Class #4923

Pilates for Your Lower Body

35 min - Class
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In this Pilates class using a Wall with Amy Havens you will work your hips, abdominals, and back muscles. Amy teaches you to focus on maintaining alignment, staying in control of your movements, and creating length throughout your whole body. You spend time working your side body in side-lying to increase your steadiness, strength, and balance.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Alright, let's go ahead and get started. We're gonna need just a wall space, basically about this much, everybody, not too much, and your mat. We'll get started on our back, facing the wall. A good way to measure how close to get to the wall is almost get into your 90, 90 here, and then roll onto your back, you'll probably have to shimmy into position. What I wanna begin with is 90 degree angle at your knees and your hip, so basically your tabletop.

So again, the wall providing so much feedback for us for stability, leveling, pressing weight into the wall evenly from each leg and each part of your body. So we'll start with our arms long by our sides, shoulders pressed back, a nice, natural, even spine to begin, take a deep breath. Working our pelvic curl, so as we tip that pelvis, the two top hip bones, back, notice your back gets flat into the floor. Now here's the real fun, it begins, the feet are somewhat pulling down the wall as we roll up the mat on our spine. And I wanna have you aim your knees toward that wall.

If you took the standing wall class, we did this pelvic curl standing, and I was cueing that, it's the same cue, knees out over those second and third toes, anchor your shoulders back. Everyone take a deep breath in. And as we start to roll down, keep those feet pressing into the wall evenly, roll down each side of your spine evenly, we'll come down to a nice neutral, natural spine. Three more of these, inhale. (inhales deeply) And so we're working this beautiful spinal mobility, you can really feel the floor underneath you, the evenness of your shoulders on the floor, but also the quality of how you're pressing your feet into the wall. Inhale and rolling down, exhale.

Also remember you're working that pelvis at your even from right to left and you don't have a twist or an elevation on one side. If you're feeling your feet uneven on the wall, that could be occurring in your hips. Okay, let's take it twice more. (exhales) Rolling up. Of course, there's that inward, upward quality for your abdominals and that very long spine length through to your knees. Using the back of your legs, buttock and hamstrings, to get those hips up, deep breath in, and just welcome that wonderful articulation and mobility of your spine.

Okay, one more time. If for any reason you feel like you start to slide back or your feet feel like they're getting higher up the wall, just wiggle in. You wanna make sure you're staying at your 90 here. Let's roll up one last time. We're gonna add to it now as we're up.

So as we're up, you've gotta sustain this position, equal weight on your shoulders, and everybody take one leg off the wall into a 90, 90 tabletop, and then reposition your foot. It's kind of a blind step, you don't know where that wall is. Ideally we're landing pretty well where we took off. Exhale, and peel off, and return. Work to keep those hips up, parallel legs and parallel feet.

Two more round trips, exhale. So I love the wall for these, building strength in the back of the legs. When you do this with your feet on the floor, typically the hips drop down. So right here, as you're pushing into the wall, you can get the feedback to keep your hips up. Should feel pretty good, pretty clear, and then take that foot to the wall, breathe, let's unroll, and just for curiosity's sake, let's check things out.

I have a feeling I need to move my feet down, nope, pretty good, a little bit, and wiggle in. Gonna make that a little bit more spicy, guys, take a breath, roll up again, feel even, peel up evenly, reach those knees toward the wall. Okay, hold one leg in table top, now it's loading this leg a lot. Lower your hips. And I'm not really rolling down so much as I'm just setting my hips down, and then this foot pushes into the wall, heel pulls down the wall, and we rise, and we lower, and we lift, and we lower, a couple more. (exhales) And down, single leg hip extension strength, come all the way down, set the foot, recalibrate if you need to.

Of course, we have the second side, deep breath in and exhale. That pelvic curl, peeling up, before you lift your leg, get those shoulders set back, engage those abdominals, step the second leg up, and slowly lower. Once again, you wanna land evenly and take off evenly. The foot on the wall's pushing in and pulling down at the same time. Picking up the tempo, up and down, and up and down, twice more, pick it up, lower down, last time, all the way up, and those are your hamstrings and your glutes.

And I hope that felt good for you, okay? Let's work on some internal-external rotation of our femurs and our hip joints. Okay, so what I want you to do everybody, here are your femurs, angle your femurs in, your heels out just a little bit, okay? And now that's that internal. Let's do external of the femurs, it's gonna be toes lift, you pivot on your heels, and you just open your femur a little bit, okay?

Let's go one more of each, so it's that heels out, knees face in, and then toes out, legs face out. Just take a moment, get that pelvis nice and level, and let's rewind it. So we do knees in, heels in, toes in, and heels in back to parallel. Okay, and again, heels out, toes out, heels out, toes out. We'll just kind of find that rhythm.

Toes in, heels in, toes and heels, and again, couple more rounds. This is giving us some mobility work in the hip joint, and then reverse. Good, one more round. We'll do heels, and toes, and heels, and toes, and heels, toes, heels, and let's end in parallel. Okay, and then just easy wiggle through the hip joints.

Okay, mobility. Now set that pelvis nice and neutral. Lift your head, put your hands behind your head, and we're gonna start working on some abdominal work guys, take a breath. Elbows are slightly up off the floor, as you lift your head, and bend your neck forward, and your spine forward, you will be feeling your back get closer to the floor, okay? And then just simply lower.

Let's take four total, so and exhale. So I like to feel that the sides of the waist are also narrowing in to help me come forward. So there's lots going on, the front of the abdominal wall, the sides of the abdominal wall, that deep internal seatbelt. And we have one more, and we exhale as we curl up. Now, I want you to stay here, really feel those feet even.

Now I want you to rotate your upper body toward one side without letting the feet wiggle or the hips wiggle. Let's go to the other side. The wall provides such good feedback for this. Keep the feet even, keep pressing, keep your pelvis even on the floor. Let's do it one more time and we'll give everything a little rest, but we'll come back and do that thing again, the whole thing again, take a breath, okay?

Exhale, coming up. If you want a little more work, feel free to come higher. Let's take it to the side and center. To the side, so I'm really kind of rotating on that shoulder blade and center. And we're not gonna drop down to the floor quite yet, let's come to the first side.

Take this hand just to the knee and little pulses in this diagonal, let's just do four, and three, and two, and one. Stay high, hand behind the head, come across to the other side, hand on the knee, you're even on your pelvis, and we do one, and two, and three, and four, hand behind the head, and then come all the way down. Alright, feeling those abdominals. Now I want you to take your legs up the wall, heels together, toes apart. And then for just a moment, press those heels together and feel some work come into the inner thighs, and you might even feel around the hips here.

Okay, arms by your sides, now everybody take an inhale, let's try some of the 100, right? We're gonna lift head, bend that spine forward, reach your hands on the mat toward the wall, just hold. Now as you're here, we wanna bend the spine, so you're really working the abdominal muscles to bring the chest up, not holding your head back. Okay, and then roll yourself down. Breathing in, exhale, we slide the hands on the floor, just like we did in the other wall class where we had our hands and shoulders pressing back, there's a little bit of that here, but yet we're also still curling up.

Lot of work. Let's take it down. We can start adding to that, we're gonna curl up. Now as you lift your arms and start the pumps, we can do the same rhythm we did, which is inhale, exhale. Your back is pressing into the mat.

Now for added challenge, unweight your feet just a little bit off the wall. If that's too hard for you, you put 'em right back down, just unweight the feet. We're gonna pick up the tempo and keep the rhythm going and. (breathing shallowly) I'm almost there, and that's four, and three, and two, last one, how did you do with your legs off the wall? And then all the way down. It's a really nice way to start building the endurance and the strings in holding the weight of the legs up to doing it this way.

I love it, this is how I did it long time ago and learned. Now we're gonna challenge that and take our body all the way back to a full length on the mat. Just break dance for a sec, just wiggle yourself back. Okay, now what I want you to do is get your feet completely flat against the wall, your heels, and if you'd like to bring your legs close together, you can. For some of us, that kind of does an interesting little change of dynamic in the lower back and around the back of your pelvis.

I feel fine, if that doesn't feel okay for you, you're gonna be wanting feet apart, okay? So before we lift the chest again, let's feel the work from the front pressing in so that we get the back a little closer. Now again, this natural curve is here. It really won't change for me until I get my head up, so let's try that. We're gonna have our hands behind our head.

Ready? Feet are even, and we lift the head, bending, bending, bending forward, look down your landscape, you should see pretty even legs there, and hopefully this is closer to the floor. Okay, we're gonna add some rotation of the upper body, this is nice. Same thing, as you rotate, this side doesn't shorten, nor does this one, the feet are even. Really what's moving is rotation in this thoracic spine.

You're going to feel the middle of your abs a lot, let's twist and center, rotate, center, take it down, just like we did before, we'll go one more round. Exhale it up, I like this, this is a little more work in a deep and interesting way. So good for the body. Rotate without letting the hips leave the mat, both sides are down evenly, you're rolling, rotating across that upper back. Okay, hmm.

Now let's stretch our hamstrings a little bit. So I'm gonna have you bring a leg up, interlace your hands behind that thigh. This is a great place, what's happening down on that leg? Still press into the wall, but yes, this hip also reaches toward the wall, okay? Not so much that it causes this to happen, see what I've done there?

I've gotten a really a skewed alignment, this is bending, I'm shifting my pelvis. So you're still really aligned here, it's just as if this hip is facing that wall. Okay, so we're gonna take that leg into extension of the knee and bend, and extension of the knee, pressing your thigh into your hands for that beautiful, active hamstring stretch, holding here. Now, everyone, if this is enough for you, you can stay just here. Some of you want a little more opportunity, more flexibility, absolutely, you can bring your leg toward you, you may even want your hands higher.

Keep working the sit bone toward the wall. You can bend your elbow, both of them, and then make sure the other foot is still really anchored in the wall. We're gonna pulse this leg. Just easy, that double breath cycle again. So we've got it in, in, and an X, X, and four, three, nice and stretchy in the hamstrings.

And we release, that leg should fit evenly on the wall, stand, okay, other leg, up it goes, hands behind the thigh. Take all those checkpoints, so you're standing on the wall with the foot, this hip is already reaching toward the wall, you're even on these sides. Here we go, extension of the knee. I tend to like to flex my foot, you can do whatever feels right for your ankle. Some of you like the point.

For me, the flex keeps energy, and I feel like I keep energizing the back of my leg toward the wall, hold, hamstrings, keep reaching the sit bone toward the wall, right, your shoulders are even, your ribs are down, and then again, I went ahead and took it up a little bit, increasing the mobility of the hamstring muscles, and then the pulses. So we've got a little, you can relax your foot, you can keep it flex, whatever feels best for you. Eight more. So I am using my arms a little bit, absolutely four, three, two, and one. Okay, and lower all the way.

And you should be pretty even. Wonderful. Okay, we're moving on into some side lying work now. So I'll just roll onto my left side. And how I want you to organize yourself here, everybody, is you'll want your feet stacked.

Now on this particular wall, it's okay, we've got that baseboard and then the wall, so there's just about a half an inch of difference there, that's okay, I'm just gonna use that here. Stack your feet, your upper arm is bent for today, you can just set your head down. Now it can be difficult to get organized on the side of your body. Often what I see is that sometimes we get organized and our upper body is kind of hunkered forward this way, because I think we're looking down at the feet. That's okay to set up that, but now let's make sure the whole posture line is integrated, right?

So we've got that length out the top of the head, down to the feet, alright. No need to lift this side of your waistline. Let's feel first the pelvis, hip, hip, pubic bone. You're lined up high this way, some of you, if that isn't lined up, you might have to lift here. I have a feeling you won't need to lift if this is set up, okay?

Now we're about to feel this lateral side of the hip. So we lift the thigh and we lower the thigh. What our goal is, is to be able to raise the leg, but not disturb where this part of the pelvis is. And I'll show you kind of what that means, we don't wanna rock it, or drop it, or drop it. So all of this is even and stable, this part helps to stabilize you and your back helps.

And you're really concentrating on the muscles in the side of your hip, right? And down, and lift, and lower, and lift, and lower. Now that was parallel. Take this femur, externally rotate your femur, and we'll do up and down again. You may feel a little different work in the back of the hip, and whatever works with your foot.

Because we're so close to the wall, I'm just keeping my foot in a little bit of flexion, my ankle, and as I lifted lower the leg in this turnout, I am absolutely feeling just a little different spot back here. Yeah, let's just take twice more, up and down, this is our external rotation, we warmed up with that heal, toe on the wall. Now little circle of the thigh, pelvis is level, and I'm gonna just circle that thigh, four times this way. The foot that's on the wall is helping me stay relatively stable. This is tricky to stay stable, four times the other way.

If you feel unstable, guess what? This hand really helps. Three and four, and then set that leg down and close that for just a moment. Okay, now we need the bottom leg to get something. So I'm gonna have you take this one, just do a small bend of the knee, foot goes flat, and once again, you've got your pelvis, pelvis, pubic bone, all facing the front.

If you need your hand or here, it's the bottom leg that I want you to raise and lower. Lift and lower, we'll do four more, exhale. Where's the line through your head? Exhale and four, actually, this is what I wanted, I meant six, that was your six. Okay, that's plenty for right now.

Put your feet together, this is what I wanted to get to. Can we lift both legs at the same time? Yes we can. You may need this hand to come to the floor. If you don't, try it here.

Now it's balance, right? It's if you feel like you're really losing your line and wiggling, muscles of stability come through from abs, and back, and around your hips, you can also have your hand here. Okay, let's take four more. So there's an exhale. Now some of you might be doing just fine, you can go here, why not?

It's pretty hard up here. Challenging, I mean, right? And last two, and we're gonna throw one more fun one in, and hold here. Now this arm, I want you to start lowering to the floor. Try to hold your balance, you're just gonna come in front of your shoulder and raise it up.

Let's take it just last one, okay? Just two, feel free to do more if you want to another time, keep your energy through your legs toward the wall, and then everybody lower everything down. Okay, what did you feel? I felt a lot here, here, and here. Of course we need to do the other side, okay?

And then after we do the second side, we'll be coming up to sit against the wall for some more spinal mobility. Alright, so lining up. You may need to take a little look with your head, that's fine, right? Bend that bottom elbow, but then remember, we're looking for alignment in Pilates, we wanna continue feeling head to toe awareness, head to heel. You can have your hand on your hip or on the floor, make sure your stomach is in, and that this pelvis is nice and upright, hip over hip.

And we're taking our leg up and lowering down. We're only lifting to where we control that pelvis on our side. You'll feel the muscles right through the back of the hip here. I've done this before where I've actually been sliding something up the wall, like a towel or a quarter, that's kind of nice. Today we're just reaching toward the wall.

Alright, one more time in parallel. And then we take a slight change of angle of the femur, we externally rotate, you'll feel that a little bit more around the back edge, and we do an up and down. Okay, so again, the objective on the side work, hips, glutes, and feeling your balance. Your back muscles are part of what help achieve balance, everybody, and your abdominals, how they work synergistically together. Yeah, last two.

And last one, and then we took our leg down, we have our little circles. I am gonna put my hand on the mat and do four, three, two, and one, we did four each direction. And I'm sure you all can feel right where that work is being concentrated, three and four, and then bring your legs down and pause there parallel. Okay, now we have our inner thigh. So just lift into a subtle bend.

Before we lift that bottom leg, recreate that nice side position, ready? And it's that bottom leg that lifts and lower, exhale lift and lower, three. Let's go with six total, so three more. And two, nice inner thigh work, and last one. Alright, some days there's a lot more repetition, but today, here we go, hmm.

Ready for the double leg lift? So on an exhale, we're raising both legs, staying in balance, lower both legs. You'll start to feel work in your lower back, that's good, the top of your waist, front of your waist, both hips, inner thighs, quite a bit. You can put your hand on the mat, hand on your hip, or we took it finally here, nice and energized, let's take one more. Now, if you need to lower your legs for this arm lowering, you can, keep your legs reaching toward the wall.

But here we went, we lowered the arm. This is oh, so hard, nice and challenging for steadiness, strength, and balance. But feel all of the muscle work going on to achieve this, there's a lot in the side bodies. Yay, okay. Hmm, let's come on up, everybody.

How'd you do with that? Good, okay. So let's come on, we're gonna move into a little bit of spinal mobility now. Okay, so I want you to wiggle right back against the wall, get the pelvis back, and me move my ponytail, and just for a second here, feel the hips, that base of your sternum, the thoracic spine at the wall, your shoulder blades, and your head. Open the leg slightly, about the width of your mat, if you're on this one, this wide, toes up, okay?

Now like we did in standing, I want us to feel the abdominals press in to get your lumbar spine against the wall. For now let's just set our hands here. So everybody sit as tall as you can, deep, deep breath. As I press my tummy back, my stomach back, my back is hopefully gonna meet the wall, there it goes. Just hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it.

Now as you're holding it, we don't shorten into ourself. Hmm, we go taller as we come into ourself. Okay, now relax for a second, feel the difference, take a breath, exhale again, and lift and press your back into the wall. Reach your arms forward, keep your shoulder blades back, feel the work here. Alright, now we're going to spine stretch off the wall, I want you to breathe.

First thing is the head, then the thoracic spine. As I peel off the wall, I am gonna let my lower back leave the wall because I wanna stretch forward. I am still keeping the feeling like I'm pressing this back, and really the weight on my sit bone stays here, we're not shifting out this way, stay back there. How far can you stretch up and forward with the energy of your stomach pulling back? Should be a lot of work, and then roll yourself back up, leave your arms up, shoulder blades back.

Ready? Two more. Get tall, press the stomach. Peel away, peel away, peel away, reach, keep lifting inside yourself, reach forward. I like to keep my head coming between my arms.

You know, some people like to dip their head down. You can keep your head above your arms a little bit, there's lots of play there, make it feel like you're stretching, right? And pulling your stomach back. Okay, we've got one more here, how's it going? This is our spine stretch forward, great exercise.

Peel off the wall, peel off the wall. So this spinal mobility here, oh, there it goes, we're going to feel that again. After this exercise, we're gonna come back on our back and do that pelvic curl series with a little extra pepper, a little extra spice to it, okay? And then relax. There's a lot of work here, you feeling that?

So here we go, we're on our back. Hmm, you're gonna feel these again more, everybody. Feet just like they were at the beginning, get all set up, deep breath. Here we go, so it's a pelvic curl to shoulder bridge. Get that up, knees are pointing to the wall.

Now I'll show you, you can, if you need to, put your hands underneath your pelvis and support the body weight, okay? You can support your body weight. If you don't need to, try it here. So I wanna shift my weight to one foot, either one, let's go this leg first, so that I can pick this leg back up, flex the foot, and now I wanna take my leg a little further back over my head, and then just start moving into a little kick like movement, touch the wall, flex the foot over the head, touch. Now, we're not dropping the pelvis.

The foot on the wall is helping keep us up. Let's take four more, one, and two, and three, and then hold this one, slide, we're gonna unroll, and recalibrate if we need to. Make sure you get as many of your landmarks, as many, don't rush, don't rush. So important, our spine. Take a breath, hey, I'm pretty even.

Exhale and curl. So doing this work at the wall, it is a little easier to stay even and feel. When you're on the mat, it's a lot different, I can tell you. So it's a great way to train yourself or teach yourself. Okay, shift weight to the second leg, just enough to lift this one, just enough.

That's it, take your leg up, flex the foot, it's coming over. Now, you don't drop your hips, and you reach, and you lift, all that hamstring stretch we did earlier was for this, partly, keep that sit bone reaching to the wall. Four more, arms pressing into the floor. Last two, keep your hips up, and hips, and touch down. We're gonna put that foot there and everyone roll it down.

Remember, take your time, all the landmarks of your spine. Hmm, now I wanna do a shoulder stretch with you. Okay, so we're not doing a Swan or any face down movements today, but we can do a shoulder stretch that would prepare us pretty well for that. So just come around, if you can get down low on your knees, almost like a Child's pose, we're not gonna be here long, and you're just coming down for a second. Now it's to have more flexibility in the shoulder joint, want you to take your hands on the wall, kind of lowish for right now, knees apart, and just let your chest drop.

Just let your chest drop down. Okay, wiggle a little, right to left. If this bothers your shoulders, just don't do it, we're almost done, you can just omit this for now. Okay, but as we get more mobility in the shoulders and spine, this becomes easier. And then I want you to walk your hands a little higher and drop down.

You can lift your hips up off your feet a little bit, you can look up the wall, just try to drop your chest down the wall. Wiggle, loosen things up. Okay, one more little round, so a couple inches higher, let's see what those shoulders have, and drop down. So I change the position of my feet, this feels better. Hmm.

How close can you get to the wall with your chest and down? Let's take two or three deep breaths, lot of energy in those muscles of your back, and your spine, and your hips. Great class, we're almost finished. We have a wonderful, wonderful little final moment. You can call this an exercise, it is, it's just putting some closure on it.

But I still want us to feel the wall, and I want you to feel your sit bones right up against it, and just relax your feet. You can take your arms out if that feels good too, just take a few deep breaths, everybody. So this is another place, really to feel where you are, that you're level, your landmarks, all of your landmarks are there. Got a lot done in 30 minutes, a lot of abs, lot of spine, and lots of hips. And wonderful, you can bend your knees.

Thanks for joining me today.

Active Aging - Playlist 10: Pilates for Healthy Aging

Comments

1 person likes this.
Really enjoyed this Amy.  I love wall work. It definitely helps me to feel the work better in my body.  Thanks!
1 person likes this.
Thank you Amy!! Lovely and fun as always! :)
1 person likes this.
You're such a great teacher - loved this class!  Thanks so much!
Loved the class and such a great way to feel what is in stake in every exercice
1 person likes this.
i am really loving this series. so many possibilities on the wall!!
 thank you amy. 
1 person likes this.
This is excellent! Especially the side lying work and also the spine stretch off the wall are really intense. Thank you!
1 person likes this.
Love going to the wall  Amy teaches great classes with this "apparatus".  The stability of the wall lends fresh access to the obliques!  When the body is free in space, you may rock around trying to engage the obliques but at the wall you have something to push against to keep the action in the abs and not the hips.
1 person likes this.
That was so lovely. The simplicity of the feedback from the wall is such a great tool. 😁
1 person likes this.
Could I used a pillow beneath my hips when seated in front o the wall for tight hamstrings?
My video didn't show Amy... maybe it was my screen.. 
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