Class #4862

Incorporating Flow

25 min - Class


Feel the freedom in your neck as you incorporate flow with this Mat workout by Cara Reeser. She continues to add on from the previous classes adding more Pilates exercises that you will recognize. She starts with centering movements to bring you into your practice and then moves into strengthening and challenging exercises.
What You'll Need: Mat, Yoga Block (2), Towel, Hand Weights (2), Foam Roller, Theraband


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everybody. I'm Cara Reeser and welcome back. Okay, so today's class, this class we're gonna start to move into more flow, a little bit more familiar Pilates sort of things going on, upping the level. Same props. We've got our medium to lightweight TheraBand. We've got a hand towel, our trustee hand towel, two yoga blocks.

I'm using cork. You can use whatever you like. We've got our arm weights. I've got three pounds here. Again, like I said, last class, you might wanna start out with something more like one or two. It's really up to your comfort level, right? And then also our roller, right?

So we've got our roller and that's what we're gonna start with. I'm using a softer roller that has a little bit... It's a little bit smaller. It's just my preference. Whatever you're comfortable with. But we are gonna start, similar to last week, with that extension-flexion.

Our last class, I should say, with the extension-flexion. Feet pretty close to sitting bones. Again, we're just gonna keep those elbows up. Scapula reaching, shoulder blades reaching wide, we're gonna inhale as we back bend. Exhale.

We're gonna curl our tail, curl our head, and just go for that stretch in the back of your neck. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Two more. I always like to start class with something that just centers me and brings me into my breath, brings me into practice.

So then we're gonna just lift your sitting bones or your pelvis off and then just do a little bit of rolling. Right, it's nice to add maybe a little back bending here, leaning back, or also a little bit of side bending. Right, you can bend over to the side and you get sort of different angles of that tissue that runs along your upper back. Right, you could do little rotation, also. Just sort of really nudge into what feels good for you.

And then we're just gonna reach our legs long, reach our arms forward and just pull yourself up to seated. Let's get that roller out of our way. And we are gonna go to our supine series, we're gonna use our TheraBand right away. So we're gonna start in a little forward reach with the band, pulled out a little, just start to slowly roll yourself back through your spine. We're gonna bend our knees and go right to that rotator cuff series.

We're gonna inhale and exhale. Right. So easy shoulder blades. Don't grab them. The main goal here is to pull out with your hands. Right, and keep your elbows in one place, right? The axis of rotation is down the center of your upper arm bone.

Two more times. If you like to think that way, that's sort of the way I think about things. And rest. And then we're gonna take that band and you're gonna bring it over your head. And you're gonna just reach it back a little, a little bit of pulling back, and you're gonna reach forward, a little bit of pulling out.

All right, there's just a small, consistent pull on the band. It's like you're making this very strong rectangle shape and you're moving it, right? Like a frame, like a door frame, just sort of moving over, not past your cheekbones. And my armpits are shaking here, right, 'cause my rotator cuffs are really having to manage the load of that band, right? And I'm gonna reach my hands.

We're gonna add the head lift. You're gonna float and you're gonna curl yourself up and you just do a little bit of pulse here. And you get to roll yourself down and you just reach back. We'll do that twice more. Reach your arms, float, spin, and come into that curl, a little bit of pulses here, just maybe three or four, just kind of keep things going, and back.

You work with what fatigue you are comfortable with, right. I'm gonna pull out a little bit there. This is my last one coming in. Just a couple pulses on the band and lie down. We're going right to our shoulder bridge series now.

I'm gonna have my hands down on the mat. Pinky side down and my band is in my hip crease. Feet very close to sitting bones. We're gonna curl up. You're gonna breathe in. Really stomp those arms down.

Cervical neutral, meaning you have lots of space under your neck. You're not squishing your neck. And then you gonna roll down, right. Just stand out in your hands. And again. Going up and pull.

And slowly roll down. Good, and again. Going up and push. And then walk your hands up the band and let's do a little bit of triceps. We're gonna go eight, seven, six, cervical neutral, five, shoulder blades back, three, two, one.

Just hold breath in. (inhales) Roll down. Some pretty significant fatigue there in my triceps. And then I'm gonna pull the band out. I'm gonna lift my head, neck, and shoulders, and I'm gonna roll up. Right, we're into Pilates roll up.

We're gonna do a couple rows here in between. Let's do four, three, two, one. Reach forward, roll back, inhale, exhale. Three more sets in. Forward.

Four pulls. Keep that breath flowing. Keep your posture really tall and upright. Roll back down, right. Keeping our legs together, finding that sense of center as we come up.

And pull. Two, three, four. Reach forward, roll back, a little pull out on the band. We're gonna go into our hamstring stretch. I could feel that I slid down so I'm gonna come back here.

Slid off my mat a little. And I'm gonna pull my arms down, right. I'm just gonna keep a nice little simple hold back here. Just keeping the backs of my arms activated, right. So much of what we do during the day has a our arms and our heads forward, right?

So, what I'm doing in this class is try to get us working a little bit more in the muscles in our back of our arm, our extensors, right. So I'm pointing and flexing. I'm stretching my hamstrings. And then I'm gonna take this band off, lower my leg, turn it out. I'm gonna walk up in the tree using all my good Pilates core muscles. I'm gonna grab my heel this time.

I'm up the ante there. If you've got that length in your hamstrings, go for it. Drop your head. Pull yourself up. Look up a little here.

Drop your head, come down. And look up a little, right. And then you're gonna walk on down your leg. And then we're just gonna go ahead and make a nice simple switch to the other leg. Hamstring stretch. So you're gonna pull and hold.

Right? And then again, you could point and flex your foot. Open up the calf muscles. Just keep the back of your arms snuggling into the mat surface, right? So we just have to sort of just little bit of work going on back there as well. And then you're gonna take that band off.

We're gonna turn the leg out. Pelvis is squared off. I'm gonna walk up the tree. Right? You're gonna use up all that length, press in your heel, drop your head, big stretch.

Push your heels. Heel into the mat, heel into your hands, look up. Right. Drop your head, press, press, press. Home, look up. And then from here, let's go ahead and just bring this leg down.

Grab your TheraBand. We're gonna do rolling like a ball. We're gonna use this TheraBand. I do this a lot in my regular classes and I think this is a really nice way to make sure we're initiating from below instead of sort of doing something crunchy in our shoulders and neck. So you're gonna just have an easy shoulder girdle and neck, pull up on the band, roll back, exhale, home.

Inhale. Right? I'm not sort of jutting my chin forward. I'm not overly collapsing in my shoulder girdle. I'm really finding that roll from my pelvis and looking straight out. Two more.

Straight out. Straight out and rest. All right. So we're gonna finish this seated or this series now with spine stretch forward but we're gonna use the weight instead of the band now. Hold that weight up.

Now not past your head, right? Just around your cheek bones. And then we're gonna really feel our heels present, our sitting bones. Inhale wide through the ribs. (inhales) Exhale. Let yourself come forward into a forward bend. Keep your head above your arms. Keep your arms externally rotated.

Right? We talked about that. Really reach up. Hold this weight there. Five, four, three, two, one, take it down. Again, don't drop your head below, reach out. You're gonna feel fair amount of work in your shoulders here.

Coming back up. Five, four, three, two, one, and forward. You're looking, guys, when you're in that straight seated stance to really work to not overly arch your back. So make sure your rib brings or pulling back a little and your scapula is up your back, not down your back. Up, up, up.

And then guys just slowly bring that weight down, right? And then we're gonna set that weight to the side and we're gonna move into our quadruped series. And with the quadruped series, we're gonna go yoga blocks this time, kind of up the ante a little. So we're gonna have our yoga blocks shoulder distance apart, and we're gonna start with our ball mounds under in our feet, right? So I'm gonna start...

Same way we started last class, you're gonna pull back, right? But with the hands a little higher here, that stretch will be a little bit more profound and I'm gonna go here. And then I'm gonna come forward and put some weight on your hands, right? So you can even float your knees off a little. We're gonna go into that stretch.

Right? And then I'm gonna put a little bit of weight in my hands, and back (inhales) and forward. (exhales) And then climb into just your quadruped and then let's do our lazy and active cat. So really feeling that slide and glide. Now remember here, the goal is that when we're in this active cat, right, that separating of the scapula and pushing, that's what we want when we're weightbearing, like we're doing planks and things like that, right? So let's go ahead and just take our knees off and see if you can keep the up push, hold for five, four, three, two, one and come down.

Go lazy, go active. Float and then just go a little bit back and forth and see if you can keep that active cat. If you feel like you lose it, just do a little lazy, active, and then recover that. One more. And knees down.

Whoo! That's a workout, isn't it? So now we're gonna come into... We'll move the blocks and we're gonna come to something that I call Camel Drinking. All right? So my hands now are a little forward of my shoulders, right?

And I'm gonna do that active cat, right? Serratus anterior's controlling that. And then I'm gonna bend my elbows. They're gonna go directly under my shoulders. Just hover them to the mat or tap them.

Push into your hands, come up, breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Don't let your scapula collapse.

Use your hands almost like you're suctioning that mat with your palm of your hands, so your hands stay really active, and then slowly come back. Bring your arms behind you, drop your head, and just let your shoulders slump forward. Breathe in. And breath out. Okay, we're gonna come to prone, and let's just take ourselves down in a little pushup, right?

We'll do some more pushups in the next two classes, but let's come into a kneeling plank. Get your hands on your blocks. Get your alignment together, right, so that you're really in like a tall line, and then you're gonna come down nice and slow. Just hover and then just lay yourself down on the mat. We're gonna bring our blocks forward.

Grab your roller. Make sure it's in front of you. Actually, let's do this. Sorry, this is an awkward place to ask you to do this, but let's bring your yoga blocks here and your roller here. Okay. So we're gonna start with number 14 head only, which we did earlier in our series.

We're just gonna do a couple just to work on releasing tension. We're gonna float the shoulders up. My head is down. We're gonna lift the head, look down. We're gonna look up using our neck muscles in the back. We're gonna look down, turn the head, and just let everything go.

Again, shoulders float. I gaze down. I look forward. I look down. I turn my head and I completely release down.

I'm being careful 'cause of my mic. And then guys, I want you to come to center and then bring yourself forward onto your forearms for a moment. Okay, we're gonna move to Swan on the roller, which we did in the other class. So you're just gonna go ahead and reach your hands forward. Head in between arms, not below, right?

You wanna get out of that habit. I sometimes actually do this with my palms facing each other 'cause we do want to keep that external rotation in the upper arm bone. You're gonna gaze up. And we're just gonna slowly pull ourselves up into Swan, and back down. Big stretch to the chest, inhale, pull up.

Right, maybe you're going lower than me. It doesn't really matter. You really just wanna do what feels right to you. If your coming up high, you do need to be using the hamstrings and glutes to keep that pelvis in the mat, right? So you're distributing that arc through the whole spine.

And come down. Now, take your towel. I have to do this for the mic, but this actually a nice thing to do. Just roll it up and put your forehead on it. Now listen.

We're gonna up the ante here. You're gonna put your yoga blocks on your hands, right? And we've done this in the other class. You're gonna float your head. Now you guys are gonna lift those yoga blocks up and hold.

And down. So right now I'm just keeping my head in line with my spine. We'll add in extensions in second. Hold. And down.

It's pretty heavy with the cork blocks, right? And then now look up and see if you can lift those blocks even more and hold, hold, hold. And back down. One more time. Up and hold, hold, hold.

And back down. You can take those away. You're gonna come onto your forearms and lets just do a little bit of cat and cow on our forearms. Right. Just kind of pressing. Then a little bit of tricep pumps.

Five, four, three, two, one, and then bring your hands down by your ribs, pull yourself back. Perfect timing, Sammy. In to your Child's Pose. Couple breaths. Slowly roll up. Hello, friend! And we're gonna move to our seated sequence now. We're gonna seat on our yoga blocks.

Right. And we're gonna be doing our arm weights again. And we'll be adding onto that a little bit, right. So we're gonna take our arm weights. I'm gonna seat cross legged. You can do what feels right for you.

And we're gonna start with those overheads again. So, I'm gonna go up. Sammy's gonna do it with us. And down. Sammy take your hands overhead. Up and let's hold.

And in. Take your hand overhead, Sammy. Up. And in. And up. And you're just gonna hold those weights there. And then, guys, open your arms out to the side and lift up.

You're gonna keep your arms externally rotated. This is hard, right. You want your arms a little forward of your shoulders, not direct side. And up. That position is called Scaption, the anatomical position of scaption, where your glenoid fossa faces, right? And then I want you to do one more out the scaption, bring your arms down by your side.

I am gonna straighten my legs for biceps. I'm gonna go 10, nine, eight, seven, I knew that was coming, six, no, no, baby, five, four, three, two, one. I mean, how could that not look like a game? And then come down. And then we're gonna do a new one here that goes like this.

We call this Preliminary Arms. We're gonna go open, squeeze scapula together, palms facing my head or facing each other, and in. Five more. Pull, squeeze scapula, and in. Open, breathe.

And in. Keep your upright posture. In. (chuckles) Open. And in, and bring your arms down. Yeah, it really helps in your calves, like nibbling in your side body fat.

That's always fun. Okay, so we're gonna come into our last supine series. So we're gonna take our yoga blocks away. And Sammy, you're gonna move over a little. And then take your hand weights.

I'm just gonna hold one arm weight to roll down. And then I really love this particular moment here. So we're just gonna bend here. Oops! We're gonna go to the floor. We're gonna come up.

We're gonna do one more roll up. Reaching forward, right. We're headed to a little bit of ab work to finish our class today, just so we kind of get in some of the core work from the Pilates repertoire. So we're gonna bring the weight down. I'm gonna move this stuff away my head.

And then guys, bend your knees into your chest and take your hands behind your head. Take your legs to table and let's do five upper abdominal curls. One, two, just keep your legs still, three, four, five, hold. Stretch your legs up and lower your legs down as low as you can go where your back stays on the mat and up. And lower, lower, lower, and up.

And lower, lower, lower, and up. And one more lower, lower, lower, and up. And bend your knees in, and lie your head back for a minute. Just open your elbows. Let's go into elbow to knee, get a little bit of rotation.

We did that rotation with the band. So I think we've got this. We'll just do about six rounds. That's one. That's two. That's three.

We'll do five rounds. Four, five, and bend your knees into your chest. Just take a little bit of moment to create some hip circles here. Ooh. In both directions, just loosening up that low back. Okay, so we're gonna come on up, and now King Suki is here with us, and we're gonna hold under.

We're gonna do Seal, right? There's gonna be the whole wild kingdom here. Seals and cats. We're gonna hold the outsides of our ankles. And then again, guys, you we wanna really keep that scapula, that head pretty at ease.

We're gonna go clap, clap, clap. We're gonna roll back and up. Clap, clap, clap, roll back and up. Clap, clap. Clap. What I think is really important to remember here on these rolling ones is so often we end up like really slunched in our shoulders.

So just keep bringing yourself back into more of that upright posture. And then we're gonna come up. We're just gonna finish. We'll do one last thing here. Just come onto your knees, grab that TheraBand, and let's just take these big luscious stretches. Take a deep breath in.

All the way back. (Cara breathing deeply) Two more. (Cara breathing deeply) All right, so I think one of the things we wanna keep in mind about our shoulders and neck, right, is that they always feel better if we give them movement and we give them strength, right? So I think it's great to get a massage and rub 'em and take a hot bath, but it's also a lot of this holding these weights up and pulling on the spans. This kind of like using resistance and forces is a lot of what's gonna keep that upper body health going.

So there we go. Hey, thanks for joining. See you next class.


1 person likes this.
Great class. Has really helped me understand the neck/shoulder connections better.Love your cats, mine does the same when I’m on the mat.
Jennifer E
1 person likes this.
Loved everything about this class! The use of props; the teaching; the cats. Thank you so much!!
Love, love, love this class. The combination of props makes it interesting and challenging at times. Your humour and cats really made it for me😊
i have been away from pilates  for 6mo and my body has really suffered. this segmnet/ program has been a great re intro.. plus as a cat person i am loving your cats..  thank you thank you thank you
The class put my muscles working. The cats put a smile on my face. Thank you.
Always love your classes and learn so much. So great plus add your sweet cat to it and it makes it even better. ❤️
1 person likes this.
Four-star class!  Short enough you can save it as an add-on of shoulder strengthening.  Cara has all kinds of new information for the Pilates practitioner in this class like why I need my glutes and high hamstrings to stabilize a tall swan.  Also a very accessible class for all levels.
1 person likes this.
This class is so efficient sometimes I couldn't make the transition between props and orientations quickly enough.  But it's also short; you can remember to come back to a sequence you may have missed.  I plan on adding this to my shoulders and arms playlist and practicing many times.
Another great class.  Thank you.  I loved the "wildlife" too.  I had a little animal interlude myself because my dog loves to curl up on my mat when I am working out.  Can't wait for the next one.  
Lina S
I enjoy that class filled with a nice variety of exercises and props.
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