Class #4734

Shoulder Challenge

25 min - Class


You will use a towel to challenge your arm and shoulder positions throughout this Mat workout with Ilaria Cavagna. She focuses on the alignment and tension that is placed on the shoulder to help you maintain proper movement and mechanics of your joints. She includes creative variations of exercises you know like Saw, Tendon Stretch, and much more!
What You'll Need: Mat, Towel

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi this is Ilaria and today we'll work with a towel. The towel will force us to really connect the whole time the arms to the trunk. The arms to the lats going down. And their position. Also when they're not reinforcing.

When we're not doing a strengthening work. So let's start holding the towel shoulder width apart and I want you from a relaxed position to pull out. So right away you should feel what I was explaining before. You feel a connection, you feel that it's not just about the arms, but it's about their insertion to their box, let's say. And release.

Let's try that a couple of times. You pull out and release. One more time. Pull, pull, pull and release. Also, I will not remind you to pull out, please do so.

Let's try it shoulder height. So over here, we pull out but we also need to pay attention in any place where the wrists are going to go. We don't want to go on the motorcycle, we want to keep the top of the wrist nice and long, so that the knuckles are facing forward. So, also this level I want you to pull out, engage, and release. And again, you'll pull, pull, pull.

Also the fabric of the towel gives in a little bit, so you feel that little slight change in the tension and again you go, pull and release. Now let's bring the arms up. And you go open, and release. Try to relax everything above. Pull, feel those shoulders connecting underneath.

And release. One more time. Pull, pull, pull. And release. Now let's go parallel, in line with your shoulders again and from here, we retract and protract.

So we pull the shoulder blades back and forward. Pull, pull, pull and push. Always pulling the towel out, don't forget that. So this is a very, very important movement. If we don't have the shoulder blade moving around and having the proper range of motion, we run into shoulder issues all the time.

Now release down. Shake your shoulders and release the tension. My arms and shoulders are already burning. And now I want you to go back up again, because now on purpose we'll move the wrist. I want you to go in full extension, full flexion, full extension, full flexion.

This is really, really good to make sure we keep the range of motion in every joint. And we can alternate, one up, one down. Wringing the towel. And good. Release.

Now, let's move the towel behind. Long. Always that nice tension that connect the arms through the box and now here you go lift, you go band and you go down. And reach, band, keep pulling out gently. And again, lift, band, and down.

Now reverse. Scrape it up, lengthen back, and down. Lift, lengthen back and lower down. Last one, lift, reach and down, you lower. Now, we're gonna swing the towel so that we have one arm on top and one at the bottom.

So first I want you to lift, so you pull with the top arm. And you go side bend a little bit. And release. You pull with the bottom arm and you side bend a little bit. Now you pull the top arm again and you back bend a little bit.

And that fist over there is gonna help that nice back bend. And now again. You switch, you pull at the bottom arm and you do another little back bend. And now we change, we go to the other side. So here, you pull with your top arm and you side bend away.

And release. And pull with the bottom one. And side bend. And again, you lift-- I'll show you from the back. You're gonna go back bend and up and then you switch, and you reach, and lift.

Now, let's go lying down, actually sitting first. And first, we'll actually slack the towel a little bit. We'll use the towel at our advantage. To get into a nice articulation of the spine. So the toes are up.

We already worked on this motion a lot, and hopefully day by day we find a little extra, we can go deeper and deeper every single day, right. Things don't change in one moment. We need to really work on things and build up to make sure that things open up and start changing. Now you can release the towel, you close your feet, you hold the towel nice and tight. And from here you roll down, keep pulling out on the towel.

And roll up. And again, deep and roll down, down, down, down, down. And scoop, roll up. One more time. Roll down deep, pull out, control, control, tension all the time.

And lift, and this time you go all the way down. You bring the knees into your chest and you stretch the legs out for the 100. Inhale for five. And exhale, deep, deep, deep, deep. And again, in.

And pump it out. Reach, reach, reach, reach, reach. Now, bring the legs below the towel, and continue with your 100. And exhale. And again, in and exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale.

Towel below, one more time. You go in and exhale. Reach, reach, reach, reach, reach. And again, in with the air and exhale out, out, out, out, out. Last switch and you go pump.

And exhale. And again, inhale and exhale. Reach, reach, reach, reach, reach. Long. Lower everything down.

And now come up and over. Pull back and open. Come up and stretch. Pull, pull, pull. Tension, long wrists.

And again, up and over, lengthen. Pull the towel, pull the towel, pull the towel. Open the chest. And up and over. Now scoop back, change the towel position, roll back down for the roll over.

Behind your head, shoulder width, keep the tension of the towel. Slowly roll down. One more time. You go back and you go behind your head, shoulder width apart, lengthen the arms and we reverse. We do only two today.

Open, and you go, shoulder width behind the head. Lengthen the arms, lengthen the neck. Pull the towel. Control, control, control. Last one.

Lift and you go stretch behind. Slowly, slowly, slowly down. Now lift the towel, flex your feet for a second. Let's keep here only the right foot. The left leg goes down.

And here you go bend and extent, two and three. Now, push and you go extending the foot and flex. Point and flex. Point and flex. Now grab the towel with your left hand, if you have the right foot in the towel.

And I want you to cross over that leg first and maintaining the hip down onto the floor. Then you can go farther, allow the hip to come up and go for a deeper spiral. And now the hip pulls you back and it brings the leg back up to you. Now you change the hand and you go out to the other side. Make sure the opposite hip, the left hip doesn't come up.

Then the leg goes back up to the center, lengthen, pull the towel behind you. Keep reaching and pulling the towel out and you go for three circles. One. Circle around, two. And circle, three.

Reverse. Open and cross and up. Circle around, two. Last one, circle, three. Let's give another little stretch and we change.

Left leg comes up, right leg goes down. Now, you bend and extend. Bend and stretch and lengthen and now you point and flex. Point and flex, point and flex. Now grab the towel with the right hand and go across, keeping the hip down.

And now you let go, deeper spiral. Make sure the shoulder stays down low. You need some stability going. And now the hip pulls you back. Drags you back, up to center.

Change the hand that is holding the towel. Open the leg out. And back to center. Release the foot, the towel goes back, you lengthen the towel and you go, across and up, and across and lift. Last one and reverse.

Open, across and up. Open, across and hold. Last one up. And we go back here for a little extra stretch. Beautiful.

All the way up now for rolling like a boat. I want you to place the towel underneath the foot and then, if it's long enough, cross. And from here you scoop up. From here you push the feet into the towel and you pull towards to you with your hands. Deepen and you go rock and up.

Too much, let's do it again. From here you go, pull and scoop. And again, pull and balance. Two more times. Back and up.

And again, back, back, back. Keep that round shape. Lift, release the towel, hold it tight and we go for a single. Now, the shoulders are working, okay. You go pull and pull and pull and pull.

Lengthen and reach, and lengthen and reach and bicycle front, reach. And bicycle back and have fun. Now in, and you go reach, and pull it in. Nice and easy. Lengthen and pull it in, pull the towel longer and longer and longer, and in.

As the towel gets longer, the legs get long too. I wish. And you go reach and pull, and reach and good. Head down for a second, breathe, single straight. Now let's start, this is a little challenge with yourself.

We're gonna start with the arms right up to the ceiling. You curl up and we want to hit that towel. So hit, hit. Hit, hit. Too easy, let's go back.

Hit, hit. Hit, hit. A little farther. So keep going away with the towel until your legs cannot come and touch it anymore. And of course it has to be even, right.

So sometimes what the right leg can do is not exactly what the left leg can do. And pull and pull. Now towel underneath your head. You scoop, this is a beautiful neck pull. You'll lengthen up and you go reach and lift.

And again, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. And scoop, reach, reach, reach. And up. So activate your neck muscles to push back into the towel. As your arms are pulling forward.

Two more, reach. And up. Lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. And lift. And now here we go criss-cross.

So it's always the elbow that reaches up. We have a slightly different position at the shoulder but that's fine. And again, twist and twist. And release. Now spine stretch forward.

Long, always pulling out. Actually here, by pulling out, you create more freedom at that part, higher part, that for me personally is very hard to articulate. So from here, you lengthen, drop your head. Push the vertebra back as you roll down. Lengthen the towel, create that space.

And then you scoop and you go over. And then you pull back. Control, control, control, control. Find that little articulation up here by pulling out the towel and long. And again, lift, head down, scoop.

Control, control, control, control. Reach. And then you scoop back. Control, find that space, find that articulation. Lift.

Now we do the opposite. We lengthen. So from here, articulation to go down. Reach forward. Now from here, lengthen forward even more.

Get to the straightest spine possible. And then you come up. And down with the arms, one more time. Lift, head down, articulate, articulate. Lengthen.

Reach farther. Flat back and up. And then you scoop back. Lift, pass the legs through. And we are into open leg rocker.

Now, for this exercise the legs are pulling out. I'm holding the towel so that they have something to press into. From here you go rock and come up and again, rock and come up. And again, roll back and up. Now, let's bring the towel, hold the towel shoulder width apart.

Roll back for corkscrew, twist to the right. Roll down, circle around and center. And twist to the left. Circle, and if you want this time you could go all the way up. Twist.

Down to the right. Up to the left. And center, twist left. Down, up to the right. And lift.

Roll all the way up, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. Lower down. Now, let's pretend we're on the kayak for a second. So instead of doing the usual, I want you to go over to the right, roll down, pretend you are holding the rollback bar. Down with the lumbar spine, twist the rollback bar to the other side.

Reach and come up. And again. Roll back, scoop, scoop, scoop. Tension in the towel all the time. It actually helps.

And again, go back, long wrist, reach, reach, reach. And come up the opposite way. We have one more way to go. Roll down, deep, deep, deep. And all the way up.

Very nice. Now, for the summit part, I need you to stay on the mat but be able to slide the towel on a slippery surface. So I'm gonna go this way. I'll prepare the towel right in front of the mat. And I lie down here.

So, the arms-- Here. The arms are on the towel, long, head is down. Now, shrug. So you shrug, unshrug, shrug, unshrug. Again, shrug, unshrug.

Shrug one more time. And now from here, unshrug and lift and lift and lift. Press down into the towel, open the chest. Look down with the chin, circle and center and now you turn the opposite way. Down with the chin, circle, center, release, down.

Now, scoop into your stomach, lift, lift, lift and open. Now, let's go for a nice little swung, sliding the towel forward. You go, and up. And go, and press. Lift and up.

And lift and up. And we sit back for a second to make sure we counter stretch right away and we don't run into trouble. Stretch back, lower yourself down. And now single leg kick. So from here, hold the towel to you, exactly like we did for a neck roll before.

Open. Now lift one leg up long, kick, kick, reach and down. Lift, kick, kick, reach, down. Up, kick, kick, lengthen, down, up, kick, kick, reach and stretch the towel out. Turn the head.

Both legs kick, two. Three, stretch your legs. Pull the towel in and down to the other side. Lift your legs. Kick, two, three.

And reach, reach, reach. Lengthen down. You go kick, two, three. And stretch up. And last one.

You go three, two, one. And use the towel to your advantage to pull into your stomach and to lift up, up, up. And sit back again. Breathe in for a second. And then we walk forward and we go on an all four position.

Now I want you to have your hands on the towel and always pull out onto the towel a little bit. You can keep your feet long or tuck them under anything that you want. Now, we're going to move the towel forward and back down underneath the shoulders just a little bit. So push it out. Pull it in, push it out, pull it in.

The resistance of the floor is a very powerful work for the posterior part of the arms. One more time. Out. And pull. Now let's bend the arms a little bit and we do the same thing here.

Push forward, pull in. Push forward, pull in. Push forward, pull in. And extend it up. Now let's do a triangle.

You push forward, you bend, you pull it in and you extend. Push. Bend. In. And extend.

You see how that pulling out that activates the shoulders, makes the work on the arms so much more powerful. Now reverse, bend, push out. And in with straight arms. Bend, push out, and in. Last one.

Bend, push and in. Now, we'll sit and we'll do one more thing. Shake them out first for a second because it's gonna be a lot. So from here, I want us to play with dips and tendon stretch. This is something that we'll do on the chair.

Ramona taught me years and years ago that movement, but to prepare that movement on a chair, we need some preparation. So from here, I want you to place the hands underneath your shoulders and you go up in a nice tabletop position. And here we do three dips. One, two, three. Now just one tendon stretch.

Scoop your stomach in, reach, lift and go forward. Now three dips and two tendon stretches. One, two, three. Push. Now scoop and you go up and up.

And one more time, three tendon stretches. So you go down three, two, one. And you go lift, lift and lift. Beautiful. Let's go back.

So now we turn around and we go into neck pull. We use the towel exactly like the double leg stretch. The very nice feedback that we get from the towel, this way of going down. And from here you'll go curl smoothly up. And you go over.

And lift. And deepen, deepen, deepen. Lengthen the heels forward. Deep and down and stretch. And again, smoothly up and over and lift and down.

Last one. Come up and over, lift tall and roll down. Now lengthen the towel, lift up your legs. Pass the towel behind the legs and from here we get into jack knife. We combine the jack knife with teasers, so from here, scoop, lift up, roll down into teaser one.

And lift, two. And up and three, and lift. Now lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. Go through, arms are up. And you go drop, two and three.

Now we need to pass behind the legs again. Scoop, scoop, scoop, scoop. Ooh, I need to flex a little bit. You go back, lift, reach up. Pull the towel, lengthen the towel, lengthen your spine, slowly up.

And you go down, lift. Down, lift. Down, up. Reach, reach, reach. And you go drop, two and lift.

Now, bend. I want you to put the soles together, the towel around. And similar to what we did with the rolling legged ball, we do this-- Soles are pressing together, the towel is pulled and push into your elbows a little bit. The elbows end up being right inside your knee. So from here, you go rock.

And up. And again, you go back. We activate the hips, we press the soles together. The spine, the lumbar spine opens up really nicely. And we're massaging before we come up.

One more. Release the towel and up to standing. And now I want to leave you with one of my favorite, the Ramona standing twist. So I want you to open the legs, lengthen the towel, lift up. Now from here we rise up on the toes and then you turn.

Pick one direction. I turn to my left and I turn left and I turn left. My toes end up facing the back wall and then I go down to stretch towards my back foot. And now here I reach, you lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. Up on the toes again, scoop.

And then we go to the other side. Turn, toes are facing back and you go reach. So pull with the towel. Make sure you get a nice, deep stretch. And then you come back up.

You'll lift, you go up and release. Very nice job. Thank you for joining me. And I hope you got a nice deep feedback to the shoulders and connection to the body.

Pilates at Home: Around the Body in 8 Workouts


Rosita Menda Zakuto
Perfect class! Thank you Ilaria
Rosita Menda Zakuto Thank you Rosita! happy you like it!
Viola S
1 person likes this.
Wow! I would suggest this class to whoever says pilates is "easy"! And what a pace! I will do it again! Thanks :)
Brian P
1 person likes this.
This was a deceptively hard class!  I am going to take some of these new versions of old moves to help me strengthen my upper body moving forward.  Thank you!
Viola S Love it! 💕 Thank you Viola!
Brian P You are welcome! Thank you for picking the class. Let me know how it goes 👊🏻
Brian P
1 person likes this.
I just did this class for a second time, and, if anything, it was MORE challenging than the first time.  I should probably do it twice a week until I can master all of Ilaria's moves. Thanks again!
le tue lezioni sono molto intense e creative! mi piacciono molto. grazie

1 person likes this.
This was my first class with you…really enjoyed the back work here thank you 
Brian P 🙌🏻 let me know how it goes and how it feels after a few times that you repeat it. 
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