Class #4416

Balancing The Spine

60 min - Class


In the first class of Mechanics and Metaphors, Rachel Taylor Segel will guide you as you study the spine. You’ll move through a challenging Mat sequence that articulates each segment of your vertebral column and emphasizes precision and control. Fire up both your body and your brain in the first class of Rachel and Amy’s exciting new Pilates program.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Welcome, everybody. We're gonna be doing, Sherena and I are gonna be doing mat for the focus for the spine. And so we'll be doing intermediate mat but in between I'll insert some things maybe that can give us a moment of highlighting what it is I'm after. And maybe giving you a chance to play with a thought that you normally would pass through because you're trying to keep your flow or your heat, something like that. And so we'll take time throughout the workout to have these highlighted moments where you can play around more than you might have with some of the thoughts.

All right. So Sherena come lay down on the mat, and we're gonna start with her just laying flat. So you all lay flat and maybe I should say also that you all are different, and of course, I don't see you so please take care of yourselves if there's something you don't like that we're doing you do it a different way. If a modification, any of those things please do what takes care of you. And then sneak in as much of a different thought as you're willing today, knowing that you can always return to it on the library or return to it in your notes if you take them after the workout.

So as she lays down often we teach her say things like take a few deep breaths, use your exhale to let gravity pull your spine into the mat, release your spine to the mat, feel like parts of your back that are tense are letting go, feel that your front is falling through into your back. And you know, the whole spectrum of cues that would go from A to Z press your navel to your spine and your spine to the mat or allow your spine to rest neutrally. Any and all that stuff is involved in these moments, and is totally a workable from my point of view in terms of finding what we haven't yet found for our own bodies and our clients' bodies. So as she breathes, I'm gonna suggest that she inhales up her spine like a trunk of a tree maybe, and through the branches of her lungs and then exhales out her mouth and comes back in. So what this does for you and her is that it allows you to start expanding your rib cage from the day more than you would have otherwise.

It allows you to tone your abs in addition to expanding your rib cage. You're starting to feel your spine changing position. One against each other, against the mat, one vertebra against each other, excuse me. And your your spine against the mat. And also your organs inside being massaged around by your breath and the changing of your abdominal structure.

And then now we have maybe given enough breath so that you're as relaxed that you are gonna be in terms of like getting rid of tension. And you're also as integrated as this would allow you to be so far. Now on your next inhale gently curl your tail a little bit up off the mat. It won't be much because the tailbone can't move much before the pelvis moves. And then exhale let it go down and then inhale, I'm sorry.

Exhale, Pick it up and inhale, let it go down. You can do the other breath, excuse me. And it's very valuable too. So you can play around even right now with the two different breathes and see what you like more what it gives you differently. And then start increasing your return from the tail curl into a tail curl in the opposite direction.

So you're gonna feel a change through your sacrum lumbar, five, four, three perhaps. Just a little teensy bit. So you're starting to rock not your pelvis but inside the stability of your pelvic bones your abdominal muscles are starting to rock your pelvis. This of course is a very small, almost non-movement. A tone versus a different tone, but it is very clear that it's abdominal and those abdominals are, and we as teachers are looking to see as she curls her tail, I wanna see many shadows, many wrinkles, at least up towards her navel because the rest of her is staying pretty stable.

So then we finished with that. Let's say, and stop. And now we're gonna move the pelvis on the spine. So think that your sacrum is like a ball bearing, a ball, and each pelvic bone sits on either side. So we're gonna do knees sways but as you keep your knees together your following foot will come off the mat just a little bit.

And as you sway over and return you're picturing your pelvic bones moving around your sacrum. Okay. So here first and foremost your spine moves, could move secondarily to your pelvis. So as your left knee follows your right to the right, your left hip rises, your spine hasn't changed yet. And then as you bring your pelvis down so what if you consider that your sacrum doesn't move?

So now you're trying to move your pelvis and notice is a very different experience. Yes, you get abdominal muscles. Those are obliques, but you also feel lots of outer thigh, upper hamstring, glutes as well. Okay. And then do this.

So as you sway the next direction start your exhale first, and as you exhale maybe about a third of your exhale, bring yourself back. So now we're starting to add the spine because the abdominal muscles were like refocusing on them. So start a little bit of your exhale first and then use it like a tool to bring your spine back and then roll. So now you're rolling the pelvic girdle and the sacrum L5, four, several you can choose and return. You can go all the way up to your thoracic spine if you like.

See if you want to. But start your exhale first so that your abs, hold your spine articulate it down, low and behold, and they're becoming more vital. The movement is becoming bigger, more muscular, and nevertheless, primarily at this moment, more spine, we're addressing the spine more than we're addressing the pelvis, let's put that way. Finish it off so you're even, you can go a little faster, Sherena, on the last one. Nicely done.

Okay. So that was moving the spine. Now let's keep the spine still one more time. So take a nice deep breath. And as you exhale, pick up knee fall, pick up your right knee, and as you inhale, put it back down.

And again you can play with your breath. Both breaths are totally wonderful. Give you different responses in your belly. So now you don't want your spine to move. So you don't want your low back to press any farther into the mat than it had at the beginning with two feet down.

You wanna keep your spine absolutely still. The closer you bring your knee to your chest on this the more you might move that pelvic bone on your sacrum. So you have, now you're starting to explore sacral movement even more in this folding position. Nice. But you don't let yourself press your low back bottom rib, that area down any further into the mat.

So stay up here and exhale, and then bring your next or inhale, and then bring your next exhale knee to the top knee. So now you're gonna challenge yourself keeping your spine still, and having more weight that your abdominal muscles have to work. So this is moving us as we can tell one foot down, exhale, about a third of your breath and then pick up exactly. And then the other foot down. So this is moving us into the hundred, eventually footwork.

So breathe your breath up your trunk and into your branches in your lungs and exhale return. Nice. Exactly. Easy back, still resting 'cause your belly is strong enough to do this exercise. You're so as is involved, especially when you exhale first, excellent, better and better.

Excellent. And now keep both knees up this time. Squeeze your legs gently together. So say this would be your final challenge to keeping your spine from moving. So squeezing your legs together.

Let's inhale both knees away from you. Exhale, third of your breath and come back home. Nice. You can put your own say eight fingers in your abs if you wish because probably all of you are capable. This strength is not unusual for you.

And feel how you're playing your abdominal muscles as your thighs go away and towards you you're playing almost like you would play a clarinet or something like that. And all of it is involved sequentially but constantly. So as she moves one more time she is actually addressing each vertebra that might be challenged by the leg weight, and then gently put your feet down. And adding, you know, an inch, we'll say an inch of abs to each vertebra and then taking them away in different manners. So you're getting more articulate.

Not only with your abdominal muscles but therefore we haven't moved it yet but in controlling your spine, your low spine. And that's part of the difficulty, right? In the hundred exercise. 'Cause as the leg weight gets heavier and heavier we tend to arch our lumbar spines. If it didn't start that way it starts to challenge us enough that we feel weak and we're looking for strength.

So now, as we do the hundred, we add a unique, we add a unique piece to this. So we curl the sitz bones. So curl your sitz bones versus your tail. So you can use either half breath and then lay them back down. Notice for yourself that if you curl enough your tail will follow but you're not inviting your tail first.

So here we see clearly the difference between the abdominal muscles that pick the spine up and articulate the spine, and the action of the hamstrings quads that changed the pelvis. Not only of course it's more complicated than that. But basically. So as we do something where we have to hold our legs up for a long period of time like footwork or the a hundred then we need to have more muscle. So now stop a second everyone, and think about this.

Take your sits bones and squeeze them towards each other. Then pick your pelvis up and lay it back down and notice what you feel kind of assess it. What are the strengths? What aren't? And then take your sitz bones and widen them apart and pick your pelvis up and down.

So one of the things we'll work on in another hours class later on about pelvis, next week I think, is this difference of sitz bones, many differences, but sitz bones narrow and sitz bones wide. Wide we're not so used to using, forgive me if you are. But most of us don't do that very often partly because we sit and partly because we're used to saying, you know, tone your tush make some strength done there, but notice for yourselves that widening the sitz bones actually tones in a different way. So it's valuable too. So nevertheless, we have now separated in several different ways in all directions, the difference between how the abs control the low spine in particular, and the hamstrings and quads are more adept at the pelvis.

We've played with how they feel independently and how they feel together, whether we're twisting and using obliques in addition or we're just staying square. So now we're gonna be playing with that a little bit from the bottom throughout every single exercise that we go through today. So slide your legs down on the mat and we'll start into the hundreds. So from here, the benefit of starting in this most advanced Mr. Pilates way is that you have to work a lot of muscles to get you going immediately and quickly. So the feeling of your tummy is gonna pull your tail up, your hips are gonna lift a little too your sitz bones are gonna lift a little too because your feet that high.

Ideally, if they have to be higher, that's fine. And you're gonna curl your upper body up to lift into the a hundred. All at the same time if you can. Take a nice deep breath fills you up, tones and lengthens you, you exhale and you curl up into, and then you start your pumps and you inhale for five. And you're welcome to do different ones if you can't inhale for whatever reason for five counts.

So as she continues, we look to see as teachers and practitioners in our own body can my spine stays, is released on the mat and my abs, my glutes, my inner thighs, and so are they sufficient to hold me up? If they're not, we start as teachers queuing things or assisting. So I might push her legs into her hips giving her more hip tone to hold the leg weight which should tone her tummy more. I might pull her legs away from her which lengthens her spine once again, perhaps, and gives her more stomach also. So we can play with either way.

And I might actually try and do both in the same. And then I asked her to point her feet a little bit more so that the end of the line is totally valuable and supports itself. And I'm looking to see that her breath can come up that trunk, which was her spine and expand and then come out of her mouth, nicely done. So these girls do less 'cause this does more, and this wrap, last breath. Hard exhale, and then lower yourself down too.

Beautiful and rest nicely done. Okay. So after the hundred let's come bend your knees one moment and plant your feet and pick up one knee to hip so that your knee is right above your hip joint. And then make tiny little stirs like three inches at most in a diameter. So here you are feeling your hip in your pelvis but trying to not move your pelvis.

So this is a unique strength that most of us it lags behind a little bit and reverse it. So it's like single leg. It's like the very first moment of single leg circle which we're coming up to. And then tummy in and put your foot down. Huh! Good.

And then let's say, inhale, start your exhale, and then pick up your left knee. Your knee joint will be directly above your hip. And then you make little circles so small that you can feel it deep like it's polishing your hip joint and that your pelvis does not move with. So this is all, this is your abs holding your spine from moving, nice, right, reverse it. And if you use too much effort in the wrong places you will move your spine and or your pelvis.

Nice. And then bend. So now that we have that strength added in let's slide both feet down. If you have a strap you're welcome to use it and then take one knee and bend it to your chest and fold it to you, beautiful. So I'm gonna say now as her spine is gently impressed backwards into the mat, I want her her bottom leg to reach down as much as possible into the mat in opposition.

So that's gonna hold the strength of her pelvis and lower spine, help to hold it. And then she straightens her right leg to the ceiling, holds on and bends three times, that's defined that deep place where you circled. Maybe hamstring stretches too but definitely that deep place. And then she places her arms by her side, foot is gently pointed, and we're looking for that deep place in there. We're taking our tush, taking hold, wrapping around surrounding like a catchers mitts in baseball.

And we're picking our pelvis up, right, pelvis up and over with our leg, lengthening it down off our body and exhale bringing it center. Four more. Inhale over around. Beautiful. And then as you continue play with how your spine is the last thing to corkscrew around.

First your leg pelvis then your spine reverse it. And as you do or the first thing to come home, don't turn out extra if you can help it, because that will imbalance, nicely done. One more. Hard exhale and bend your knee. And when you bend your knee among other things the left leg should be down easier, stretchier.

The right knee should come in closer, easier. And that means your spine is more relaxed and supple than it was before among other things. Slide your right leg down, hook your strap, and then tummy in brings your left knee, exhaling it in. So you're measuring it now, to see against what it will be like at the end, after your five, after your 10 circles. So then you put your hands behind your thigh straighten your leg, and you pull gently to you.

Some of you can put your hands at your calf too if you wish and reach up in addition. So here you feel the separation of your leg from your pelvis. The separation of your spine from your leg as well. Then you bring your arms down and you circle across your body. And first thing that moves is your toes, let's say, and then it takes your hip, and then it takes that catcher's mitt of a tush with you.

Hard exhale brings you home, and whatever position you chose of your leg, Pilates V, parallel. Keep it throughout the circling, reverse it after five. So the tendency is to turn your leg out over here to the opening. Try not to do that so that you work your belly more. Now your belly has to fight more beautiful to keep your spine still.

And your breath comes one more time up your branches and exhale at your mouth. Bend your knee. The standing thighs should drop more readily, the knees should fold more easily. Okay? And now we're ready for rolling like a ball.

So she curls up. But before we do rolling like a ball I wanna do one little exercise. So get rid of your straps, straight legs out in front of you and hands by your sides. And then we're gonna do, I dunno I learned it called cheeky walk. But it's you keep your legs long and you keep your hands down and you just use your tush to walk you back and forth.

You take with tiny little walks with your butt, yeah. So what this does for you is exactly what you were doing before in knees sways, is that it use your obliques, uses your hamstring, upper hamstring tush, and it tones those areas so that they are stronger when it comes to rolling like a ball in this case. So as we one more if you would, so enjoy this, 'cause it feels really great. It tones you Up like in opposition to your tush toning you'll feel yourself wanting to be tall. So that's the elongation of your spine.

And then when you come home tummy in and bend your knees to your shoulders, and if you wanna cross your, one hand over your wrist, great. And if you hold onto each ankle, that's okay too. So now we have already the length. So hopefully we don't have to increase asking for more. But what we do have to ask for is a little bit of tail curl versus sitz bones and therefore coming and responding through that tail curl up and over.

And then she rolls like a ball, curling the tail more, or letting gravity bring her back, exhale forth. You take your breath up your spine so you're supporting every vertebra along the way. Use as little effort as you can get away with, which is what Mr. Pilates wanted us to do. Be very efficient, like wild animals, nicely done. And go a little faster, Sherena, and exhale more purposefully.

Attagirl! Nicely done. So eventually your spine gets so uniform and rounded. There's no easy place or hard place and your ears can come all the way in between your knees. See if you can a little closer. Yeah.

And then what does it take to keep that? Gorgeous. One more only. Beautiful. So what this has done, and then put your toes down and stop for just a second. Is tone your upper hamstrings and low glutes to hold your pelvis in the next exercise as well as because your arms have been pulling in and up tones your upper back which I haven't made much mention of yet, but we will.

And in addition, because your knees are narrow tones your inner thighs and your so as coming up. So once again, you're in control of your lumbar spine at the, you know, at the least. So you put your hands down and you lift your tush back if you're on regular mats, otherwise you can just go back and you roll down. And here you are in that knee bend from the moment ago from single leg circles. So as you take that position and you pull your leg or you push it or draw it in maybe from your standpoint as the practitioner, and then you switch for single leg stretch.

Inhale for two of them and exhale for two of them. So our goal as the teachers is to watch and see that her tummy is in control of her legs throughout. So part of that I'm looking to see how many wrinkles and shadows in her low belly does she have and could I get more? So I want some like right in here, yes, nicely done. Then you finish both knees in and the same thing as true.

So as she inhales her legs out she feels her hamstrings and her low tush as she exhale she comes in. So she's keeping her pelvis somewhat in the same position and her spine doesn't change shape except maybe just increases elongation and or curve depending on whatever it is you don't do as well. And she feels hurt, and we're looking to see what part of her tummy doesn't work as well as whatever else does. And we're asking more from it because that's a vertebra. Lay your head down briefly for a moment and rest.

So that's a vertebra that needs to be supported as you move. And we don't wanna cheat ourselves of not finding it. Okay. So when we look for more wrinkles when we add territory into our abs that control our spine we're teaching our abdominal muscles to one vertebrae after another. We don't have any that are cheated from our support.

So now the scissors is the same idea. It's very easy between double leg stretch and the scissors to completely change our spine. We tend to wanna arch our back in double leg stretch, especially at the knee straightening moment and up here in scissors we tend to wanna push it backwards into the mat. So those of you who love to push your spine back into the mat gently try and keep your vertebrae up inside your body as you do scissors. So you're sort of floating on the mat.

So both legs are up, you reach up for one ankle and you split your legs and pull once and even further twice. Switch and once and further, good. As she switches, we all look to see is her tummy picking her leg up or her hip flexor. I'm gonna say Sherena hesitate just briefly before you lift your leg. Attagirl! So now we feel more abs because her quads didn't get the chance to turn on, beautiful.

And last one, both legs up hands, behind the head elbows wide, and now I'm gonna add and we're gonna go over it in just a minute. Lift your elbows high and wide but pull your blades down towards your sacrum in response to it, nicely done. So you can all see and feel that your abs toned more. Now play around with what I said earlier about sitz bones wide. So take your sitz wide because you probably weren't and inhale over them, and exhale, keep them wide and use your belly.

Even today start your exhale first, like we did in the sways and make sure, nicely done. So now you feel a little bit how your upper back gives you upper abs and how maybe in addition with the exhaling first gives you more territory in your abdominals. But also how, if your sitz are wide you have a different access, that was gorgeous, in your abs deeper than you might've transversus abdominis. So now let's do elbow to knee and take your twisting obliques and keep your spine dead center on the mat. You're not so interested in picking your spine up beyond where it is, maybe a little, but you are interested in moving your shoulder girdle around it.

All right? So that's different. And as you do that hopefully you can keep your abs holding your legs, maybe re hesitate a moment before you come in. Exactly. Beautiful.

Last time and enough. Good, everybody. Come sitting up and stop just a minute and kneel, right where you are. With your hips in the air. Put your hands in that same twist elbow to knee position.

So your hands are one on top of each other behind your occiput, your elbows are aiming high and wide and your blades in opposition are aiming down along those lats lines to your sacrum. Okay. So hopefully you feel this whole upper back part of you really clearly which you want in a moment in spine stretch. And you're gonna want from now on through class. So as she does this, she's discerning the difference between controlling her shoulder girdle and controlling her spine.

So up here take if you would your collar bones and roll them down onto your rib, three, but keep this in opposition. So it's like those muscles are trying to take your collar bone in an upper ab curl but your blades are opposing it, your blade muscles. Go ahead, Sherena and round forward, your collar bone slides down, your blades feel like they slide up but then your blades feel coming down to your sacrum in reverse and your collarbone rises up on to your rib one or almost and then try that a couple of times. Feel how your blade muscles don't hinder you from spinal bending but they actually increase the reaction of your upper abs, you can pitch your now T1, two, three, getting accessed. Gorgeous.

Okay, so not shoulders down and tight armpits. Not today anyway. Elbows high and wide blades down and towards the sacrum. Gorgeous. Exactly right.

Yes. And rest. Okay, so now take your elbows up by your ears. So here you are in spine stretch and this is why you want to the best of your ability to keep your elbows up by ears and spine stretch, because they act similarly now in these muscles to what they just did. So if you were to do an upper ab curl getting your shoulder girl to roll forward taking T1, two, three, keep your arms up, which tones you here, and then feel your belly all by itself lift you up your blades coming down in opposition to your sternum rising.

Do that more time. Straight elbows really reach. So keep them behind you almost, not too much neck, but T12. Attagirl! So you should feel lots of wrinkles under your ribs, lots of activity, and then circle your arms open and relaxed. So now come sitting for spine stretch forward.

So your heels are open a little wider than your hips, ankles flexed, and your elbows are up by your ears just like you were a moment ago. You're gonna keep your arms behind you just a little bit or at least lagging behind you. So you let your collarbone roll forward, here's your top of your spine. T1, two, three bends over. And then you continue in.

Your sitz bones, however, stayed down and rooted because you haven't gotten that far. And then low belly lifts you, mid belly lifts you, upper belly and you feel your shoulder girdle rotate around on your rib cage at the top. Straighten all the way, nicely done. And again, inhale a little faster. Inhale, shoulder girdle rotates around, beautiful, and exhale.

So this is the tummy that you're working in scissors and bicycles. All right, I'm sorry, just in scissors. (laughs) But you will be, not today but next time maybe in bicycle. Straighten your arms out way up, attagirl! And lift them even first and let your tummy follow, beautiful. One more time.

So your arms stay back, your belly has to bend you and notice like you're inside your knees. You're not over your shins or even ankles. You're close to your body which is the one thing you want. You wanna bend it, good, so hot, nice and rest. You wanna bend it as much as you can, as close as you can.

Like if you had a wall between your knees you'd be inside that wall. That's ideal. You don't wanna sacrifice decompression but you do want that strength. So now we'll use it in open leg rocker. So we have the shins come rising up, and we're gonna, I'm gonna say like if I weren't here, and I'm not there with you what if her palms pushed her shins to me?

And then what if her palms picked her shins up to the ceiling, right. Notice you feel your upper back there, those same shoulder blade muscles. Now your tail curls and you go. Inhale and exhale, gorgeous. Inhale, push the air from you, gently escort it out.

Sit on the strong tush that you built with the belly busters. And then as you come up this last time if you're willing to do legs together try that. You can hold your feet or not but feel like you're building from a foundation through your levels. So you have a sense of tush on the mat. Maybe sitz bones wide.

I like that actually. Feet are pointed or flexed but strong. And then your hands are doing something to lift you up. Yes. Nicely done. Tail simply curls 'cause gravity is already inviting you.

Exhale hump, inhale sacrum, exhale hump. Nice. One more time. Come up and balance. And then you have your crisscrosses that challenge you holding your low spine absolutely still.

So you crisscross inhale for several, tummy up and in, even more. Curl your ribs one over the other, just a hair forward, bend more. Nice, Sherena. Put your hands by your hips on the mat and lay back down. Good job.

Well done. Bend your knees and plant your feet for a minute. So now let's do another kind of prep trick. Not that I teach class this way necessarily, and not that you have to do it but these are little moments that we can take in this hour to give you a time to actually feel something you might not otherwise pay attention to. So here we're gonna do sways with one leg.

So right leg is up, knee to knee, as if you were doing one leg teaser. Foot is pointed. Okay? And so we're gonna do corkscrew next, right? So here we are playing with that.

So first of all, when we did it earlier we kept the sacrum still. Now we're gonna lift the toes, the hip, and like in single leg circle and roll on the sacrum and then exhaling we're gonna roll through the sacrum, the back of the right hip and return. So we'll do it three times to one side. You can alternate right, left, which is more athletic. Or you can do several reps on one side.

And then this becomes TikTOK for those of you who know that. And then change legs. Rest your back. Let gravity tug you. Exhale.

Gorgeous. Exactly. Start your exhale. Beautiful. And one more. And kind of for you, Sherena, release your hip flexor just a little so as you come back.

Yes. Beautiful. Okay. So tummy in and bends takes both legs up to 90. Let's start with corkscrew mild spine flat.

So you feel it totally on the mat and you get to choose circling to the right and around and down, exhaling first to bring you home. Mr. Pilates made the exercises to increase breath capacity. Sometimes teachers reverse that thought and use the breath to increase capacity of the muscularity of the movement. So I'm asking her to exhale sooner which assures her of using her belly more than her back. And we're hoping to feel the back.

This is knees sways. So we want the back to be as relaxed down there and lengthy as it can be, gorgeous. And the shoulder blades are down your back towards your sacrum last time. Hard exhale, beautiful. And your knees and roll up for saw.

So then you have a pelvis that's very toned and it's sitting firmly, strongly on the mat. Arms are out to the side, and you feel your even though the arms are here you feel they're like stick likeness coming in between your blade and your rib so that it tones your upper abs. So then you inhale and twist and you exhale, and you let your left hand, and we'll talk about that more another day, twist you. So it's reach twists you. And low tummy, mid tummy and up.

So you support each vertebra as you go. And then exhaling, attagirl! I wish was with every one of you and I could give you this nice assist. (laughs) And then again, inhale and exhale. And the back hand pushed me up bends you. Tummy in, rolls you up and around, exhale.

So here are your backhand lifting as high as it can forces you into your flexion. And your front hand reaching for, just your little toe not too low, palm down keeps your shoulder square so that you can twist your spine, one more time. So just stay over here everybody and breathe a couple of breaths. Every exhale shed tension and see if you can deepen your belly and see if you can tip your blades perpendicular to your mat. So what that means is you're not gonna open your lifting shoulder, you're gonna twist just your spine.

Nice. Tummy in and rose you up. Do one more to the first side. So as you stay there shedding tension that's in your way taking more breathes to give you access to the range you own. Nice.

And then tummy in and rose you up. Beautiful. Yay. Okay. So that should feel fabulous by the way just saying.

And then sweep your legs around behind you and we'll just swan. So it's the first time we're prone. The first time gravity is pulling our spine down through our body for any length of time into the mat. So let your tummy gently on the exhale, it's clear. It does it automatically.

It kind of like a lemon. It kind of puckers up off the mat just to gently into your body to exhale your air. As you do that, picture your collarbones. Your collarbones are gonna rise up over rib one backwards. Your blades are gonna come down to your back towards your low back as you look forward.

Eyes, nose, chin, we all think of that. But what about collarbones rising, blades coming down, nicely done. And then exhale get as much out of the second half of the movement as you get out of the first half. Nicely done, Sherena. And again, inhale.

So as you continue, keep your legs as together as you can and try not to squeeze your tush too much instead today try sitz bones wide. See what access it gives you when you ask for that. Beautiful. Yep. Resist gently coming home so you exhale fully, beautiful.

Do one more, Sherena. Take your hands a little more forward, do you mind? Thank you. And then feel your collarbones. Don't lift so soon instead pick up and roll.

Like a scrolling. Very nice. Excellent. That's it. Wide sitz bones matches that.

And you have this deep so as transversus abdominis. Exhale back down. Those of you who wanna sit back on your heels and rest a moment, you're welcome to do so. And then we'll do single leg kick. So when we do single leg kick our arms are pushing up and into our blades.

So they're holding our blades gently off our spine which then shows us the difference between spine and girdle. So as you think about that and you lift your girdle up and back, feel how your upper abs come from underneath at that same moment, okay? When you kick, then you're gonna feel that you don't get budged around. So you kick. One and two and two and two.

Beautiful. So how do you not get budged around? How do you not shift your spine and pelvis when you're kicking? Reach your waist long out of your fists reach your pelvis into your souls. Those of you who wanna little extra hamstring and therefore muscularity pick your femur up like a little 32nd of an inch and feel that you get more ownership.

Beautiful. Big breath comes up your trunk expands in two, hard exhale returns down and through. Nicely done and rest. Tummy in, sits you back briefly onto your heels and then brings you forward and let's do side kicks. So in side kicks we're gonna ask for the same kinda thing.

We want... Thank you. We want the shoulder girdle that we had here. So even though it's advanced to put your left hand up do it for, or your top hand up, do it for a moment. So put both hands behind your head including your bottom hand behind your head not the side and feel that your elbows are going perhaps out and wide.

There are other ways of saying it but today, and then bring your blades down to your spine. Notice what it does down to your lumbar spine, sorry. Notice what it does to your upper abs. So map out your first kick without maybe as much ferocity as you might offer it and feel your upper back give you inhale front, front, exhale back, back. So feel that your elbows reaching your blades coming down in opposition provide you with like a foot bar on the reformer for the rest of your movement.

So as you move, your spine is free to flex and extend but your shoulder girdle stays absolutely perpendicular. You're welcome to put your hand back down if you want to but feel how your spine can extend and flex slightly but your shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle does not. So your spine once movement. Last time, beautiful. And then bring your legs together and put your right hand on the, or top hand down on the mat.

See if by pressing into the mat you can find the same thing on that top shoulder girdle, turn out your top leg and kick up and down. Inhale up and exhale down. Good. Beautiful. Yeah, go for a little less range if you don't mind.

And feel that when you kick up and down you're owning it just like you did in budge and single leg kick. Reverse your foot, flex and point down. Make sure that you're not overusing your hip flexors which would move your pelvis. But instead you're using your tush and your tummy. Nicely done.

And then rest. Yep. And then let's just flip you around you can still face the camera and we'll do the other side. So start here and feel like you did when you were kneeling. So your bottom wrist will be as little flexed as you can get away with today.

And you have to hold yourself up with your own muscle. Lift and go inhale front, front, exhale back, back. And as you kick care, yes, you want the largest range you can get. On the other hand, you wanna strengthen your abs along your spine.. Beautiful.

So I'm holding Sherena his hip flexor back from overindulging. So from here gently hesitate before you kick front. Yes. So that's what I asked her earlier in, I forget belly busters maybe one of those exercises so that she doesn't just jump ahead with her favorites but she actually uses her abs. Beautiful, one more time.

Hard exhale and bring your legs together. Right hand comes to the mat and you search with press to bring this shoulder up, not down but actually kind of upish probably and back, which and you'll know you like it when it gives you more abs and then she's gonna kick up and exhale down. And even here try hesitating slightly. So as she hesitates she's gonna choose her abs and not her hip flexor. Nice.

Yes, beautiful. So you feel it right in here. I'm gonna say Sherena modified this leg over here and now kick, attagirl! So by modifying her working heel behind today we're gonna get more of the hamstring tush and abs which support her sacrum. So it's not gonna let her tuck under each time she kicks up, finish it off so you're even and rest. Good.

Come sitting up and face this way for teaser one leg. All right. So we've been in this position many times already, place your ankle under the strap if you have it, otherwise, place your feet together side-by-side flat on the mat. We did knees sways one leg earlier, and it gave us a feeling of more obliques and more inner thighs. So which or both of which help us in teaser two.

So we stretch one leg out and up knee by knee and you try and keep that there. Then you reach your hands forward to your toes and you roll yourself back to your tips of your blades and you curl yourself forward. Add that you're gonna roll your shoulder girdle slightly forward before you lift your back. Yes. So that you get more upper abs.

This rolling is minuscule by comparison to the product you're getting out of it. Nicely done change legs. And therefore you're finding that holding it still not even in A position but just holding it still doesn't necessarily serve you. You want more movement so you get more activity in your abs. Nice.

And then we look of course to see that she rolls sacrum L5, four, three on the way back. Which the collarbone thing helps. Wide sitz bones might help you more too. Beautiful. And one more.

Good. Reach all the way, eagerly, hungrily. Excellent. And bend your knee and rest. Good job.

All right. So everyone let's see. Come kneeling for a moment. Face the camera if you would Sherena and kneel, and put your hands once again, palms behind head. And we'll see this again if you take more of my classes for the upper back, I think in two weeks or something.

So you have one palm on the other not interlaced. Your head is nestling back into, and your palms are resisting that gives you upper abs. Your elbows are lifting up and wide and your blades are coming down and together that gives you upper back which reinforces upper abs. Now think about moving your blade before, we're gonna twist a little. Think about moving your blade before you move, any your elbow or your eyes.

So your right blade is gonna come around to the back and you're gonna try and aim it say for the wall. Yeah. And now your left blade is gonna take over and pull you around and beyond and take you the other way. So with your elbows high and wide you be able feel these gorgeous abdominal muscles, nice and long like almost up to your armpit healing through your rib cage, and you feel the elongation of your vertebrae so you've decompressed your joints in your twist. We did this in elbow to knee.

We did this in this saw. Beautiful. So this feeling of strength in the shoulder girdle, her elbows don't move in relationship to each other or in relationship to her head but her splayed muscles in our ab muscles are playing. So hold her spine dead center. So rest, please.

Nicely done. And now sit, we're gonna do cancan. So sit with your toes touching the mat, let's do it on our forearms. So that since it's one of the first classes. So as you press your forearms down, try not, those of you who love to squeeze your blades and it's easy do not.

And those of you try hard to squeeze your blades and it's hard try, so that you get what you don't normally get, or you've asked for what you don't already have. And now with your toes touching you're gonna keep your knees side by side. And we're gonna do knees sways here. So you roll your knee, your outer hip, your outer pelvic bone, and you roll your sacrum you exhale and you return. So now you have the strength in your shoulder girdle and the idea of the spine being permitted.

So even though you may not think to twist your upper spine you're not holding it so tightly against twisting your low spine. So it should give you more twist altogether. Inhale into these twisting lungs and then exhale first and let your tummy drive you back. Good. One more set after this.

Do one more set if you would, Sherena, Thank you. And let your exhale lead you. Beautiful and rest. Good. Now come kneeling up, face the camera one more time.

So here's swimming arms. So we did them, we got close to them, arms up by your side here. And we got close to them earlier before spine stretch. So they're straight and the arm is back almost behind your ear. Some of you can do that others cannot.

And now swim up here, and as you swim notice I'm gonna ask you to move your blades. Almost like you're trying to move your blades more than your arms. Good ahead maybe like there. Attagirl! Nice, Sherena. And rest a moment.

Turn around let them see your back if they want to. Again, one more time, everybody. So this is your swimming exercise. So as you move your blades around and your spine stay still and that will be a bigger extension in swimming. You're allowing your spine to be decompressed and held and yet you're getting a whole lot of heat and movement because your blades are moving instead.

So allow your arms to come down and rest lay on your tummy for swimming. (clears throat) Okay. So you lift your eyes, your arms and your legs and you paddle briskly. Arms are straight. And you're trying to get them behind your ears and move your blades almost more than your hands today.

Right. Nicely done. And therefore your spine doesn't rock side to side or doesn't cave to the mat and recreate it stays supported and rest down. And the same thing could be true of your legs. So your legs moving deep inside your hip, first, if you want more range each pelvic bone might move independently of the other.

Do the same thing as your shoulder blades thereby keeping your sacrum, tailbone sacrum, L5, 4, still unsupported. So you can try that and we'll go over it again if you follow me on another week. All right so tummy in, sits you back and we'll do seal. So you have a choice in seal. Often people do it with or prayer foot and toes back to your sternum or eyebrows.

That position is really great for people who need to open their sacrum. Sherena might be one of them. She might like that feeling wideness through her low back. Otherwise, if you already have a low back that's too wide then you want to do Pilates V. So you clap your feed here in the archival way, and you don't clap in prayer foot on your shoulders.

So you just clap in the front. Your feet are... So as you get better and better at seal, amazingly, there's always more to be had. You want to bring your feet because your spine has bent like it did in spine stretch, three inches from the floor in the front and in the back. That's what you're aiming for.

Nicely done. Yes. Without going on your neck. That is so excellent. Last time.

Inhale big through your branches, bring your feet there, hard exhale and enough and rest. Good. Let's do a pushup. All right. You're pushed up as your final expression of all the things you've put together.

You're in Pilates V, and you should feel that even right there that if you lifted your 10 toes off the floor you wouldn't shift back hardly at all. That's a big transformation for most of us from the beginning to the end of the hour. That our hamstrings and low tush more toned inner thighs than it was before and willing to work even when we don't ask them to. Our hip flexors are more released and lengthy down the front, and our low quads are doing more than we had them do before. In addition, it turns your tummy.

So in gravity, if you could stand like this your tummy would be toned throughout your day. Whether you thought about it or not. And here your tummy toning must give you muscular support and decompression of your spine. So your arms rise up inhaling. You collarbone bone over T1, nice.

Exhaling. You walk forward, small steps, bouncing your tea cup on a pelvis that doesn't rock. Up to three bends. And if you remember the feeling here of arms into blades versus spine, if you let your chest go down to readily pick it up inside you, and if opposite you do the opposite. So you curl in, we'll do that one more time in a moment.

You curl collarbone onto rib, and you find yourself in that place that you built through all those belly busters and sidekicks. You roll up and you keep your pelvis there and you take your tummy and let it raise your posture including your blade a little, circle your arms out to the side. Do one more inhale up, collarbone first, let's stay today. Gorgeous. So that T12 doesn't get skipped, and then walk out, nice and even, and then keep your arm bone right near your shoulder blade when you bend.

So you're not gonna push the mat away only, you're gonna kind of draw it to you in a way. Nicely done, exactly. You'll get more out of it which is always good. And then collarbone is gonna round in, we say, look at your navel. That should move your collarbone.

But nowadays 'cause we sit and we're at the computer so much it often doesn't. So now she has those gorgeous legs that we talked about a moment before, right? And her tummy raises her on top them. Gorgeous. Beautiful done.

All right. So hopefully you feel that you got in this hour more, you got The chance to be more playful with your spine and do exploration that you might normally do with yourself. And that you got the product from being that way of a spine that feels now more supported by your pelvis but therefore more moveable like freer, lighter, to be able to change directions whenever you wish. And on top of that, you might also feel that because you strengthened your shoulder girdle and your pelvic girdle purposefully yet today somewhat independently in your mind from strengthening your whole body or strengthening even your abs, which are your spine, you feel that your shoulder girdle is strong and upish, backish, so that you have this tallness wide open collarbone chest but it strengthen your upper back, which in addition pulls your throat and head back so you gain access to your anterior cervical which are hard to find nowadays that we sit so much at a computer. So you know, it's not just the spine that's what we focused on mostly but you get all these other products too because you dealt with the spine in a unique, intrigued, I'm gonna say way.

Thank you very much for joining us today. I hope you had a great time. (sighs)


Thank you, Rachel and student for this class. I love the form and execution, very good! And: with mask, wow. 
I liked the moment you took to feel before and after the One Leg Circles, with the knee into the chest. Such a noticeable difference! 
Oh, I forgot to mention: also the prep work for the Spine Stretch was great! Always searching, exploring and learning...
Michele B
2 people like this.
So thankful to you and PA for this series! So much to learn and explore!
Thank you All!!! I’m so happy to do this and share and discover- our bodies are the most amazing orchestra and pilates is theory and instruments in one(-:  I’m so looking forward to putting together more of the mechanics! Rachel
2 people like this.
Such knowledge ! Great prep for the exercises I learnt a lot thank you x 
2 people like this.
So many nuggets of gold here from a true master of the work! I have been an extremely lucky student of Rachel's for over 15 years and love her continuous curiosity and deepening of the feelings behind, between and within the work, just - BRAVA!!!!💗
Andy M
1 person likes this.
Rachel Taylor Segel Such a natural teacher. You are a gift to our industry.
🙏🙏  We are so lucky to teach Pilates aren’t we?!!
2 people like this.
Slow paced class with lots of cuing and helpful information. I wore 5 lb leg weights which worked well for me. I like this format where the instructor explains everything while carefully monitoring a student. i had fun, got a nice workout, and feel much better. Thanks Rachel:) 

3 people like this.
As always, Rachel, I love the way your mind works! Did this at the end of a long day and my spine feels heavenly....Thank you! 
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