Class #4807

Deep Stretching Flow

30 min - Class


In this class, you will stretch all your major muscles. Amy Havens teaches you through familiar shapes alternating between activating and releasing your muscles. This sort of activation allows you to stretch and strengthen your muscles at the same time. You will find a big release in this class and be surprised by how hard you worked.

You can take this class stand-alone, but Amy recommends taking this class after you do a physical activity, such as, running or hiking.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everybody. Amy Havens here at Pilates Anytime. Of course, I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for joining me. We're stretching major muscle groups today.

So this can be a class, standalone on its own. You could do it before a bigger workout, after like a hike or run. I just felt like stretching a little bit. All right. So we're on a balanced body reformer. I want us to start with a red spring, so everybody have a seat.

And major muscle groups, so I'm thinking lats, triceps, the back line of the body, quadratus lumborum, lower back, abdominals, frontline, and then we'll do our hamstrings, our glutes, our quadriceps, things like that. Okay. So as we start, you don't have to have any specific distance. I'm sitting, one hand on the bar. That's what you're doing.

We're going into lats first, okay. So this arm, as you start to walk your feet out, you do have to use some control, of course. I want you to round your back. This hand is going to hold on to the side of reformer bar. The other hand is on that foot bar, pretty close to the corner.

We're doing a little push-pull here, okay? So this arm, front arm, is going to pull and I want you to push with the other arm. Flex your spine. And of course, you know me, it's always about breath. So big breaths in and out.

This will also get QL. I'm not gonna lie, right? We're getting that lat and down into the lower back QL. So a lot of this is that relationship of pushing-pulling at the same time. Okay?

So everybody inhale kind of release your effort of it. And we're gonna do push-pull as we exhale. Here we go. Push, pull, exhale. (exhales) Inhale, release it. Two more. This hand is pulling. This foot bar arm is pushing.

Push, pull. Reach those ribs back, back, back. Spread lat. Inhale, release. Last one here. Exhale, push and pull. Can you reach your ribs back?

Now, we're gonna add a little bit to this. I am going to lean my ribs, my body toward my front arm. And I'm pushing with the other arm quite firmly and pulling quite a bit with this arm here in the front, and release that. We'll do one more round. Ready, and pull, push, flex the spine, shoulders are low, and then you're just opening your ribs kind of leaning forward.

Ah. Should feel pretty, pretty, pretty darn good. Okay? And then easy as you come out of that. These are big stretches. So be ready for like (gasps) a lot of sensation. Okay? We're turning around any way you want.

(chuckles) Less specific of a class by the way. Okay, hand on the foot bar near the corner. This arm circles around. You're gonna put that hand. Ooh. Notice your different side and take your time.

So I just noticed a pretty different sensation. I'm gonna put my breath there, pushing from the foot bar hand, pulling with the other. Oh, yes. And really feel that pushing of the top arm, pulling with the hand on the side of the foot bar, and spread those ribs. Flex the spine, you wanna think of spreading and widening your lat, okay.

And release a little bit. Let's go twice more. Inhale, prepare for it. Exhale, you push and pull. Reach your ribs back. Flex the spine. Play with letting your head drop a little bit.

Okay? And release it. Let's go one more like that. And we have that extra little add on to it. Exhale, we push and pull. Oh.

So yummy. Okay. So this one lean forward. In this case, I'm leaning toward the window, which is with space in front of me. Keep pushing and pulling. Okay. And then release your effort.

We've got one more go at that. Breathe first. Exhale, pushing, pulling. Spread the ribs, low shoulders, oh boy, and lean into it. So, gosh, can you feel how open your back is already? Oh, my goodness.

You just explore some of that movement, you guys. Yeah. All right. I could go on. We're gonna move on though. Unwind yourself and just kind of... I'm gonna turn to face you.

Just feel how that feels in your back right there. Hopefully, you're nice and spacious. Okay? So in upper body, there's a tricep stretch that I love. And I don't know about you, but sometimes it feels tight through here, right? So here we go.

We don't really need to worry about the springs. I'm just gonna keep it on the red. Crawl up on your knees. Here we go. Get close to the foot bar. I want you to put your elbow right on that bar, hands interlaced together or you could prayer hand either way.

You may have to walk back. Okay. So I'm lowering my chest. My head has cleared the foot bar. Keep walking your knees back. You'll get more of a stretch here.

Let's just stay with this for a moment. I'm trying to let my ribcage, actually, you know, safely lean down toward my leg. I'm thinking of length out my tail and out my sit bone. So I'm already feeling a stretch, but let's add a little to it by taking your hands farther back behind your head. Can you get your...

A lot of you can get your thumbs right to the kind of top back of your shoulders, the base of your neck. Okay, and just breathe. Now let's add a little effort here. I'm gonna ask you to push your elbows down a bit on the bar and then think of reaching your elbows forward over the foot bar. You can't really see anything happening, but I'm feeling more stretch in the tricep tissue and then just kind of release that.

We'll do it twice more. So I'm pressing my elbows down and reaching them forward a little bit. Thumbs are still on the back. Woohoo! This feels so good. And then release one more time, and press and pull.

So elbows are pressing. They're pulling forward now, almost like you're gonna... Well, I don't have an axe to chop wood, but it's the action of straightening the elbows, bending the elbows. And straightening, so there's a little activation of triceps with the flexibility work. Whatever breath serves you best.

Okay. We're gonna try two more. We're doing two more. Not trying. We're doing two more. Okay. So for all my friends out here who have kind of followed me along all these years and watch the shoulder, my shoulder's change right in that thoracic spine elongation and more flexibility here.

I've added this in as like a regular thing. Feels better. Couple years ago that probably would've felt icky, 'cause I didn't have the range of my shoulders yet. It's taken a long time. That's all right. Okay. Hope you're feeling good.

Now QL. QL, we already done a little bit with the lat stretch. I'm gonna go to a blue spring, because I'm gonna need to activate my abdominals in this exercise. So will you crawl up on your knees? Put 'em right by the shoulder rest.

We've done this so many times is the reverse abdominal exercise. But what if we think it's less about contracting primarily and more about elongating? We know that this area is going to contract to make this stretch, how they work together synergistically. But what if we just first make the shape of lumbar flexion? Okay?

You should feel your QL stretching or your back stretching, but let's go ahead and activate pressing the shins down, the feet down, breathe. And I'm only gonna move the carriage like an inch. I don't wanna move much. I just wanna hold that there. Okay, because breathe in more.

Now I want us to sit down all the way to the heels. I know that's difference of opinion. We're just gonna take this first two like that. Okay? I'm gonna get that primed up and get that out of the way, because that's not what we want to do when we do stretch our QL.

We don't wanna sit down. Sitting down as flexing the hip, keeping the back flat. You see that? So if we take that and not sit down and think, "Okay, I can't sit down. I've gotta lift up." It should feel a lot different in the stretch of your back and the work, of course, in your tummy. Okay? Now one more time.

And then we're gonna just park the carriage at that bumper again and take one hand so that it's next to the other hands. You've got two hands together and just flex that spine. You don't need to pull the carriage to stretch your back. You can press your shins and feet. You can think about pulling a carriage, activate that idea.

Maybe pull it one inch and feel the stretch of your back. And yes, your obliques are contracting, but I want you to focus on the back stretch. Okay, release. Walk it around to the other side. And remember, our sides are different. We've all developed muscles and we have patterns.

So sometimes you won't feel it the same. It's okay. Objective is to feel the stretch. It might be different. Activate the spring a little bit.

You can release it. Let's try to flex the spine a little more. Maybe the carriage comes out. Okay. And let's do one more in the center again. Challenge it by reaching your arms up even farther.

Let's see what we have. Ready and hold. I want you to really round your low back. And that's what I've got, and rest. Okay. Walk your hands back everybody.

Now abdominal stretch. Oh my gosh. How do we do that? There's lots of ways let's do down stretch, okay. Down stretch. Again, we're activating the back body to stretch the front body, or activating one part to stretch the other.

You see where we're headed? Two red springs for me. We don't really have to push the carriage that far to get the stretch in the abdominals. At least I don't. So if you just push your hands down, activate those legs, you may have to change where your knees are.

Okay, we don't wanna just spill the tummy out, but I wanna feel that I'm elongating from my knees all the way to the tip of my head. That's a stretch from my abdominal. So I don't know about you. Okay. But we're going add on to that. Just feel that here.

Okay? Now, something I do often is I stand back at the back of the reformer. I like to go in here and lean on the head, the shoulder blocks with my hands in a plank. And I do this on the floor a lot. This is kind of some of that fascial stretching through the front of the hips.

So you get yourself in your plank line, okay? Now, I'm gonna bend one knee. Let's see if I bend this knee, (chuckles) my right knee just bend, and I'm swiveling toward my left, where I'm feeling more of the stretch is through this line here, on the front of that right hip. Okay. Now this can be a little intense on the wrist, but play with it.

I want you to feel that stretch along that oblique line, kind of look over your shoulder, pivot the feet. And I'm kind of finessing a little more twist almost through there. And then let's just transition with the stretch here. Okay. Other side. So the feet pivot and I'm just letting that hip lean forward toward the shoulder blocks.

Ooh. Feels really nice. So it's not just straight down in line with the abdominals. It's kind of on the side. Yeah. Let's do each side again, everybody. I mean just flow right through there.

Oh, give some energy from your legs down, ribs up away from the hips. And then one more time and then we're gonna get down into the lower body. Okay. So here we go. Yeah, from your hip joint all the way up to your kind of ribs. Good. Okay.

So as we're coming in, we're gonna be lying on our back for some hamstrings, glute kind of piriformis this whole zone here, probably a red spring is fine. Maybe green if you have a green. I just changed my mind to a green. Okay. So let's go ahead, everybody. You can keep your foot bar up.

Let's lie on our back. Okay. So for now we're just working one leg at a time. So I want you to just pick up one strap. I'm gonna use the long strap foot goes in. Okay.

Now, a lot of times we get our foot in a strap and you can be a little passive here. Let's not be passive. I want you to activate your hamstrings. I'm energetically pressing my hamstring that way. I'm not moving the carriage yet, but I'm feeling the stretch, okay.

It's kind of that active release concept. Yeah. Now I'm still activating it. Now I wanna release it and see. Oh, look, it can go farther. Okay. My tailbone is still working down.

See if I can activate it in this range. Let's go. Let's see what you got. Okay. Press. I'm not moving the carriage, but I'm activating hamstrings. Oh, and I'm gonna release and just let that happen.

Let's add a little something. Take the other foot down to the floor. Gonna sneak your foot through those springs. How's that feel? A little extra on this side. Okay.

Now, because we've intensified this, check your square pelvis. Try to keep those hips square as you can. Okay. I'm gonna activate. Whew! And then as I release, let's see if I have a little more range exactly. Good, Amy.

One more time. Activate. Try to keep your tail going that way. Spine, it has integrity of length and strength. Whew! And then see if you have a little more hip flexion range. Oh, so it feels great.

I hope you're getting that feeling too. Now, for the next series though, I do want is I'm using the foot on the floor to push out of that, okay? Take your leg a little lower than 90 degrees, everybody. Externally rotate it. Externally rotate the opposite leg also, and we're just gonna release our adductors just real easy.

For me, this is not as huge of a stretch, 'cause I'm pretty long here. Some of you are not as long in this line, and you need that. So okay. So same idea, I'm going to try to bring my leg into the center, but I won't really do it. This hand will help.

Yeah, I'm resisting it and then I'm releasing it. And then I'm resisting by pressing my hand against my inner thigh. Actively trying to bring it to the center, but it's not really going. And then releasing. Ooh. And one more. Activate.

And release. Okay. Now, use the foot on the floor to help you bring your leg up. Let's take the leg across the midline. Okay. This is where I'm not as long. I don't have as much length square pelvis.

Tail bone reaching forward. Okay. Now I'm gonna take my hands on the outside of the leg. And as I try to press my thigh against my hands, that's the activation of that line. Ooh, man. And release a little more.

Inhaling, exhale, press the thigh against the hands, and release your hands. Maybe the thigh can go a little farther, couple more and press, and release. Yeah. Little bit, press and release. Okay. So activate and release. Okay, getting out of that huge stretch, again, use the foot on the floor to help.

It pushes us back. All right. Now the leg that's up, I want you to turn it out again. Flex your foot. Flex your knee. All right. Now I'm gonna take the leg... I'm in parallel with the other leg.

This leg is moving across my midline. You don't have to turn out so much, I suppose, you guys, yeah. Back out of the turnout. Yep. So as I'm trying to take my leg across the midline, I'm thinking, get my foot to the window.

There's a window there. I'm trying to get my foot there. Oh yeah. This whole line again, pretty central to the glute. Okay. And then if you wanted to lower your heel and your shin, this hand can come here. And guess what? You're gonna do a little resistance with it.

So knee presses hand, and release. Hopefully, the leg can yield into the stretch a little more. Knee presses toward the hand, and release. Ooh. Two more. (inhales) Just keep breathing in and out. I'm not doing as much breath queuing in this particular segment, but wanna exhale as I press, and then inhale as releasing.

Okay, great. Now everybody just bend that knee. That's a lot of stretching. Hamstrings, glutes, inner thighs. We've got the other leg and then yet more in the lower extremity. So we'll take the leg up.

We start with the foot on the foot bar. 90 degrees if you've got it, okay. And then this basic activation of hamstrings. You're not moving your leg. You're pressing your leg that way energetically.

And then release it, and you'll notice you probably have more hip flexion. Let's take a breath. Exhale, activate the hamstrings. And release. It's so interesting when it happens.

And activate the hamstrings and release once again like this. (Amy grunts) So it builds that strength with the flexibility, right, rather than just hanging onto a stretch, it's actively stretching these muscles. Okay. Now sneak this leg down. Do one more with the foot down here. Yeah. Activate.

And release. Okay. Yeah. I realize I needed to do that foot down here. Now adductor stretch, this foot pushes on the floor, externally rotate, and then this leg also externally rotates and go for your opening. Okay, now the resistance piece of it, hand goes in the thigh.

And it's the idea that you're trying to bring the leg to the center, put your hand, won't let you go, and then release. Inhale, prepare for it. Exhale, activate and release. Two more. Activate.

Release. So cool. Activate and release. Okay. Use the foot on the floor. Here comes the IT band, outer hip. Take your legs slowly across your midline.

Whew! Yeah. We're not meant to have this much range here by the way, but yeah, I think many of us need more freedom on this particular type of stretch. The same, hands on the outside. Ready? It's like you're trying to press your thigh back over toward the window. And release. Inhale, exhale, press.

And release. And press. You could hold those longer and release, and one more press. Oh, and release. Okay.

Use this leg to help you. We're going into piriformis now. So slightly externally rotate the leg, flex the heel and the knee, thigh starts coming across midline again. Okay. Hands can go on the of that thigh.

Just like it was for IT band, but play with the angle of this leg. I'm actually gonna drop my shin a little bit. Now I'm feeling more around my buttock and my hip, less on the IT. Same idea, have a go. Press the thigh over to the hands and release.

Inhale, exhale, press. And release. See if we can keep it over that midline. There we go. Press and release. How's it going, everybody?

Press and release. Okay, good. Come on out of that. Let's go ahead and take that foot onto the foot bar. Take your foot out of the strap and set the straps down.

Now we've got quads and hip flexors. Boy, the story goes on with that. That can take us a long time. We're going into front lunge type of stretch. So I'm gonna pop on a red and a blue here.

Okay. And let's go ahead and stand up on our reformer. You can put one foot back parallel against that shoulder block. Step your other foot up. Okay. Now with this, I don't want anybody's head and chest up. You actually just hold on.

Let your head and your shoulders, hang forward. Look back at that leg and see a good parallel foot and leg. And we need to support the hip joint though, right? So you've got some glute action. You've got some hamstring work.

But do try to lengthen a little bit. Okay. And of course you'll come in a little bit. And let's just do two or three. Breathe in.

And exhale. I just want you to hang forward so that you don't activate your back. This is about your hip right now. Okay. One more and then you're gonna pivot down into a knee down on the mat.

So here we go, we're just gonna set the knee down. You'll probably have to sh me your foot back and get that there. Okay. Hold on. Pull your pelvis forward. Now, if you want to, you can kind of more upright your trunk, you don't have to.

Stay with it. Deeply support this stretch, so it's hip flexors, yes, starting to move down into the quads. I know everybody can feel that. Okay. Now if you'd want, you can add a little movement. Carriage can go back an inch or two.

Woohoo! Or within an inch or two. You don't have to move much. How about two more on this stretch? And like I said, you could certainly hold these longer, but you don't need to either. Okay. Yummy. Let's do the other side, okay.

So just step on down, stand up carefully. Step back. Step up. Hands secure, head and shoulders are down. You're parallel, look back at that foot and hip, activate some glute hamstring to support and move a little bit back and fourth.

Back. It's a great one after driving or sitting for a long time, you know that. Hmm. Good. Back and forth.

Now we put the knee down, shimmy the foot back at that heel there. Okay. Upright your trunk if that works for you, activate those glutes still, and then you can move the carriage a little bit back and in. A little bit back. So we're kind of targeting all these big muscle groups here.

Okay. We've got one more large muscle group. That's our back line, our back extensors, and it might be everyone's favorite exercise anyway. It's the short spine. Okay. So it's an exercise, certainly.

Let's take our headrest down. But let's use it as just a juicy, delicious stretch. And we know that it also stretches our hamstrings. We know that it also stretches the upper back, but I'm thinking the big muscles from the skull to the tailbone, right? Those are erectors.

And then of course the lats and QL. Everything comes together with short spine. Here we go. Feet in. Now this is something to try. You don't have to do this. And there are no Pilates police here, so it's fine if you wanna try this with me.

Hands on the edge of the carriage. Yep. I've got more space here. This just is a kind of an interesting connection, especially if you're one of those people, sometimes I am, that I have trouble rolling up if my back is really stiff and I need a little support. Let's peel those shoulders back, right, we know that, and extend your legs. So slowly, your whole back line is gonna get stretched.

Your hamstrings. Now use your hands a little if you need to, but I want you to roll. There's your QL stretch. Yep. My back feels a little... Yep. Good, good, good. I'm just gonna stay there.

Now when I bend the knees, how about you, too, lift your sit bones higher. Can you feel QL stretch? This is almost where we were with our knees against the shoulder rests. We were in that lumbar reflection. Breathing in. Now we're coming down. We're gonna spread our lats.

We're gonna start to stretch those glutes. Well, yes, here come the hamstring stretches. I'm gonna try to get my tail bone all the way down. Now this is a different way to decelerate out of short spine. Stay there.

Now activate your hamstrings, please. Bend your knees heels towards your sitting bones. So just some different conversation about how to roll out of the short spine today. Okay. Here we go.

So, yes, when we activate our front body, the back body stretches. That's just the synergy of how our bodies are put together. But it's fun to think about things maybe a little different route, a little different journey through how you stretch. Right? I'm opening the line of my knees.

Ah, now have to use those hamstrings to bend the knees. Hey, guys, we're almost there. We have a last one. This is it for now. Feel free to come back anytime and do it again. I think you'll find some nice little nuances each time you do this sequence.

Inhale, heels to sit bones, sit bones to heels, and roll it down. Try to open the line of the knees. Stretch those erector muscles from the skull all the way to the sacrum and re-bend your knees. Okay. Take the straps off your feet and then hook 'em on.

One last thing before we stand up, and that's a hug. Hug yourself. This is so good for the back also. Get into a tiny, tiny little ball. Okay.

I hope you feel good. Hope you feel stretched. Little bit of energy also with those stretches. Let me know how it goes. I'll see you next time. Bye.


1 person likes this.
WOW! Amy Havens you never disappoint. I loved this class! That first Lat stretch!!!Holy Heaven! Thank you for continuely sharing such great content.  
2 people like this.
I liked all the stretches, specially the first one and the one for the triceps, I was so tight I got a little sore. This was great thank you Amy!
1 person likes this.
This was just what I needed post stair climber workout! I’m guilty of not stretching so this was perfect!  Thank you so much! 
Pam K
1 person likes this.
Thank you so much - this felt wonderful!
1 person likes this.
Amy, this was wonderful. So happy and grateful you thought to film this for us. Amazing 30-minute stretch where you don't  hate every second. Thank you! 
Can’t wait to try this! With your compassion for the actively aging population, is there a chance you will be doing a reformer stretching class for active agers? I have some clients with osteoporosis /arthritis who really love to stretch.😊
1 person likes this.
Lovely! Thank you!!
1 person likes this.
After working an entire day on my feet and climbing up and down stairs constantly, this was just what the mind/body needed to feel balanced and whole again. Thank you, Amy. Definitely one to return to again and again to come home in my body.
1 person likes this.
Awesome Amy!  I did one of your chair classes yesterday and your most recent sculpting jumpboard today, followed by this class and it was JUST what I needed.  Couldn’t even get my heel flat down at first in the well  while other leg was in the strap and  as I progressed it went straight down.  Some really wonderful stretching!  Another one in my Amy playlist.  Thanks, as always, for all of your classes.
Michael Mary S
Amy, love this stretch class.  It is so creative and yummy.  Thank you.  Keep them coming.
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