Class #4537

Essential Mat Flow

55 min - Class


You will achieve strength and mobility while focusing on essential exercises in this Mat workout with Delia Buckmaster. She introduces basic movements that target the whole body to prepare you for the next level. By the end of the class, you will have a great foundation to prepare you for the rest of the series.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hi, everyone, I'm Delia Buckmaster and welcome to my studio in Whitefish, Montana. Today we're gonna be doing the first of eight series classes called "Level Up". And why I've named it "Level Up" is because every week we're gonna be progressing to different exercises to challenge you. So today's class is going to be fairly essential beginner, there will be some things that will be challenging for those of you that are experienced Pilates students. But hopefully, for those of you that are new to Pilates, you'll be able to understand and move with me quite easily.

So we're gonna start today, I'm gonna start standing on my mat. So it's a high mat, so I'm gonna come to the back of it. And we're gonna do with just a simple roll down so feet are in parallel. I'm gonna reach my arms towards the ceiling to allow my shoulders to rise and give it a big stretch. And then bring my hands down, nod my chin and then just flex towards my feet.

I'll pause here for just a moment just to check to see if there's any stiff spots. But little reminder here that if your hamstrings are really tight, allow the soft bend in the knees, so the stretch is it your hamstrings, and not at your lower back. And I'm gonna roll myself up one vertebra at a time. And we'll do this two more times. So inhale as your arms come up, allow a big stretch this morning, bring those arms down, nod your chin, roll yourself all the way down, allow the back of your neck to just relax.

Inhale there, exhale to roll yourself all the way back to standing. One more time as you roll down. This time, I'm gonna have you hang here for a moment. And I'm gonna have you walk out to an all fours position. Once you find an all fours position, take a deep inhale breath.

And then lift yourself back up to a pike or an upside down teaser and walk your hands back to your feet. And then roll yourself all the way back up. It doesn't have to look pretty, we're just moving the body here, warming up the wrists and the shoulders, the ankles and the knees, roll yourself down. Walk yourself out to that plank, lower the knees gently, lift yourself back up to your pike position, walk your hands back. And then roll yourself all the way back up, reach those arms up to the sky.

We'll try that one more time. Arms come down. Roll yourself down. Walk yourself out. Lower those knees gently lift yourself back up, engaging your core muscles early here, walking yourself back to your feet.

And then rolling yourself back up. This time, we're gonna go ahead and come down and stay on our all fours position. So nod your chin flex forward, walk yourself out. Lower your knees to the mat, and then hold your all fours position, hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your wrist. Just as a reminder, your arms are the strongest in this position where it sits into the shoulder.

So make sure that your elbows are back, hands are lined up, knees are under the hips. Simple cat stretch here as you flex your spine. Articulation of the spine will warm you up quickly and then straighten out your back and then come into a slight extension. So the first few you could just do it your freely how you'd like, but I want you to start to focus on the flexion happening at the lower part of your abdominals. So at the lumbar spine, taking that spine in opposition of its neutral.

And then going into the other position, shining your chest forward in extension. So focusing on that upper thoracic spine. Exhale breath as you flex. Inhale breath as you extend. We'll do this one more time.

As you flex the spine, draw the navel back, allow your head to fall. And then go ahead and straighten out your back and just find neutral. Let's warm up the spine laterally. So lift your right foot toward your bottom and keep your knee down so you've got a little flex in the knee there. Then take your foot to the side and follow your foot with your eyes.

So you're stretching the opposite side of your spine and then wag it over to the other side. This is a very simple exercise that feels really good because we don't really think about moving the spine sideways. We always think front to back, just like most of the activities we do every day. This is a nice little stretch. And now let's do the other side, lifting the left heel up and then taking it side to side.

Careful here that you're not putting all the weight onto your shoulders as you're moving through the lower half of your body. And of course if you have some issues with your knees or this is uncomfortable for you just drop back to your Cat-Cow. Now go ahead and bring that foot down. We're gonna find some balance here. Let's start with just our legs.

Extend your right leg behind you reaching it to about the height of your hip and squaring your hips off to the mat. Pause here for a moment, make sure there's no tension anywhere. Draw that navel to the spine and make sure that that leg lifted from your glute and not your lower back and then bring that knee down. And then take it to the other side, you might notice that one side is a little bit easier than the other. And that's perfectly normal, bring that knee down.

And then alternate the legs, one at a time. And as you reach, try to do as little to no shifting at the upper part of your body. A nice little cue here is to pretend you have a marble in your belly button. And you're holding that marble in, try not to drop it to the floor. And that's just a nice gentle cue for your transverse.

Make sure that you're sinking a nice breath here, your breath is going to flow you for the rest of the class. So a nice inhale and exhale to allow fluidity of your movement is awesome. We're gonna go ahead and add the upper body. And if this feels comfortable for you, just take your right leg back like you did before. And then lift the opposite arm.

Hold it there for a moment, pause, and I want you to imagine more of the front of your body than the back of your body. So you're reaching your left fingertip away from your right toe as though you're pulling a flex band away. And then return, and then do the other side, pulling that flex band and stretching it out from your left toe to your right hand. And then slowly do the same thing alternating. Again, this is a really great way to warm up the core.

A great way to warm up the shoulders, and to wake up the mobility of the joints of the legs. So inhale, reach, exhale, return. Inhale to reach, exhale. And I'm going to tell you where to breathe, but that, it's not necessarily the breath that might work for you. So if you wanna inhale, when I say exhale, then switch your breath out.

Just know that it might change the objective of the exercise when you do so. And then go ahead and rest here. We'll just go right into Child's pose for a moment, we have one more thing here in your all fours position. And then bring it back. Hands underneath the shoulders, knees underneath the hips, sometimes, if I take you into a stretch is because I needed it.

So I needed it. So we're gonna curl the toes under, and then from here, draw the shoulders back, elbows pointing backwards and imagine your back as a table top. Can you lift your knees about an inch, I can't translate that into the metric system but an inch, and then lower it back down, and see if you can keep that tabletop steady. Inhale to lift the knees. Exhale to lower.

Most people find tension in the shoulder if this isn't done correctly, change the position of your arms, that should help a bit. And then think about shifting your weight up and slightly back then forward. Let's do that again. Inhale, breath, I'm gonna have you lift one more time, but this time if you could pause for a moment, so lift the knees up and then just pause. Take a few breaths here and you're welcome to lower the knees and lift them again or you can just stay here with me.

Inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth, you'll feel the movement or the weight in your quads. in your shoulders, neck is long. And then go ahead and lower the knees to the mat, and then find that Child's pose again. I like to bring my arms behind me especially in the beginning of a class 'cause my shoulders are tight. And take a deep inhale, and then exhale to roll yourself up.

We're gonna switch to your supine position or on your back to do some bridging. So spine articulation again, but this time in this different position here on your back. So bridging is different for everybody, depending on how tight your hips are. We'll start by placing the feet parallel, arms long by your side. Let's just do a quick elevation of the shoulders.

So draw the shoulders to the ears, and then release them just to take the tension out of the shoulder and then bring awareness to the core and the lats. Now relax the arms, press gently into the hands and just lift your hips up. Just find your first bridge. The most important thing here in this inverted position or the beginning of inversion, is that you put your head in good placement. So eyes towards the ceiling or sky, wherever you're practicing today.

Make sure that the back of the head is pressing into the mat and that you don't feel pressure into the knees or in to the lower back. So make any adjustments you need to here to find the top of your bridge. And then just roll yourself down one vertebrae at a time until you drop your tailbone heavy in neutral. Inhale, tilt the pelvis back with your breath. Exhale, start to roll yourself up engaging your abdominals and your glutes.

Inhale at the top. Again feel the stretch here in the beginning and then lower. Sometimes it's easier to focus on the opposition side, So most people's immediate reaction would be I need to work my glutes, so I'm working my back body. But sometimes it's easier to think, oh, I'm stretching the front. And that maybe will give you a little bit more mobility, and also take the pressure off the glutes and the back.

Roll yourself up. And then roll yourself all the way back down. We're gonna stay at your bridge next, so roll yourself up and pause. And then lift just your right heel off the floor so that most of your weight is on your left side. Let's try a few like this, roll yourself down with your right heel up.

And then roll yourself up. Making the emphasis on the left side, even though you're moving equally through your spine, you'll get a little bit bigger stretch on that left hip. Roll yourself up, inhale, breath, and exhale back down. Let's try the other side. So drop the right heel gently left heel comes up.

Same thing, roll up to your bridge. Maintain your eyes to the ceiling, shoulders nice and wide so the integrity of your arms, and your mid back is the same. Reach it up. lower yourself back down. We'll do that one more time.

And you'll notice for me one side it's harder, 'cause I'm tighter on one hip. Roll it up. And then roll it all the way back down. Just take your knees into your chest here for just a quick little hug and release any tension into your lower back. We're gonna stay on our back to start the abdominals.

So feet down, and then you're gonna go ahead and lay your head down. And we're gonna work on some lumbopelvic stability here in the beginning. Take your right leg up to a table top position, the right knee is going to be perpendicular to your hip, your right foot perpendicular to your knee. Start by just touching the toe down to the floor and opening up through your right hip. So make sure that you're not changing the degree of angle of your right knee.

It's just your right hip that's moving. And then you could actually tactile cue yourself by taking your thumbs onto your ribs and your four fingers onto your hips to see if that distance changes. And if it changes, then you're probably working too much into your lower back. Let's try the other side. So the left foot comes up and you'll do the same thing.

I like to visualize maybe a ball or log underneath my legs, so I'm just taking the same shape each time. And this is also a really great place to really focus on your pelvic floor. And lower, and now we're just gonna do a little exchange. So it's gonna go right leg up first. And they're gonna place that foot down, left leg up, place that foot down.

So now you're just marching on your back, but you're focusing on again, that lumbopelvic stability. And if you do these long enough and correctly, you really feel the lower part of your abdominals working for you. So I'm gonna take this to a little bit more advanced level or just the next step. So let's take one leg up to table top and then the other. Now your legs are in an open kinetic chain, so it makes it a little bit harder on your abs, you could always go back to the next, the one before.

So about fist distance apart between the knees, legs, still at table top, arms are down by your side, same thing, touch the right toe down, bring it up, then touch the left toe down, bring it up. And what you'll notice here is that it's a little bit harder to maintain that stability. So some of you might want to err towards an infinite position of your spine. And that's totally fine. As long as you're not jamming anything into the mat, arms are relaxed as you continue unilateral.

So don't be tempted to go into reciprocal, unless you feel like you can maintain that stability. Continue to move one at a time. And also make sure that there's no tension at the top of the neck and the shoulders. As I tell my classes all the time, your head and shoulders are not responsible for your rear end, ever. Okay, so one more on each side.

And then we're gonna keep the legs at table top and squeeze the inner thighs together, which is a really great way to create some stability for the hips. So tighten those legs together. I have the advantage of a high mat so I can grab the sides of my mat. But if you guys can take your arms out a little bit wider for support, palms can either face up or face down. And we're gonna do a little supine spine twist.

So let's take the legs over towards the right side, the left hip comes up. A few of those ribs come up but that left shoulder stays down and then you take it back to center. And let's try the other side. And then back to center. Inhale as you lean to one side, exhale, use that breath to draw the hips back to neutral and then to the other.

So I like to imagine that there is a bell, my belly button has a rubber band that's attached from there to my knees. And so as I go too far to one side, that rubber band starts to tighten, and then I pull back in, so I don't snap that rubber band. Inhale, exhale, pull it in. We'll do one more to each side. Hold center, and then gently place your feet down one at a time, and drop your legs to one side and then look over the shoulder, so the opposite shoulder.

And then go ahead and go over to the other side, stretch. And then return. We are to take you back to bridging. So now that we have the lumbopelvic region really warmed up, and we actually have tried to stretch a little bit of the front of the body, we're gonna take that bridge into another level. So go ahead with the arms long, find your bridge again.

This time, instead of spinal articulation, we're gonna go into more of a hip lift so that we can find that neutral, and fire those glutes. So I want you to think about the gluteal fold. So where the hamstring meets the glute here, hinge the hips to drop the bottom towards your mat maintaining as much neutral with your pelvis as possible, and then lift it back up. So this is just a simple hip lift, lower and lift, and down, and up. Now while you're doing this, I want you to think about the stretch.

The hip is a hinge joint. So you're just closing the door, opening the door. Where people seem to find this a little bit aggravating is if they are too tight and their legs are too close together. Make sure they stay parallel, however, but you can open them a little further apart. And then while you're doing this, I want you to think about the inner thigh connection.

So lift those hips up and everyone pause. And then don't move your feet, don't move your hips, just draw your knees in about a quarter inch that really should have connected your inner thighs. Let's try those hip lifts again, drop your bottom down, lift your bottom up, and then see if you can maintain that connection from your top of your inner thigh to your knee. And it should make a huge difference. And for me, what it does, is it really helps for me to fire my glutes.

And whenever you have your feet on the ground, or using your feet, if your glutes aren't working, or your glute max, your lower back is. So you have two choices, and I know which one I'd rather have work for me more. Now hold the bridge there at the top and pause, we're gonna do the lifting the heels. So you're gonna lift the right heel like you did before, but this time, we're gonna go into that hip lift again or just the hinge. So drop your bottom down, lift your bottom up one.

And remember that inner thigh connection. And you'll really feel the glute and inner thighs working, but this is a really simple and very safe way to do this exercise 'cause you're in a closed kinetic chain. Continue to keep those arms nice and long and pressing the back of the head into the mat. Now pause here at the top drop one heel, I'm not great at counting as most of us are not in this industry. But, so I don't know how many we just did.

But we're gonna try it on the other side, left heel comes up. And let's just drop the bottom down and lift and lower and lift. If you're starting to feel fatigue into the lower back, try to pull that pelvic floor up just a little bit more, try to focus more on that glute. Maybe even shorten your range of motion, or just take a break altogether. One more time, and drop your heel.

And then roll yourself back down. One last thing in this bridge position, I'm gonna have you lift your hips back up. And this time, we're just gonna test that balance. This is gonna work all sides, front back and the lateral sides of your body. You're gonna lift your right foot up off of the mat at a hover.

And it's like almost like you're lifting your foot off of a tack, so not very far. And then place that foot down and then lift the other one up. And then place it down. And just like we did earlier, you wanna make sure that you're not moving too much when we're doing the arm reaches, so when your arm and legs are reaching away from each other as little to no movement as possible. But what you'll find here is now the obliques are waking up the multifidus muscle is waking up.

So anything that has to do with that inner core has to fire here to maintain some balance and control. Inhale, exhale. One more on each side. And then place the legs down. Roll yourself down.

And let's just extend the legs long and do a little stretch here. So just reach the arms overhead arch that lower back if you need to, wiggle the fingers, the toes, yon your face. Whatever you need to make your body relax. And then go ahead and take those arms now up towards the ceiling. Let's reconnect through the inner thighs.

So I'm gonna connect the inner thighs with my legs long and we're gonna try the top half of your roll up. So reach the arms up towards the ceiling, palms are gonna face towards your feet, or they could face each other about shoulder width apart, lift the eyes to check out your toes. And then roll yourself back to the mat. And you'll do that again. Now, what's nice about those legs extended here is that it's a little bit harder to press that lower back into the mat.

So you're not putting that pressure on the back. But it also was forcing you to gain mobility in the upper part of your back which most of us do not have. And lift it up. Now pause here, let's go round the size of the legs. So you're just placing the hands at the sides of the legs here, and you're gonna pull yourself up just a teeny bit higher, we're not gonna come up to the full roll up today.

And then roll yourself back down. Let's do that again. Inhale, arms reach towards your toes. Exhale, grab your legs and just give yourself a little bit extra, and then roll yourself back down. If you have a nice round rump, it's a little bit hard to get up on that roll up.

So if you are practicing the roll up at home, and it always is difficult for you, you've got a nice ramp, I've got a round ramp. Sometimes it's nice to put a little mat or a little towel or a sweatshirt or something underneath your lower back just to give that lower back a little bit of a tactile cue. And then you can always grab your legs on that roll up to pull yourself up. It's not cheating. It's called an assist.

So you can assist yourself and then roll yourself back to the mat. So we're gonna do one more series here on our back before we move on to something else. So let's place the feet flat on the floor like we did before. And then take your arms up towards the ceiling, palms faced towards your legs. Eyes are going to lift so that you curl your abs up and then you bring your arms to your hips as though you've got the top of the hundred here, but you have your knees bent and your feet flat.

And then lower yourself back to the mat. And again and lift it up on your exhale breath, focus on those shoulders separating in protraction and then lower yourself back. So which brings me to the shoulders, your shoulders are synonymous with spinal movement. So if your shoulders don't stretch apart as you're coming up, you can't flex the spine as well. The same goes in extension, the retraction of the shoulder blades helps the extension, and then lower.

This is pretty much an hundred prep with your feet down. So inhale as you, exhale as you come up, excuse me, inhale as you lower back down. Let's try one more, lift it up and flex. Now pause here for a moment and find more protraction. So pull those shoulder blades apart, really reach towards your shins, make sure that your chin is knotted 'cause you have a chin nod because the front of your neck muscles need to flex in order for the head to come up.

And for most of us those muscles are actually weak. Because with tech neck these days, it's the back of the neck muscles that are overused. So right now I can really feel the muscles working the front of the neck there I'm gonna lower myself back down. I felt that so, interlace the fingers now and we're gonna place the hands behind the head. And we're gonna do more of an Up-curl here with the hands back.

So this is gonna be easier on the neck. But a little bit more weight on the upper body, elbows in your peripheral vision. Start to nod the chin and exhale to float yourself up. Inhale here and pause quickly. Exhale to lower.

So now we're gonna go into a two breath pattern. Inhale nod chin, exhale to come up to your Ab-curl. Pause here and then lower back down. Make sure those elbows stay in your peripheral because again, that protraction is required for flexion and lower, but you don't wanna actually bring the elbows to your face. That's just you trying to get up a little bit higher and pulling on your neck.

So make sure you're not pulling that neck. Though the head should feel firm into your hands. We'll do that again. Exhale as you lift up. Now this time we'll add a challenge.

Release the head, grab your hamstrings, pull yourself up a little higher so you could see that maybe you can get up a little bit higher in flexion. It's just that the flexibility is not there in your back. Then hold your head and then lower yourself to the mat. And we'll do that again. Elbows in your peripheral, exhale as you float up, grab your hamstrings, curl it up, hold your head and lower.

One more, and lift it up, grab those legs, give yourself a little curl here, pause and then lower yourself back to the mat. Hope everyone's doing okay out there. We're gonna go into a little rotation. So let's pull the elbow up so you can see it in your peripheral. Keep your right elbow down, or your left elbow up, right elbow down and then rotate up to the right side.

So the right elbow actually stays down, left one is up. So you're reaching towards the corner of the wall. Legs stay nice and stable here. And I want you to stay here for a second, and think about how the left shoulder blade stretches away from that right hip, and then lower yourself back. Let's lift up the right elbow, and then rotate to the other side, pause here like you did on the other side, right shoulder moves away from the left hip, and lower yourself back down.

And then continue. I like to do the inhale, actually, in the beginning, when I rotate, because the inhale allows me to stretch my back. And so clients will come in and they'll say, I'm not very strong in my abs, and I'm like, well, let's just see. And most of the time, it's not that they're not strong, they're not flexible. So if your back's not moving, there's no way to get up to do your abs.

So it's not your abs weak, it's your back tight. So it actually makes people feel better. So hopefully, if any of that resonated with you, you feel a little bit better about your lack of movement today. Rotate to the other side, and then lower yourself all the way back down. You guys doing all right?

Okay, so now let's take the right leg up to a table top position and release the head. I'm gonna have you lift yourself up, and grab onto that leg. So pull that right shin towards you like a single leg stretch, but we're gonna keep the left leg down, so there's support. Extend your right leg away, and then return it just like that single leg stretch, except you've got one foot down. And what's nice about this too, is you're working on that mobility of the back.

So the higher you can get your back, the harder you can work your abs. We'll do that twice more. One more, and now pause with your knee up, lower yourself to the mat and take your hands behind your head, interlace the fingers. We'll do the obliques here while we have the knee bent. So lift head and shoulders up, hold, extend that leg away from you, as it comes toward you, right elbow drops, left arm goes towards that knee, back to center, see if you can stay up.

If you can't, you can lower your upper body down between each repetition. Try not to touch the knee with the elbow and focus more on that right elbow touching the mat. One more time. And I come back to the center and then release. Now release the head so we can go back to the single leg stretch on the left side.

Left leg comes up, head and shoulders come up, grab the shin, pull it toward you, and then extend the leg out and the arms will just do what you would normally do with your single leg stretch. So I just release my leg and then pull it back in. It's perfectly okay to give yourself a little stretch to pull the knee in just make sure that you're not using it as a crutch. Let's try one more time. And then lower the head and shoulders down.

But keep the knees at 90 degrees. Hold the head with your hands, elbows in your peripheral, head and shoulders come up, your leg extends away safely, and then you rotate left elbow to the mat. And when I said safely, I meant don't go too low, that it compromises your lower back. So maintain the integrity of the lumbopelvic spine. Let's do that twice more, inhale, exhale, one more.

And then place that foot down. And then lower. We're gonna tackle two more of the ab series here, with modifications. So we're gonna work on the upper part of the body for double leg stretch. Again, keeping the feet down.

So that way the lower back feels secure. Let's lift the head and shoulders up and reach for the thighs and grab the hamstrings actually, see if you can curl yourself up to a nice comfortable C curve. Release the legs and then reach the arms overhead, keep them in your peripheral, and then circle the arms around. Now you could do the hat off your head version. Some of you might have been taught that or just the straight arm, and around nice and strong.

Inhale, exhale, focusing again on the position of the upper body and the feet are on the mat. Let's do that one more time. And then rest. That burns, a lot of upper abdominal work today. So last thing here, it would be the scissor leg.

So I'm gonna extend that right leg up towards the ceiling. And then I'm gonna lift my head and shoulders up and grab onto my leg safely either behind the calf, hamstring, but try not to grab the back of the knee where the tissue's a little bit softer. So I'm gonna grab my calf and I'm gonna enjoy the stretch for a moment. Shoulders down, left foot still down. I'll release that leg towards the mat, if you can touch them out with the leg, great.

If not, hover it. Grab that leg, give it a stretch. Let's go four more. Inhale, exhale, lower, lift. Two and one, pause, lower to the mat, lower the right foot.

Left knee to tabletop, left leg extends, head and shoulders up, grab at the same spot, if possible. Ready, lower that leg and lift it up, one. And exhale, two. One more, and bend that knee, lower the foot down, and rest. I'm gonna have you guys sit up on your bottom.

So however you can get up safely, you can rock yourself up, putting ourselves in a different position, working on some seated abdominals before I turn you over to extension, so we can open up all of the front body that we just worked. So feet are going to be flat. And then you're gonna sit up tall. So everyone's version of seeing up tall is different, I actually have the beauty of seeing myself on camera right now, so I can sort of tell. So hands behind your hamstrings, tall through your spine, you're gonna find your taller spine as though the hands grabbing the legs are separating each vertebra to create length.

Once you have that, release the legs, fire those abs. Now just a little quick cue if you draw your knees together even without moving the feet, that inner thigh connection will sometimes help with the hip flexors and the lower back. So roll yourself away from your femur, to about a safe place in a half roll back. So a lot of the time in the beginning, I have to adjust my feet for counterbalance, and then sit yourself back up nice and tall. And then exhale to roll back.

And then inhale up. I'm gonna add a little arm movement. So we're gonna move our arms towards flexion. So up towards the ceiling to open up the chest, and then roll myself back. So there's some fluidity in the upper and lower half of the body.

Now when you're bringing your arms up, careful that you don't chicken neck, so if you're tight in your packs, you'll take those arms up and then shove the arms or the head forward. But I want you to just find that comfortable position where your arms come up, almost like little gesture arms, reach and then lower back down to your half roll back and pause. Let's grab the hamstrings again, and make sure that you're in that act of flexion of your lower abdominals. Because otherwise you're just collapsed into your back, but the abs aren't working like you need them to to support your back. So I'm gonna release just my right arm, so my right arm is reaching behind my knee then I'm gonna turn that palm up so that my shoulder has a nice opening as I rotate.

So I'm gonna look over that shoulder, I'm rotated, my palms facing up. And I'm not taking my arm too far back, that it stretches the front of the shoulder and is not consistent with the rotation of my spine. Then I'll bring that hand back and grab my leg and then I'll try the other side. So turning that palm up, maintains the integrity of the shoulder movement. So rotate and you can add an inhale here or an exhale, try both and see which works better for your spinal movement.

And when I say spinal movement, lumbopelvic steady, upper to middle moving, okay. So think about that shoulder blade gliding across the back towards the spine, and the ribs moving with it. Good and your neck doesn't have any tension, one more. And then hands come to hamstrings. You sit up nice and tall, and you release your legs.

So whatever you need to do to release your legs, pop a hip or two if you'd like. I'm gonna turn you over prone to your belly. So we can go into some extension. So on your belly, and the first one is, I want you to feel pretty relaxed about this one, the nose is going to be at a hover off of your mat, the arms are gonna be by your side in a W position. So you see your thumbs in your peripheral and your fingers and your nose is resting.

If you could, if you can, and those of you that have been practicing Pilates for a while, it's hard to relax some body parts. But if you can relax everything from the waist down, and then just press into the palm of the hand, lift the eyes and take the crown of the head to the ceiling. Basically like a baby that's just looking up from the crib. And if this feels good for most of you, then I want you to just enjoy the stretch here for a moment and breathe. I've had a couple of clients that are uncomfortable.

They've have some degenerative discs and such and so this isn't great for them in some way. But for most people, they just love it. So hopefully it feels good to you. So eyes up, crown of the head to the ceiling, stretch the front of the body and then down. A shout out to my physical therapist or manual therapists, when I hurt my lower back a few years ago, moving Pilates equipment, no less.

She had me do 15 of these a day, relax the lower half of the body. And it was great for my triceps actually, but it really helped my sacrum 'cause that's what I had hurt. So just a couple more just like this. And one more. And now I'm gonna take you through a breast stroke prep.

So lower yourself down, this time I do want you to find more awareness of the lower half of your body. So I'm gonna talk you through that. Take your pubic bone and press it into your mat. And what you'll find is that your knees come up a bit, which is perfect. So press the hips down, knees start to rise, but the tops of your feet are anchored to the mat.

Navels pulled into your spine, and then take your arms to your side just like you did before. But now your lower half is anchored. From here, float the arms off the mat, squeezing your shoulder blades together and keeping that line from your fingertips to your elbows, and then lower yourself down. So don't take your elbow, in other words, higher than your shoulder, 'cause what that'll do, is go ahead and float up, it'll take your shoulder into a forward rotation. So try to squeeze those shoulder blades together and then lower.

The other thing is that your head needs to move too. So as you come up, start to press the back of the head towards the ceiling, not the crown of the head, your eyes are still at the mat, and then lower down. So like we talked about earlier, protraction is synonymous with flexion. Retraction is synonymous with extension. So we gotta make those shoulder blades move.

On the next one, float up and pause, check the position of your lower half of your body. Ideally, I'd like your legs close together and parallel. But that doesn't work for everybody. So you find a good spot. And please do not squeeze your glutes and you can avoid squeezing them by not turning your toes out.

Squeezing the glutes will hinder that extension, so we wanna make sure we're getting the most out of this as we can. Let's take the arms back towards the hips. So I've extended my elbows, palms face the hips, bend your elbows, hands come back towards the shoulder. Do that again, press it back and forth. And this is also very similar to some movements you'd be doing on a reformer, you know arms pulling in straps on the long box.

So this is a really great place to practice this. One more time. And then you're going to rest and then hold. I'm gonna add one more movement. So go ahead and lift back into that extended position, this time, you're going to take your arms back, pause, bend them, and then if you could take them forward, like you're diving into a pool, you can place your hands down if you need to otherwise, hover them and then take them all the way back past your T-position to your hips.

Elbows bent, dive into the pool, rest your arms if you need, palms face away and then toward your hips. So basically, the breast stroke. So I took you from a prep right into the breaststroke movement. Inhale, make sure there's no tension into the neck. I actually really, really love this is more of my I'd like this exercise more for extension than swimming or some of the others.

One more time. And then you're gonna bring those arms back. And then you're going to lower the nose. One last thing here to prep you for the other classes that will follow this. So place your hands on top of each other, and then I'm gonna keep my nose up for a second so I could talk but I want your hands on top of each other and then your forehead, on your hands.

So that gives your nose a little room to breathe, okay. Once you're resting, relax the upper half of your body, just draw your shoulders out of your ears, we're gonna work on hip extension. So press again the pubic bone into the mat. Draw your navel to your spine. And let's lift the right leg off the mat and then lower it back down and then alternate.

And then pay attention to the zigzag pattern that could be happening, which we don't actually want to happen. You don't wanna zigzag this tension all the way up to your shoulder. Think about the glute to hamstring fold, that gluteal fold and think about the front of your hip may be stretching which is really important. We're gonna do one more on each side. Good, and then you're gonna go ahead and rest and then lower yourself back to a Child's pose, resting your forehead on the floor or your mat.

And then release. All right, we're gonna go to some side leg series. So I'm gonna lie on my right hip. And you have a couple of choices here, you can just lie on your forearm, if you're comfortable, just know that your range of motion will be a little bit shorter. Or you can lie all the way down, folding your bottom arm under.

What I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna take my bottom leg forward, so that shin lines up with my mat, and then I'm gonna lie all the way down, I'm gonna choose to lie all the way down with my head on my folded arm like a pillow, just make sure that your waist is lifted, right off of the mat. Top leg parallel, go ahead and just lift and lower that leg. So what you're working on is abduction, abduction, inner thigh, outer thigh. If you can maintain parallel, then you'll definitely get that side of your hip to fire. If you turn your foot out, it'll turn your hip open.

And then you won't work the side quite the way you should. So we're working outer thigh, inner thigh. Now go ahead and hold that leg out about the height of your hip and then extend the bottom leg if you can, and just bring the leg slightly forward of you. So that way you can protect your lower back. Lift your top leg up conservatively, and then take the bottom leg to the top leg, gluing them together, lowering them both down.

These are your staggered legs. And what I want you to think about is there's a lot of weight down there, if you have long legs, you're at a disadvantage. But as you bring your leg up, it should feel like the bottom leg's trying to reach up and pass the top leg to really engage those inner thighs. Now to challenge you even further, let's glue those legs together and then to keep that top leg as just dead weight. Keep the hand forward as your kickstand hand.

And then you can work a little bit more into that inner thigh. And if you're feeling it in your lower back, just take that hip back a bit, so that way you get more into your oblique. Now bring those knees in, bend them and then pop yourself up to your forearm. If you're not already there, your right elbow should be slightly forward of your shoulder. We're gonna go into a modified side plank.

So as you lift yourself up, knees are stacked. And then you're gonna bring your left arm towards the ceiling in a T position and pause. Hopefully the obliques, the internal obliques are fired here. And then just lower those hips back down, very simple. Setting your shoulder up.

So just lift it up inhale. And then exhale. And this is a really great way to work the oblique, you could actually do the repetition or you can hold it here. But just getting that movement of the hip, and you can certainly advance this if you'd like. And one of the ways you could do that is by lifting that top leg up.

And we'll put a little bit more weight onto that bottom leg, and also adds a little coordination. Two more times, inhale, breath. Exhale, breath, one more deep inhale, and then release. And we're gonna switch the legs over to the other side. So I'm gonna stack the legs on top of each other.

And I'm gonna lie down. So my bottom arm is folded, my top bottom leg is bent. And then I'm gonna extend my top leg out again, making sure that there's room in that waist and I turned over so I can continue to look at you all on the screen. So just lift and lower. So your foot again is in parallel, you're working the outside of your leg.

Good, so these are all really wonderful ways to prep the side body for more advanced Pilates work. And we'll get to tackle those as the weeks go by. And I think that one of the classes actually has a little cardio component there towards the end, and then I also am bringing in a prop. So let's bring that leg down. Then line the legs up, bringing the legs slightly forward.

And then from here, we do the staggered legs. And then make sure that you maintain the integrity of the shoulder. So don't compromise the shoulder just so you can get your legs up. And how high you get your legs is on you. You don't have to get them very high.

It's just enough to feel the inner thighs. Now let's glue those legs together. And the top leg lifts the bottom leg, I mean the bottom of this lifts the top, this is just dead weight and just pull it up for four, three, two, one. And then we'll pop up to the forearm, and we'll do the side bend on this side. So left elbow slightly forward to the shoulder, legs stacked and maybe the first one's not perfect, so you kinda have to find that position.

I do that a lot. And then lower, but you're not in concrete. So don't ever think the position you start with is the position you have to end in, always start comfortable in Pilates, it does not get more comfortable as you continue those repetitions. And then again, the little bit more of a challenge version, you can extend that top leg out, that will put more weight on the underbody. Good, and again, two more inhale.

Last one, and you lift. And then you lower. And then go ahead and sit up, I didn't count, I didn't stretch you on the other side. So let's go ahead and just do a little mermaid counter stretch here. Smile, it always makes it feel better.

And let's try the other side, since I didn't have you do the other side, you're just gonna bring that arm up. And pull and stretch, and then back. All right, a little tackle on all fours again. So we're gonna go to your all fours position, hands underneath the shoulders, knees under the hips, we're gonna go right into those knee lifts that we did earlier. So you're gonna curl your toes under, shoulders nice and wide.

And take the knees up and off the mat a few times, just like you did in the beginning of class when you warmed up the core. What we'll do next, is we'll go from here into what I like to call an upside down teaser. But most people call it a down dog or a pike. So now lift the knees up, take it to that down dog or pike position, stretch the back of the heel. If you don't have flexible heels, this isn't your favorite exercise.

So go ahead and shift forward. Now your choice is to lower the knees to the mat completely or to a hover, and then find that pike again. And what's nice about this one is not only does it work the joints of the bottom half of the body, but it also is nice for the shoulder, it allows it to pivot. And bring it forward and lift it up and down. Just three more.

And two, last one, and then lower back down. Let's shift so we can do a little antagonist to that exercise for the shoulder. So I'm gonna shift to the my bottom. And I'll take my arms up towards the ceiling, like we did when we were doing that half roll back. And then that's about where I want my arms to be as they come out to the sides back around, and again, I have the advantage of a high mat, but you can place the hands on the mat, and then lift your bottom up.

Yeah, so right here, you're in a different kind of bridge position, but also a modified control back. So our biceps are bent all day long. So I really like this 'cause it stretches the bicep here. From here, keeping the arms long, just drop your bottom down, and then lift your bottom up. Just stretch to the front of the body.

And if this isn't comfortable for you, lay down on your back, and just go back to your bridging to open up that front body and lift. And then since we're here, drop the bottom down, let's do some tricep presses. So fingertips forward, preferably or to the side, bottom up. And I'm just gonna add a few tricep presses, who doesn't like some tricep presses? I do, and I didn't know why until I got into my mid 40s.

Now I know why like tricep presses, up and down for four, three. Now I want you to pay attention to my transition here, 'cause we are gonna transition to the last series. So go ahead and bring your feet towards your bottom. If you can, it's not for everybody, and then see if you can shift to where your hands are now in front of you. And then you can come into a folded over position standing.

So your legs and your hamstrings are stretching and your arms are down towards the mat, you've got length at the back of your neck. Reflect here for a moment on everything that you've learned today. A lot of that, the exercises were basic or modification exercises, but they still move the body in very effective ways so that the next level will be easier for you. Now roll yourself up one vertebra at a time. And because it's morning here, I like to end class with a little bit of standing so you can walk out of here.

So I'm gonna face you all. All right, toes pointing forward, parallel. If you could just give me some nice easy squats, bending the knee and lifting back up and I want you to focus on neutral spine, parallel legs, glutes working, so just about everything that we did in the last 15 minutes or so, reflects your standing position. So how we work the feet, how we engage the inner thighs, how we move the glutes and the hips, allow those shoulders to open, one more time. And then take a little bit wider stance, please, toes pointing out.

And then this time, we're gonna do some lunging to the side without actually shifting the feet. So I'm gonna move to my right, bending my right knee, stretching my left inner thigh, my knees centered over my second and third toe, and I'm just going to extend and stand, go to the same side. Take it down, and then up. So not only is it again, firing that glute, and then moving that spine in a little side rotation there, not much, just a slight rotation, but also stretching the inner thigh that we worked, one more. And then over to the other side, take it down for a little stretch and up and lower and lift.

Just because we have a mat doesn't mean we have to lie on it, we could stand on it sometimes, and still practice our Pilates principles one more time. And then for a quick stretch here, if everyone can just rotate the feet to the right, and then find a comfortable lunge as you reach your arms up towards the ceiling. And you could also place that back knee down. So this is what it would look like here, if you really want it to stretch in this position. Or you could do it standing and then fold forwards so you can get a little bit of a hamstring stretch, toes again in parallel.

I'm just gonna rotate from this position to the other side, makes it easier on me and I'm gonna find my lunge on this side. Make sure your feet have a little bit of space between because if they're too much in line with each other, then it's like a slalom ski. It's hard to balance. Opening up your right hip. And then again, please open up the ribs so you can breathe and mobilize that middle back and then stretch forward.

I'm gonna stretch my hamstring here. And then I'm gonna rotate towards you all again, bringing my feet to parallel, rolling myself up, taking my arms up to the ceiling. This is your last thing here grabbing on to one of your wrists, and then taking it over to that opposite side so you could really open up and breathe into one side of your rib cage. So really do that once I breathe in here, inhale, exhale, one more. Take it to the other side and stretch the ribs, the lats.

Keep that arm that you're pulling on as long as possible. So it really stretches that lat as you breathe. And then bring those arms down, maybe even moving the wrist around. We work those quite a bit in the beginning. Take a deep inhale breath, reach those arms up to the sky.

And take those hands to prayer and hands to heart center. And thank you so much for joining me today. I'm so grateful to have you. Hopefully you guys will meet me on the mat for the next seven weeks as we level up your Pilates practice. Thank you so much

Level Up: On the Mat

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Foundations, Strength, Mobility

May 20, 2021
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Essential Mat Flow
Delia Buckmaster
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2 people like this.
You’re one of my favorite teachers! Lovely instructions and were clear flowing class. Will all of your level up series be mat? I would love more equipment classes from you!
2 people like this.
Hi Mel! Thank you so much for your kind review. Yes this series is all mat! Hopefully reformer will be in the future. ❤️
2 people like this.
This is the 1st class in the series. So it was designed to be more informative than challenging. But it was still a nice workout. I wore 5 lb leg weights and that worked for me. The class was impeccably cued and I enjoyed it. Looking forward to the rest of the series. Thanks Delia:) 
4 people like this.
Very nice for post-pandemic-restart . I am looking forward to next classes. Nice work, thank you.
Very good combination of movements, well explained!
Perren S
Thank you, loved the class and your teaching style!
Delia Wonderful first class Delia.  Looking forward to this series and to a Reformer one too :) Warm regards
Lina S
2 people like this.
Great cueing! I'm looking forward to this series.
Michele F
1 person likes this.
This was just the class I needed on this snowy morning in Bozeman! Love your classes!
I'm a new fan! Looking forward to spending the next 7 weeks learning from you.  I have another committment at 8PCT so will be impatient for the classes to be uploaded to the PA site each week.
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