Class #4816

Refining Your Movement

55 min - Class
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You are more than halfway through Erin Wilson's Begin Pilates series and you may have started to notice a difference in your body. Erin encourages you to mindfully refine your movement with precision - another important Pilates principle. You will deepen your relationship to Pilates, as well as, your mobility, coordination, and strength. As always, have fun with Erin and be kind to yourself.
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 fourth class in a series of six. And today we'll be focusing on the Pilates principle of precision. We're gonna start in an all fours position.

So if you need extra cushion for either your knees or maybe even your hands, feel free to grab a towel or anything that you might want to cushion up those areas and make the position more comfortable. So turning ourselves around, we're gonna plant our hands just slightly forward of our shoulders. So they're not directly underneath them, but they're a good six inches or so forward spreading the hands out. And if we look down at our legs, we're trying to feel that the shins are straight back. They're parallel.

The knees are under our pelvis and about pelvic width apart. But as we move, you might find that you want to go wider or even narrower with them. So we want to sense where our back is, and at the moment we're just feeling flat in our back. So we're not overly arching, we're also not rounding. And the thought here is focused on just the lower and the lower mid part of the spine doing the movement.

So as we're ready to take our next breath out, can we think of where the two pelvic bones are here in the front, pulling those together, lifting those lower abdominal muscles up into our lower back and allowing the sacrum to curl and drop down. On your breath in, you're gonna release all of that effort and just allow your pelvis to come back to a neutral position or just flat again where the sacrum's relatively flat to the ceiling. So we exhale. We think of pulling those two pelvic bones closer together, drawing those deep, low abdominal muscles and pelvic muscles into our lower back, allowing the spine to bend there. And then as we release that tension untuck your pelvis and let the spine, that lower part of the back go into neutral.

So it's normal extension curve. And just keep that movement going, so we breathe out. Think of lifting, pulling those deep abdominal muscles into our lower back and allowing the lower back to round. Hey, the mid back, we'll move a bit here as well because we're moving our pelvis. And like we talked about in the first class, the pelvis is the mothership.

So if I move my pelvis in a certain position, the spine is gonna follow that either way. So it's basically impossible to move my pelvis and not move my spine. You can move your spine though and not your pelvis. One more time. So micro movements here, we're trying to be very precise about where we're sensing this.

This is no man's land for a lot of times, those lower abdominal muscles, and we'll do one more. So scoop them in, think of just your pelvis in your lower back, rounding, talking, and then we'll slowly come out of that, taking it a little further. So begin by allowing your pelvis to move the lower back to bend, scooping in through the stomach. And now as you put a little more pressure into our hands and arms, keep rounding through the rest of your back and the head will simultaneously begin to drop down. So at this point, we're basically looking through our knees and then as we unwind, we want to start taking the head forward, think of the upper back flattening first, the mid back flattening next, and then our lower back.

And then the pelvis is coming into its neutral flat shape again. So starting from the pelvis, we pull those pelvic bones in the front, closer together, pull those muscles closer together. And then continuing to round and ripple up through the rest of our spine and just allowing the head to move with the rest of your body. Take the head forward, so the neck starts to lengthen out, the upper back flattens, the mid back. Think of the low back, flattening out last and then of course the pelvis coming into neutral.

On the last one, we'll stay in the rounded shape. So one more time, the emphasis is being really precise with only mobilizing that lower part of our back first, as the pelvis goes into the tuck and then continuing to curl and round through the rest of our spine. Once we're here, we're gonna slowly sit back only to where we're comfortable in our joints. And when you've been there for a few moments, we're gonna make our way into a seated position. So we can turn around or you can turn to face your legs.

And we'll be getting ourselves down onto our back. Moving from an exercise that we did in the last class from a seated rollback position. So feet are on the floor, not too close to our glutes, hands are behind our knees, pull yourself up, the knees can open here. Find your sit bones, use your arms for support. And as we're ready to exhale, connect the legs together, scoop through the center of your body.

Continue to slide your hands down the legs as we make our way onto our back. Once we're there, just resting your arms, slide the feet in closer to your glutes, separate them the width of your fist or a little bit wider if you need that. Try to sense that they're parallel. And just checking in, this is possibly the first time that you've been flat on your back today. So check in with your shoulders, with your pelvis.

Where's there may be some tension that we're holding onto you unnecessarily. You can always face your palms up to the ceiling to help you open up the upper body. After we've been here for a few deep breaths, we're gonna take our next exhale, curl the pubic bone towards your chest, feeling that lower back imprinting into the floor. From there, we continue to breathe and we continue to lift our spine up until we're balancing on the backs of our shoulders. Long arms, reaching down, taking a deep breath here at the top.

As we go to breathe out, we're gonna soften through the chest and we're only gonna come down halfway. So it's more or less where the base of our rib cage would be. See if you can pause there for a moment, allow your stomach just to sink down. So not putting a lot of tension here in the middle and hone more in on the glutes and we're gonna hone and be more precise with our hamstring muscles here today. So holding ourselves in this low bridge, your feet are not gonna move, but start pulling your heels towards your butt and then release that pressure.

Exhaling. We pull our heels towards our glutes, they're not moving. And then inhale release. Hopefully what that's creating for you is a sense of awareness more in the hamstring muscle. So you might feel the contraction more in the mid part of the back of the thigh.

You might feel it more on the back of your knee. Okay. It's not really an exact science. We're usually gonna feel things where we need the strength the most. And I know where that is in my body.

Don't have the greatest hamstring strength, so I'm always working on it. Two more times, pull for a couple of seconds, release, and we'll do that one more time. Pull your heels towards your glutes, release that pulling effort. And we're gonna sink our stomach down into our back even more as we roll down through the lowest parts of the back, relaxing our pelvis at the bottom, relaxing our glutes. taking a deep breath in.

Things that might be helpful. If you have a towel close by, we are activating our hamstrings more on purpose, right? So if you'd find that you're cramping, it might be helpful to roll a towel up, sticking in between your knees, squeeze the towel or the blanket while you're doing those heel pulls, share the load with your adductor muscles. They like to work with the hamstrings. They're all friends.

Take a deep breath here. So we exhale again. Curling the pubic bone up. We're rolling up to our bridge, go all the way up. So as high as you know, it works best for you.

Backs of the legs, doing most of the effort here. Taking a deep breath. We're gonna find that midway point. So soften through the sternum first, let your chest feel heavy. Coming down base of the ribs more or less and just holding that for a moment.

Hug the knees a little more towards each other, even if you don't have something that you're squeezing in between them. Start your exhale, pull the heels towards you and let that release. And pulling the heels towards you and let them release. So you'll feel light on the toes potentially, but we're not asking the toes to lift off the floor and we'll do a couple more, just drag in those heels and releasing. The back of your head, you'll feel some movement there.

Yeah, there's always a relationship. We're just balancing those bowling ball on top of our spine and pelvis all day long. So it's gonna move. On your last one, let your feet stay in that more relaxed position, sink all of your abdominal muscles, your organs into your back so that we can roll down the rest of the way and releasing right there. Just another idea, something else that might make this exercise different in your body, more interesting in your body.

Walking our feet and legs together from here. We'll eventually be bringing our legs up to a 90 degree position, but let's hone in once more on where that's coming from. So as we gather our abdominals and pull them and pull our lower back into the floor, again, it's not pushing. If you're doing this to get your lower back on the floor. Yeah, this isn't what we're looking for.

It's a less effort than we might realize. So we want to hone in on them, just hollowing into our back. Once we think we have that, don't feel heavy on the feet to achieve that cause we're gonna take them off the ground. Legs are lifting to 90 and you can always opt to put the lower legs down. Hands are gonna lift, interlace your fingers, place your hands behind your head.

We know where they're going at this point I hope. Elbows are in our periphery. And as we're ready to breathe out, we're gonna curl our head and chest up and we're gonna lower down. We'll do this a few times. So shins can be parallel to the floor.

You can also let your shins just drop down. It's a lot of effort just to hold our legs like this. It's a lot of inward tension that we're creating around our pelvis and our back. Not in a bad way, but you know, if things aren't ready for that it can be not a good thing. So we do one more like this, just the upper body, curling up and coming down.

Now, as we lift our head and chest up again, we're gonna see if we can maintain the height. Both feet are gonna start lowering towards the floor. If the lower back comes off the ground, we're not gonna put them all the way down, just bring them right back up. So we breathe. This could be an inhale as the legs go down, this can be an exhale as they come up or vice versa.

This could be an exhale as they go down and an inhale as they come up. Since we are trying to maintain a nice abdominal connection there, the exhalation is usually easier to connect to those muscles with. Then we're just getting a couple of more, lower down. So as the legs go away from you, I'm thinking about bringing my abdominals down towards the ground and coming back up, adding some rotation, we'll bring our head down to give it a break, take another inhale here, reorganize anything you might need to, and as we breathe out again, we're curling up. So as the legs lower, same intention, everything else in the center of the body's also lowering down.

But as the legs lift this time, we're gonna rotate our upper body to one side. Pick your least favorite. Find your feet on the floor or not as you have your head and chest to center, and as the legs come up, we rotate the other way. So now we're still really emphasizing pelvic and lumbar stability here against the mobilization of our hip joints and the mobilization of our mid and upper back. Rotate the other way.

There's also a lot of coordinated efforts, so it's great for our brain and we'll keep that going. So again, if your feet aren't wanting to touch all the way down, stop somewhere in the air before it becomes an issue where that, again, that lower back wants to leave the ground. We'll give ourselves one more. Maybe it's another one on your end. Make sure that you feel even.

And as we bring our head and chest back to the center, we're gonna bring our knees into our body, let go of your head and just hug them in somewhere that they're comfortable. Feel a nice stretch hopefully in your back. Hands are gonna slide behind the backs of our knees from here, start using the lower legs a bit for some momentum help. And we're gonna start to just do a little rocking and rolling up and down. So we take the lower legs up and as they start to pull down, we're gonna let them pull us up a little bit.

Then we're gonna roll back. Let them pull us up and we'll roll back. A couple more times and on your next one, go ahead and roll up and just stay there at the top. And we'll pause. All right.

So keep your hands behind your knees as always, we're going into the rolling like a ball exercise, here are the rolling back exercise. Otherwise we can always play around with a tighter shape. So hands towards the front of the knees, mid shin. If you want to try it today to go all the way down towards your ankles, that's great. And then of course having the knees more open can be nicer, but play around with me, bringing the knees together on these next ones.

So scooping back, looking down at our pelvis, elbows and shoulders are wide. Hands are pulling up on the legs. We're gonna roll back and we're coming up trying to balance at the top for a moment. And rolling back again and balancing at the top. Depending on the day, okay, this might be a clunker day for your lower back.

I got lots of clunker days for sure. Today's not so much. And we're not at least in this moment, might've been earlier. So if it is more of a clunky day in that lower part of your back, you don't want a tighter shape, that's not gonna be helpful. It's gonna probably make things even more difficult to find articulation through the lumbar.

So go behind the knees again, give yourself one more either way, breath as we go back, breath as we come up. And if we are holding on somewhere other than the backs of your knees, we're all gonna take our hands behind our legs again. So knees are gonna come together if they can. Feel free to keep them apart, although this one will work a lot better if they can connect. So the lower legs are now free and we're gonna intentionally start extending them as we roll back.

Don't go so far that the back of your hits the mat. Wide elbows, wide shoulders, we're looking down at our pelvis. As we roll back this time, start extending your legs, bend them. See, I can't even get up. Come back up.

But that's kind of the idea. So we roll back, suspend yourself there for a moment and we come back up. Oh, that was better, all right. And we go again, squeeze the legs together, extend the legs, hold yourself there for a moment, curl back up. Keep looking down at the same spot, it's really helpful.

The weight of our head is a lot. So if we throw our head weight back and forth just makes everything even more challenging. One more time. And this is gonna eventually prepare us for an exercise called the roll over. Once you finish your last one, just look up, oh, hello, take your feet down, and we'll go ahead and organize ourselves for yet another variation of the roll-up exercise.

So if you do not have a towel or blanket close by, maybe grab one real quick. And if you do, you're already ready to go. And this exercise may or may not even work for your body and that's okay. So feel free to skip this and do a different variation of the roll up that you know does work for you. So if we do have a towel or a blanket, another great trick that can work for the roll up is to roll it.

We're rolling in the rolls. So make a nice a towel roll here or blanket. So fold it up. Okay, make sure that it's wide enough that it's gonna go across the lower part of your back, okay. So if we put that guy right there, wanted to touch our pelvis more or less, or you might want to have it an inch behind you.

You'll know after the first one where it should be placed. And we're gonna start by rolling back. Cause it's always easier to go down than it ever is to come up. Thanks gravity. So we have that guy there.

We're gonna connect the legs together. We'll keep the knees bent, feet not too close to us, which means the toes might be lifting. Arms are gonna reach out in front. A little extra weight here is gonna be helpful. Start squeezing the legs together.

We start that roll back position, right. Now eventually we're gonna keep coming down and we're taking our arms up. Now what I find is, okay, my towel, cause I've done this exercise before. My towel is a little too low. It's more on my sacrum right now.

So I'm gonna bring it up a bit higher. Feel free to adjust as well, more towards the lowest part of my back. Now as we take our arms up to the ceiling, bring your head and chest up. Still squeeze the legs together, but think of pushing your back into the towel. We'll just keep our body rounded as we go forward over our legs.

Hey, moving back again. Hopefully the towel won't move around too much, but make the adjustment if you find that it's getting in a different position than what you want. Coming up, breathe in here as we look forward, exhale, keep pushing back into the towel rounding over the legs, lifting up through the abdominals. And then as we come back, relax the shoulders. Look forward as long as we can.

Again, this head weighs a lot. We don't want to put it back there too far. Let your arms reach behind you this time. Take them up to the ceiling, head, neck and shoulders come up. Pushing back into the towel, rounding over our legs.

And if we're still looking for more, we're gonna either fully straighten our knees or definitely straighten them a bit more than they are. So pulling back, arms are reaching forward, find the towel, roll over it, arms can go behind our head. Palms can face in towards each other, they can also face down towards the floor, push back into the towel. And what the towel is essentially doing is giving us a bit of leverage. One more time.

And again, if you don't like this version, go back to the holding the leg version, two legs bend, if you like the crossover leg version, that's a good one. Coming up one more time, finish the full position. And then of course we have to fix the reverse wedgie. So take a moment to do that for yourself. And if you were using the towel, we'll get rid of that and you might want to use it to sit on next for the spine stretch exercise.

So feel free to organize anything that you might need underneath your pelvis. And we'll extend our legs to the width of our mat or maybe a little bit wider. Bend the knees if you need that, right, sitting up on something. And we're gonna take our arms and reach them out in front the whole time today. But if you prefer to have your hands on your legs still or on the mat, those are the other options available.

So once again, palms can face down, but if palms are facing in, if you have tight shoulders and lots of trapezius tension, sometimes just rotating this way can help alleviate some of that. So that's just another reason why we can do a different arm position. Lifting up tall, we take a breath out, so bring the chin down and we just keep breathing as we round our spine and reach our arms out there past our toes. Just mentally, right? It's happening.

Well, not really, but that's okay. Breath in down here at the bottom. As we exhale, scoop back, think of where your lower back is. Stack those blocks up, mid back, upper back. We look forward, inhale again.

So the exhale is gonna bring our chin down. Inhale again when you need to though, right? So we're being really precise about how much we're bending each individual vertebrae and trying to maintain the pressure over our sit bones. So as we start sitting up, here's a good example, when we were on the all fours position before of we're not really moving our pelvis, right? And we're only trying to move from our spine.

So reaching out, lifting up from the center. Long neck, we don't have to just drop it down, we want to keep a little bit of the length in the back of our neck. We're coming up one more time, adding arms, some arm movements. So from here, we're just gonna take our arms up towards the ceiling and just check things out. If you get to a height where all of a sudden it's just this kind of thing, right?

You don't want to go that high, that's all right. So reaching them up for you might be about here. It's fine. But what we're trying to do is pick up our ribs, pick up the center of our body with the arms. Now, as we go forward, we're taking our arms with us and really lifting up to go over our legs.

Deep breath in at the bottom. As we breathe out, we're gonna bring our arms up to the ceiling with our spine again. Okay, again, palms facing in, facing forward. One of them might feel better for your shoulders. Pick your whole body up out of your pelvis here.

Take that upward energy. And again, resist bending over your legs. Breath in here at the bottom. One more time. Arms are coming up with us.

Scooping back in the abdominals, taken our arms, taken our body, really lifting up out of our pelvis, not the shoulders, doing all the work, right? The rib's doing a lot of the work and then just relax. Oh, thank God that's over. All right, coming into the saw next. So again, taking your towel, maybe sitting on top of a couple of them.

We're gonna go into the straight leg variation today. So this can be very helpful. I'm gonna use them here. And we're taking our legs. They can still be the width of your mat.

There's also a nice option if you wanted to go a little wider with your legs, you could potentially start going into that position too. So depending on how thoracically mobile you're feeling in rotation today, you have to be able to get past the foot, right? You have to be able to get on the outside of that leg. So my legs are way out here and I can't quite twist that far. Not gonna really work out so well.

So we're taking our arms out to the sides. Again, palms can face down, they can face forward. We rotate our arms either way. So get right up on the sit bones, feel where you were a moment ago. All of that shifting, that lifting from the ribs, take that as you breathe in to rotate to the right and our left arm is gonna reach to the outside of our right leg.

Even if it's not touching your foot, the left arm is going in that direction. And the right arm is internally rotating, so the thumb is pointing down to the floor. As we inhale, we just sit up, think of reaching the arms and picking the chest up even more. Open your arms to the T to find the center. So as we rotate to our left, get taller, pick those ribs up.

And then as we dive forward, bring that right rib cage around with your right arm, reaching to the outside of the left foot. We keep our arms in this position as we lift up tall in the rotation again, and then open and find the center. So let's pick up the pace a little bit. As we breathe in, we're gonna twist to our right. As we exhale, we're gonna dive forward.

Inhale is gonna pick us up. Exhale, we'll unwind. Inhale, we go to the left. Exhale, we round forward. Inhale is gonna pick us up.

Exhale, we unwind. Other things to notice. Let's go to the right again. As we dive forward here to the right, try to not lift the left glute off the floor, okay? So again, our pelvis is trying to stay relatively still and relatively centered.

Pick it up, back to the center. One more time. Inhale, we go to the right. Exhale, reach both arms away from each other. Now keep reaching as we lift up again, find the center.

One more time, twisting to our left, diving forward, lifting up tall, exhale, unwind. And we'll just relax right there. All right, if you are sitting on something, go ahead and get that out from underneath you. And we'll start getting into some weight-bearing effort on our arms and also a little bit of shoulder extension movement. So if you're tight in this area or even tight in the hip flexors, this is gonna look and feel different in your body than it would maybe for me or for someone else.

So it doesn't necessarily have to look like anything. We're gonna focus more on what we're trying to feel happening in our bodies. So this is a very different way to put weight on our arms. We're used to planking and having our arms in front of us. So just having the arm position here alone can be weird.

I always opt to put my hands and face my fingers out to the sides. If you have a mat, especially if it's a thicker mat, the heel of your hand on the edge and the fingers on the floor is a nice way to again, alleviate some of that risk tension that can happen. So we've got our feet flat. They're not as close to us, right, as they might be for other exercises, but they're definitely in a place that if I lift my pelvis up in a moment, I feel like I can put some good weight on them. So we're gonna do two versions of this, one, where we're trying to articulate through our spine and then eventually lift up.

And another one where we're not doing more of a hip hinge doing more of a shoulder hinge. So we'll do the hinging version first. Start pressing into your hands and your arms, extend your elbows and just really pick your chest up. Depending on how tight things might feel, your hands might have to be wider. They might have to be narrower.

We're all different. So wherever that is for you, we're not trying to squeeze the shoulder blades together, but instead pick our chest up out of our shoulder blades. Standing on our feet, as soon as our butt starts to lift, push into the heels more. Squeeze your glutes as your pelvis keeps coming up. Opening through the chest still we look up at the ceiling at the most.

And then as we are ready to come down, we're gonna hinge, I'm gonna stick my butt out a little bit in my mind, so my tailbone is aiming to the floor and we look straight ahead. So the back is staying flat here for the most part. Once again, we push into our arms. That's pushing us forward initially, not squeezing and doing that crazy thing, but just lifting. And then from the lift, it's as if I don't even have my arms on the ground, my chest is still lifting up with my pelvis now.

Heels are pressing deep into the floor. Big toes are trying to stay on the floor. And then as we drop our tailbone down, I keep lifting my heart to the ceiling either way to control the movement. We'll try one more here and then we'll give our hands a little mini break. So once again, lift yourself up, but also forward.

And then keeping that sensation as our pelvis comes up and where it comes up, we don't know, right. Where it goes, we don't know, but it's trying to lift its best by using your glutes, using the hamstrings. And then as we tilt the tailbone down, keep picking your chest up, leaning it forward. And once we've had a seat, let's come off of our hands and just give yourself a nice hug. Say, thank God that's over.

And now we'll just try a version with more spinal articulations that we're gonna be focusing more on how we do those articulating bridges, things like that. Very similar, we just happened to be on our arms. So here we are, hands are out to the sides. The other alternative here would be to go to fists. You could definitely go onto your forearms and just do some pelvic movements like so.

Okay, so hands in the same position, you can always face them forward. You probably could face them back. Just be cautious, if you're hyper extender, like I am in the elbows, having them back here is even easier to hyperextend than lock-in to them. So we have our hands spread out, press into the fingertips. Now we're doing something that I call the butt scoot version.

Yeah. So if you ever seen a dog that's kind of scooting his butt on the floor, that's what we're gonna emulate here. So we still start the same way. Pick your chest up and lean it forward. And now as we start to dog butt scoot along the floor, we're dragging our tailbone until it lifts up.

Now we're staying in a deep scoop of the abdominals until eventually we start flattening out through the whole front of our body. Take a deep breath. Start bringing your eyes forward first. Think of the chest softening on this one now. Okay, ribs are pulling into your back.

We're still in the tuck. And then once your pelvis touches the floor we're gonna reverse dog butt scoot and slide the tailbone back. Take a second if you need to, flex the wrist the other way, right? We're going slow on this. There's a lot of effort on our hands here.

Once again, push your chest forward and lift up. Don't squeeze the shoulder blades so much. And then we dog butt scoot. So I'm going to drag my tailbone along the ground as much as I can, as long as I can, until it has to come off the floor. And then once my pelvis starts getting more elevated to the height of my knees, that's when we can start opening the upper body.

And here we are, the human table. Can rest your one right there. Okay, we look forward, we soften the chest, let the shoulders roll in a bit. Keep pulling back in your waist. Keep the pelvis in a tuck as long as possible.

Once our butt touches, dog butt scoot back and we'll come off of our hands right there. All right, reaching around, giving ourselves another hug. Just to relax, we're gonna walk our feet and legs together. Make sure there's some room for your head to land on your mat and we'll be laying down again. So bring your legs with you, hold on to them wherever it's comfortable.

And then once we're down, take a few seconds, relax, let your back release into the floor. Going into double leg stretch, single leg stretch in the criss-cross. Feel free to always keep your head down if the neck muscles are just not there yet. And it makes it harder for you to focus on what should be happening, which is all the good abdominal work and leg work that we're getting in this exercise. So when we're ready to let go of our legs, arms are gonna be reaching up to the ceiling eventually.

But was ready to let go of our legs, we're gonna simultaneously extend our arms and legs up towards the ceiling as we curl our head and chest up, bring your arms and legs back in, lower your head and chest down. So arms are reaching up. Legs are reaching up and grab back on, lower your head and chest down. All the same ideas here. So we're reaching the legs away, but we're pulling our abdominals away from them.

Grabbing back on. Looking forward towards our legs. Lifting the upper back away from the floor and hug. We'll get two more of these, breathe out and come down. One more time.

Reach, pull away from your legs with your abdominals and come down. Going into single leg stretch. We're gonna take both hands on top of our right knee. As we push this knee a little bit into our hands, that can help us bring our head and chest up initially. But if that's still too much, we're gonna go hands behind our head and keep supporting our neck until the neck flexor muscles get a bit stronger.

So we're holding onto the right leg, we're gonna extend the left leg out on a diagonal. And as that happens, we're gonna curl our head and chest up again, and we're gonna try to stay right here. Being very precise with our leg positions today, we're gonna try to hit the same mark out there with our big toe of the extending leg. Switching the legs, we reach, hit that mark with this big toe, switch again and reach. So we hold onto the left leg, extend the right leg fully, switch hands.

And we switch and we switch. Other options with the hands are to take the opposite hand to the knee and the same hand to the ankle. So it would be left-hand to the right knee, right hand to the left knee and give your hands a little bit of pressure with the leg. Just finding different connections here through the body, and we'll give ourselves one more to each side. When you know that you're even bring the knees in, lower your head down, and let's just let our head rock a little bit side to side.

I've done these exercises more times than I could ever count at this stage in my life, and it is still challenging to hold my head up, right? So that's okay. Give yourself a little rest whenever you need it. Going into the criss-cross. Same idea here, we're gonna use our legs to help us initially.

So start pressing your shins into your hands, curl the head and chest up. And we're gonna bring our knees right over our pelvis. Hands are gonna interlace. We're gonna use our arms and our upper body to help support the weight of our head now. And as we extend the left leg, we're gonna rotate towards the right leg.

These are in the same place they were for the single leg stretch a moment ago. Exhale as we switch to go to the left. So we can each inhale through the transition and we can exhale as we hit the mark with the extended leg. So we're moving from the upper back here, but we're always focusing on not rolling around, not rocking the boat in our pelvis. That's always trying to stay very still.

So again, it's hip mobility, thoracic mobility, pelvic and lumbar stability. And we go a couple more to each side. And on your last one that you know that you're even with, bring the legs in, rest your head down and just take a few more seconds and breathe. From here we're gonna be placing our feet on the ground for a few moments, relaxing our back, relaxing our abdominal still and placing our feet where they will need to be for your bridging. Now we are going into a single leg bridge position here in a moment.

So if your feet are too wide, a lot of times that will not work out so well. So we definitely wanna focus more on that fist with the part position first. Spreading the toes out, start feeling the upper back, trying to find the floor a bit heavier. And as we're ready to exhale, we're gonna curl the pubic bone towards our chest. And then as we peel our lower back off of the floor, we're just trying to be equally weighted in our feet and legs for now.

Take some moments here at the top. Recognize if you need to bring the knees in a little closer, if you need to adjust your feet, we're gonna be standing on the left leg here in a moment. So without really shifting anything else in the body, can we begin to bring the right leg up to a 90 degree. From there we're gonna straighten the right leg up. If it doesn't want to straighten fully, that's okay.

We're gonna take the leg down, just knee to knee and lift it back up. Take it down knee to knee, lift it back up. One more time, knee to knee. Lift it up, bend your right leg, place the foot on the floor. Reorganize.

Standing on the right foot. Hone in on the glutes, pull that heel towards your butt a little bit, right? Find those hamstrings again. We bring the left leg up. We extend the leg up to the ceiling.

If it's not perfectly straight, it's not the end of the world. Here we are. Take the leg down, pause, knee to knee, pull it back up. And again, knee to knee, pull it back up, keep the chest soft. One more time, knee to knee.

Pull it back up, we bend it, place our foot down, settle everything in and then slowly roll down with your next breath out until your level again. So that's just testing the waters. So now we'll add on, potentially do a few more repetitions and discuss what might be happening in your body as you're doing this. So we have our feet planted where they need to be. We're using both of our feet to roll our pelvis up and get ourselves up in the bridge.

Okay, anchor into the upper back a bit more, nice strong arms. So we're standing on the left foot, we're gonna bring the right leg up to 90. We're gonna extend it back up to the ceiling. So as the right leg is lowering, we're pausing knee to knee, but we're right about where the hip extension is kicking on. So we want to think of maybe squeezing this right glute a bit and then kicking it up.

So as it comes down, it's a heavy feeling like you're pushing down on something at the bottom, push down on something, try to find those hip extensor muscles, even on the right leg. Two more, lift. Last one, and lift. Bend the knee, place the foot down. Transferring our weight.

Here we are. Take the left leg up, stretch it to the ceiling. Soft stomach, soft chest, right? It's not, ooh, not the thrust. Now taking the left leg down, hold it for a second.

Oh, that's hard. See, if you can find the left glutes before you lift it up. So the leg is going away, but that left pelvic bone is actively trying to reach to the ceiling and then hold it up. Again the legs going down, that pelvic bone, that left pelvic bone is pushing up and lift and we'll get a couple more and lift. One more time.

Push that left pelvic bone up, bring the left leg to the air it bends, foot goes down, reorganize again. Make sure you feel level as you soften through the chest, rolling down one vertebrae after the next. And from there, bring our knees into our chest and rock a little side to side. So moving onto our sides next, we can slide the leg that's closest to your screen on the floor and then use the bent leg, push into that foot, and just roll yourself onto your side. So getting into the sidekicks, we're gonna take our bottom leg and we're gonna bend it.

And we're gonna emphasize a little bit more on the bottom leg in today's variation. So head can stay low. You can always choose to fold your arm, put a pillow right here of course. You could even experiment with having your arm up a little higher like this. So wherever your head and neck are good for now, hands gonna be in front of us.

And we're gonna make sure that the top pelvic bone is stacked over the bottom pelvic bone. Lifting up through the abdominal muscles we're gonna pick our top leg up, flex the ankle. And now as we take our leg forward, we don't want to feel our pelvis and our back rounding to get it there. And then just point through the foot and take it underneath us again. So if nothing changes from the hip joint up, that's essentially what we're going for.

There are definitely different versions of this exercise where you are moving your spine, you are moving your pelvis with your leg. But for today's variation, we're gonna focus more on the trunk stability component of this exercise and the hip mobility component. So we kick front and we pull back, okay. Especially as the leg is coming in front of us, not to the degree that it would round our back, but we really wanna keep that idea of can my abdominals pull away from this leg, right? We don't want that thigh to touch us here in the center.

We'll give ourselves a couple more and one more time front, one more time back. Now just let the leg rest there for a few seconds. And we're gonna emphasize what's going on with the bottom leg. Whenever our bottom leg is bent, naturally, there'll be some pressure on the outside here of the knee and shin. But a lot of times, if we can emphasize more pressure there, we can wake up these lateral hip stabilizing muscles and that's gonna further encourage us to get stronger around our pelvis.

So let's pick the top leg up again, flex the foot. Now, as we take the top leg forward, we know what's happening there. Simultaneously, can you press the bottom shin or knee area a little bit more down into the floor. And then as the leg kicks back, release that pressure. So legs coming forward, bottom legs intentionally pressing down a bit more and then pull it back.

If your knees elevated, for whatever reason, it's gonna be more of your ankle or shin area that you might want to put some pressure down on. Just ideas, things that might make the exercise feel different for you. Come forward one more time with the knee emphasis, find your way back and we'll relax the leg. Help ourselves up. And we'll swing the legs around.

A little break dance move, and then eventually figure out where you need your head and neck position to be on this side. Same position here with the bottom leg at 90 top leg. Check out where this pelvic bone is, if it's rolling back or already not setting ourselves up quite as well as we could be. So taking our top leg again, we're gonna hover it. Hand can rest.

You can also play around with not holding onto the floor and really challenging the stability of your trunk. Let's flex the top foot. Start kicking it forward. Think of the leg getting shorter in the socket, right? That pelvic bone pushing back, point through the toes and come back.

So we flex again to come forward and we point to come back. There are other versions of this exercise where there's a double kicking motion in the front and a double kicking motion in the back. But just for simplicity today, we're just gonna make it a single kick forward and a single kickback. And we just keep that going a few more times. So naturally it's already happening, those lateral hip muscles, the side that you're laying on, they are working to help stabilize our pelvic position.

But of course, we'll emphasize that a bit more after a couple of repetitions like this. Just take your leg forward. Let's go two more times like that. And after the last one, we'll put our leg down. Other things you might notice when you get to the second leg, it already feels kind of tired because it already worked the first time around just like the second one is working to help stabilize us.

So it's not that the second leg is the weaker leg a lot of the time, it's just already gotten a lot of action. So it's tired now. Let's take our leg up again, flex the ankle. Now, as we take our leg forward, push down on the bottom knee more on the bottom shin, point through the top foot and pull back. Flex again, find that bottom knee shin, point and come back.

So you're waking up the lateral stabilizing muscles here around our pelvis even more so. And those are very important for lower back health. Keeps us out of injuries. Helps us stay more stable. Two more like that.

And we'll give ourselves one more. Push down a little bit on the bottom knee, pull it back and we'll relax the leg there. Now that is a little bit more effort, hopefully in the sides of our hips. So let's take a moment and just give ourselves a nice stretch. So you can definitely go into a diamond shape or the butterfly.

You can take your feet out. You could just go into a simple cross leg position. And the thing that makes either of those shapes easier is sitting back up on your towels or blanket. So I'm gonna choose the cross legs myself, put your legs in whatever shape they feel comfortable for you. And then let's give ourselves a nice stretch.

So pulling up on the legs for a moment, trying to stay tall. And then if we are gonna lean forward, we want to attempt to keep our back flat as we go forward, right, are sitting bones, everything, is trying to get wider back here. And that usually gives us a more effective stretch than if we round our back and do that, but explore either way. Okay, and then we'll come upright. If you are doing the cross leg thing, switch the cross of your legs.

This is gonna feel weird usually. But if it's more than weird, i.e., it's pain somewhere in the joints, go back to what's more normal for you and then use your arms again to pull you up. And then as we hinge forward, we're trying to widen everything back here. Pull that tissue away from our sacrum, stretch out the hips. One more deep breath and we'll bring ourselves up, bring the legs in and we'll be getting into some kneeling positions on our forearms.

So make your way around. Do you need to pad up your knees now is another great time. Grab the towel, grab anything that you might need to make yourself more comfortable. So we're on our forearms. We're gonna be bringing our legs and feet together.

The knees are right underneath our hips here. Okay, so we're in a hinge and the back is flat. So we're gonna start pressing into our elbows a bit, but more so than that right now, the hands would need to be so spread out but a little bit space in between the fingers is good. Start pressing into the pinky sides of your hands. It doesn't mean that the hands are doing that, but a little more pressures on that pinky side.

Length through the back of our neck, abdominals are lifting. Now as we're ready to start lifting our elbows away from the ground, keep that emphasis on the pinky sides of your hands as far as the pressure goes. As we bend our elbows, point them towards your feet, towards the back of your mat and slowly come back down. So things to notice, are you puffing up in your upper back? So a lot of times just looking, so the line across from where my thumbs are, just looking in between that line is gonna help keep our upper back a bit more flat, there's an easy tendency to want to round our upper back in these weight-bearing exercises.

One more time, pinky finger side of the hand pushes as our elbows extend. And as they bend, they're still pointing back towards the end of our mat, the back of our mat, and we lower down slowly. Come away from your arms for a moment, just sitting back towards our feet and we'll start putting our legs in a more challenging position to get even more weight on our arms. So we walk our knees back. Now, any degree that you walk them back, an inch five, doesn't matter, is going to make the position more challenging, there's more weight on your arms.

So from here, pull your body forward, make sure the elbows are more or less under your shoulders. Again, if we're back here, that's not what we're looking for. We want to be right over our elbow points. Same thing, lift up through your stomach without rounding the mat, find that pinky side of your hands and extend the elbows again. As we bend our elbows, they're trying to point towards the back of our mat and we come down slow.

So we push into the pinky sides of our hands as we extend our elbows. Okay, the eyes is still right in between your hands there towards the front of the mat. And just one more time. Pressing into the pinky sides and then try not to collapse our chest as we lower down. Start sitting back again, walk your hands back, whatever works.

Just take a good stretch. So from here, we'll be transitioning onto our stomachs. So anytime that we have to be in this position, it's difficult, right? Our back extensors are not exactly the strongest things we have going in our adult bodies, which is why my friend, Megan calls, these positions and these exercises adult tummy time. It's perfect, right?

Because the whole point of tummy time is to develop your back muscles. So we're gonna extend our arms today towards the corners of our mat. For now, the palms can just be down, but we might experiment with rotating our forearms a different way. And then we're gonna take our legs pretty close together. Now if right away when you do that you feel a lot of lumbar tension, feel free to keep the legs slightly separated.

Just like we've always focused on to set up, we're gonna lightly press our pubic bone into the floor, not a ton of squeezing effort in the glutes, but we definitely want to sense a lifting energy of the abdominals trying to come off the floor. Now with our legs active but not lifting, we're gonna think of plugging our arms into their sockets more and sliding our hands towards us on the floor. The elbows are not lifting, but as our hands slide towards us the head and chest are gonna to try to lift up an inch. And then as we slide our hands down the floor, our chest, our throat, our face, are gonna lower back down. So we've got lifting energy in the abdominals, a little bit of pressing energy in the pubic bone.

And as we shorten our arms in the sockets like we did with the leg and the side leg kicks, we start sliding our arms towards us more and more so that our chest and head lift up and we look out on the floor. Slide your arms forward and feel like the sternum lowers first, the throat area lowers next and your face is the last thing. And we'll do that again. So start moving your arms, slide them into their sockets or think of sliding the shoulder blades down a little bit. And then as we're lifting up, pushing the chest through your fingers and trying to hone in on those mid upper back extensor muscles, slide your arms back out as the head and chest comes down.

On the next one, we're gonna pause when we're at the high point of the extension. So our arms are sliding towards us. Chest is reaching towards them and here's where we're gonna elevate one hand off the floor without lowering down through our upper body, place the hand down. So this could be a breath in or a breath out as the arm reaches and another breath as it comes down. But we want to keep the sensation of reaching our chest forward through our hands, regardless.

Lifting up through the waist and trying to hone in on the pubic bone, staying heavy on the floor. Now, if your arm barely wants to lift off the ground, that's normal. I have an extreme amount of back extension in my body. And trust me when I say, it gets me in trouble more than it's helpful. One more time on each arm, just keep the breath going.

And this should be tiring, right? Yeah. Cause again, we're not really doing adult tummy time like we should be. Bring the arms in close to you, let your cheek rest down or let your forehead rest down and take a moment right there. Now we're gonna only emphasize our legs.

So make your hands cross over each other or stack on top of each other, so your forehead can now rest on top of them. Or feel free to keep your arms here and just keep the forehead down. But if your legs are really wide, we're gonna try to walk them in a little closer together, again, not where it's uncomfortable in your lower back. Okay, but start squeezing and honing in now on those upper inner thigh muscles. Not a ton of action in the glutes just yet, but the inner thighs and abdominals are definitely lifting.

So here we go. We're gonna take the right leg and just barely float it off the ground without bending our knee. As we lower it down, lift the left leg up simultaneously. As the left leg comes down, we pick the right leg up again. As the right leg goes down, we pick the left leg up again.

This is small, okay. Small on purpose. We are not trying to make this movement happen just from the lower back. All right. So we lengthen through the leg.

We lengthen through the leg every time it lifts. More important that we feel that it's long versus how high it's going to go. And we'll get a couple more here on each side and just feel that simultaneous movement. Try to stay really precise with where it's coming from. All right, glutes, hamstrings.

Yes, the back extensors are working, but we don't only want to feel them doing the job. Once you feel that you're even, relaxed both of your legs. If your hands are under your head, separate them, push your hands down next to you to come off of your stomach. We'll walk our knees forward, open them up quite a bit now, shake it out. And then we're gonna round up one more time, just push into the floor.

No right or wrong here. We're just trying to do the opposite stretch. And then we can stay in that flection as we sit back slowly towards our feet. Go as comfortable, go as low as it's comfortable for your joints. Take another long breath.

And then when we are ready to get up, we can just slowly make our way up, right? If you're not comfortable staying kneeling like this, you know, just come up a different way. And that will be it for today. Thank you so much.

Begin Pilates: with Erin Wilson

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Comments

1 person likes this.
This is just what we needed! (my husband and myself)
We appreciate your deliberate pace, and your focus on the components of the movement.  Your cueing is exceptional!  Thanks, Erin.
Jane G thank you so much for taking the class! I am so happy you and your husband enjoyed it! Thanks again!
Love the towel cue. So helpful and really helps focus pelvis position!
Great cueing and nice explanations. I enjoy the variations you offered.
1 person likes this.
An overall delight. The nuanced cues provide insights (and reminders!)  to even long time practitioners.   Hearing you acknowledge that your neck muscles appreciated a helping pair of hands behind your head after doing the exercises countless times  certainly matches my lived experience.  
Michele M thank you so much for taking the class! I am happy the towel cue/idea is helpful! Thanks again!
Lina S hi! Thank you so much for continuing with this series of classes! Your feedback is always valuable and I am grateful to receive it 😊
Joni N thank you so much for taking the class and continuing with the series 🙏🏼. I am so happy you enjoyed it! Some days are better than others, but this bowling ball on top of my spine is heavy and it needs a little support from time to time 😉. Thank you again!
1 person likes this.
I really enjoy your classes; your cueing is one of the best ever;variations are for all type of age and body; thank you so much Erin
I really enjoyed this class. I am rehabbing my injured rotator cuff and the deliberate pacing and frequently offered modifications made me feel more confident in moving toward more "normal" movement, including engaging in the initial position of the back support (still can't go fully weight bearing in that position). Thanks Erin.
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