my upper body, I'm trying to keep my pelvis stable as I can. So my legs and my hips don't move.

I'm just twisting from the ribs. Left, one each side, to the right, trying to reach out through both hands evenly, and left. Good, come all the way down, hang up your straps. And we're gonna come on up for a little rowing. So I'm gonna put on just one red spring, take off anything else, and then, lower the headrest down.

I'm gonna sit with my legs through the shoulder rests. You can cross your ankles if you'd like, have your legs side by side, or bend your knees, whatever feels best for your body. And then, make sure you have space behind you, so you can have room to roll back. So grab your straps, sit up nice and tall, holding them in the fists, palms facing you, elbows are wide, so you pull your hands to your chest. Keeping your hands here, you're gonna round your back, starting with the tailbone under.

Roll back to your C-curve and hold. Arms out to the side, you're gonna push the arms back, dive your head forward toward your knees, hands together. Now stretch those arms long, get a nice stretch on your shoulders, open out to the side, circle around to the front, toward your feet, and then, roll up once you get to the stopper. So, hands to the chest, tailbone under as you roll back, abs are pulling in and up, arms out to the side. Now, before you move your upper body, push the arms back, dive your head forward.

Abs are still lifted. You're gonna reach the arms back, open out and around, all the way, front to your feet. And then, roll up one bone at a time. One more time, elbows wide, pull in. Tailbone under to roll back, open out to the side, palms faced back.

Push back with the arms, dive your head forward, abs pulled in and up as you reach the hands together. Open back, out, forward, roll up. Keeping the back flat this time, you're gonna bring your hands to a 90-degree angle bicep curl. Keep your arms with you as you hinge back with the flat back. Come all the way up.

Reach the arms up to bring them back behind you, hands together, same ending as before. Open out, around, and then, roll the spine back up. Flat back as you come to your bicep curl. Hinge back. Come back over your hips, arms push up, to push back, dive your head down toward your knees. Reach the arms back and around.

Arms come forward, and roll up. Last one. Bicep curl. Keep the arms with you as you hinge back. Try to go a little further each time. Up, push the arms back, dive down, hands together, reach the arms back, open out, and then, roll up.

Good, keep both straps in one hand, and we're gonna turn around. So, again, you can have your legs in front of you if you'd like, or, if it feels better, you can sit criss-cross applesauce. Make sure your straps aren't twisted. You want to keep them as straight as you can. So, I'm gonna point my toes just to keep my legs active, hands are right by my ribs.

I'm gonna reach the arms forward to a high diagonal, tap the hands down to the mat. Arms come back up, circle the arms, open the chest back to your ribs. So, high diagonal with the arms, tap down to the mat, keep the chest open as the arms come up, open the arms back to your ribs. And push out, lower down, reach those arms long, really expand as you open the chest. Two more, reach.

So we're trying to expand the body, just like we did a few classes ago. One more, out, and lower, back up with straight arms, open out, back to your ribs. So, now, we're gonna sit criss-cross applesauce, whichever leg front that feels best for you. Arms out to the side, slightly bent, hands you can see in your periphery. Keep pulling the ribs back as you close the arms, and then, open.

So make sure you're not flaring and letting the arms get behind you. Keep that connection to your center. Open the arms, close, and just keep pushing the knees down, so you're not using the legs. Put everything into your center. Four more, make sure you're not leaning on the shoulder rests.

They're there to help support you, but you don't wanna just rely on them. You're still using your own body to find that support that you need. Two more. Last one. Open, and then, we're gonna hang up the straps and grab the long box. So I'm gonna keep the same spring.

I still have one red. Long box is gonna go right in front of the shoulder rests. We're gonna do a little bit more ab work. So I'm gonna sit with my feet on the headrest, grab the straps, and you're gonna put your thighs through the straps. So you want it over your knee.

They might twist a little bit, but they'll go into the right position once you're lying down. So, now, I'm gonna scoot to the front edge of the box, lie down on my back, and I wanna keep my head and chest up. So I'm not letting it just relax or arching my back over. I'm trying to stay in a little ball. You can reach your arms forward, or you can have your hands behind your head.

I'm gonna reach my hands forward, just because it helps me stay up in this curl a little bit better. Legs are bent, I'm keeping my tailbone down, and I'm just gonna lower my feet toward the headrest, and then, lift back up. So I'm just going as far as I control it without letting my low back arch, trying to keep my low back long. Abs are pulling in and up. You can inhale to lower, exhale to lift if you'd like.

Inhale and exhale. Squeeze the legs together. Inhale, really pull everything into that center. Two more. Last one, reach those arms long if they're out. Now, we're gonna turn it into a double-leg stretch.

So, arms are gonna reach by your ears, legs are gonna reach out. Circle the arms around, hug your knees in, curl up higher. Reach out, and then, circle the arms. Pull the knees in, curl higher. Three more. Exhale to circle and curl in.

Try not to let the shoulders touch the mat. Keep them lifted off, or, off the box I should say. Last two, and last one. Good, just take a little rest. Let your head go back.

And then, we'll come back up. For this next one, we're gonna have your hands behind your head. So, one hand on top of the other, elbows are wide, legs are just gonna be in tabletop. I'm trying to stay as curled as I can. And then, from here, I'm gonna pull my knees in.

As I pull in, I'm gonna twist to one side, bring the legs back to tabletop as I come to the center. Twist to the other side as the knees pull in, and then, back to center, trying to keep both shoulders off the box again, twisting from the ribs, and center. Make sure, as you go to the center, you're not dropping down, you're staying lifted. If you can, it'd be great if you can even get a little higher as you come to the center. Harder than it sounds, though.

Twist and center, two more. Right and left, make sure those knees are still coming in. Right, back to tabletop, and left. Good, hug your knees in, rest your head one more time. Take a breath, and for our last exercise on this box, we're gonna bring the legs up to the ceiling.

If you wanna keep your legs bent, if it bothers your back at all, that's always an option. I'm gonna straighten my legs, though. I'm gonna reach my hands out again. But feel free to bring them behind your head. We're gonna make a circle with your legs.

So, long, pointed toes, you're gonna open out, around, and up. Just like you do with your feet in the straps, might be smaller range of motion, though, than you normally would do. Just try not to get it into your low back. So, doesn't have to be big to get into your abdominals. Two more in this direction. Last one.

And then, reverse. Lower down, open out, up together. Inhale, exhale. Two more. Keep curling that chest up, last one. And then, hug your knees in.

Rest your head back one more time. Slowly come on up with control. Feet go on the headrest. And then, I'm gonna take the straps off my thighs and hang them back up. So I'm gonna put the short box on.

If you're taller, you can put it behind the shoulder rests. I'm gonna put mine in front today. We're gonna do a stomach massage variation. And then, I'm gonna lower my foot bar down to the lower setting, just to give a little bit more space. So, whatever springs you used for footwork will work for this.

I'm gonna go back to three reds, one blue. So I'm sitting against the box, still fairly close to the edge, and then, I'm gonna have my feet on the foot bar, heels together, toes apart. I'm gonna hold onto the front of the carriage, elbows are wide, and then, I'm gonna round back. So I'm thinking of pushing my low back into the box as I push out. So, as I inhale, I'll push out, exhale to come back in.

Inhale, exhale, if you want to add the lower and lift with the heels, feel free to do that. I just wanna keep it simple today. Pushing out, good. So I'm using my arms to help lift me up a little bit. But I'm not relying on them.

I could still do this without my hands, because I have that box for support as well. Think of pushing your abs so far back that it's pulling into the box, this nice, tactile feedback that you can use. And three, really glue the heels together. Last one. Good. Now, with a flat back.

It's a little bit much on the shoulders to reach all the way back. So I'm just gonna reach to the bottom corners of the box, trying to keep the chest open. I'm gonna push back and in again with the legs. Stretch long, thinking of lifting up, out through the top of the head, out of the waist, still maintaining that connection to the midline with those heels glued together. Three more, and two. Last one.

I'm gonna take off one spring, so I'll take off the blue spring. Arms are gonna reach out in front of me, still lifting up. This time, I'm trying to lift up off the box. So, as I push out, I'm trying to get my back away from the box, and then, come all the way in. So, it's still touching, but I'm trying to lift up so much that I don't need the box for support.

And push, return in. Watch the ribs, make sure they're not flaring out as we're reaching. Two more like this. Last one. Good, take off one more spring, so I'm left with two reds. A little bit harder to control it back in, but easier to push out, so make sure you're not just pushing with all your force.

So, still lifting up, arms are shoulder-height. As I push out, I'm gonna open the right arm out and twist back to center as I come, knees in. Open the left arm, twist, and then, back to center. So, as I'm twisting from the waist, I'm trying to keep my hips stable. So I can feel on the box that both hips are touching it evenly.

So I'm not letting them twist. And open, and close, one more, each side. Open, close, last one, and back. You're gonna have both hands on the foot bar, turn your legs parallel, and then, just come into a little stretch. You can even put your heels under the bar.

I'm still lifting my abs up, still lifting my abs up, shoulders away from the ears, so it's an active stretch. Just breathe into it. And then, when you're ready, bend your knees, come all the way in. We're gonna take the box off and just put it off to the side. And then, I'm gonna keep this lower foot bar setting, actually, for semicircle.

So I'm gonna come to the front edge of the carriage. Feet are on the foot bar, heels together, toes apart. And then, I'm gonna slide up, until my arms are straight and my hips are lifted, still keeping the heels together, toes apart. Now, already, I'm feeling a nice quad stretch, so I'm reaching my knees over my toes to deepen that stretch. From here, I'm gonna keep the carriage still or as still as I can.

As I roll through the spine, roll all the way down, until I can feel that I'm touching the springs. Keeping my hips down, I'm gonna push halfway out. Knees are still bent, and I push my hips up, rolling up one bone at a time, until my hips are back in that bridge, and then, come all the way in. So, carriage is still as I roll down. I'm really pushing out of my hands, into the shoulder rests.

Once I'm all the way down, I'm gonna push halfway back with the legs, roll all the way up through the spine, hips are lifted as I come all the way in to home. One more in this direction, roll down. Should feel nice to articulate through the spine. Hips are down, push back, roll up, and then, come all the way in. Reverse, pushing out, hips are high, halfway, keeping the carriage still as I roll down, one bone at a time.

Really maintain that connection to the heels. Hips are down as I pull the carriage all the way in, and then, roll up. One bone at a time again. Push halfway back and roll down. And then, come all the way in.

Watch the ribs, make sure they're not flaring as I roll up. So the ribs will open a bit as I'm in that arch. But I'm trying not to just let it hang, still wanna maintain control. Come all the way in. Hips come up. Now, once I'm all the way in, I'm gonna stay here for a little bit longer to get a deeper stretch.

If you wanna grab onto your ankles or the foot bar, you can. I'm gonna let go, one hand at a time, grab onto the foot bar so I can pull myself a little bit more, get a deeper stretch into my quads, even a little bit into my hip flexors. Just take a deep breath, and then, bring your hands back, one at a time. Slide or shimmy your way back. And then, just take one deep breath here as we recover.

I'm gonna scoot back up to be right next to the shoulder rests, bring my headrest back up. I'll stay on the same two red springs that I was on, and then, I'm gonna bring my feet into the straps. So I'm gonna flex my feet, heels together, toes apart for frogs, pulling my knees all the way into my chest, but keeping my tailbone down. Stretch the legs out, and then, bend back to your frog. And stretch long, and bend.

So we did a lot of ab work today, so, for this frog, I actually want it to focus on working from your abdominals. So, sometimes, I like to turn this into an ab exercise instead of just the legs. So make that your focus, and it just changes how you feel the exercise. And in, stretch long, gives a little bit more stability, a little bit more of a centered feel. One more. Now, push out and hold.

I'm gonna turn the legs parallel. We're gonna go into circles. I want your circles to only go as wide as your shoulder blocks. So you're gonna go up, open, lower, together. In order to stay truly parallel, the legs can't go too wide.

So it's more of a exercise on awareness and focusing on what you're doing with precision than just a feel-good hip exercise. Two more in this direction. Last one. Now, for the reverse, you're gonna turn your legs out and go a little bit wider now. So this one's the feel-good. You can go as wide as you'd like.

Just make sure the legs are reaching long, open. Your hips should still feel grounded and anchored into the mat. Four more, make sure both legs are meeting at the top in the center. And two. Last one. Good, now, you're gonna bring the soles of your feet together.

Knees are wide. Hold onto your straps. I'm gonna keep my left leg where it is and just let the right leg open out to the side. Gonna hold onto the rope, just to keep it controlled, so I don't let gravity overtake. And, that way, it can also keep my hips square.

Coming back into that frog, stretch, switching legs, other leg out to the side. Feel a nice stretch on that inner thigh. And then, bend back into your frog. One foot at a time, we'll take your feet out. Come back to the foot bar with your feet as you come all the way in.

Hang up your straps. We're gonna finish with a little mermaid variation. So I'm gonna bring the foot bar back up to the mid level. And I want just one red spring. And then, I'm gonna come to a Z-sit with my legs.

So, one leg against the shoulder rests, the other leg is just in front on the carriage, trying to get both sit bones down as much as I can. My hand on the foot bar is just right in the middle. And then, the other arm is out to the side. So I'm gonna push all the way out on the foot bar, come over into a side bend, and then, come all the way up, back to vertical. Again, lift up and over, reaching that opposite sit bone down as much as I can.

It will lift, but that's okay. And one more time like this and over. Make sure you're not flaring your ribs and arching your back. I have to check myself, too. This time, you're gonna reach over, twist, one hand's gonna go on each side of the foot bar.

Push out a little bit further. Still reach that opposite sit bone back for a nice, long back stretch. Now, from here, keep the arms straight. You're gonna reach out through the top of the head, lift the chest up, and then, come all the way back out, long spine. Top of the head reaches up.

Try to open the chest, and then, back up. So, if you need to bend your arms, that's okay. Just make sure you're not trying to get so high up with your arch that you're collapsing in your low back or compensating. Now, from here, I'm gonna turn my fingers in to face each other. Elbows are wide.

I'm gonna bend the arms for a little pushup, and then, push out. And bend, trying to keep the shoulders away from the ears, keeping that long spine. I'm trying to get my shoulders to face the floor as much as I can, one more. Now, from here, I'm gonna bring the hand that was closest to the foot bar initially back to the center, come back to my side bend, and then, all the way up, and we'll switch to the other side. So, again, one leg against the shoulder rests, the other leg is in front, trying to reach both sit bones down, hand on the center of the foot bar, other arm out to the side.

Gonna push out on the foot bar, lift up and over into my side bend, and then, all the way up to vertical. Again, up and over, making sure I'm not arching or twisting, so it's a true side bend. One more like this. Really reach, try not to just bend the arm. You wanna reach it long to get a nice stretch on the side.

Now, I'm gonna reach over, twist one hand on each side of the foot bar, push back a little bit further, and reach that top hip back a little bit more. This side, you might feel the stretch a little bit more. I feel it a little bit more in my lats on this side. Now, from here, keep the arms straight. You're gonna lift through the top of the head.

Lift the chest up, try to open your chest, and then, push out. Again, lift up, sternum is reaching up towards the ceiling, or, as much as you can, anyway. And then, back out. One more. Long spine as you lift. This time, turn the palms in, keeping the back flat.

Elbows are wide, bend the arms for a pushup, and stretch. Bend, still pulling the abs in, so I'm not letting my abs touch my thigh, trying to pull them up as much as I can. One more. Now, bring that hand back to the center. Come back to your side bend, and then, all the way up. Nice. Now, just sit with your feet on the floor.

Hands just on your thighs, you can close your eyes if you'd like, and just take a deep inhale, and exhale. One more, just deep inhale, nice, clearing breath. And exhale, open your eyes, and you're all finished! Thank you for taking class with me. I hope this was a great way to end your week, and you're ready to start a new one. See you next time.

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2 people like this.
Thanks Gia for filming this series! I love that I now have a curated series of shorter reformer classes to work with.  
I'm so glad you enjoyed this series, Lori
2 people like this.
So sad to see these end! Extremely grateful for these 30-minute reformer workouts. It's the perfect amount of time when you're doing Peloton or other cardio workouts along with your Pilates practice. Thank you, thank you, thank  you. 
2 people like this.
Loved this workout! Gia, please make more pilates videos - can't get enough of them. 
1 person likes this.
Thanks that was a great start to my day - loved the mermaid series thank you! 
Elissa D
1 person likes this.
please make more!  I love these videos- short, and still great workouts. thank you!
1 person likes this.
I enjoyed each and every video of this series! It’s nice that they all have a different focus. And I find myself returning to them. Thanks for the inspiraton!
1 person likes this.
Loved all of these classes! So much goodness in 30 mins. Thanks Gia x
Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback! I'm so glad that all of you enjoyed this series! 
Michelle Perkins
I have loved this series. Just the right length to commit to at the end of the day. Some nice challenges, but no impossibles! Thank you Gia - like the others, I would love to have more. Maybe chair or tower next?
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