Class #4815

Mind-Body Concentration

50 min - Class


Erin Wilson builds upon the exercises you have done in the previous two classes. Her clear, intelligent, and joyful approach will help you increase your mobility, stability, and your mind-body connection. You will begin with a seated assessment that warms up your abdominals, spine, and inner thighs. This will set you up for success throughout the rest of the class.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hi, I'm Erin Wilson. Thank you so much for joining me for a mat class today. This is the third class in a series of six, and we'll be focusing on the Pilates principle of concentration. We'll begin in a seated position. If you find that you have a tailbone that's more sensitive, or you just feel like you would like to be propped up a bit higher off of the floor, you might find that sitting on a couple of towels or a thick blanket can be very helpful.

So come into a seated position. With our feet about the width of our pelvis, we're gonna be holding behind the backs of our knees here and just using our arms for a few moments to help lift our bodies upright and help us find our sitting bones. So the most important thing is to figure out where they are underneath us. And if you have a lot of good stuff underneath you like I do, you might have to move a little side to side and maybe get some out of the way to really hone in on where those sitting bones are. So wide elbows pulling up on the backs of our knees and just feel what's holding you here for a few moments.

So of course our arms are helping us, but as we let go with our arms in just a few minutes here, what else would be holding you up? Hone in on those places. And as we're ready to take our breath out, we're gonna start scooping back in the abdominals and rolling off of our sitting bones until our elbows are straight. Eyes are looking forward at this point. And as we're ready to pull ourselves back upright, think of holding back in the abdominal muscles and then eventually rolling over the tops of your sitting bones again, using our arms to pull us up the rest of the way.

And we'll just keep that going a few times. So we wanna hone in on really scooping and hollowing out the front of our body here, but not in a collapsing way. So we're not just ugh, sinking down, right? There's this internal lift that's attempting to happen all the way up under our rib cage. Pull yourselves up.

Find those sharp points of your sitting bones, and then pull up a little more with your arms, opening the chest, feeling the shoulders softening away from your ears. One more time. Feel free to push a little bit into your feet here. The toes might not touch the floor. That's okay if you have tight ankles, just one more thing to notice.

And then as we pull ourselves forward and up one more time, figure out where you are, how tall you can feel. And we're gonna walk our feet together, but keep the knees separated. So as we go to breathe out again, we're connecting the legs together this time. We're still gonna roll back only till our arms are straight. Not only are we scooping through the abdominal muscles here, but now we're gonna start to think of squeezing through the inner thighs.

Start pulling ourselves up. Let the knees separate again. Pull ourselves tall. And we'll do that a couple more times. So as soon as we roll off of our sitting bones, we're scooping back.

We're finding that connection through the whole center here. And as we pull ourselves up, we allow the knees to separate, and that just gives us more room for our hip joints. Lot of times, we're really tight here. So we wanna give ourselves some space. On the last one, connect the legs together again.

Get to where the arms are straight. We're intentionally using our hands here to almost push the legs together and assist that. Pulling in a little bit deeper, see if we can let go of one arm and just let it float out. Place it back down. On your next breath out, see if the other arm can float, and grab back on.

If we're feeling up to it, without moving anything else, on your next exhale, let go of both arms. The arms are light. The connection here in the center of our body is heavy. Both hands find our legs. Start bending the elbows wide, pulling the knees apart and lifting back up onto your sitting bones.

And we'll try that one more time. So we start rolling back. So we're in a full spinal flex position here. Squeeze through the inner thighs. As we breathe out to lift one arm, we think the opposite thing is happening here, right?

Abs are pulling away from the arm. And bring it back to your leg. Hold on. We're using it intentionally. Other arm floats up. He thinks stomach's reaching away from this arm now.

Grabbing back on. If nothing else can change, let both arms float out. Think one more time of drawing back away from them with your abdominals. Grab back onto your legs one more time. And as the knees separate, we roll ourselves up.

And that's quite a bit of effort usually to wake our abdominals up. All right, coming down one more time. We're gonna connect the legs together. Make sure that there's some room for your head to land on your mat. I think I need to butt-scoot myself down a little bit initially here, and we'll say that you don't want your feet to be too close to your glutes for any of these movements, 'cause it's gonna make it a lot harder.

And again, we don't want the hip flexors to do all of the work. So we're sitting up, the knees are separated. As we connect them together again on our next breath out, we're gonna find that place where the arms are pretty straight. We're gonna again see if we wanna let go. This is just more challenging.

Otherwise, keep your hands on your legs and slide them down the outer thighs as you come down the rest of the way. From here, we're gonna bring both knees into our chest. If you need to adjust something behind your head, a pillow or whatnot, feel free to do that now. Holding onto our legs, opening up our lower back. We're gonna begin to bring our knees over our pelvis, but keeping the lower legs relaxed.

One arm reaches to the ceiling. The other hand is gonna go behind the back of our head. Make sure you can see that elbow in your periphery. And as we go to breathe out, we're gonna lift our head and chest up and reach the long arm next to the side of our hip. Take a breath in as your body lowers, and the arm reaches to the ceiling.

Legs are still. Pelvis is still. Exhaling again. We're squeezing the legs together. Might not be the heaviest contraction they have, but there's some activation there, and we lower back down on a breath in.

So we exhale. Of course, we're honing in on all of the abdominal muscles here, but we're also getting some thoracic in that upper back mobilizing as well. We just did a lot of emphasis more on the lower back with those seated positions. Give yourself one more. And we're intentionally using our other hand behind our head to assist our neck.

And we'll come down all the way on the last one. Legs are still relaxed. Switching hands. Other arm reaches up. Palms facing towards the end of the mat.

Again, simultaneously, we peel the upper back off the floor. We reach the long arm next to us. As the arm lifts, roll your upper back to the floor again. Breathing out. Imagine drawing the abdominals down into the mat.

And inhale lowers our body to the floor. And we'll add the leg motion in just a moment here. You know where we're going probably. We're gonna eventually bring those lower legs up to a more 90-degree shape, but give yourself one more repetition like this. And once we lower down again, we'll let go of our head, and we'll take both arms up to the ceiling.

If your neck is feeling ready for it today, as we bring our arms down again, we'll once more bring our head and shoulders up. And the arms are very active here. Not only are they reaching, but they're slightly pushing down. As our arms lift, we're gonna roll our upper back and the back of our head to the floor. So we wanna think of lengthening the back of our neck first, almost like you're sliding the back of your skull towards the back of the mat.

Looking straight ahead at our legs, and then lowering back down. Adding on, if the lower legs want to lift, a little more challenging for the leg muscles. Squeezing the inner thighs together, we curl up again. Legs stay still. Upper body lowers down.

You can always put one hand behind your head again, and we're doing one more here, curling up. And as we lower down, we will place one foot down on the floor, followed by the other. Lower your arms next to your sides and try to open the chest a little bit. If that's impossible or you're feeling very tight today, sometimes just flipping the palms up to the ceiling or going a bit wider than your mat with your arms is helpful. So our feet have landed.

We're gonna separate our heels and our toes. We're gonna walk the feet closer to our glutes, placing them where we need them for our bridging position. Spread the toes out. And just hone in on where your pelvis is. So there's a little bit of space or the sense of space hopefully underneath your low back.

If it's not there, see if you can drop the tailbone down a tiny bit without it causing pain or discomfort in the lower back. So as we go to breathe out, we're gonna curl the pubic bone up towards our chest. Start stepping into your feet as your pelvis lifts away from the floor. And we're just coming up into our first bridge of the day, making sure the big toes are still connected to the ground. As we go to take our next breath out, soften through the chest first.

Inhale again when you need to. We tend to take some shallower breaths here when we're doing the spinal articulation work. So the inhale still counts. Breath in here at the bottom. Exhaling again.

We curl that pubic bone up towards our chest. We roll the wheels of our pelvis towards our shoulders, pausing at the top, and then just opening the chest a little bit more here. There's a tendency to wanna maybe collapse or round the upper back more as we're at the high point. Taking your next breath out. That starts you coming down.

And then just continuing to breathe. We're going relatively slow here, so it's probably impossible just to take one long breath to come down, right? Once again, breathing out. Pubic bone curling towards the chest. Grab onto the sides of your pelvis maybe and just picture there's two wheels here and they're just continuously rolling or rotating up and up and up closer to your shoulders.

One more time. As we roll down, can those wheels continue to roll? Can they continue to turn towards your body so that your pelvis is the last thing to come down to the mat. And we'll just release right there. From here, we're gonna extend one leg down on the floor.

The leg that's still bent, we're gonna lift. Grab onto the back of that thigh and start our assisted roll-ups. So as we start pressing our leg into our hands, our arms are straight here. We're gonna use that to curl us up. And then of course, there's that sticky spot that we all have.

You might have to rock forward and back through there a couple of times on these first ones. And then as we're ready to come back, keep pressing your leg into your hands especially when we get through that tight area that might be present in your body. Head comes down, inhale here. As we exhale, we start curling up. Breathe in again when you need to.

And then continuing to breathe out as we lift up the rest of the way. And we'll start rolling down one more time. As we get to the floor on this last one, we're just gonna switch legs. So we'll place this leg down. Grab behind the back of your other side.

Same thing, so press your thigh into your hands. Drop that side of the pelvis down. Head and chest are curling. Shoulders are staying wide. Shoulder blades are staying wide.

And we come up just behind the tailbone. So it's basically what we did in the very beginning, those seated half rolling backward motions. Now we're just taking it a little bit further, 'cause we're coming down to the floor, but we're still using our legs here, our arms to assist us, but you still might find you have to rock forward and back a couple of times, and we'll eventually come down again. If this version is working really well for your body, switch legs again and just continue to do that. Otherwise, we're gonna attempt to place both legs in a bent position.

We don't want them to be too close to us. The toes are elevated, that's okay, but start squeezing your legs together and picture those rollbacks that we did in the very beginning. Taking our arms up to the ceiling. As we exhale, we lift our head and chest up. We've already done this position too.

Now we're gonna press our hands against our thighs and start sliding our hands up towards our knees until we can hold onto the backs of them like we did in the beginning. Pull ourselves upright for a moment. As we scoop our abdominals back, just breathing as we go, slide or press your hands against the outsides of your legs until they have nothing left. Arms can reach up to the ceiling. They could also go behind your head.

We'll try that again. So as soon as our head and chest curl up, we're squeezing the legs together, trying to slide our hands towards the backs of our knees. And then just use your arms to help lift you up for a moment there. One more time. Squeeze the legs together.

Adductors have a lot of energy that they can help us with if we let them. Arms are reaching up tall. Another variation of the roll up is to extend one leg. Cross the other leg on top of it. Really squeeze the inner thighs together here.

As we bring our head and chest up, think of the legs crossing even more over each other. And sometimes just having the extra weight of the other leg on top, we'll round our body over our legs this time, can be really helpful. Don't forget the inner thighs on the way down. Squeeze 'em right? Really cross over each other.

And we can start playing around with taking our arms over our head. Once again, arms come up. Head and chest follow them. Squeeze the legs together. These are all options, variations.

We're just seeing what sticks to the wall. We're throwing a bunch of ideas out there. Relax the shoulders on the way down. Keep the breath moving. And if this is working, just try crossing the other leg on top.

And we'll just do a couple more. Head and chest are lifting. Legs squeeze. The roll-up is a challenging exercise. So many reasons why.

Yes, it's abdominal strain. Yes, it's spinal flexibility, but a lot of times it's a weight distribution issue. So if I have a lot of weight on top and kind of lighter weight on the bottom, it's gonna be harder to get up, okay? I've got a healthy amount of weight on my top and my bottom, so for me, roll ups aren't necessarily a big deal, hey, but they definitely can be. These are hard exercises.

Let's do one more, coming up. Keep the breath moving. And as soon as we are rounding over the legs, the arms are continuously reaching out here, but the opposition thing is always happening in the center of our body. Those muscles are pulling back. And reach overhead.

We'll do one more. Here's the fun part. When we get stuck, we tend to hold our breath, so ugh, right? Really push the breath out. Try not to hold it if you find that you're getting in that stuck position.

We'll make that our last one. And then the fun thing about roll-ups is it gives you the reverse wedgie. So we're gonna pull our pants up here for a moment and get organized for rolling back or rolling like a ball. So taking the bottoms of our feet on the floor, make sure the insides of the feet are touching. We're gonna keep the knees separated today, again, just to make some room for our hips.

We'll work with other versions of this exercise later on. So we've been having our hands behind the knees for the last couple of classes. If you'd like to try a harder option or something more challenging, we would place our hands more into the fronts of the knees or even more towards the mid shins. So either way, start rolling back off your sitting bones. Start to pull your feet away from the floor and just hone in on being in a nice rounded shape here with the elbows lifted.

Looking down at our pelvis, your next breath is gonna roll you back. On another breath, we roll up. The first one's always fun. We go back again (chuckles). First one never counts, right?

The brain's just trying to figure it out initially. Usually by the third repetition or so though, it's like, "Oh, this is what we're doing, okay." And if it's still not on board, that's all right. It might be a little more time. And we're coming back up. So pulling up with our hands as we roll back, curling the tailbone up to the ceiling and just trying to find that smooth ride.

So if you are holding onto your shins and you find that it's a lot of clunking over the lower part of the back, right, you might wanna grab behind the backs of your knees and have a looser shape. It's always a little bit nicer. One more time we roll back. And we're coming up. We'll place our feet down from here.

If your hands are on your shins, go ahead and transfer them towards the backs of your knees again. And if this feels really tight, which it definitely it is, feel free to walk those feet down a little bit, 'cause we're gonna wanna pull up and use our legs again, roll up more onto our sit bones and try to lengthen through the back. So feeling our chest open, we're gonna keep one hand behind the back of the leg, and then as we extend that leg out, we kind of push the leg down on our hand. And then bend it back in. Same thing with the other leg.

So as we extend that guy out, press a little bit downwardly on your hand. And then bend it back in. That might help the knee lengthen a bit more, but it's still really challenging to straighten the leg all the way in this position. So if that's not happening, that's okay. All right, lots of time to get better to get more flexibility, but we're really concentrating on keeping the body still in this diagonal.

We go one more to each leg and that could be a breath out as the leg extends and a breath in as it bends. And we'll do one more on the other side and bring it back home. And that just kind of lengthened, got us aware in the hamstring muscle, so that now as we go into the spine stretch exercise, they're a little bit more primed for that. So as we sit back, if you know that you need to sit up on something that works really well for you for the spine stretch exercise, go ahead and organize that underneath your pelvis right now. We're gonna take our legs the width of our mat, could be a little bit wider if you need that.

And I'm gonna choose not to sit on something for today's class, but there's definitely plenty of times where this is very difficult for me. I'm a fairly flexible person. So once again, try to rock a little side to side. Find your sitting bones. And then once we have them, feel free to even push down on your arms here.

See if your whole back can think of lifting up out of your pelvis. We're gonna have our hands in front of us here on the floor. And I've got the weird long arms and my fingertips do touch, but if yours don't, they hopefully will eventually as we go forward. So getting up as much as we can. Let the legs relax here.

You could definitely bend the knees if you need that, but as we go to breathe out, we're gonna bring the chin down first. And as we start to round our upper back, the hands are gonna slide down the mat. And it's that inward lift that we're always looking for in the abdominals. Hey, don't let your arms get longer than where your body has stopped moving. We give ourselves the illusion all the time like, "Oh, my arms can just keep going," but nothing's actually changing anymore in your back.

As we exhale, slide your fingers towards your pelvis, stacking the spine one vertebrae on top of the next, but also lifting and trying to feel space in between each of the vertebrae. We'll inhale here. Exhaling again. The hands slide. Chin comes down.

The upper back rounds. Think of widening the back ribs, continuing to breathe or going slow. It's impossible just to think that would be one long exhale and call it a day. Inhaling out here though, and as you start the exhalation, start scooping back in your abdominals, lengthening up. Head's the last thing to arrive.

And we'll hold that there. Arms are gonna reach out in front of us this time potentially. We're gonna take our feet just off the mat if they aren't already and start bending your knees. So as we're ready to go forward on this variation, we're gonna start bending our spine. We're gonna think of straightening our legs and pushing our feet into something in front of us.

Rounding forward, lifting up through the waist. As we're ready to start sitting back up, begin to bend your knees again. Slide the heels towards you. And as we sit tall, really pull onto the heels here. And that's another way that we can help pull our pelvis up and over our sitting bones again.

Another idea: hold behind the backs of the knees. As we go to breathe out, let go of them. Let your arms reach out towards your toes. Breath in out here. As we exhale, we bend the knees.

As your heels slide towards you, grab behind the backs of your legs. And once again, use your arms to help lift you up. We'll do this variation one more time. So as the legs begin to extend, hands let go. Rounding forward, lifting up through the center the whole time.

As you exhale, once again, think of the lower back flattening first, the mid back, upper back, finally, our head, holding onto the legs here, and that's where they're going to stay. So if you're getting tired of sitting up, and you don't have anything underneath you, maybe again, prop something underneath your pelvis for the next exercise. Keeping our legs in this position, we're gonna take both hands, interlacing them behind our head. And we're going right into the spine twist, and we'll get into another exercise called the saw. So as we breathe out, press the back of your head into your hands gently and rotate to one side.

As we inhale, find the center. Exhaling again, gently pressing the back of our head into our hands as we rotate the other way. Inhale, finding the center. So we're trying to keep the legs still here. Just keep going side to side.

Try to keep our pelvis pretty still, and just focusing on the mobility in the thoracic, that mid part of our body. Breathe in as we find the center. So we exhale to go to the first side again. We're lifting upwardly as we turn. Inhale, finding the middle.

Exhale as we rotate to the other side. Inhale finds the center. We let go of our head. We just let our legs relax, and we get nice and lazy. Feel free to take your hands on your legs.

Shake them around a couple of times. It's a lot of effort to hold ourselves up like that. All right, going into a different leg position. So if this feels good for you, feel free to stay there. I'm gonna opt to put us in an externally rotated position with the hips.

So this would be the diamond shape, butterfly. It has a lot of names, but we're not gonna put the bottoms of our feet together. They're gonna stay wide. And if this is possible, feel free to start in this position. If this is actually creating more of a problem for you to sit upright, go back into that parallel position again.

So we take our arms out to the sides. It's exactly what we did a moment ago. So as we breathe out, we think of getting taller, and we rotate towards our first side. From here, we're gonna pull back in the waist, and we're gonna reach our opposite arm towards our opposite foot bending over that leg. As we inhale again, we're gonna lift ourselves up tall, staying in the rotation.

And as we exhale, we're gonna open our arms to the T and find the center. So we can breathe in this time to turn. As we breathe out, we reach the opposite arm towards the opposite leg. The back arm just reaches back there a little further. Inhale brings us upright, staying in the rotation, and exhale finds the middle.

So on this one, the arms are moving a lot more than they would for the normal spine twist. And we can play around with rotating through our forearms. So the front arm, the thumb can point to the ceiling, the back arm, the thumb can point to the floor. As we sit up tall, they can stay like that. And as we unwind, palms can face forward or palms can stay facing down.

Twist again the other way. Exhale, turn that back arm, so it's internally rotating. And as the front arm is actually rotating, we sit up. Keep reaching both arms away from each other, open out to the sides. One more to each side.

So we take a breath, we turn. As we exhale, the back arm turns in, which means the thumb is pointing to the floor. Front arm is reaching back. Arm is reaching, stomach's lifting. Sit up tall one more time on your breath in.

Exhale's gonna open our arms, and we'll rest them right there. Bring the legs together. Let's scoot our butts down a little bit, get some room for our head to be on the mat. And we'll go into some exercises here on the floor. So we can hold onto the front of our knees.

You can also hold onto the backs of your legs. And we're just gonna bring our arms and legs with us, 'cause there's nowhere else they can go as we come down onto the floor. So getting your body acclimated again. So feeling the ground. The back muscles might feel a little tense still from those last exercises, so allow them to relax first.

And we're gonna be taking both hands, interlacing them, sliding them behind the back of our head with the thumbs at the base of our skull. So a little bit of pressure with your thumbs back there can be helpful to release the neck tension. And as we go to breathe out, we're gonna curl our head and shoulders off of the mat. We're gonna see if we can extend our legs up towards the ceiling. They don't have to go perfectly straight.

Let them bend back in, and lower the head and chest down. Exhaling again, head and chest curl up first. As we breathe out, we extend the legs. Inhale can bend them home. Another exhale can lower the head and chest.

Moving more simultaneously, so as we bring our head and chest up, the legs can simultaneously extend out. As we breathe in, bring the knees home. Head and chest come down. So we exhale, extend the legs. Curl the upper body.

Inhale, bend the knees in and lower. Start playing around with maybe taking the legs a bit lower only if the lower back can stay on the floor, and bend 'em home. And we'll get two more here. Stretch the legs out, curl the upper body. Bend 'em in.

On the last one, we're gonna attempt to keep the head and chest up and just work the legs. So on the breath out, pull the knees in. Inhale, stretch the legs away or vice versa if a different breath pattern feels better for you, but just the legs are moving. Curl 'em in. Pull the stomach away from them as they come close to you.

One more time, and they're gonna stay right there. Head's coming down. Take a really deep breath. And as we breathe out again, we're curling our head and chest up. Holding ourselves here.

Keep sliding the thumbs against the back of your skull. One leg is gonna extend out in the diagonal. And as that leg comes in, we're gonna brush the inner thighs against each other and stretch the other leg out. And we just keep that going. So of course the lower the legs are, the extending leg is, the more challenging it is to hone in on the lower part of our abdominals and keep our lower back stable and heavy on the ground.

So just the legs are moving here. Everything else is still. Keep going for three more. It can be an exhale every time the legs change. And two more to each side.

We'll get one more to each leg. Bring both knees in. Let your head rest down. Deep breath here. We're gonna transition to take our legs into a 90-degree or a tabletop position here with the knees more over our pelvis and the shins parallel to the floor.

As we take our breath out, again, slide your hands a bit against the back of your skull. Curl the upper back off the floor. We're gonna lower the left foot to the ground and rotate our upper body towards the right. As that left leg comes up, bring your head and chest to the center. We're gonna lower the right foot to the floor, rotate the upper body to the left.

Bring the right leg up. Head and chest find the center. And we just keep that going. So now we're adding the element of rotation, which means it's gonna tug on our pelvis a bit more, so it makes it a lot more challenging to keep the pelvic position stable. So here's where we wanna feel the middle part of our sacrum there.

Everything's really still and not rocking the boat. We'll get one more to each side. Bring that opposite shoulder blade off the ground. Bring that opposite rib cage around. Find the center.

Place one foot down close to your glutes. Place the other foot down. They're gonna be about fist-width apart give or take. Head comes away from your legs and go ahead, put it down, relax, and let's rest our arms next to us. So preparing to put some weight back into our feet, make sure that they are close enough to your glutes that you feel you can stand in them.

Take some deep breaths. That's a lot of work. Opening the chest here, spreading the toes out. Deep breath. Feel that there's some space under your lower back again.

As we exhale, we're gonna curl our pubic bone towards our chest. Start peeling your pelvis and back away from the floor, lifting up into the bridge position. So a little more emphasis on the upper backs of our arms here. We're gonna put some pressure down. And then feel where your right foot is.

Start standing more in that foot and try to hone more in on that glute. From there, without moving anything else, we're gonna pick the left leg up. Knee's just right over the hip at the most. And we're gonna see if we can extend the left leg to the ceiling. We're gonna re-bend it.

And just place the foot back down. Start standing into the left foot more. Hone in on the left glutes. Start bringing the right leg up. Knees over the pelvis at the most.

And then seeing if we can extend the leg up to the ceiling. Re-bending our leg, place your foot back on the floor. Find equalness here in your pelvic position for a moment in between. So again, we're standing on the right foot, honing in on the right glute. You can take a breath out.

As the left leg comes up, take an inhale there. You can take another exhale as the leg extends. Breathing in as we bend the knee. Exhale can place the foot down, and we'll just inhale again here to transition. So we breathe as we pull the leg up, right leg this time.

We take another breath as we extend it. Take another breath just to bend it again. And our next breath places the foot down. One more to each side. If you're just not sure, you know, put your hands on your pelvis.

And every time the legs are lifting and moving around up there, I'm trying to feel the pelvic position's pretty stable. And if it isn't, you might be up too high. Or if you only feel your lower back working, you might be up too high. Soften the chest a bit. One more time, we extend the right leg.

We bend the right knee. Placing the foot down, take a deep breath in. Just again, feel equal pressure here in the feet, equal contraction in the glutes. As you go to exhale again, soften through the sternum. And let's give ourselves a nice spinal massage, so taking our time one vertebrae after the next, coming down to the floor, and then releasing right there.

Okay, let's extend the leg that's closest to your screen onto the floor. And then we're gonna use our other foot here and just push ourselves so we can roll onto that side. And here's where if you know you like a pillow under your head or you like a pillow in between your ear and the upper arm, get your neck in a comfortable position. So we're gonna keep our head relatively low. I'm gonna choose to do this today.

It feels a little bit better for my neck. Every day is different. Today, my neck and my head want my arm to be here, so listen to that in your body. We're placing our bottom leg at a bent 90-degree, and we're gonna take the top leg and extend it long. So we're trying to feel the entire back of our body here really straight.

This is really helpful if you have a wall close by. Put the back of your pelvis and your upper back against the wall and you're guaranteed to be in a good position. Hand in front of our chest. We're gonna flex the top foot. Abdominals are pulling in, and the top pelvic bone is stacked right over the bottom.

We're gonna lift this leg up. And as we start taking the leg in front of us, we're just gonna feel what happens to our pelvis and our back. Foot is flexed here. We can point the foot and pull the leg back underneath us again. Flex it here.

We go forward. That could be an exhale. Point the foot. Another breath pulls the leg back. So I'm gonna let go of the floor for a moment just to emphasize what we're trying to feel for here in the leg in the pelvic position.

As our leg goes forward, wanna think of shortening the leg in the socket, so everything's getting pulled back in our pelvis. We're looking for a nice deep hip crease here. And then as we point and reach through the leg to come underneath us, you wanna feel that the hip crease is really open, and the glutes are working. So we flex again. We think of shortening the leg and the pelvis.

As it comes forward, point through the foot. Pull the leg underneath us and lengthen through the front of the hip. Flexing again. So if you have tight hamstrings or just tight muscles in the backs of your legs, the leg might not go that far out in front of you without having to round your back or tuck your pelvis. So we're trying to keep everything very still and just disassociate the movement only here in the hip joint, pulling it back again.

So when I start moving my leg always from my back, you know, having to move, that's gonna set us up for potential injuries in the future. So we're always trying to build more pelvic and lumbar stability and better hip mobility, right, the two go hand-in-hand. We'll get one more here, flexing the foot. And that's just something different. You could also leave your foot relaxed and reaching the leg back.

As we bring the leg down, we're gonna help ourselves up. And we're gonna turn right over to the other side. So bring your towel or your pillow with you if you're using one. And then get yourself situated to do the same thing. So maybe on this side.

Yeah, I think I still wanna have my arm bent today. Bottom leg is bent. The top leg is the straight one. And then just even putting your hand behind you, kind of feel where your pelvis is or the upper back is, keeping the shoulder open here in the front. So we're taking the leg up, always lifting up through the abdominals, flexing the foot, and let's try this side.

So as we take the leg forward, can the leg get shorter? Not longer, but shorter. Point through the foot. Now as the leg's underneath us, now it's long. We wanna emphasize the glute here, flexing the ankle again.

So we take it forward. Get it shorter. Point the foot and pull it back. Hey, if you're not sure what's happening, hold on to your top pelvic bone as the leg goes front and back, and that guy's not really trying to move. And we go back.

Once again, flex to come forward, point and take it back. So if your leg gets to a place in front of you, where I go, I go, I go, and then the knee just starts bending, yeah, that's kind of the place to stop for you. And we'll get a few more. Flex, take it front. Pull back in the abs, right?

Point and go back, and we'll get two more here. Take it front. Point to go back. And one more time. Just getting all those good lateral hip muscles and front hip muscles working for us.

After that last one, we'll take the leg down. And once again, we'll just help ourselves come up, and we'll land in the mermaid position. So if you need to do something different with your legs, maybe sit in a cross leg position instead, that's totally fine. If you like that open diamond shape thing that we did before, that's also a nice option here too. So whatever leg is in front, if you're facing me straight on, this as your right leg that's in external rotation.

That was your right side that you were on, which means the left leg would be in the internally rotated position. We're gonna stretch our arms out to the sides, pick ourselves up, and then shift over to your right again. Right hand comes to the floor. Find that long stretch through both arms. And then from here we begin the rotation, so we take our left arm around until the hand can find the floor.

And you always have the option of pushing a little more into your hands or just being there and breathing into the back. As we reopen the left arm, we're gonna find that long diagonal. And then we're gonna option to bring our arm over our head and do more of a side bend. Hey, now the arm's gonna come as close to your head as it feels comfortable in your shoulder, but it doesn't have to be anything that big. Okay, we'll go back to the diagonal again.

Pull back in the waist. Bring your ribs around with your left arm. And just let your jaw, everything relax here, the shoulders. Deep breath as we reopen our arm. And maybe one more time, we can take our arm overhead.

The palm might face towards the floor. Breathe into the top ribs here. And as we open our arm and find that diagonal again, we'll lift ourselves up, and we'll bring the legs around the other way. So taking the right leg, or sorry, the left leg in the externally rotated position, it's my right, it's your left, so here's the left leg now in front of your left leg. And then your right leg is now behind.

We'll take both arms out to the sides. Same thing, shift to your left. Left hand comes to the floor. Press into it, open through the chest. And then we start taking our right arm around.

Breathe into the back ribs. See where the right hand wants to land. It might not be exactly the same where it was on the other side and that's okay. Left hand stays on the floor. We open the right arm again.

And then from there, we take our arm overhead and just breathe up into these top ribs. Okay, find the diagonal once more. Last time, we rotate around. Pull back in the stomach muscles, abdominal muscles. They're not trying to touch that thigh.

And then one more time as we open the arm again, I always think that sounds like Armageddon, no. Take the arm overhead, and breathe into those top ribs. Open the arm one more time to find the diagonal, and we'll come on up, and we'll transition ourselves into some planking work on our forearms today. So go ahead and turn around. And we'll place our forearms on the mat, fingers pointing forward.

And we're attempting to have our elbows more or less under the shoulder, but for some of us, I have kind of wide shoulders myself, I have to have my elbow a little bit wider than where it would be under my armpit area, right? So it's gonna be in a place for you where it feels best in your body. So we're gonna press our elbow points into the floor. Grab the mat with your fingertips, and that's gonna help us create a nice strong connection here with our arms. Knees and feet walk together.

And as we start stepping back with one leg, we're gonna push into the toes, extend fully through the knee. And even though our pelvis is higher than the top of our shoulders, we're gonna start right there. So as we're ready to lift the other leg off the floor and step it back, our pelvis is still higher than our shoulders. Bring one knee back down to the ground, bring the other knee down. Okay, extend the other leg back this time first.

Push into the toes, extend through the leg, lifting up through the waist. Let the other leg meet it. Pelvis is still high. Bring one leg down again. Bring the other leg down and pause there.

Re-grip into the fingers, pressing into the elbow points. Long neck. So we don't wanna look down. We're not looking at our legs here. We're looking right in between our upper arms here, our forearms.

Stepping back one more time. Pelvis stays high. Press into the elbows as the other leg extends. Squeeze the inner thighs back there. Bring a knee down.

Bring the other knee down. One more time like this. We extend the other leg back first. Press more into the elbows. Keep the length in the neck, squeezing the legs together to find the plank.

Bring one knee down. Bring the other knee down. And just come off of your arms for a moment in between. So that variation is feeling good. It's feeling challenging enough for you today.

I encourage you to stay there. Otherwise, we're gonna attempt to bring our pelvis in a more level position with the tops of our shoulders. So let's find that same forearm position again. Elbows on the ground. Fingertips grab the floor.

Legs and feet are together. The back is flat. Lengthen through the back of the neck. We extend one leg again. Feel strong there.

Push into the feet. As we extend the other leg back, we squeeze the inner thighs. Now we think of pulling our body weight through our hands and lowering the pelvis down a few inches. Lift your pelvis up a bit again. Bring one knee down.

Bring the other knee down. Same thing. Extend the other leg this time. Lifting up through the abdominals, press into the elbows and your fingertips as the opposite leg extends. Keep squeezing through your upper inner thighs.

Pull your body through your forearms and hands to lower the pelvis down. Pushing a little bit away from our elbows and hands to pike it up. One knee comes down. Other knee comes down. And we'll sit back where it's comfortable.

Let your elbows extend here. Take a few deep breaths. And we'll transition onto our stomach. So if you need to grab a towel to place it underneath your lower stomach, your pelvis, sometimes if the lower back is very sensitive or you have a really significant lumbar curve like I do, it can be helpful while we're still building that abdominal strength, right, that pelvic strength to try to support that lower part of our back. Okay, so feel free to do that for yourself.

We're gonna be placing one hand on top of the other. Let your forehead rest on your top hand. The other option is to have your arms next to you. Grab that towel or the blanket, and go ahead and put your forehead on top of that. So focusing on the legs here and the back area.

So as we start to squeeze the legs closer together, what we're not looking for initially is a lot of grip in the butt. Want these guys to stay relatively soft. And it's the upper inner thighs that we're trying to hone in on the most. So squeeze through the upper inner thighs. And then start to sense those lower pelvic muscles pulling or trying to lift away from the floor.

Once we think we have that connection, we're gonna keep the length of the right leg, and just float it a few inches off the ground or maybe even a few centimeters off the ground and lower it down. Lifting up through the pelvic muscles, pubic bone finds the ground. Inner thighs are squeezing. The left leg is gonna float, again, just a few inches or maybe even a few centimeters off the ground and put it down. So we could breathe out as the right leg lifts.

We could breathe in as it lowers, and we could breathe out as the left leg comes up and breathe in as it lowers. Keep going with that. Just keep alternating side to side. Other things to think about: length through the knee. So if the leg's coming up, but the knee's bending, I'm doing more of a hamstring exercise than a hip extension exercise.

So it says the leg is lifting. That's where we're asking the glutes to contract more, but we wanna feel that the lower back is not just dipping down into the ground every time the leg lifts, right? It's not just a back extensor exercise. Hip extensor muscles are the big glutes in the back. So we wanna make sure that those are having some effort as the leg lifts, but as soon as that leg comes down, we don't have to keep squeezing the life out of 'em, right?

Just activate the side of the leg that's lifting. And we'll get a couple more. And you're just breathing as you need to, nothing extra happening in the upper body. That's the good news. Just focusing on our legs, focusing on our pelvis and our lower back.

When you think that you're even side to side, let your legs relax. And we're gonna let them open a little bit. Wiggle your pelvis around. Loosen things up right there. Coming into the arms, this is usually the more difficult end to work into extension.

We're gonna be taking our forearms out into a goalpost position. Elbows are slightly lower than the top of the shoulders, and the forearm and fingers are pointing straight out. So we're more or less at a 90-degree. So we're gonna press, not into the hand so much right here, but on the elbow points. So if you're on a hard surface floor and aah, that kind of hurts your elbow points, maybe put a couple towels underneath them, or you could even come here.

It's a little nicer if they're wider though. So the elbows are pressing down. We're gonna lift up the up through the abdominals as if they're trying to come off the floor just to feel some support in the back. Now, as we press into our elbows, the hands stay light. We're gonna lift our head and chest up just an inch, so just barely.

We're still looking mostly down at the mat, 'cause we're not really going into a big extension here, but we can feel the upper back muscles hopefully kicking on. Elbows are still heavy. We're gonna see if we can float just the forearms and the hands a centimeter off the ground, and place them back down. Elbows heavy. Forearms and hands hover a little bit, and put 'em down.

So we're just getting ready to lift our arms off the ground here in a moment. Forearms and hands hover a tiny bit. Put 'em down. Now as we're ready, we're gonna hover both forearms and hands. And as we start to extend just the left arm out on that wide angle, we wanna think the hand is still higher than the elbow, even though it's not really true in this moment.

So as we bend our arm, the elbow is now the lower point. The top of the hand is the higher point. We put it down on the ground and we lower. Same thing with the other side. So we can float both forearms up or you can just work the one side, but we're gonna extend the right arm now or the arm that you didn't do yet.

And as we bend that elbow, picture the elbow lower than the top of your hand. Put the elbow down. Go to the first arm again. We extend it out on that diagonal. We're maintaining just that small lift of our face and just the upper part of our chest off the floor, bend it back in.

Elbow touches the floor. It could be an exhale as you extend your arm. It could be an inhale as it bends home. And we'll do one more on each side. So here's the other thing that you might be doing because you're smart.

If you flex your wrist back here like this, the top of my hand is a lot higher than my elbow, I'm like, "No, it's not." Try to keep the wrist really straight. As we're ready, we're gonna extend both arms out maybe. It's a big V. Bending both elbows, thinking of them being lower than the tops of our hands. And two more times, reach 'em out.

Have you lost your abdominal lift away from the floor? Try to re-engage that. One more time, stretching 'em out. Bend 'em back in. This is hard stuff.

Lower your forearms next to you. And we push away from the floor. Walk the knees forward. Have them a comfortable distance apart. Spread the fingers out.

Hands can be underneath the shoulders. And as they're ready, just press into anything that's touching the floor or the tops of your feet, your knees, your hands. Round the back, take some deep breaths. And from here, staying in that flexed position in the back, we'll start sitting that towards our feet. Just go as low as it feels comfortable in your knee joints and in your hips.

Couple more deep breaths there. And we're ready to slowly sit up. We will, and we'll call it a day right there. Thank you so much for coming.

Begin Pilates: Start Here!

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Lina S
I like the way you explain things. I've enjoyed some "beginner" variations (knees up but legs relax in the ab prep, roll up with legs crossed, saw with legs in a diamond shape). I'm going to try some of them with my students. Thank you! A lovely class with great cueing.
Lina S Hi! Thank you for continuing with this beginner series! I truly appreciate your feedback and am excited for you to share these ideas with your students😊. Thanks again!
Kathy W
Thank you Erin for a lovely class, I thoroughly enjoy your cuing and step by step progression towards a roll up, some golden ideas for my classes.  Can’t wait for more of this series. 
Kathy W thank you so much! I am glad you have some new ideas for your classes! The roll up can be a person’s nemesis, but it doesn’t have to be 😊. Thank you again for taking the class. 
I enjoyed a lot ; thank you so much
Cigdem A thank you so much for taking the class! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Great class. Very well explained and I love your upbeat more energetic teaching style. I run a studio overseas with many not having English as their first language and your clear cues are so helpful.
Jill B hi! Thank you so much for your feedback 😊. I am so very happy that your students can receive and understand the cues. How amazing for you to be able to run a studio overseas! So cool! Thank you again!
Cynthia G
Loving this series  Thanks
Cynthia G thank you so much for taking the classes!
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