Class #4866

Progressing into Side Planks

30 min - Class


Work up to a Side Plank in this Mat workout by Cara Reeser. She starts with the same base warm-up from class 5 to prepare your body for standing on your arms. She then moves into side-body movements, like Side Kick and Kneeling Side Kick, so that you can work up to the challenge of standing on one arm.
What You'll Need: Mat, Yoga Block (2), Hand Weights (2), Theraband


Read Full Transcript

Hello, everybody. Welcome back and welcome to class number six. Finally, we're here at the end of the series that we call "Upper Body Health", and class five, if you've already taken it, we were working our front and back planks, right? So we're really getting into our arm standing work now. Today, I wanna focus for this class on side planks, the stuff that comes up in the Pilates repertoire that's more of side planking, and that stuff is even harder than front and back plank 'cause you only have one arm to rely on.

So we are going to use our medium weight TheraBand, our three-pound weights. We should be pretty much handling three pounds now, and our yoga blocks, preferably cork if you have them or wood, but if you have the foam ones, that's absolutely fine. I do wanna say that this class is going to start and feel very much like class five as we warm up, but then it's gonna go into a very different landscape. So, if you're like, wait, I've already done all these moves in class five, I'm just using that same base warmup because it just works for both, and I think repetition is great. So that's why it's gonna feel very similar, and then it'll diverge after we get off of the supine series.

Okay, so let's get started. We're going back into the variations that we're doing with our yoga blocks for arm standing, right? So we've got our, basically, rotation arm work, and instead of doing one by one, we'll just go ahead and start with two. You're just gonna take both of your yoga blocks up and you're gonna get your fingers to stretch forward, and then go ahead and just find your gliding scapula for a moment, right? And then let your scapula settle.

Internally rotate your upper arm bones. The blocks will face each other a little bit, and then externally rotate them. Right, so we're trying to not motivate from the forearm yet, right? We're going upper arm bones turn in, right? And upper arm bones turn out.

The turned-out upper arm bone is what we desire when we're arm standing, right? Particularly in Pilates, 'cause we often end up with our arms over our head when we're arm standing. Now, I want you to keep this upper arm as is and then let's go ahead and spiral the forearms, right? So there's a pretty big demand to keep this type of wrist extension, right? So it takes a while.

You'll feel your forearms fatigue, right? And now, coming into this pronation, I'm not changing my upper arm bone. So now I'm spiraling my two bones around each other in my lower arm, and I'm working my wrist extension. Right, I think sometimes people think this is flexion of the wrist, but this is actually extension. Right, so your extensors of your wrist that you feel in the front of your forearms working here, and then, guys, let's go ahead and reach back.

Right, and just hover these blocks, right? Make sure you're not pulling your scapula down. Hold your scapula slightly up. Hollow out at your armpits and then pull those yoga blocks. Right, so it's almost like you're doing like, you know, on the machine, like something like long stretch, where you're pulling yourself through, right?

My armpits are activated. They're a little shaky as I work through these ranges here, and then I want you to go ahead and come to this 90-90, right? So this is sort of your low pushup, or in yoga, it would be maybe a Chaturanga shape, and then we're gonna move our yoga blocks around, and I want you to really feel the fingers facing straight out and then spiral again. Guys, do check that you're not pulling your shoulder blades down your back. It's really easy to get into sort of like over-managing the scapula.

Just let them be. Just work your forearms here. All right, one more time. And then you're just gonna lower and float, and then I'm just gonna ask you to open a little bit, right? You're not all the way to the floor.

You're a little bit up, come around, and pull. Swivel. Reach. Open, come around, and pull. Bend, swivel, reach.

Last one. Right, lots of control in the deep armpits here. Pull and then from here, just walk your feet away a little bit. Float your head, lift and spin, and then curl up, and just really push those yoga blocks away. Take a deep breath in.

Take a deep breath out. Bring yourself down. Right, and we're gonna do that kind of upper ab curl twice more. Float, spin, flex, and then push. Now, if you wanna start trying to reach them forward, you kind of balance that and just really push, push, push.

Come back out. Maybe reach a little over your head here. Last time. Push, push, push. Come on down and then bend your elbows, spiral, and just put one of your yoga blocks down.

Take the other yoga block into your hand. Bend your elbows. Bring the block back. And inhale. Abs now curl forward.

Inhale. Exhale. We're just working our roll up with that little push. Pull into our hands here. Working this little bent elbow.

Kind of reach back here, keeping serratus working, right? All the way through. Last time. And pull yourself all the way up, and then just cross your legs here for a moment. Take your two yoga blocks in your hands, bend your elbows, and then let's just find this sort of like handstand moment here.

Just pressing up, breathe in. Breathe out. Now, remember, when you're pressing up like this, you have to slide your blades up your back and pull your thoracal lumbar junction back, right? You don't wanna be in a big back bend. You wanna be managing that shape, right?

And then you're gonna bend your elbows. You're gonna spiral. Let's go ahead and just place the blocks down, and then bring your feet onto the blocks, and bring your TheraBand at your hips. We'll do some of our bridging and some of our arm pulls here that we've done throughout this series. I just think this is such a great way to wake up that back body.

So, we're gonna come up. Big breath in and out. And down, right? And, remember, I've been reminding us, when we're in a bridge, I don't want you on your thoracic spine. I want you on your shoulder blades.

I want your thoracic spine to be behind your shoulder blades. You should be standing on your shoulder blades and your arms and the back of your skull, not your neck or your upper thoracic spine. Right, so don't try to have, like, some sort of flexed position there. This is an extended position of the spine, and then we're gonna pull. We're gonna go, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and hold, hold, hold, hold, hold.

Oh, it's so much work in the back of my neck. And reach, and then just go ahead and scoot those blocks away. Let's go right into our rollover practice, pulling out on our band, right? So, my fingers, my palms are facing each other, and I'm working this arm frame, right? This big rectangle.

This is so key in how we learn how to manage arm standing. It's like getting aware of what your whole arm frame is doing, right? On these earlier exercises on the mat. You know, before we end up going into things like planks or twists, and one and two, which we'll do today, and go down. I'm just leaving my legs together 'cause I'm focusing on my arms, but if you wanna do open and close the legs, feel free.

One more time. Let's just roll up to seated, and then we're gonna get rid of the band. We're gonna use a yoga block in rolling like a ball. So we're gonna do, this is a little challenging. We're gonna hold the block here, right?

You're gonna squeeze your elbows in. You're gonna gaze down. You're gonna keep this arm frame really working. Keep your knees and elbows attached to each other and roll up, inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Squeeze elbows together. Stay in your arm frame. Whoops. And rest.

All right, we're gonna go back down onto our backs, and abs on with the yoga block. We'll do double leg stretch. This time, we'll go out. Exhale. Inhale.

Squeeze the block, ex. In. Ex. In. Ex, and scissors, go.

Kick the block. Now, really squeeze into the block with your hands. Keep your shoulder blades lifted. Scissors, scissors, scissors, and rest. Bend your knees, and, guys, just roll yourself right on up to sitting.

Open your legs. I'm gonna scoot back a little bit here. Spine stretch forward with the yoga block, inhale. Exhale. Find your way up.

Watch the thoracal lumbar junction. Reach the block up. That means don't arch your back. That's a fancy way of saying don't stick your chest out too far. Forward.

And up. And forward. Squeeze into those blocks, and up, and then, guys, just bend your elbows here for a second. Look up a little bit. Squeeze your elbows towards each other.

Breathe in. Right, this is our forearm balance type of thing. Forearm plank, oof. And let's put that block down. All right, we are gonna switch it out now onto our quadruped.

We've got some of the same old favorites, but we're gonna add on a little bit on this, so just stay tuned. And so, Sammy, you're gonna go on this side, and then we are gonna go into our lazy-active cat, with our knees down. And then we're gonna float our knees. We'll go three times, lazy-active, with our knees up. All right, and then keep that active.

Slide your feet out. Lazy-active three times in your plank. And then bend your knees and pull yourself back. Drop your head, breathe in. Breathe out.

Come on forward, and then instead of doing that kind of pump wrist thing we did in the last class, let's get our fingers just right in front of our yoga blocks here, and then what I want you to do is I want you to lean way past your wrists, right? So, and then try to get yourself into a plank where you're pulling, and then you can push yourself back, right? To the position of up-stretch in Pilates or down-facing dog in yoga, and then curl your tail and then pull yourself. So, shoulders are over the blocks, wrists are behind the blocks, working your wrist extension. Pull yourself back.

One more time. Pull, work that wrist extension, pull, pull, pull. Put your knees down. Turn your palms up. Make fists. Bring your fists together.

Straighten your arms. Stretch your extensors. Okay, so now side planks means we have to figure out how to manage how to be on one arm. So, we're gonna come into, see, we're gonna ditch these blocks for now. We're gonna come into bird dog, right?

So you're gonna find your way into bird dog. So you straighten your left leg, let's say. Lift it up, hold your trunk up, and then reach your right arm out. Now, I want you to just find that balance. Now, listen, pull.

Get on the ball of that foot in the back and push. I want you to pull yourself over that standing arm, and then drag yourself back. Pull. Drag, so you're shifting the weight onto that single arm. Back, hand down, knee down.

Let's go again. So we're gonna reach the other leg back and up. I'm on the ball mound of my foot, right? And I just have my bird dog first, breathing in, breathing out. I gotta pick up my center.

Now, I'm gonna rock back a little, and then I'm gonna rock forward. I'm gonna put weight on that arm. Rock back. Rock forward. Rock back.

Pull, pull, pull forward. Slide down, into child's pose, flip your palms up, and roll yourself up. Okay, so you can feel like, you know, it's sort of intimidating to get a bunch of weight on that single arm. So let's kind of bring that, sort of step up into sort of a progression into side plank. Take your left leg out, and take your right arm down.

Fingers facing that way, right? Straight along your mat. I would not recommend facing your fingers this way. It's just not the position. That's not a good position.

That's not a helpful position for your wrist in extension, and then, in this moment, go ahead and just shrug, and do a little bit of lazy-active here, and then keep that pulling. Now, pull your leg up. Take your hand behind your head, and then let's go lower, lift. Lower, lift. Keep your weight on your hand.

Lower, lift, hold, and draw that knee in, and come up. Let's switch legs. Fingers facing straight out. Get your hips extended, hand behind, and here we go. Stay over your arm.

Lower, lift the leg. Whoops, sorry, foot cramp. Lower, lift. Stay, stay, reach into your hand. Put some weight on that hand.

Draw it in. And up. All right, good, so let's get a little bit into some side-lying stuff just to prepare our legs for the side plank series, and we'll do a little bit of side kicks, little traditional side kicks. You can just bring your booty to the backside of your mat, your feet to the front corner, hone in at the trunk a little, lift your leg up, and we'll kick, one, two. Reach back.

Inhale. Ex. In. Out. In.

Out. I love to do nose breathing as my main practice, but you may be choosing a mouth breath. That's fine. No problemo. And then come here and let's kick up and down, right?

So we're gonna get into some kneeling side-kicks today, which aren't always my best show, but I'll give it my best shot, and then do just bring this leg back, bend your knee, and then just drop your head, and let's just go into a quad stretch here. Breathe in. Breathe out. And then go ahead and bring your knees into your chest for a moment, and then reach that leg up. Take a side bend over, breathe in.

Breathe out. Slide your legs around. Let's go to side-kicks on the other side, right? So we've got a little flow going here, and we're gonna kick. I'm trying to keep my trunk relatively stable, but it's certainly gonna move, right?

It's not gonna be, like, still. Like, things are shifting as I kick. Up, and down. Up, and down. Elongating through my crown head.

Two more. And then we're gonna bring it back. Bend the knee. Drop your head. Quad stretch, breathing in. And breathing out.

And then again, bring both knees in. Oops, rolled over my mic pack, and then side bend. Bring your arms all the way around, come up, and let's do just a little bit of thigh stretch together, and then we'll go into kneeling side-kicks. So let's take a yoga block, bring it to the front of your hips, and press the front of your hips into the yoga block. Then reach your arms forward, and then imagine that yoga block is still there.

Tip back. Push forward. Tip back, tip back, tip back. Push, push, push. Two more, really squeezing the butt.

Go a little further. if you can. Oh, it's so hard! One more time. And up. And down we go. Yoga block away.

I'm gonna face you. Let's go into the position of kneeling side-kicks and now we'll work our leg forward and back. Forward, really stay on that hand. Don't shift your shoulder away from that hand. Grip the mat with the palm of your hand.

Use your fingers. Bend your leg. Up you go. Over we go. This is my hard side, forward and back.

Right, but mostly I'm trying to think about really staying in that single arm stance. Forward, back. Bend your knee all the way up, and sit down. Hands on your thighs. Just take a moment. Okay, so let's go onto our belly now for our prone work.

Take your hands under. Let's do some swans, inhale, press up. Exhale, down. Pull with your hands. Lift your head.

Push your elbows down your side body. Exhale, pull with your hands. Two more. Really work your hands in the surface of the map, pushing and pulling, right? We've gotta really be handsy when we're getting into our standing arm work, and down, and then bring your forearms forward, and let's do a little bit of those forearm pumps here.

Five, four, three, two, one. Now, link your fingers together. Narrow up on your elbows. Get on your ball mounts. Now, look, I'm gonna have my knees bent.

First thing I'm gonna do is pull my trunk up, and I'm gonna push into my active cat. Then pick up your legs and work that forearm plank. Hold for one. Push your elbows into the mat. Hold for two.

Pull yourself through your shoulder girdle. Hold for three. And knees down, and come back. Now, let's go back into that forearm plank without being on hands clasped, and then let's find a little shift over, grab your ribs, and hold them up to a side forearm plank, put your forearm down, shift it over, grab your ribs, pull 'em through, and back in, knees down. Walk yourself back.

Roll yourself up. Let's just go over that, what I just did there, for a second, 'cause this is gonna come up, right? So you're on your forearms. You turn your feet, and then you pull your ribs through, right? So I'm rotating my ribcage on my scapula, right?

Try that with me one more time. Feet, turn. Right, and then come around, and let's take a true rest in child's pose, arms back. Two breath rounds. I'm gonna come up, and we're gonna finish with this little Pilates series that has these side planks on it.

So we're gonna just go into a nice little rowing into teaser just to get our teaser flow on, and then we'll proceed into the twist one-two inside bend series. Reach your arms out. If you don't know this, this is a great Kathy Grant exercise. We're gonna pull back, curling under. We're gonna reach up.

You're gonna bend your knees, and we're gonna slide our legs forward. Again, we're gonna roll it back. We're gonna reach it up. We're gonna bend, and slide, and, again, roll back. Reach it up.

Bend and slide. All right, here we go. We're gonna do a side bend, and we're gonna do twist one, and then we'll do twist two. So, side bend, we're gonna start, actually, let's start in this position, and get this foot really grounded. You're gonna shift your weight over, you're gonna push with your foot, and you're gonna come into your side plank, right?

Stay over that wrist. Lower and lift. Lower. Push with your hand. Lower.

Push, and knees down, and swing around. It's getting hot in here. All right, again, stand in your foot first. Get your foot rooted. Stand in your hand.

Your foot has to be suctioning the mat. This foot's gonna come behind a little, and then I'm gonna push my way over. We're gonna lower and lift, lower and lift, lower and lift, and come on down. Right, so I hope that lazy-active cat stuff is sort of coming into play now as we're on one arm. Twist one, people teach this differently, but I'm gonna be in a pretty crouched position here, pretty tight, and my arm is up, right?

I am gonna go through into my twist, and then I'm gonna keep my weight over my hand. I'm gonna pull with my hand, and then I'm gonna slowly come back. Right, that was fun, and again, go under. And around. One more push, roll under.

You see, I don't use this back foot, right? I'm really standing on one leg. I'm really standing on one arm, and down. Switch it out. Fingers facing out.

You're gonna have your weight over your wrist. You're gonna go under. You're gonna pull with your hand. You're gonna push that scapula wide. Rolling out.

You're gonna go under, keep in your hand, push and pull with your hands, and foot, your hand and foot, and one more. And rest. Okay, so the hardest one of all of those is the twist two, and I'm gonna teach it where you keep your body in one straight line, and you're pretty much trying to go into a one-arm plank. So, okay, I'm gonna go into it. This leg is gonna be forward.

I'm gonna go back leg back, and I find my side plank. Now, we're gonna rotate. You're gonna keep your shoulder over your wrist. You're gonna rotate into almost like a one-arm plank, and then you're gonna rotate back out. You gotta pull with your hand.

You gotta keep that active cat, and back out. We'll just do two for right now. Come around. So top leg is staying forward. So, it's gonna start a little forward, and you are going to push yourself over your wrist, and then here we go.

Hone up at the hip, rotate as if you're gonna go into a one-arm plank, and rotate back out. I'm using my feet and I'm pulling with my hand. Rotate out. Have a seat. Spin around.

Reach your arms up. Forward bend. Let it go. Drop your head. (Cara sighs) Long.

So we're gonna do crab to finish just to kind of get us in a little sense of inverting. You're gonna cross your ankles. Do two sets, criss-cross. Come up, tap. Back around, criss-cross.

Come through. Hold your hips in extension. That's what allows me to be so ginger and precise about the tapping of my head. You can see how curled my pelvis is as I go. Last time. And finish, and then just like last class, just take a moment here to just sit down in the earth.

(Cara sighs) See if you can let your breath just kind of come back to its more natural state. Just let your pulses slow down a bit. A lot of effort, a lot of technique in all of this work we've been doing, and then when you're finished, you just get to let go of all that effort, all that technique, and just let yourself be in the sensations of the practice after. So, there we have it. Upper body health, upper body awesomeness.

I hope you guys enjoyed. You could always go back or do little sections. Stay in touch on the forum. It was great to have you.


1 person likes this.
I’m so appreciative of this series! Great to have a roadmap to improving my strength in the upper body, for me especially in shoulder area.  Thanks so much for filming it!
1 person likes this.
I have worked out with you throughout the programme and I would like you to know how much I have appreciated it! I would like some more! Thank you!
Loved this series, thank you for these great classes! (Love Sammy too🐈
Jeannette N always I loved! Your cat though! Love.  Thank you . 
Lina S
I've really appreciate your pedagogy, your clear and precise explanations. Very creative use of the blocks. Their use increase body awareness.
Love your creative block work exercises!!  And, love love love your CAT )
Thanks Cara, loved it! Going back a way, loved your head stand class too - one of my favourites
Thanks Cara for this fabulous series on the upper body. Mine has been cranky for quite awhile and then You came along! Much appreciated.
Twist and side planks will be much easier with your great cueing...thank you
I'd like to thank Sammy, without whom my experience with this series would have been profoundly valuable but not nearly so fuzzy.
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