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Class #4350

Versatility and Innovation

55 min - Class


Grab your chair and learn the versatility of Pilates as Maria takes you through her innovative workout. From Footwork on the Reformer to Teaser, she'll teach you how you can build the heat with this everyday object. Get ready to connect your Pilates practice beyond the studio as she takes you through this martial arts inspired class.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Good morning, everybody. For those of you that don't know who I am, my name is Maria Leone, and we are coming to you live today from Bodyline in Beverly Hills. We're gonna be working on a chair the entire time, you don't need a mat, you don't need anything else, and preferably barefooted. Have a seat right at the edge of your chair and ground your feet into the earth. Bring your palms down on your knees and just close your eyes for a moment.

And just take a second to drop into your body, have a sense of the sit bones on the chair. And go ahead and open your eyes and let's begin to rock your pelvis back and forth. Some of you might wanna open your feet just a little bit wider so you have a little bit more space. So we're rocking back off the sit bones and coming forward on to the pubic bone. Now find a way to integrate your breath with this.

Anything that feels good works for me. And then begin to add a little bit more movement of the spine, really taking the sternum back and lifting the chest, maybe integrating the motion of the head, really using this motion to open up the spine so it's getting bigger and bigger as we go. Stay here, lift the chest and now undulate all the way down to the ground. Drop your head. Tuck your tail, vigorously peel yourself all the way up.

Inhale, paint the wall with your chest, drop the head, tuck and peel yourself up. And inhale, don't worry about form right now. Just feel your body, feel your spine and inhale. If some of you wanna make really big breath sounds, go ahead and do that. I'm not gonna do that on camera.

Last time, drop your head and peel all the way up. Open your feet wide into second position and stretch this leg straight, take this arm straight up. First things first is we pull the ribs up out of the pelvis. From your side, bend up and over, take your forearm, place it on your knee. Now push through that bottom arm, stamp through the foot, stamp through the opposite sit bone.

Some of you will take your gaze to your hand. Consciously breathe into that top lung. Notice what that breath does, right? It should increase your feeling of stretch come all the way up this go the other side. This leg goes out straight, this arm comes up, lift the ribcage up and over, forearm on to the knee.

Let that opposite hip drop down into the chair. Some of you will take your gaze up, take a big breath into that top lung, unsticking those sticky ribs and all the way up. Let's do that again. So this is extended side angle pose. Up and over.

Should feel pretty good, guys. Don't force it though. Listen to your body. Use that breath like heat to melt the body, wake it up. And let's comes to the other side, and reaching up first and then over so we're active.

We're not canging here. We're being really active. Again, using the ground to give us strength and power. And come all the way up and bring your knees and feet together. We're gonna do a little variation of a saw, hands behind the head, pull the belly in, float the head.

Rotate one direction. Now from your bend forward, take opposite elbow to opposite knee. Stay here. Feel the back of your sit bones on the chair. Press the top elbow to the ceiling.

Come all the way up and back center. Second side twist. Bend yourself forward, feel the back of the sit bones on the chair, all the way back up and center. Again twist, bend forward, opposite elbow to knee, all the way up, and center and twist. Bend forward opposite elbow to knee, come all the way up, come center, release your arms and we're gonna stand now.

Bring yourself up and turn your chair like mine. So our chair is becoming a bar for us and you can use the chair as little as you want or as much as you want. Let's start with the feet parallel. Take a moment to stand beautifully tall, envision you have a reformer behind you. So back of the head between the shoulder blades, sacrum, all in a nice line and let's just begin by lifting and lowering the heels.

Always that feeling of pulling up that axial elongation. And again, some of you don't need the chair. Let's stay up with the heels. Bend the knees, put the heels down and stretch the legs straight. Again, just warming up the feet, bend the knees, heels go down.

And all of our Pilates rules are in play here, right? So the knees go right over the toes, the heels go down. Last time, keep the heels up. Let's do a little balance check. Pull the abdominals in, lengthen one arm up over the head, maybe some of you will take two arms up over the head, sandwich the legs, squeeze the sit bones, take the hands back to the chair, keep the heels up and let's take a little plie and stretch using your breath here in a way that it helps you move.

And it's not really that important to me what it is as long as you're breathing. Keep the heels up high. And yes, I know the quads are beginning to feel that already. Use that breath, crown of the head to the ceiling last time like that. Lower the heels down for a moment.

You can put your heels down whenever you need to, guys. Lift the heels back up. Let's come down halfway. Now really check in that you haven't pitched forward. We're gonna be really straight up here, taking little pulses up and down, letting the breath be nice and easy, the shoulders are relaxed.

Draw those sit bones together for me. My legs are actually shaking a little bit all the way up. Lower the heels down and find your Pilates V. So about fist distance between your feet. So we're not going to ballet-land Pilates first.

Lift the heels up, connect the heels, squeeze the heels and that's just go simply down and up. And now how low you go here is gonna be up to you, okay? And remember, some of you will have your hands off the whole time possibly. Keep those heels high. And now squeeze those inner thighs.

Try to move from the hip and the inner side, not the knee, two more and let's do a little balance check. One hand up, maybe the other hand up, drop the shoulders, pull the spine long. Feel all 10 toes pushing the earth away. Lower the heels. Let's come back to that relevance.

Then the knees and come down, pause here. Begin to take a little windshield wiper with your tail back and forth, breathing in and then exhaling, light, light, light on the chair, if you can do it. For three, two, one, pause. Check in with your pelvis, tail, knees to point straight down. Squeeze the leg straight.

Find a balance again, whatever that means to you. Hands back to the chair, back down halfway. Let's begin making a circle with the pelvis. So you're at one level. The legs are being loaded one at a time but we're also really warming up that hip socket and really warming up the back.

Two more here. All the way up, lower the heels down, feet parallel. Let's do a quick calf stretch, shall we? I think so. And let's change sides.

Turn and face me, slide your chair out this direction a little bit and find yourself in a scrawn plie in seconds. So not that different again than what you do on the reformer. Go ahead and stretch and plie. Press tall and plie. Remember you're balancing something on the crown of your head.

The action is simple. So think all form right now, where are you in your body? And then pulling in with those inner thighs to stretch. So not the knee, inner thighs, pulling into the midline last time. Come down, pause.

Let's lift the heels up and down. Up and down. Again, you're staying at one level so I don't wanna see your body bouncing up and down. Shoulders are relaxed and the breath is easy. For two, for a one, stretch the leg straight.

Let's take a big side bend up and over, pull the trunk out of the legs. Breathe into that top lung for me, please. Come all the way up. So we're gonna move to something called the pose. Bring one leg in and pull the other leg up.

So pose position, the hips are square, the knee is open, the toe is barely touching the leg. Now if this doesn't work for you, be here or be here in coupe. Just take a moment to be tall. Now we're gonna start moving. So we're gonna step open to second position and we're going to come up to your pose.

Lower and then lift, and it's light, and it's easy breezy. Checking in with your balance, maybe you need the chair, maybe you don't need the chair. And let's begin to move a little quicker. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale, easy, graceful motion, putting the effort right where it needs to be.

Drop any effort anywhere you don't need it for three, for two, for one. Let's hold that pose. Turn your pose in and then out. So just a little rotation of the lumbar spine, pull in. And also, the arm choreography is too much, just take the arm out of it.

I don't get overwhelmed with choreography ever. Just make it as simple as you can. Inhale and exhale, lift the chest, inhale and exhale, back to ground plie, back to first. Okay, move your chair to the other side. And let's start in that ground plea.

And now let's find your pose. So that bottom leg comes up. Lift the knee, keep the hips square, this foot is barely touching. And again option to work lower. Pull the crown of the head to the ceiling, front ribs to back ribs.

And now let's step open to ground plie and take it up to pose. And now you can do this at your own tempo, some of you might wanna move faster than this. Some of you will be using your chair, some of you not. If you wanna add some arms to this if that feels more organic. And you can change the arms, I don't really care.

Anytime you move the arms though, it is gonna increase heart rate. So keep that in mind. Using the breath, maybe inhaling and exhaling, or one big inhale and then one big exhale. Most important thing is to fuse your breath with your body. Two more here.

And now that's hold that pose, stay here, turn everything in, feel where that tail is pointed. Everything opens, pull in and open. Again, pull in, crown of the head to the ceiling and open. Last time, pull in and open. Come back to second position.

Stretch the leg straight. Let's go back to the first side 'cause I actually forgot something kind of important. Take one leg back behind you and you're gonna be in a lunge. So the two hips are forward, the leg is turned out, the spine is straight. Go ahead and put a hand on the chair.

We're going into some bot moss. From here, we're gonna start slow, sweep the leg forward, step it back. Sweeping, reach for me with that big toe. Now I really want you to keep your emphasis on the leg lengthening, don't worry about the height but you know I like a highlight. So as you feel ready, give that leg a little bit more oomph.

And now here's a place again, where the floor really becomes your prop. So the more you ground through that foot, as it comes through, you'll see the leg will go higher. So use the earth, use the source. One more like that. Let's go the other side.

Okay, set up your start. So you're in a lunge, belly is in, this front leg is turned out. I need the chair so you will too. Chest is up, sweep. Start low.

Get your bearings and there's a lot of balance here too, right? And then as you feel comfortable, begin to really let that leg fly. And again, you're using the floor sweeping, maybe trying to do a few without that chair, testing the balance, two more like this. And last time, nice, everyone. Two feet together.

Let's move the chair. It's gonna come here and I want you to set up with the feet right under your hips, and the hands right under your shoulders, knees are bent. This is great for you to teach to your seniors that can't get on the ground, guys, or people with bad knees. Round your back, we're in cat. Spin the biceps forward, inhale big breath and open the chest, we're in cow, and exhale around the back.

Open those bones to the ceiling. Inhale, open the chest. Again, round the back, spin the biceps forward and inhale, open the chest. One more here, guys. Let the feet spread into the ground.

Inhale, open the chest. And let's find a flat position, back to your little Pilates V and back is flat. Now again, the chair is here to help you. Some of you won't need this chair. Take one leg back and turn to the foot and turn the leg out.

And again, your body is parallel to the ground. Moving from the hip socket, which is just gonna do a simple arabesque lift. The crown of the head is heading forward. I do you want a bent knee on the bottom leg. So make this as clean as you can.

Really check in now, neck, shoulders, what's happening at the back, maybe some of you can take one hand behind you. Maybe some of you can lift that front hand off. Two more simple like that. Now hold that leg up, we're gonna draw a triangle so the foot crosses behind, your pinky touches the ground, take it right back up and then take the foot away from you, big toe touches the ground. Now continue like that.

And you can make this as slow and steady as you want or as fast. So when you go quicker, we will have to sacrifice a tiny bit of stability, right? But what we lose in stability, we gain in power and strikes. So not bad to move fast. Just try to hold on to the form.

Last one like that. Hold it here, let's lower the leg. Just bring your feet together and then stand all the way up, interlace your hands behind you. Pull the knuckles straight down, roll the shoulder heads back, pull the belly and lift the chest, squeeze the legs, take your energy up, up, up. All the way down, we got a second side to do, back to Pilates V.

The other leg is back and then starting nice and clean. Starting simple. Feel where your weight is, let the bottom foot spread into the ground. Make sure the front ribs are closed. So I really want you to as close to neutral here with your pelvis as you can.

'Cause I want the lower back working just to stabilize. I don't want the lower back in much extension at all. Maybe some of you ever taken a handoff, ease of movement, effortless effort. Now hold the leg up, cross it behind you and take it up and away from you. Listen for the breath.

Easy breezy but allowing that hip to move, right? We don't wanna get so painstakingly perfect that we restrict the movement that we have. So full mobility with strength and power. For three and two and one, stay here, bring the feet together. Close them up.

Come all the way up. Interlace your hands. Some of you might be a little dizzy, roll the shoulder, heads back, squeezing inner thighs, lift the chest up. Take a big breath into your chest and come to standing. Turn and face me.

We're gonna use the chair again. I'm gonna push mine out a little bit. Step away from your chair and point your toes to your chair and bring your arms up like so. From here, I want you to cartwheel over onto your hand and lift your legs straight side. Take a look at it.

Find a straight line from your hip to your heel. From here, kick that leg forward. One, two, take the leg back one, two. So standing sidekicks. So yeah, this is pretty challenging.

So I'm gonna give you an option, you guys doing the side kicks, keep going. The other option is just straight down and up. Continue with whatever exercise you're doing. Drop the shoulders. Try not to rely on your hand on that chair too much.

Let's do one more. Bend your knee and come all the way back up. That's your little break. Let's come back down again. Cartwheel over.

So we're gonna turn this into the taekwondo sidekick. Pull the knee into your chest and catch it and then press that leg side from the hip. Again pull the knee and catch it, the tail tucks under, bottom knee is soft, it's not locked, and then explode out from the hip. Now try keeping your hand on your hip, pull the leg in and out. And in it's straight side and you're striking with your heel.

Your heel is the weapon, two more. And then the standing leg all the way up. Let's take a big breath in and reach for the sky. Open the arms. Let's cartwheel over again.

Okay, let's add a little speed to this. So some of you are just gonna do simple in and out. But let's try taking a little light sidekick. This is so light, a little flick of the leg. And then let's try picking up that tempo.

Drop the shoulders. Listen to the breath. Now pick up that speed. Pick it up. The balance gets tough.

Five, four, three, two, one, lower down. Oh my goodness. We're gonna set up for plank. The hands go right under the shoulders, take one foot back. Take the other foot back.

Find that beautiful plank position. Wrap the biceps, squeeze the legs, squeeze the sit bones. Be really mindful of where your head is, everybody. Opt if you go right down the floor right now if you so wish. Lift your hips up into hamstring stretch or if you're on the ground, you're in down dog.

Big breath into the back of the ribs. And let's come back forward again. Hold it here. Let's pull the right knee straight into the chair and take it back. And let's pull the left knee into the chair and take it back.

Now we go to the side, right knee towards the right shoulder. Keep equal weight on both hands and take it back. Left knee to left shoulder, take the knee high, high, high to the shoulder and take it back. Now we twist across, the knee goes to the opposite shoulder. Take a moment to tuck a little bit.

Feel your weight equal in both hands. Check in with where your biceps are pointed, where your head is. Take it back, the other knee pulls across the body, tuck. Take breaks as you need to, guys, you don't need to keep up with me. Take the foot back and then hamstring stretch, knee if you're on the floor here and down dog.

Big breath in, long, slow exhale, take your hands all the way to the floor, bend your knees. Starting from the very base of your spine, peel yourself slowly up, have a sense of your whole foot melting into the ground, push the ground away as you stand beautifully tall. And let's go to the second side. So we're gonna move the chair over here. So you can still see me, you're gonna be sort of that generous distance away from your chair.

The arms come up east and west, can cartwheel over onto the chair. From here, that leg is gonna kick forward. It's gonna stay on one level if you're doing these Pilates kicks, right? All the same rules, the pelvis doesn't move, the knee is not locked. So the other option is just to do that simple side lift straight up, straight down.

Don't worry about which option you're doing. Do something that makes you feel good. Inhaling and exhaling, steady breath, like the soundtrack to our movement, right? Keep that soundtrack. Let's do one more and let's come all the way up into the cartwheel position again.

Let's do that little stretch. (Maria moans) God, I'm taking a lot of moaning today. Come back here and up and over into your cartwheel position. Okay, so we're gonna move into a taekwondo sidekick. So pull the leg in, tuck the tail little and then straight side from this hip.

The leg explodes out and then pull in, catch the leg, drop the shoulders. Strike with the heel. Reach, reach, reach, reach, reach. Now moving a little quicker, keep your hand on your glute as a reminder of where you're moving from. Keep your head pointed and your eyes or gaze towards your foot 'cause you'd be looking at a target.

But if that is bothering you, just look forward and give your neck a moment or two. Check in with the back, two, one, all the way up. Big stretch. Oh, there's that moan again. Then all the way back up.

Maybe it wasn't the best idea to wear a sweater today. Cartwheel up and over. All right, so we're gonna move this a little quicker. So, pull the leg in, take the leg out, and then begin to do like this tiny little flick, right? So in martial arts, we talk a lot about moving like a whip, not a hammer but a whip.

Continue to pick up that tempo as you feel comfortable, and then push yourself with some speed for five, four, three, two, one and turn and face your chair, the chair saves us. Let's take a hamstring stretch here. Okay, we're gonna repeat some of those plank positions. So the easiest way would be to be on your hands. More challenging would be to come onto the forearms.

So those of you that are with me, come into your forearm plank or you're on your hands. This series will not work on the floor. Squeeze the inner thighs. Draw the sit bones together. Be quiet in your mind.

The body will follow. One more cleansing breath here. And then up to your stretch, whatever that looks like for you. Do something right now that feels right in your body, whatever that is. Feel what you need and go to that spot.

Okay, back onto the forearms and start moving the legs to that, shoulders out to the ears. We start simple, one knee pose to the chair. Try to touch the chair, make contact with the chair. Take the foot out, the other knee in, try to make contact to the chair, shoulders are out of the ears. Take that foot out.

Now we go side. Right knee to right shoulder. Stay here. Don't move the thigh bone, stretch the leg straight. And then lower again, I know it's so tough.

Other knee pulls in to the shoulder. Keep the thigh bone wrestle like straight. Pull the leg in. Take it back, I think we need a break, I do. Let's go back to the stretch.

Take a deep breath into the backside of the body. Long, slow exhale out through the mouth. Now we rotate. Come back, some of you might decide now to go to the hands. Now you know what you've gotten yourself into.

Make sure the tail points to the heels. The knee pulls across the body so there's a strong rotation. Try to keep the knee where it is, stretch the leg out straight. Put the leg back in, place it back. Other knee across the body.

Check in with the lower back, guys. Weight on both forearms, press the leg out straight. Pull the leg back in. Come back to hank. Lift yourself back to a stretch.

Let's take the hands all the way to the mat. Let's grab opposite elbows, you're in ragdoll now, knees are soft. And just kinda sway from side to side. Release the hands to the ground. Starting from the base of the spine, push through the feet.

Feel your connection to the earth, guys. Lift the chest, drop the shoulders, head is the last thing to come up, and have a seat in your chair. Moving on. Okay, so we're gonna work on a little bit of dips. You know we have to do dips since we have the chair.

I recommend that the hands go east and west. That's from here, bring your tail just off the chair. Okay, so this is like the crucial part to me, 'cause most people just hang on their shoulder joint. That's what you do not wanna do. Well actually, let's do that for a minute.

So hang into your shoulder joint and now push the shoulder blades down. So keeping the elbows straight, I just want you to have an experience of how much you can take your body up and down without moving the elbow at all, right? So this is a very different muscle group. We're working lower traps and serratus right now. Pull the shoulder blades down and keep that lower chop and serratus engaged the whole time and have a seat.

So that's the quality of what we're doing. The range of motion not important, okay? It might be tiny. So come forward. Don't go into that negative oh-I-hate-dips place.

Find the stabilization. So let's start really tiny, start with me just really tiny. And all of your focus right now is on that good Pilates stuff, right? The stabilization of the shoulder girdle. Okay, that was enough, have a seat.

So often just to do that again or go bigger, don't completely lose your quality though, come back forward, the shoulder blades are wide. And at that same quality down and up. And you do have your legs' little assist if you get stuck. I'm trying to keep my pelvis more or less neutral. I'm also trying to take my elbows straight back behind you.

I'm sure I have a forward chin right now though. Oh my goodness. Every time I watch myself on video, I'm like, "Why didn't someone fix my head?" So crown of the head to the ceiling, everybody, for three, and two, and one, have a seat. This is a real simple extension, take your hands to the back of the chair. Again, this is one from my mom, inspired by my mother.

Pull the belly in and lift your chest up, pull your shoulder blades together. I also teach my clients to do this while they're at work, traveling, Zoom, all that stuff. So simple. Inhale into the front of the chest and come back center. Take one leg out straight.

Some of you are gonna stay just seated right here on the chair. Begin to kick that leg up and down. It's not gonna go very high. (Maria exhales deeply) That's simple. Let's go the other leg, try to stay up.

But as I batma, I am allowing a little bit of motion on my pelvis. I'm not trying to tuck under, but I am trying to get my leg up and I do have a healthy ego. So it's fine to let that tail move ever so slightly with the leg. Okay, you're gonna repeat that or you're coming off the chair. Find the stabilization on the shoulder girdle, everyone, one leg goes out.

Here we go. Big kick. I really recommend an exhale, keep taking the crown of the head to the ceiling. And six, and seven, and a change size of the leg out. Big kick.

And two, remember the breath, remember the soundtrack for your movement. Two more here and have a seat down. From here, we're gonna use the chair to help us. Roll back into your chair, use the back support, don't collapse. So still have a little bit of form like you do in Pilates, pull one leg into your chest.

Really compress it in. Take the leg straight up, drop the shoulders. Nice deep breath in, long, slow exhale out. Other side, pull the leg in, take the leg up. Try not to get too attached to this visual, right?

Look for a feeling of stretch. Drop the shoulders, drop the hip. Focus on your sensation, not what it looks like for a moment. Okay, from here, legs to tabletop. So we're in like a modified teaser, right?

So we are going into a little teaser series. Some of you will come back and forth from here. Try taking your leg straight. Some of you will work from here. Some of you will take the hands off.

wherever you're at, let's begin by bringing the hands to the edge of the chair, bend the knees, plant your feet right under you and Pilates first, your little V. From here, hinge forward from the hip. You have the chair there to help you, lift your tail off the mat. Bring your hands to prayer and hold it and breathe. Some of you will opt to take the arms up by the ears.

Put all your attention right now on form upper back long, heels tight. See if you can recruit other places in your legs to help the quads right now. From here, if you need to be sure it's there, reach back, touch your chair, have a seat, bring yourself right back into your teaser. Whether that's here, option one, option two, option three, option four, anything you can do that feels right. Then the knees come back to that chair.

I kinda like that transition. From here, take the hands all the way down to the ground. Pull the belly in, stretch the legs by pulling the abdominals up and like we did earlier in the week, just shift your weight into your hands. From here, transition back to chair position, not the chair. I should be more clear.

Drop the shoulders and then sit in the real chair and take your legs up to teaser, then the knees. Come back forward to chair, yoga chair, yoga Pilates hybrid chair, hold it here. Take the hands all the way down to the floor. Stretch the legs straight. This time walk yourself out to perfect plank.

Oh, hopefully I'm still in camera. Let's do a couple push ups. Inhale down, exhale up, choose what you wanna do. We're just gonna do three. Last time.

Big exhale up, walk the hands back to the feet, lift the heels super-high. If you need to grab the chair. Ideally, you don't touch anything. You come right back to your balance. And ideally find the seat of your chair and right back to your teaser.

Whoa, and shift forward again and find your balance. Hold, hold hold. Lower your body down. Keep the legs, even get your shoulders lower than your knees, hands set up for crow, thumbs and fingers forward. We're not lifting but we're just leaning forward kinda going back to that practice again, finding the shelf of the upper arm one more time.

Use your abdominals, not your legs. Think about that. The abdominals pull into your lower back just like we do in cat every day. Spin your biceps forward, walk yourself out to perfect plank. Hold it here.

Let's open our feet about the distance of your real chair and take hand to shoulder. Now you're gonna notice a natural shift, side to side. You wanna minimize it. And this gets harder as the feet are closer together. So choose what you wanna do with your feet.

Whoo, check in with your breath. Oh, and the tail. Hopefully my pelvis is not anterior. And walk your hands back in. Lower the heels, bring your feet back together if they were open, find your first position.

If you can, lift the heels, if not, keep them down, guys. Bend the knees deeply. Let's come up to that transition. Find your standing chair, I should call it, and then look, find the sit bones, sit bones onto the real chair and take those legs up, catch the legs. And now bend the elbows, pull the legs into you.

This might mean that you're bending your legs, guys. So this isn't about the hamstring stretch as much as it is the folding of your trunk to your thigh bones. Use your arms, not your shoulders though. So pulling from the elbows. One more breath and lower the feet down.

Okay, we are gonna come to standing. And let's have you bring your chair here behind you. Then the chair is here again for balance. Some of you will use it a lot, some of you won't use it at all. If you can go without it, that would be great.

Let's start with your feet together or hip distanced. Let's really take a moment here to seal. So this is the thing I talk a lot about. As if you have suspenders right here on your ASIS, also known as hip bones. Have those suspenders, lift the hip points up.

You notice when you lift the hips up, the tail has no choice but to drop down, okay? So that's how I'd like you to find that neutral position in the pelvis. It's always a lift to the front and a drop through the back. When we're standing like this, we don't have to squeeze and clench our glutes, right? That wouldn't be very functional, but just lifting up and dropping down.

From here, compress one knee into your chest. So a little standing balance. Hold it here, drop the shoulders. So this is for me, single leg stretch. Lower that foot down.

Let's find that balance on the other side. Pay attention as you shift. Use your hands to lift so the hip isn't doing much. Check in with where your hip is. Make sure the booty isn't lifting.

Check in with the tail as pointed. Make sure you're not countering back in your body. Let the foot spread like roots into the earth and lower down. Okay, let's add to that. So the leg comes up, find that balance, check in with the hips.

Bend the standing leg a lot and now find the ball shape. So again, you're pulling your trunk to your thigh, not necessarily knee to chest but trunk to thigh. Check in with your hips, your shoulder, your breath. Make sure you're not grabbing with your toes on that bottom foot, release the leg and stand up. The other leg comes into the chest with as little shifting as possible, then the bottom leg and now fold into your balls shape, chest to thigh.

Be aware of where that knee is going, guys. Take a look at it. Is it over your big toe? It should be. Enjoy the stretch in the lumbar spine.

Try not to freak out in your brain. Calm your nervous system. Melt the bottom foot, two feet together and come all the way up. Okay, from here, find your hip socket, hinge forward. Notice the weight comes to the front of the foot.

Knees are soft, okay? So never locked, right? Go ahead and shake your knees for a minute. Make sure that they can move if you needed them to. And now take a plie so the body doesn't change but the knees bend and go over the toes.

You might wanna use the chair here to lift the right leg up, let's say, and push it straight back behind you. Let's really flex the foot and point the toes down a lot. The belly is tight. See if you can find a balance here. So we're in warrior three, super long spine.

The heel is in the same position we use in taekwondo. Put that foot down, stand all the way up. Hinge at the hip, belly is tight. Weight on the front of the foot. Lift the other leg up, bend the knees and reach into warrior three, super square in the hips.

Like so square that irritates me a little bit 'cause I almost feel I have to think internal rotation in order to be square. That's the dance background in me. Strong foot. Remember heel's a weapon, toe straight down, lower the foot and come all the way to standing. We're gonna start putting some of this together.

So pull the knee into your chest, compress it in. We're gonna transition, then the standing leg come into your ball shape. You're a tight ball. Now keep bending the bottom leg. Take your ball as low to the ground as you can.

And now explode out into warrior three. Wasn't that fun? Reach that heel out. Stay here. Soft bend on the bottom leg.

Don't let the back knee drop but to find a hamstring curl in and out, really squeezing that glute, kinda single leg kicky. Let's do one more. Hold the heel to your butt, pull the knee into your chest, go down, find that ball shake, catch your knee. Here's the hardest part. Push through that bottom leg to stand tall and release the leg.

Okay, other side. Knee comes in. Find your focus again. Bend the standing leg, come into a ball shape. It's a tight ball.

Keep going down towards the floor, explode out into warrior three. Give me a really strong flex foot, front ribs close, hips absolutely square. Hamstring curl in and out and it's perfectly parallel. And in, squeeze that hamstring and reach the leg out. You're reaching for the wall behind you.

The crown of the head is reaching forward. Pull the heel and hold it here. Here's that transition. Use the chair if you need, go down, pull the knee and you're in a tight ball. Hardest part, stamp, push the ground away, push the ground away, push the ground away, be beautifully tall.

Release the leg. Pull the belly in, let's take a moment just to lift the chest, draw up the shoulders. Open the arms. Okay, let's flow that just a little quicker, just a little quicker. Here we go.

Knee to the chest, bend the standing leg, come to your ball, take the ball down, explode out to warrior three, hamstring curl, for three, and two, and one. Pull the knee in, come into a lowball shape. Now push the ground away, stand all the way tall. Knee to the chest, lower down, other side. Pull the knee and drop the hips, melt the bottom foot into the earth, bend the knee, pull into ball.

Keep taking the ball down, down, down, down, down and explode out. Crown of the head to the wall in front of you strong flex, pull in for three, and two, don't let that knee drop, for one, pull the knee and tight, tight, tight, low ball and come all the way up, push the ground away. Pull the ribs in, lower the feet down. And that is single leg stretch to warrior three. Okay, move your chair in front of you.

We're gonna go back to martial arts for one more moment. We're gonna work on something called a back kick. Okay, so remember that turned in leg that we were just doing. Okay, your hands are gonna be light here on the chair, everything parallel. Pull one knee into your chest and it's tight.

So a lot of the power in martial arts comes from all this coming back into this tight recoil. From here, take the heel straight out and up. We typically would look to our attacker but you don't need to. Heel to the ceiling, pull the knee all the way in. The tail comes under.

And then from the hip explode out and up. Try to be parallel. Pull in, so you're striking with the heel, that's why we're parallel. We don't wanna hit with the foot or the toes. We don't wanna break a toe.

From here, let's start to take this a little quicker and a little snappy like something we'd never do in Pilates, right? From the hip, from the hip. Now, I don't care if my back leg is making it straight or not, right? I'm looking for that thrust and that quick recoil, recoil, recoil two more. Two and one.

Hand stepped down, come all the way up, interlace the hands behind you. Draw the legs tight. Open the chest. Whoo, take your chest up, fill the lungs, everybody, and all the way back to the chair. Other leg, the knee comes into the chest, go ahead and use your hand if you need to to get going, flex the foot.

Let's go slow. Push that heel straight back and up and in. And again, out and in. Out and in. And it's not like a ballet situation where we're looking for a perfect pretty line, not an aesthetic.

We're in a sport now and the goal is hitting a target with power and force. So let's continue to build that speed really moving from the hip, from the center of the body, also known as your powerhouse, remembering that Joe was a martial artist, right? He was a boxer. He studied martial arts. Keep going.

Let's pick up the tempo for five and four, snappy, three, two, one two feet together. And let's roll all the way up. Interlace your hands. Roll the shoulder heads back. We're gonna use this position in another day or two.

Really roll the shoulder heads back and pull your knuckles straight down, belly tight shoulder heads back, chest goes up. So position we do in double leg kick but also feels like locusts pose a standing locus pose. Roll the shoulder heads further back and come back center. Okay, turn and face me. We get to sit now, isn't that nice?

Ha. Sit at the edge of your chair, ground your feet. One foot, don't move this foot. Take the other foot up and over to figure for the foot is flexed, the hips are heavy. Sit up nice and tall.

So we're gonna just stretch. So take a moment to calm the nervous system, right? Just breathing. Some of you are going to feel a better stretch if you pitch forward. And the feeling is taking my belly button towards that shin bone.

Keep melting down. Some of you are gonna connect the foot into your elbow and make this little brace. So this is part of yoga that I love. Wrap that arm around, wrap around with the other arm, connect. So there's something about connecting there that really allows my body to go deeper into the stretch.

Like I'm sealing, hugging with your arms, and then sit yourself up, maybe you lean back into your chair. It's there. So wherever you are for hip opening, just be there. This is what works best for me today. And come all the way up.

Plant the feet, cross the other leg over, flex the foot and open. And if this doesn't work for you guys, you know who you are, do something else. We all know a hip stretch that we can do that doesn't irritate the knee. So do that. Pitch forward, belly button towards the shin bone.

Let's just remember that it's not the shapes we make but it's sort of how we move from shape to shape. Really, for me, the most important thing is transitions. And you can take that off the mat into your everyday life and think about it like that as building calmness and grace during transition. That's what brings me to my practice. Okay, so the foot to the crease of the elbow, pull this around.

Oh, this side is tight for me. It's not gonna happen for me, I don't think. So I'm gonna stay here. Some of you are gonna find that cradle shape, and you're gonna lift right up. Here's another alternate to that.

If you can't do the cradle, find a pitchfork and then come back and find that stretch there. Drop the shoulders. Wherever you're at, remember, the brain is relaxed. Stretching is neurological. Give yourself over and surrender to that stretch.

Okay, come on up. We're gonna go out how we came in. So that's have your feet wide, bring your hands on your knees, lift the chest, arch all the way forward, drop the head, use your hands here, pushing to the knees around the back and come up. And again, really paint the chest forward, enjoying the motion, noticing the difference in your movement right now from how you started the session. You should feel really juicy, really warm, drop the head, peel it up last time.

Big breath in, drop the head. Stay here and now just the rocking forward onto the pubic bone, back off the sit bones. Doing this on your own, it might be big, it might be small, we're cooling down. See if you can consciously, whatever it means for you connect your movement to breath. Breath has the soundtrack.

Now that rock gets smaller and smaller until you find yourself in a still place. Bring the feet together, let's bring our palms up to receive, drop the shoulders. Bring your attention to the very, very crown of your head. Just feel your head light as a balloon floating to the ceiling. And this is with effortless effort.

You're just using your visualization here to have a sensation in your body. From the tippity top of your head, bring your attention to the top of the head and drop your focus two inches down to the center of your brain. Try to visualize that spot for me. Just see that spot, the center of your brain. And now in that spot, create a little light and allow that light to grow.

It's getting bigger and brighter so you can actually feel the light radiating out and hitting the skull. The light gets so bright it has no place to go but to rush down through the neck. Let's say it's a healing light and it's a warm light and the light cascades up and over your shoulders. It runs down like a waterfall, up and over your arms through your forms, through the hands, through the tips of your fingers, there's light radiating now out through the tips of your fingers. The light continues on from the neck and it goes down through the trunk going through all your organs, the lungs, the heart, the rib cage, to the mid back, lower back fills the intestines, the vertebras of the lower back, really see it.

Put some light into those discs. The light goes down to the sit bones, it cascades down through the hip socket through the thigh bones. It cleanses the knees as it goes up and over the knees and it cascades down to your ankle, to your feet, to your toes, and it continues down right through the floor down to the center of the earth. So your whole body is lit up now. You've created it, you've made it happen.

Take a moment just to sit in the light and feel it. And remember, this is why you come to your practice. This is why we keep moving. This is what makes me who I am. Let's take one more deep breath in through the nose, hold that breath, and a long, slow exhale out through the mouth.

And allow your eyes to open. (Maria breathes deeply) It was my pleasure truly to be with you guys today. Thank you so much for joining. Tomorrow we go back to the mat. I'll see you tomorrow 8:00 am.

Rise, recharge, renew, rebirth. See you tomorrow.

Rise and Recharge: Find Your Flow

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Jan 07, 2021
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Thank you Maria, I loved this class! The visualisation at the end was the cherry on top. ❤️
Love, love, loved this class.  With a simple chair & a masterful mix of Barre, Martial Arts & Pilates you've created such a satisfying session. Wonderful exercise selection.  Kudos!
Thank you Maria for this whole week! It was definitely inspiring! The chair class was my favourite, with my dance background it suited my body very well! 😉
Thank you for showing up each day.  The chair workout flowed out of me the easiest because I have been working with it every day.  I think it is everyone’s favorite of the 5 I designed.  So nice NOT to lay down!
Very enjoyable ... 🙏🏻🇩🇰
Excellent  class Maria! Nice variation from the mat.  
Cass C
Really enjoyed this today thank you so much. Lots of fun x
María Fernanda Brenes Meseguer
Amazing class!! Thanks Maria, love the combination of Pilates & Martial Arts!
Tess S
thank you Maria.. what a breath of fresh air. fusing yoga, martial arts, meditation and Pilates. the light visualisation was the best i have heard in the mindfulness/meditation space. thank you thank you 
Clara M
Really enjoyed this session, thank you. And I've saved it to a playlist for later, if we ever get to go skiing again I think this would be good preparation, lots of balance and legwork! 
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