Class #4728

All About the Base

40 min - Class


Our feet are our foundations and they should always be connected to the body while standing on the Mat and when they are free in the air. Join Ilaria Cavagna in her Mat workout where she explores how the placement of the feet can change the way the glutes and the inner thighs work. She starts a towel to warm up the feet and then works up to standing exercises that replicate the posture we use most of the day. Enjoy!
What You'll Need: Mat, Towel

About This Video

Nov 08, 2021
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Hi, this is Ilaria, and today it's all about the base. Today we'll start at the foundations to really discover different feelings when we work out, when we do the mat. The mat is amazing, but we want to start from there to really connect it as best as we can. So in the beginning, I just want you to relax, shake it out, and just stand and be in the way that is comfortable for you. Don't control anything.

Breathe in and breathe out, exhale. And now slowly, I want you to shift your body to the left and to the right, just to feel, observe what your body is changing. Your feet might change something, your body above might react in a different way. So just listen to your body and see how it feels. And I want you to do the same thing front and back, front and back.

That's even more interesting actually, because I feel a lot of things changing in my body as I shift forward and backwards. You might have some extra tension going on at the hamstrings or the abdominals kicking in to hold your body up and avoid falling. So just feel, because we'll repeat this at the end, and it will be nice and interesting to see what changed, or if we are more tuned in with our body. Now, before getting into the core of the matter, I want you to warm up a little bit. So let's start with a little osteoarticular warmup, moving the ankles and the toes, just rolling front and back.

It's so important to differentiate the movement of the toes to the metatarsals above, right? So let's just get a little movement there. And now we stop. We go up with one, we curl it over. If this is too much, you can bring it back.

And once you've had it curled over, you can roll side to side from the big toe to the little toe, gentle, nothing should be painful. Nothing should hurt. Everything should be just beneficial to your body to get moving, to get going, to bring blood and fluid to the area. So we go to the other side now, your right leg, you curl over and you go. You move slowly, you feel, you get to stretch muscles and parts of your foot that might be tighter than others, and then you'll go back to the toes and down.

Now we've build up to the knees. You can put your hands on the knees. And with the feet parallel and close together, we're going to tiny circles. Start small, and as you warm up, you can go a little bigger. This circle of motion is very important to really get the synovial fluid to move and warm up and avoid hurting the knees when we go beyond the in the mat.

So you go reverse, you go circle the other way. You can bend a little bit as you circle around. And now one last thing before we go down seated, we go skiing. So you tilt your feet, tilt your knees. So allow the ankles to tilt, and the knees to follow along, to go in and kind of forward diagonal.

Very good. Last one. And now we'll lower ourselves down on the mat and we're going to a nice and easy manipulation. So it's not even exercise. This is really a nice massage. We cross one leg over, I'm turning this way so you might be able to see more of the details.

I want you to slide the fingers in between the toes of the opposite foot. Sometimes it's not easy. If you cannot slide them all in, just start with the two, the index and the second, the other one. And once you have your foot into your hand, you go into big circle. The ankle might crack a little bit if it's early in the morning, that's absolutely fine.

The foot, the ankle is not moving at all. You just move it around with your hand, with your arm. And then you reverse, nice and big circle. So what we're doing here, it's yes, nice circle for the ankle, but we're also spreading and allowing the blood to flow better and in more capacity into the foot. Now we hold the ankle, we stop the ankle from moving, and we bring the toes up and down, and again, up and down, lift.

So this is creating even more space. And this is usually what's a little tougher for some, and now we move the whole foot. We go to a big flex and a big point. Flex, point. Two more times.

And now back to circle. Circles at this time are gonna be a little more 50/50. Now the ankle and the foot are helping the hand and the arm to circle around. And reverse, we go the other way. Nice and big.

And then to finish, we twist it. So we go. I mean, technically we say from supination to pronation, but basically if you're confused, just lift the elbow, lower the elbow, lift the elbow, lower the elbow. A couple of more times, good, and release. Move it around, shake it out a little bit.

And before we go to the other one, I want you to look at your feet. I'm always amazed of how they, of course, they feel different, lighter, tingling. I mean, I got different feedbacks every time I teach this exercise, but also what amazes me more than anything else is the color, how they look like. The one I just worked on, it's like I don't see the veins. It's a brighter color.

The other one, it looks a little more tired, right? It looks like I haven't activated it yet. So have a look at your feet and let me know. What are the difference? So what do you see changing or feeling maybe different after you do it on your foot only.

Now we go to the other side, we like the fingers in between the toes and we go big again with circles. Remember the first time the arm is moving the ankle around nice and big. And then you go reverse. And again, big, big, big, big. Create the space and make sure you get into the whole, the biggest range of motion possible.

Now hold the ankle and you move only the toes. Up and down, up and down. Very, very important to maintain the range of motion of the toes. Mostly the big toe, right? That's the one that pushes us forward when we walk or when we run.

So if we start limiting that range of motion, then it's gonna be trouble for the knee, for the hip or other parts of the body. Now, from here, the big flax and point. So I'm moving both the ankle and the toes. Perfect. And now we go back to the circle with a little bit of help from the ankle.

Circle one way and then reverse other way nice and big. Perfect. And now the very last one. So you stop the ankle, you stop the foot, and we go elbow up, elbow down. It's almost like a ribbon.

I'm twisting my foot and twisting the metatarsal that connect the ankle to the toes. Very good. Release slowly, move it around a little bit, reactivate it. And now they finally look the same. So the feet are alive, ready to move.

Ready to warm, to strengthen up a little bit with the towel. So if you have a small towel close by, you can place it on a surface that is slippery so you can pull it to you. And here we do the towel only pulling in today. I want to focus on lifting up the arch because we're gonna go in depth with that movement later. So I want you to sit tall, hold onto your knees in the beginning, you lift up your feet, you spread the toes, go down and pull as much towel in as possible, and then you let go.

So this lift is very important. I want you to activate the front of the ankle. So from up, you spread, you go down and you pull it in, lift, spread, down, in. And why not? If you want to mimic it with your hands, you make it a little easier for your brain because it's not an easy movement to do with the feet, right?

We're not used to move them as much. So you left, you go down, you pull and you bring it in. Lift, spread, down, and bring it in. Lift, spread, really think and go maximum in every little motion you do. Let's stretch it out one more time, and we go slow.

If you are good this time, you can put your hands here. You can put it on the side. We start with lifting up the body and getting it to work. So let's keep it out to the side. It's a little easier than behind the neck.

And you go pull, and you go in, and if you need to mimic with your fingers, just keep going with it. It's totally fine. And you go pull, and pull. Now, instead of going slow, now we do the race. Now don't think anymore.

Just go one after the other, pull it in. Quick, quick, quick, quick, quick. And again, you'll go, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull. And one more time. You'll go, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, and beautiful.

Now we can put the towel on the side because we'll use it only at the very end when we stand up again. For now, I want you to go on your mat, ready to get into the hundred, the roll-up. But before we go there, we still work on some foot connection. So from here, I want you to place the feet in line with your hips, and I want you to lift the toes up and spread them as wide as possible. Now keep your foot even so on the medial side, on the lateral side, don't buckle in and out, just nice and straight, toes spread.

And I also want to put a little more tension in the legs. I want to put the... You should put the hands on the outside of the shins and think about the shins pushing out without really moving their leg. And then the hands on the inside of your thighs, and the thighs push in. Again, without any movement, just to create tension.

Now from this position, you'll hold behind the thighs and we go roll back and roll up. Don't use the abs too much. I want you to use the arms. Think about the roll back bar, right? When we do the cadillac, the roll back bar, we're stretching.

We are finding range of motion by movement supported by the springs and by the bar. So same thing here. Our arms are the springs basically, and you'll lift. And one more time you go back, back, back, back back. Remember that tension.

Remember the position of the foot and lift. Now, same foot placement for hip extension. So the feet stay there, the toes are up. The tension is still there. Arms, all bend, as if we were holding the rungs of the Polaris map.

Now from here, curl your tailbone and lift, and slowly roll back down. And again, curl and lift, open up the hips, knees reaching forward, and exhale melted down. And again, curl up, three, and down, and observe how it feels, right? We change the foot position slightly compared to what we usually do, and notice what are the differences in your body? And last time, exhale, lengthen the pelvis away, lengthen the pelvis towards your heels and release.

Now we come up to sitting again, and we change the foot position. This is a little hard. I want you to picture putting two ice cubes under the arches of your foot. When we feel the cold, usually what we do, we retract, right? So automatically with the cold underneath the feet, or like coin sized coins underneath the feet, underneath the arches, you lift up the arch or at least, you understand what you should be doing in this exercise.

So by activating the intrinsic muscles, you lift up and we repeat the same two exercises we just did. The feeling will change or will probably change for many of you. From here, you'll haul behind, you roll back, and you roll up. And of course you don't need to go back as much. You just go back until you feel comfortable, until your feet can stay loaded and grounded on the mat, okay?

If they want to fly up, you need to stop a little sooner and back up. That's absolutely okay. Two more, you roll back, open up the back and curl it up. One more time, roll back down, feel that connection, keep lifting up the arches, and lift. And now you go lying down.

Same position we had before. Do it on the foot, lift it up, and you go. Curl and lift, and melt down, exhale. When I do this pelvic lift with the foot down, I feel a way more connected feeling with my inner thighs and almost lower abs, let's say pelvic floor. And again, there is not one only answer.

Different people might feel different things, but there is a change. The way we position the foot, the way we connect the foot, the body bar, changes the end goal of the exercise. And roll it. Now let's bring the knees into the chest. We hug them in, we can circle the knees around a tiny bit because now we'll start moving.

Still connecting the feet to the body above, my moving through the mat, we know. So curl head his shoulders up, reach out at your working level, long ankles and you pump. And exhale long. And again, in and pump it out. Exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale.

It's your warm up. We are ready, increase blood flow in the feet when we were warming them up before. Now, we're pumping the blood around the body everywhere to get deeper into the mat. Now, flex feet and go. Reach with your heels.

Lengthen the back of the legs, scoop the abdominals in and up, and long that crushing up to the ceiling. Last one, inhale, and exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale. All the air out of the lungs way more than five, reach and bend it in. Now lengthen your legs out this time, keep them a little soft, at least the first time as you come up. So from here, reach, scope, and then you stretch and you go over.

And flex your feet. Feel free to soften them again, control down, and reach to the back. Arms to the ceiling, head up, reach forward, feel free to soften them. And you go over, pull back. Again, little soft, roll back, prioritize the spinal articulation, and reach.

And again, arms, head soft. For the last one, you'll go over. Now, keep them straight. Just go back, reach forward your heels, pull when you move back, control, control, control, control, and reach. And again, arms, head, scope, reverse what you just did.

And you go over nice and round at the lumbar spine. And last time you go down, down, down, down, and release. Now left foot on the floor with the toes up. Remember how we placed the leg previously. The shin pushing out, the thigh pulling in, and here you bring their right knee into your chest.

Hold it behind, and we go for a little tree. You go extend, and bend, stretch and up. Now you go flex, point. We go back to the ankle, and then we circle it around. And reverse, and believe it or not, it's still cracking.

Now long arms about down by your size. And with the top leg, you go for a tick-tock. Don't lift your pelvis, just go with the leg. Across and open, but more importantly, try not to move the standing leg. You go across and open.

All these will be really needed when we get up to standing. And center. Now from here, give yourself a little stretch, lengthen your leg down and we go for circles. Across, around and hold, circle two, circle three, and reverse. Open across and up.

Find that tick-tock as you circle around. Stretch again. Now the right foot goes down on the floor, the left knee comes in on the right foot. Remember the toes are lifted. I anchored the foot like we learned before, go behind the thigh and you go stretch for the tree, two and up, and flex and point.

Really get to that deep flexed length in the posterior chain, and then you circle. Your leg can be anywhere from vertical, all the way to you, ideally straight or a little soft. Doesn't matter. Wherever you can go, the quicker you can be. Now arms by your side, long leg.

And now we go across, and open, and across. And again, the tough work is for the standing leg. Last one, cross and open. Now pull the lack to you a little bit for a stretch, lengthen out, reach, and you go. One, and circle two, and circle three, and reverse.

Open across and hold, open across and hold. And last one, stretch it up again. And now we come up for rolling like a ball. Feet are on the floor, hands behind the thighs for today. Now on the navel to the back, and the navel is dragging the feet.

The navel is dragging the feet. You scoop, you scoop, you scoop, your scoop, and they come up. Now from here, never come further in front that this. At least we try. From here you go, pull back, roll, come up and stop there behind the tailbone. And again, roll back, come up, stop, freeze.

And last one this way, and come up. Now, flex your feet and go with your hands behind your ankles. Your heels push into your pelvis, your hands push the feet away, stay there and keep with that tension going throughout the rolling. So you go, roll back and come up, push and pull, and again, back and up, and again, push and pull. Last one, and lift.

Now one into your chest, pull down single leg bandwidth along the ankle. Pull and pull, and two, two, deepen. One more, and now we flex. Flex, flex, push, push, three and last, both feet in. Keep them flexed.

Now don't send your arms back. Just slide along the thighs, push with your heels forward, hold and bring it in. Push forward, hold and bring it in. Pretend you're on the reformer, pretend you're doing the footwork, third foot work. Scoop enable the way as you expand your legs, and in.

And again, deepen and pull. And curve work with the inner thighs at the same time as there two more. Push away and pull it in, and push away, hold and pull it in. Single straight. Let's keep the feet flat to get a better stretch.

Non-mandatory, but if you can get deeper in the stretch, let's do so. And also try to let the leg come to you, and then you'll catch and stretch. And pull, and pull, and pull, and pull. Rest your head down for a second, breathe. And now for double leg stretch, we paint.

So hands behind the neck, you scoop and lift, elbows wide, long. Now, flex, flex, flex, point, point, point. Pretend you're painting the wall in front of you, and lift. Flex it down, point it up, flex it down, point it up, and reach and up, and reach and scoop, last one. Lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, and lift.

Now for the criss-cross, we come up to sitting. This is a variation that I love for many reasons, but for example, mostly also when we have post-pregnancy women coming into the studio, and we're dealing with diastasis, staying up sitting, we get to work the obliques without damaging the diastasis that they have. So from here, we're gonna twist the back, elbow leads, and the knee comes in and bends. And I go as deep as I can. And then I come up and stretch.

And again, twist, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale. And long. And again, twist and up, pretend somebody is pulling your back elbow. Back elbow, back and up, back and up, and stretch. And again, reach, reach, reach.

One more, reach, reach, reach, and lift. Now we're sitting up for spine stretch forward, and we have a different base, right? The feet are not the base anymore. The sit bones are, and actually the sit bones are the mirror of what the feet are doing when we're standing. So before we go into the exercise, I want you to swing side to side and really feel the difference when we are carrying more weight on one side or the other.

And then you go with that dangling, we go smaller and smaller until you think that you are right in the right place, you can even double check with your hands, okay? Sometimes you can feel if there is a difference. Now, same thing for front and back. I want you to go and fall in front of your sit bones, up on top, and back. Up on top, fall forward, up on top, fall back.

So when you go forward, you almost want to put the pubic bone on the floor, and then when you go back, you'll feel your tailbone on the floor. Same thing here, you go less and less until you think you're in the right place and perfectly balanced on that plane. Now you are there. You stretch your legs, arms down on the mat for now, you inhale, drop your head, curl over, reach forward with your arms, and then you pull back and you scoop back and you go back up right on top of the sit bones, actually. We shouldn't even be moving the sit bones in this exercise, right?

Our pelvis stays. So from here, you lift, head down, reach, stretch forward, maintain the pelvis, and then your scoop, and you come back up. Now we'll lift the arms, lift toe, head down, curl, reach, reach, reach, and our roll up to sitting. One more time, inhale, head down, exhale, curl, empty the lungs as you stretch forward top of the head to the mat. And then you roll back up to sitting.

Hands behind the neck. You'll lift, twist and side side-bend. Now as we side-bend, we want to push the opposite sit bone down onto the floor, and back up. And you lift, you twist, and you side-bend the other way. So if you did feel your sit bones with your fingers before, you want to remember that feeling, and you want to make sure that the opposite sit bone doesn't lift off the floor.

And up, and again, lift, twist, and go deep, deep, deep, and up. Now we're ready for the saw. You lift, completely twist, you go reach, so the little toe, same position you had before, and center. Lift, twist deep, reach, reach, reach, and up. So think about the base.

Think about the position of your sit bones on the floor. And lift, last one, twist, exhale, reach deep, come up and center. Now we're going to side kicks. So from here, I want you to lie sideways, support your head or lie all the way down. And then we align the shoulder, the hip and the feet.

We're keeping the bottom leg bent to create a bigger base of support. So from this position, I also want you to try to put the hand behind your back and press it onto the floor. This helps us staying aligned with the top shoulder, as opposed to swinging in the opposite direction of the leg. So put it back here, top leg is nice and long, and here you go. You go front and point to the back.

And again, kick to the front, point to the back, and you go, kick and reach, and kick and reach. Two to go. Front and back, and again, front and back. Now at a diagonal, we go up for one, two, three parallel, and press it down. Up, two, three, and press.

Up, two, three, and down, up, up, up, and down, one more. Up, up, up, and down. Now, turn out. You kick it up and your flex it down. Point and flex, and kick and reach, two and one, go back to parallel and flex the foot.

Pretend you have a marker on your heel, and you draw a big circle with the heel. So it's nicer to think about the heel because you could think about that heel going back. Otherwise, we forget about the back part a little bit, and again, go, one more time. Circle. And then you reverse.

You go back up and front, and go, and circle. So I'm sure you're feeling that back arm working together with the front knee working, right, to stabilize our body in this position. Now we cross the top leg over and we flex the bottom foot. We lift it as high as we can. And then we bounced up at that maximum range we can cover, okay?

So we stay as far away from the floor as possible. We do 10 more. Beautiful, and release. Now you come up the sitting and we flip over to the other side for the same side kicks. So all the way down, position exactly the same way, align top leg to the front and hand back pressing behind your waist.

And now you, go kick and reach, and kick and reach, and flex and point, and flex and point. One more, flex and point. Now flex at a diagonal, and you go up, up, up and pull it down. Up, up, up, pretend you're squeezing a circle down, and up, up, up, and pull up, up, up, and four, last one, and down now. Now turn it out and you go kick and reach, kick and reach, three, four.

And now circle leg parallel, flex your foot and you go front, up, and back. Circle two, circle around. Three, four, press at hand behind, last one, five. And now reverse, back, up and front. Lengthen, keep growing tall.

Three, almost there, four, and last one, five. Now cross the top leg over, lengthen the bottom one, flex, you lift it as high as you can, and then you go up, up, up, up, up. Really work those inner thighs and internal range. 10 to go, and then you can release it down. Now we didn't do the bicycle and the side kicks, but we're gonna do them.

We gonna lie down on the back. You can keep your arms along the body or open them out. And now I want us to go back to that sure foot and doming position, lifting up the arch. So remember the ice cube underneath your feet, underneath your arches. You take off with a tailbone with a sacrum.

You lift up, you lengthen the thighs, you open up the hips. And now from here, you stay strong with the left foot on the floor and you bring the right knee to your chest. You stretch it up and you lengthen away. And again, you bring it in, you stretch it up and your lengthen out, and you bring it in, up and out. Now reverse, up and straight away, and scrape it away.

Last one, and place the right foot on the floor. Now dome your right foot, lift up the arch, and we go with the left. Knee into your chest, stretch it up and reach down long. And again, you bend, you lift, and you reach. And again, knee into your chest, stretch it up and down reverse.

Up, bend, stretch, lift, and reach, lengthen, and reach. Now both feet on the floor, melt down, release. And from here we do a self-assisted teaser. We flex the feet, keep them bent, remember the roll in and roll we did before. So from here, scoop, reach up into your teaser and then you scoop back and you release down, and again.

Lift and then slowly roll the lumber spine onto the floor. And again, up your lift. Now, if you can, you lengthen the leg and we do teaser one. You go down with the lumbar spine and then you'll lift. And again, down, down, down with the lumbar spine, and then you lift.

One more time, scoop back, control, control, control, control, and lift. Now into the seal, and all I want you to do for the seal is to really put the soles of your feet together, and you press them in tight. So we don't clap today, but every time you balance, you're pressing a little more. So from here, you press the soles of the feet, you roll back. And if you can balance back here and you press again, and you come up, and then here we press, we find that connection all the way up to the hip and back, and press and up.

We do two more. Press, roll back, balance, roll up. On the next one, we stand up the way you want. Press the soles of the feet, roll it back, press it. And now release and up to standing.

Now we're going to move the mat away because we finish with some standing exercises. First of all, I want you to feel again, right? We did a lot of work. We paid attention to the feet. So let's go back to that starting position and let's see how it feels. Does it feel any different?

Anywhere in your body, your feet, your legs, your pelvis, your shoulders, even your neck, because the way we stand is really affecting the whole body. It's not just about the feet, it's about everything. And then after you take note of what you feel and how you feel, I want us to do the towel standing up. So this is interesting because with the towel standing, we cannot really ruin our posture too much, right? We cannot fall forward, otherwise, no way we can do the towel.

We need to stay in a nice posture, having enough weight back on the heels. So relax the arms, you lift up the front of the hips a little bit, and we repeat that towel race that we did sitting down in the very beginning. And then we stretch it out again, and we do it few times, right? So there is not much time that we have to lift the foot up, but just enough so that we can do the foot work and connect it to the standing position that any way we need to walk out with at the end of the session, right? We don't leave sitting or lying. We leave standing.

So it's very important to get back to the standing position at the end of some workouts. Now, let's get a little deeper and have fun on the foot with the foot and the toes. Let's try to pick the towel and to release it down. And again, we pick it up and we release it down. And let's do it another couple of times, but I always advise my client to do this as many times as they can throughout the day, because it's really, really a fun exercise.

It takes nothing, and it develops the principle capability of the foot. So from here, one more thing. We did the side kicks. We were focusing on different aspects, the flex foot, the work of the hips. Now let's do them standing.

Let's place the hands on the hips. And we start with your right leg. In the beginning, we don't bend the standing one. We just go, oops, I was stuck. We got front and back, and front and back.

So the ankle is moving. Now, stop to the side. You go out, out, out, and zip it up. And you go open, open, open, and pause. Think about the site splits.

And in, now out in one, pull it in. Out in one, pull it in. One more time, out and pull. And guess what? Circles. Circle around, and up.

Circle around and hold. Circle around and hold reverse. You go back, open front and up, back, open front and up. One more time, and now inner thighs. You go back and lift, you cross behind and up, bend the standing leg and lift.

And now we switch to the other legs. So now we do and repeat everything with the left leg. You got front and back, front, back. And again, and stretch. Now parallel, you go bend, bend the more and pull it in.

Bend, we bend more and zip it up. And again, out and pull. Now we're going one and pull, and stretch. Feel the resistance of the floor of the towel on the floor, and now into circles. Circle around as big as you can.

And again, reach and up, and again, stretch and reverse. You go back, circle, hold, back, circle, hold. And last one, and center. And now we go crossing behind and lift, cross back and lift. And again, cross and lift.

And now you know what to finish. You pick up the towel, you grab it, and you're done.

Pilates at Home: Around the Body in 8 Workouts


Laura Maria
1 person likes this.
fantastic class, enjoyed the creative modifications that started with the foot to change how the exercise felt. Grazie, Ilaria
2 people like this.
Ma che bella sorpresa. Sei bravissima!
1 person likes this.
wonderful attention to the feet.
Lauramaria S happy you enjoyed the workout and the work on the feet! Keep playing with those modifications... the footwork is so powerful! Prego e a presto!
Terri Grazie! 🙏🏼
Karen D Thank you. Love to include the feet when possible because it changes the way we move.
1 person likes this.
Great class. I especially loved the foot exercises. Thanks Ilaria. Looking forward to the next one.
Emer D Thank you 🙏🏼 
Brava Ilaria, grazie. Saluti dalla Sardegna.
Thanks for this great class! 
So many people have foot / ankle problems. Will be using this in my class 👏🏼👏🏼
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