Welcome to class, I am so happy to have you here. Wherever you are, this is the place to be, you're here, you showed up for yourself, let's get going. Today is going to be all about the exploration, both of the basics of Pilates, but also hopefully ourselves. Disregard the last sentence, unless it comes up for you as you go, let's just start moving through the beginning of the system. So, with that, first step for me is awareness.
Where am I, who am I today? Not yesterday, not then, not in the future, where am I right now? Let's stand, I'm standing sideways, you stand however you want. My feet are parallel, just, well, hip bones apart, arms are heavy and sometimes these days I have to just shrug a little and let go, right? That's where I live a lot of the time and then drop them and shrug and drop and just maybe one more.
It's weird I know and drop and hold. And then as if your arms were as heavy as they are, let your spine, let the space between the vertebra grow taller, whatever that means to you, maybe it's just like, just be tall, but you don't have to try to do it, you just hunch down, you just be. Take an inhale and then exhale and just notice a little bit of letting go, that kinda helps this whole thing, what we know about Pilates is that the less tension you have when you start a practice, the more efficient you'll be, so let's hope for that. Inhale, I gotta shrug again 'cause I got a fair amount of tension right now (giggling). And exhale let it go.
Whatever that means you can scream, you can shake, whatever you want, but what we're gonna hopefully do together is a roll down. This is a measure of where you start and where you end, so you inhale and you're tall and you're not trying, you just showed up and you're happy for that. Take an exhale and just let your head sort of lead the way, roll your spine forward. If you need to bend your knees and I certainly do right now, do. Let your fingertips or knuckles touch the floor, I'm definitely bending my knees right now.
Take a moment, make sure your knees are just, well don't make sure of anything, just take a moment. Inhale and start to exhale and just roll yourself back up. I'll warn you in the beginning, I have a habit of telling you when to breathe, but it is not critical. You're gonna breathe because you can, inhale, exhale roll forward, it just helps me choreograph for myself and for us to stay together, that's all I, that's a primary reason, there was a lot of very in depth reasons to breathe. Take a breath.
I like to exhale sometimes to feel myself supporting myself as I roll back up. I'm gonna do one more and let you just think about that. Even as I continue to talk. Exhale, maybe let your head pull your spine forward, even as your feet are anchored, so you know, you're not gonna fall, you know nothing's gonna go wrong, bend your knees when you know you should. And now here, hang out, you're down at the bottom, right?
Find whatever you need, you can put your hands on anything, there's no wrong way, right? But here, if you can, try to round your spine more and all I mean, maybe another way to say pull your knees toward your face. I don't know, anything that just allows your spine to stretch and then aim towards straight legs. I like to inhale as I do the rounding part on this thing, exhale as I stretch and I noticed while I'm down here, that I can have wide collarbones, these are just terms you'll hear. Inhale and exhale.
I'm still not quite ready, as warm as it is today here at the studio, I'm still not quite ready to fully straighten, so I'm not going to, I'm even gonna bend a little more, inhale and exhale, but notice how your abdominals, your belly, anything comes up off your thighs, your arms are still, the weight against your core, as you roll yourself up and you stand tall and theoretically just, or just look out on the horizon. Stay that way for just a moment and we're gonna do that at the end and let's hope it's just it's as good or better. Right. So, we're gonna sit down. I'm on a Balanced Body Reformer, it has varying springs.
What I'm going for, I'm about to do a warmup, so it's gonna be light tension. As it is, I have my foot bar up and I'm gonna leave it that way, 'cause I know we're gonna go into foot and leg work, but for now the tension is pretty light. So, to me that means a red and a blue, which we'll see how this goes. I might need a little bit more, if you're taller, you're bigger, I'm smaller, bigger than before, but anyway, just adjust it for yourself, right? So, you're going to need to go, "Right, this is too light, "I'm cramping the whole time," or "This is too" any, and then listen to the cues.
So, right now I have on this Balanced Body Reformer, a red and blue. I'm gonna put my head rest down, because I'm gonna roll up and I know that. So, if you haven't a Reformer that does that, go for that now. Okay. So, with your heels or arches on the bar, let's go arches, arches on the bar, check yourself out.
Again, you're here, check yourself out, are your knees pointing straight up? If you picked your head up, can you see your feet? If you can't try to adjust it, so your feet are just, sort of in line with your knees, arms are down and then just take a moment, lift your hips up a little and drop them, lift them again and drop them, just like, whatever. And then just settle into what feels natural or neutral for you. Arms down, okay, lots of words, here it comes.
Collarbones wide, gently press the back of your arms into your mat, your carriage. From here, we are just relaxing the feet, we're gonna inhale, start the exhale and just roll the pelvis, tilt the pelvis. That means to me, pubic bone towards sternum, just a little and let it go back down. And I noticed, I moved the carriage, so I'm gonna try next time not to move the carriage, take an inhale, it means less effort, believe it or not. Start the exhale and just notice what your abdominals do and eventually, it's natural to roll your hips a little and drop it back down, let it go, no big deal.
Let's do it again. This is what you're gonna hear as the pelvic curl, exhale to roll. Let's go a little further this time, but don't move the carriage if you can, roll a little higher, say just off the waistline, oh, there's the possible cramp factor, there's the possible shoulder shrug, inhale, spread out those shoulders, exhale, go back down. Now, you know what your homework is for the next two reps, inhale, check your feet out, you're not rolling out, you're not rolling in, everything's like looking symmetrical as if the world was, exhale and roll just a little past the waist. Maybe a little more, but we're doing our best not to move the carriage and open the shoulders and by the way, if it doesn't work out, who cares?
Roll back down, we're moving, we're here. One more like that and we'll move on, exhale. Just trying to give us some vocabulary as you move through all the classes that you do, all the teachings you do with your teachers and come back down. My goodness, I'm almost already cramping, I'm kinda wishing I would've gone heavier, so, I might get up and change it and so should you if it happens, let's give it a shot though. We're gonna go up to about the shoulder blades, inhale.
Here's a key thing, start exhaling, you just notice that naturally what the body does and then you get to add in this movement that becomes a little more natural, roll up, whatever happens, cramp, come down, shake it out. We're going up to about shoulder blade height, oh my goodness, I moved the carriage a bit, but I'm not telling you. Inhale, exhale, from the throat maybe, the sternum we're rolling down. From throat, the sternum, anywhere just roll down and then, oh, darn it Christie. Foom, I hit the carriage.
I'm gonna try, I'm not gonna try harder, I'm just gonna do less actually and I won't move the carriage next time. Up we go, exhale. (breathing loudly) My goodness. Beautiful day. When you think you're at the top, I've definitely moved away from my carriage a little bit, that's cool. We're gonna come just a little bit down, just like upper back a little down, re-tuck and tuck to me means, bring pubic bone more towards your sternum, so your lower back doesn't feel like it's working as much or at all.
But then, here's the kicker, truly (laughing). You've done that tuck, you're gonna push down into those arches and find those hamstrings and glutes, because I promised you, if you ever wanna save your back, your life, whatever you gotta get the backside of your body going, inhale at the top, exhale, roll down. I will shut up, I think for the next two reps, we're all the way down, do your best to keep the carriage still, here we go, inhale. (breathing loudly) Exhale up. (breathing loudly) Rolling up.
You know the rules, as if there were any (chuckling). Inhale at the top, exhale down, throat. (breathing loudly) Exhale up. Check yourself out, it's a good thing. Inhale and exhale down.
(breathing loudly) Cool. All right, hug your knees into your chest, warming up your spine a little bit more, just do a little rocking, rocking. Rock enough that you get to sit yourself up, swivel around and put some springs on. So, depending on who you are, what I'm going for here is a little heavy, you don't want it heavy, but I'm still going for less is more, so I'll see if I can parse that out as we go, for me, with the five springs that I have, I am putting three reds on, that's it. Three reds, I have two other options to add more weight, if you need more weight, go ahead, but remember, we're trying to just kinda like warm up, okay?
So, lie back down. You may or may not need your head rest up, some of you may even need the head rest up that you have and a little pillow, so grab that if you need it, otherwise we are down, our shoulders are against this shoulder rest, but not wedged. Think ease, think joy, think vitality, heels are on the foot bar in a safe way, in a way that you know you can push. Here we go, we push out, we pull in, we push out, so keep those feet flex, we pull in. We push out and here's the thing, it's like not heavy enough, right?
Or it's too heavy. Either way, go towards fully extending your legs, not by locking them, in the sense that you relax at the knee joint, but keep yourself energized for yourself, that's the deal, that's what Pilates is. That's it and then we move with it. Somebody should write that down (laughing). Sometimes when you do it's like, just move.
I'm only gonna do a couple more. If you expect me to count, tell me what you want. Coming all back down. Keep everything, so your back, you've hit the stopper, you'll clearly that, you hit the stopper. You're here, you haven't rolled your back into the mat, you haven't lifted your head, hopefully, you'll pick both feet up and put them on the balls of your feet, nothing else has changed, you push out, you pull it, you push out and you pull in and you feel the full extension of yourself.
I don't know what that means either, I just said it, find it. We're just straighten your legs. You're gonna get the work, right? If you, everything else stays the same, you're stable, you get the work where you need it, let's do, say two more. Nothing else is moving, one more.
Coming back in and just do not move, you're gonna hit that stopper. All you're gonna do is from the upper thighs, you're gonna just turn them out or touch your heels together, boom, push out. Same exercise, but finish it, put an exclamation point on it, not in a hard stop, but just like, right, right, right, right, I'm there. Pull yourself back in. For some of you, especially in the start of this, you'll think this isn't heavy enough, I can do more.
Yeah, of course you can, but that's not the point. Right now the point is finding some skills, so right now, take yourself all the way out, I'm gonna stay there with you, take yourself all the way out. Look at your knees, are you really straight, are they touching? If they can't touch, your heels come apart, that's okay too, but do your best to get those inner thighs together and get your spine as long as you can. While you're up here, soften your feet, don't drop, soften your feet and just stand up for yourself.
Imagine you were standing on the ground, let's go. We bend the knees, we straighten them. (breathing loudly) Breathe however you want, just, well, please breathe. I tend to Xcel as I go out. Many, many teachers on this site will say the exact opposite, so anyway, breathe.
I'm gonna do two more, because I wanna get longer and I include my neck, I include even the crown of my head. It's a thought, it's a concept. Next one we come down, we stay down, we take our heels wide. So, again, you wanna feel sturdy, stable, 'cause you're about to move, that's how it goes. Relax those arms, collarbones, right off we go, we press out, we draw ourselves in.
Feels right, we could let the springs just do it. But that would be weird. And be kinda beside the point. So right, you can push out and you can draw those inner thighs together and you could also imagine there were no springs and bring yourself back in, so, let's do four more, letting you sorta explore that. (breathing loudly) Equal tension.
I've got one more, with exception to the next position, which is on the balls of the feet, here we go, same thing. You know what to do, relax the feet a little, like they're sturdy, they're stuck and off you go, out and draw in and out, and draw in, it's almost like you're moving from above the knee. (breathing loudly) Sounds a little like "Star Wars" with the springs moving, doesn't it sometimes? let's do one more, that'll be good. (breathing loudly) And in we come.
Right, okay, so we're going to single leg. We're only gonna do a few of these, so take your feet back to heels parallel. Take your right leg off, just float it there and again, remind yourself everything else is staying the same. Can you push fully out, same springs, nothing else changed. Did you finish straightening your knee?
Prove it to yourself, lengthen and come back, we're only gonna do a couple or four, we'll see. Here's two, let's do four. Somebody keep count. Here's three. No, really, don't, here's four. I got it. I swear (laughing).
Finish it, exclamation point, but check yourself out, this is the best spot, 'cause like, do you wanna lean right, do you wanna lean left, do you wanna whatever, just notice, it's all about you. Come on down, we're gonna do four on this side, so put the other foot down, I don't know why my hands are still in the air, sometimes it helps me measure. Here we go, we go for push out and come back, push out and come back and like all of a sudden I'm like, "Wait, what? This is easy. "Why is she doing this?" But, it's a measure, it's all a measure. That's gotta be close to four, bring it down, okay.
So, help yourself up and here's what I'm gonna suggest, you have two ways, you can just roll to the side, or you can hold on behind your legs, come with me if you can. Pick your head up, push the back of your thighs into your hands, or it's a risk, round that back just like you were doing doing the rolling before and just start rocking back and forth. There's no lifting hips and lowering the head, it's just like rock and roll, if it's not working for you, you're gonna roll to the side to sit up, I'm only doing two more, one, but this is sort of a preparation for something you'll do a lot later and on a lotta exercise, hold yourself up, let's go into some more core work, abdominals. I am lightening it a little, I was on two springs, I am still gonna be on two springs, but I am taking it down to what I would call a one and a half, so a red and blue down from two red. Some of you may wanna leave it there.
Come on back down, you've got your straps here on the back post, grab them, reach them above your shoulders, before you pick your feet up though, just draw your shoulders down, bring your hands above your shoulders, pick your knees up after you engage, up, so here we go, lower the arms, reach them and bring them back up. So, the idea that the collarbones are still wide remains throughout, no matter what you're doing, if you're curling, you're extending, it remains. Keep, right now, your arms straight, 'cause it's not about the hands. It's not about the hands. (breathing loudly) We're gonna do a couple more here, here's one.
It's like I can reach this giant arc and I can make the arc bigger. Next one, we inhale here at the top, the arms are above your shoulders, as you exhale, curl your head, neck and shoulders up, reach your legs out. Inhale, pull the knees in and let your arms and head go down, exhale, come up again. You don't have to do the leg portion of it, inhale down. You can also just, well, you should, keep your arms really close to you, no matter what version you're doing and down, let's do three more.
Exhale up, reach and down. Two more and the last one you're gonna get a little surprise, exhale up. Inhale, stay ready, just stay ready, that's the thing. And so curl up, stay up when you get there. Push those armpits to that foot bar, push it.
You can have feet parallel or not, just inhale, the arms a little bit up for two counts, exhale down for two counts. Inhale up, squeeze those inner thighs, squeeze the back of the body, or, that's too many cues, I know, I get it. Inhale up, but you'll hear them later, bend your knees, come on down. Right on. Well then. Okay, so now you're gonna step into your straps.
I'm not changing the springs. Again, somebody might want to, but generally it kinda stays the same, so what I like to do, what I learned from Bassey was to stretch out as much as I could, pick up that knee and I wanna put the strap on, put the tension on it. Straighten it out, it's going to pick that other foot up, so get ready for that, cause it's a light tension, put the other strap on, voila. From here, I have my heels glued together and this is kinda the key to this. Tip is, think inner thigh not heels, but keep those heels together, that's our goal.
I'm gonna lower them a little bit, cause I can handle it. If it arches your back, you're gonna keep them higher. In any case, make like a frog, you bend. You straight, you bent, this can be strange, 'cause it's so light, right? It's all right, where are those collarbones, just keep going, you got it.
Oh. Sorry, that was about the sensory (laughing), that sigh of relief around here. And so I notice, just watching my legs wibble wobble a little bit, whatever, I don't know. Just me today, but I am committed to coming all the way in and going all the way out. So whatever that means to you.
Sometimes it forces the heels apart, that's okay and I would suggest maybe putting a towel or something small to hold on to, to help you get the exact same sensation I am now, last one goes out and stays. Keep the legs as straight as you can, let them rise to whatever you can. No more than 90, even for the flexible ones, separate them circle around and come back to that, like magnetic heel. Inhale up, open. We call them circles, but they kinda look like squares sometimes inhale, open.
(breathing loudly) Just a couple more. Kinda get the feel for it, notice that the hips stay still. Not much going on there theoretically. it's actually more common that they do, we're gonna go up to the top and hang out. Stop, maybe back off a little, maybe even test yourself, like tuck around your low back and then drop it back down, so you know you're in this sort of natural position.
Let's go the other way, push down, open out, come around and up glue them together or magnetize them. And again. (breathing loudly) Here's the breath pattern I'm using, but honestly, you just got to pick one, it's inhale around, up together, exhale. It isn't always on the exertion, believe it or not. (breathing loudly) Or at least if you want it to benefit you.
I'm gonna do only one more and then the best part, this one takes some time. You'll enjoy this more later, is what I was about to say, your legs are turned out, open them wide, and almost relax them but hang on your middle, almost have to hug myself sometimes and then, with as little energy as possible, bring those heels back together on the exact same plane they started. You'll see. Right now, it's going to be like, what, nothing. Maybe not, try it.
Open. Sometimes I have to relax, recommit to the center of my body just as an anchor and then I let whatever happens after that happen. Definitely not always easy. How about just one more? Okay, bring them in.
So, by that, bend the knees, I'm gonna take one strap off, put my foot on bars, anchor that strap on the peg behind you or wherever, just drop it, other foot comes off, put it on the bar and come on down to the stopper. So now, we're gonna just roll to your side, come on up and let's just take a little bit of a stretch to open up the front of the body a little bit more, 'cause we did a little bit of ab work, so put your foot on the carriage, knee down, flex your foot as much as you can, so get the toes down, the foot on the ground is, I like to think of it's near the leg at the front of the Reformer, but it's a little different for everybody, here's the point, arms are on the bar, lift yourself up, take that sense of a tuck again, the same thing we did in the beginning class, round your back, then lift up, so it's really kinda easy on your arms. From that point, if you need more of a stretch, you push it back. I could have gone lighter on this stretch, I'm okay, I like the one and a half, some of you will want it much lighter, some of you will be fine, but the idea is like, again, I'm activating the back, allowing the front to stretch. Just take a second, we'll go around and do the other side in a moment.
(breathing loudly) Oh. Can you push it a little further and by that I mean, push the foot on the carriage further, but don't move your pelvis back. If anything you pull the pelvis or chest up. You're welcome. Okay, come on back. Ooh, take your time getting out of that one and walk yourself around to do the other side.
Foot is on the carriage, forward foot or foot on the ground is near, probably the front of the Reformer, but, adjust it. I'm not so tall. Take a second to go, "Right, what do I want out of this? "I wanna stretch to that," in my case, left hip flexor, I do a little bit of a bias towards a pelvic tuck, you're not gonna see it, but it's a bias towards pubic bone to sternum and start to push the pelvis back, enjoy. Breathe however, Go as far as you want, but if you find yourself just like arching at your back, you're just not having fun, so, find a way to make it feel good.
Sort of the point. Relief. (breathing loudly) Take a second. Maybe without moving the carriage bar, you can draw the pelvic bone closer to the sternum, maybe. Don't hurt yourself, just an idea. All right, come on back in.
I'm gonna do a little arms and back and call it a day, so, I am definitely taking it down to one spring. For the stronger people and I'm saying this carefully, because this is still gonna be too light for those that are lifting heavy weights, keep it light for you, but you might need more than what I have, I have one red spring on, you might need two red, but I would not go higher than that, I don't care who you are for this exercise. Turn yourself around and then tell me if you can sit up straight, and sit up straight, if you can't, which I couldn't for many, many years, you bend your knees, or you sit on something a little higher, which allows for straight legs. In any case, the main thing right now is, it is going to be your straight spine, grab your straps. Hold on in the middle, if you hold on with your fingers, it's probably just, no more problems.
If you can't straighten your legs, here we go, we draw the shoulders down, we sit tall, we are proud and we pull down and back and as we do, we get more proud. And here's the kicker, you have to stay that way as you go back to the start, without ever releasing the full tension, out we go, one. And back. (breathing loudly) Do what you need to do, you can bend your knees, like take care of yourself, that's the deal these days, right? Pull and reach down to go forward and pull.
Expand your lungs, there's so much more fun to come with this particular exercise as we go forward, there's just more, it's just more and it's all good. Oh, remember what we talked about the collarbones? It's so tempting to just not do the thing, but rather shorten your range of motion and keep yourself looking good. Stay close. I'm just going to, one more.
Okay, now, all the rules, so-called, stay the same, take your arms fully extended, again, bend, do the modifications and you bend the elbows and you straighten them, take a second, keep your upper arms in line with your shoulders, oops, I can almost tell I'm leaning back, t's one of my traits and you bend. Again, I understand you could handle more weight in your biceps, I get it, but can you sit up straight into it? And I can't tell if I am or not, but I'm hoping and I'm always trying. I'm only doing one more after this one, here it is and here we go, almost finished with the series, put your strap, I took my full arm right up to almost the crook of the elbow. The modifications, I have to kinda unwind sometimes, sit myself tall, drop the shoulders, lift the elbows, right, I know where I am, I'm simply opening, like I'm opening a book.
The elbows to the side, I check my wrist over elbows, you gotta check yourself out. Probably be happy what you see the more you do it. Open like, just like, mm, whatever analogy you can come up with. It's not hard, the less you do the more you'll actually feel those deep muscles around the trapezius, the more you'll feel closer to the spine, the more you'll be able to sit upright, I'm doing four more, one. If I told you we only have one more exercise, you'll stay with me?
Two. Would you sit tall, but relax your arms a little in that physician, three. Here's four, boom and come on back. All right, let the straps down. I hope you felt it a little, you'll feel it more the more you do it and now if you can, we're gonna go to our knees.
It's not always an available option for people, so if you do have a box, this might be an option that you'd wanna just lie over the top of the box. If your knees are kinda okay for kneeling, you can put a towel between your knees, or even a pillow, or just hold yourself, it's a little harder that way, but you can do it that way. So, here's what I'm doing, I'm coming forward to the front of the carriage, as much as I can. I am gonna sit down, so this is where you'd want that towel. I am, for me, I'm currently on that one red spring, I'm gonna lighten it more.
I got two arms and I know I can push this carriage, but I'm gonna lighten it more, because I know if I can then relax the arms and let my upper back work, I'm gold and I can go back to that Zoom meeting (laughing). Hands are wide, okay? Elbows kinda up, push your arms to straight. Now, just allow the shins to guide the carriage away from you and this is where you'll know, like, this is not gonna work, I need a cushion. So, take your time, pause it and come back for that.
But what you're kinda aiming for is this sense of a long spine that connects to the top of your head. We allow the carriage in, again, you can go heavier, but for a moment, imagine what it would be without a spring at all. You draw those shoulders down, you could just allow the arms to straighten fully and you come back and you're aiming for that flat back, if you overarch or, you'll feel it, if I told you, this just for your upper back a little bit, I'll tell you a tiny bit more. For now, top of the head almost hits that foot bar and then you reconnect to the body, not the hands, which I know is part of the body, but just go with me on (laughing), press back. If you want more, well there's always more.
I've got my arms to straight, get with me if you want more. Keep them straight, start to look over the bar, over the foot bar, over the spring of the foot bar and gently sort of push down on the bar, gently and I do mean that gently, just allow your spine to move as it's meant to. In extension, push back out, find the straight position, bend the elbow. Two more and we're done, here we go. Arms are straight, or just go back and forth, or just, let me thank you for being here.
Come back up, arch, arch, arch, arch and then right back out and bend and one more time. Straighten, I'm keeping them straight, I'm gently pushing down and ever so slightly apart on the bar, come forward, I'm coming all the way in, all the way up. If it's not comfortable for you to sit on your knees, just step off to the side and I will in one second, but I'm going to take this opportunity to use the foot bar, gently press down, extend just one more time. Relax. That's all, step off the foot bar, I'm gonna go to the backside this time.
Staying side ways, remember we said we're gonna just measure ourselves, that's all we can do. Check yourself out again. Inhale. Feet are on the ground, feet are parallel, however you did it the first time and just exhale, let your head lead the way. Take yourself all the way, do you need to bend your knees this time?
It's fine if you do. I'm going to inhale bend, I'm straightening or just hanging out and roll back up, I'm doing one more of those and then we're off. Inhale. Can't help but lift my arms sometimes and exhale, let your head lead the way. You're in charge. You are in charge.
That is not always the smartest way to go (laughing), but that's what we did today, roll yourself up. Be glad you came, I'm certainly glad that you did and so, hopefully see you again next time.
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