Class #5059

Close the Loop

30 min - Class


This full-body, integrated workout by Joy Puleo will invigorate you and inspire you to move often, move with purpose, and move joyfully. Joy breaks down three primary Pilates Mat exercises and will systematically progress each exercise from the beginning into its complexity. Joy encourages you to work from where you are at in this very moment and enjoy!
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Aug 30, 2022
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I'm Joy, and I'm with Kristen and Tiffany today. And in this class, we are gonna focus on three primary Pilates mat moves, and we are gonna build progressions to each of these moves to challenge the potential inside of each of you. So no matter what you woke up with today, no matter if you have aches or pains, or if you're planning to run a marathon in six months, this class is exactly where you should be. Okay. So as I said, we're gonna go for three Pilates mat moves, and we are going to build up each move from its very essence and beginnings to its more complexity.

And the thing is don't let the complexity fool you, don't let the complexity get in your head. Wherever you are today is where you meet it. Got it? All right. So our first challenge or our first move that we're gonna work toward is called rolling like a ball.

But first we're gonna start with some fundamentals and some basics, right? Because everything in life, in terms of, especially, our sensations in our bodies, is about finding where we are right now, meeting that, and then progressing or moving it forward. So let's have you guys lie back. Great. So here, when you lie down, I am not interested in you deciding if you are in the right place or not.

Pilates fits under the banner of mindful movement and here's the deal, mindful movement, the hallmark of it, is non-judgmental and non-competitive. So when you lie on the ground, what I'm gonna ask of you is to acknowledge what you feel. Where is your head? How does the back of your rib cage feel, right? And feel free to move around.

Feel free to feel the sensation of the floor. The floor gives you a ton of feedback and a ton of information. It's a good thing, not a bad thing. And then take a feel of your pelvis. Put your hands on your pelvis, however you're comfortable doing that.

And rock it side to side, front and back, and then find a place where you feel your front body and your back body, neither one is resonating or working too hard to hold you in that position. Same thing with your foot placement, it could be anywhere you need it to be on that mat. It could be a little farther away from your hips or it could be even closer, okay? First thing we're gonna do is we're gonna move one of your legs. Let's pick your right leg and fold that knee towards you.

Pull that knee in. And I want you to actually put your hand on the knee or the shin and just give it a little pull, and then let that foot touch the floor. And then let's do the other side, right? You're gonna pull it in and give that thigh a little bit of a pull towards you. And then let that leg come back to the floor.

You guys, I prefer actually what you did the first time, you held onto your thigh. Let's have you do that. So right leg, pull that thigh in, really feel the whole of the thigh coming towards your chest and then bring that leg down. And then let's do the other side. What I'm looking for is just lightness and easiness.

So for those of you who are watching, I don't want you to think, "What does she want? Do I have to do something?" The answer is no. Let the femur, the thigh bone, move gently and easily in the hip joint, okay? And now, can you gimme a little bit of rhythm. In and down.

In and down. In and down. In and down. Hold it there. I like a little bit of a rhythm because then it gets you a little bit out of your head because when I explain everything, everybody starts getting, "Am I doing it right?" Non-judgmental.

Okay, so let's have you bring your right leg in. Now, bring your left leg in. Let's have you put your hands on the floor. And you can widen your hands a little bit. You're gonna use the floor for sensation and as a base of support.

Right here, press into the floor. Do you feel how you light up from pinky to pinky and you feel the whole upper back, really, just sort of pulling you gently into your mat? Now, toes down and lift up. Toes down, lift up. Pull the thighs towards you, not the knees.

Pull your thighs in, toes down. Pull your thighs in, toes down. I'm hearing some breath. I'd like to hear yours. (breathing heavily) Three, two, and one, come down.

We spend an awful lot of time talking about the outside of our package. What does it look like? How does it feel, et cetera, et cetera? What is the inside? What is your home?

How is it decorated? Your breath, I want you to think of as the inside, as the decoration. How are you painting your wall, so to speak. And the outside? Well, of course, it's the movement from outside in.

It's the breath from inside out, okay? So did you guys notice how, when you add a breath, the movement became (snaps finger) a little more crisp and clean. Take your right leg, cross it over your left. Where prepping you for rolling like a ball. In order to do that, we've gotta get your back to feel really warm and yummy, so to speak.

When you are in this position, I want you to feel your inner thighs, (hands claps) feel them together. One is working with the other. You got right leg over your left, you're gonna rotate to the left. It's a controlled rotation. Let the bottom leg support the top.

Let your arms, their weight might shift, let them feel the ground. And then come on back. Now, go in the other direction. Same thing, control the rotation. So you'll notice, the more you're comfortable you are with this...

We'll let these guys keep going. The more the pelvis rotates, the nice, the yummier we get in the lower spine. Now, in terms of your feedback into your hands, don't let that be like a death grip on the floor. Really, it's just this gentle pressing into the ground to give your arms and your upper back a bit of stability. So it's an anchor to provide mobility.

Nice, all right, come on back. Let's have you do the other leg. Left over right. And the same thing, you're going to rotate. Starting rotating over to the right side, but you're rotating to both sides and then come on back.

So just keep moving. And here, I will cue them less and just watch at how they get a little more range with each rotation. Use the breath. Let the breath drive the movement, not you pulling on the movement. Does that make sense?

Okay, beautiful. All right. So you're gonna come back to center. You're gonna uncross your legs. Now, sit up.

I'm gonna close my eyes. You do it any way you wanna do it. I don't really care. Awesome, now we're gonna play with a partial roll back. So if you wouldn't mind, arms straight out in front, can both of you make a fist?

And I really want you to drive your energy forward. With your feet, feel your feet pressing into the ground. This is the concept of closing the loop, right? You're using the feedback of the hands and the feet to give you the most connection through the center of your body. Now, we're talking pelvis.

Turn the pelvis back and then drive forward to come up. Drive forward to come up and sit up tall. So turn the pelvis back. It's like a wheel, it moves away from your thighs and then drive forward and up. Great, so turn the pelvis back.

Now, can you guys go a little bit farther? Use your feet to anchor yourself. Great, and drive forward. Nice, one more time. You're gonna pull back, great.

Create an opposition between your hands, your feet, and your belly button drawing back and forward. Now, you might be thinking of your front body an awful lot. I'm thinking of your back body. So can you both take your thumbs, put 'em behind you? And it's as if you're lifting your shirt off the back of your body.

Or do the same thing, roll back. Roll back, roll back, let your head nod toward your pubic bone and open your back body and then rise up. Beautiful. Okay, we need to think about opening the back body if we're gonna get you to roll like a ball because that's what it's all about. Hands are behind your thighs.

Now, you're gonna close the loop here with your hands pressing into your thighs, creating a circle. And this is my circle. It's around the back and through and up the front. Let's have you find a balance point. Lift one leg.

Good, now, can you lift the other leg? Good, can you keep the openness in your back? Put one foot down and the other foot down. Let's reverse that. Lift with the opposite foot first and then lift and balance.

The balance might be enough here today. And if that's where you are, that's totally cool. I'm talking on purpose, cuz I want you to breathe in this space, and every time you exhale, can you go deeper into your curve and widen into your back a little bit more? Feel your hands on your thighs. This is enough work right here.

Kristen's dying to move (laughs) because this is really challenging. Let's put your feet down. Super, and then sit up nice and tall. Okay. Now, we get you into the ball.

It's not just one ball, you, but it's the second ball, which is your arms. We're going to roll you back and forward using breath. Okay, without the breath, this is really just a flop to the mat kind of exercise, with breath, it has direction and you will feel the massaging action on the entirety of your spine. So let's have you find your balance point. Good, now, you could keep your hands behind your thighs.

You could put your hands on your shins. Now, and when they're on your shins, press up into your shins and create that lovely opposition across your back, and inhale back. Inhale, (inhales deeply) exhale, balance. (exhales sharply) Inhale, back, exhale, balance. Notice the control they have. Inhale, back, and they have the control because the driver is what?

It's breath. And last one, inhale, back. And super, feet are down. Straighten your legs out. I think they just surprised themselves.

Arms out in front, and just take it forward and do what feels good for you, okay? These guys have really good flexibility. If you wanna bend your knees, if you wanna sit on a bolster and get a little bit of a forward fold, totally fine. Great, and then you're gonna sit up nice and tall. So it was really lovely to see the control that you guys had.

Remember, this is a practice. Anywhere along this journey of progressions that we're putting together, stop where you need to stop, and then go back and go forward, go back and go forward cuz that's how you drive change. And I think that's profound cuz I think that that works in general life as well. Okay, so I'm gonna tell you our next heading is teaser. Right?

It's called teaser for a reason. And we're gonna tease it out of the body, okay? So the first thing we're gonna do, bend your knees. We're gonna start sitting up just like this. Again, give me those arms and a lot of energy.

When I say closing the loop, using all of the energy that's around you to feed back into this body. Feet down, hands pushing into me. Start to roll back. Start to roll back. Turn your pelvis like it's a wheel.

Find the sacrum or the back of your pelvis finds the mat, drive yourself forward. Turn it back. Drive it forward. Give it a rhythm and give it a breath. (breathing heavily) There you go. (breathing heavily) Last one. (breathing heavily) Great.

Super. Okay. Where are we going with this? We're gonna go all the way down. Now, some of you are thinking, "I can't do a roll up. I know where she's going." Listen, you could put anchors on your feet.

You could have someone hold your feet. You could put it under something. You could put it up against the baseboard if you need to anchor the lower body. Understand, it's not a matter of your strength. It's actually a matter of our leverage, like legs versus torso, and tightness versus laxity.

So you're not doing anything wrong if your legs pop up. Feel free to anchor them. Now when we come up, don't hold your breath. Ride your breath just the way you did. Ready, arms straight out in front.

As you roll back, straighten those legs out. Take the arms overhead. Big inhale, exhale. Drive the arms forward and reach. Give me those arms, those energy outta the arms.

Energy outta the arms, Kristen. And then curl back. Straighten the legs, arms overhead. Big inhale, exhale, Come, come, come, come, come, come, come, come, come, come, come. Drive it forward.

Good, and again, going back, over, and then drive. (inhales deeply) Nice. (chuckles) And one more time, come on back. Reach overhead, open the body to close the body. Stunning, wonderful, wonderful. Feel good? Yeah.

Okay, I wanna add a little more to the upper thorax in terms of getting just a little more mobility and looseness. So let's have you push into me, right? Imagine you've got me over there, Kristen. And let's have you undulate a little bit and then come forward. Good, and back and forward and back.

There we go. You should be getting a little obliques in this as well, yeah? A little bit of a core work. And notice the breath changes worked. I'm hearing... (breathing sharply) And you do what works for you.

Beautiful, and rest. Super, let's have you put your hands behind your thighs and find your balance point like you had for rolling like a ball. Let's prep your legs for teaser. Straighten the right leg out and bend it. Left leg and bend.

You can have bent knees You can point your toes. You can flex your foot if you're getting weird cramps anywhere. You could also widen your legs if you need to widen your legs. And one more time. Super, and then legs are down.

Stretch them out in front of you. And let's have you roll back. Okay. So here's the thing with teaser that I think very few people really start to talk about. And it has to do with timing, okay?

It's not called teaser for nothing. So I'm just gonna use Tiffany for a second. Tiffany, roll up a little bit to here, boom. The minute she gets here, her legs wanna pop, literally, that I could see them wanna pop up at me. The trick to teaser is harnessing that moment.

So you're gonna lie back down. You're all gonna find the moment right now by doing a roll up. Keep your legs down, anchor them, but feel that moment where they want to pop. Did you guys both feel that? Okay, beautiful.

Now, curl back. And all the way over. Another roll up, anchor your legs, reach them long, but feel that there it is that moment where they wanna pop and then roll down. Some of you, when you do this, you're gonna think, "Oh, the roll up is actually harder, keeping my legs down cuz it's not intuitive." And then let's have you roll up one last time. Good, and then come on down all the way.

Okay, we're going into teaser. And the way we're going to do this is the moment you feel those legs wanna pop, let them come up with your upper body. A modification on this, for some and this is what I need to do, my upper body lever, my lower body lever are two different things, I need to bend my knees. That's okay. For these guys, they can do it with straight legs so we're gonna go there.

Ready, inhale, exhale, start to roll up. And the legs come up, right? Now, start to curl back first. Curl, curl, curl, curl, the legs slowly come down. Slowly come down, slowly come down.

Whoo. Beautiful. Again, if you need to, bend your knees. Ready, let's have you come on up again. Exhale, the timing of the legs and the torso.

We get no wobbliness if you find that timing. Start to curl back, reach through the legs, and lower them down. Super. Beautiful, now let's do one with bent knees. I would just like to show everybody a bent knee version.

(Tiffany speaking faintly) Feet on the ground? No, feet are gonna come up. So Tiffany just asked me if the feet stay on the ground or the feet can come up, you, by the way, can leave the feet down. But we're gonna have you bring the feet up. For these guys who are used to doing it with straight legs, this might actually be harder for them, right?

So let's have you come on up with bent knees. Right. (chuckles) Hold it there. Now, straighten your right leg. Whoop, and bend. Straighten your left leg and bend.

Now, keep your knees bent. And can you go a little deeper into your core by curling a little bit back? Good, and then come up. I need energy outta your hands and then a little bit back, punch it forward. Yep, and one more time.

Super, and curl back and bring the legs down and straighten out, right? So again, we got levels of challenge here. Find where you are. Put no judgment on it. Enjoy it because you just got farther than you were earlier today and then keep working forward, okay.

Super, so that's our teaser. Now, I'm gonna have you come up. Since you now know how to roll up, I'm gonna keep my eyes open and watch you. Super. So we did rolling like a ball and then we did teaser.

Let's put you into child's pose. Let's go prone, shall we? And let's do this, can I have both of you? So I'm gonna turn you around Tiffany so that both of your heads are here so that I could army crawl over here and talk to you both. Okay, so a little child's pose, rock a little left and right.

And let's put you onto what's called all fours, (hands smacks) hands and knees. Can you take a second and feel the ground and play with the ground? First, just push away from the ground, just widen your shoulder blades. Let that be whatever it is. Don't put any judgment on stiffness or how much mobility you have right now, and then lengthen out your spine for me.

Good, feel your knees for a second into the ground. And can you give me a sense of pulling the heel of your hands towards your knees? And feel how that... For me, this is my sensation, I get my front body literally lights up and it really helps me find my curl, might be different for you. So just see if that pulling in gives you a sense of rounding the spine and play here.

Straighten out your spine and just sway side to side. I am on purpose being pretty unstructured here with this. And can you sway and now make a circle around your arms and your hips, yeah? And go the other direction. And that should just really actually feel nice.

You may find a sticky spot, go into that sticky spot and play in there for a little bit. Again, I'm being unstructured on purpose. I wanna encourage you to explore yourself. Super. Now, come onto, again, all fours, and I would like you to yield to gravity.

Right? So when they yield to gravity... I'm army crawling away from you, right? When they yield to gravity, you'll notice what happens to this big sway back, right? And literally, there's a hanging into the bones.

I don't necessarily want you to do anything heroic except for drawing in and up against gravity. So you're using gravity to create sensation of connection. So again, yield to gravity. Good, and then you're gonna draw in and up. It's so funny cuz I just said that and I was like, "Wow, there's another life lesson.

We're using gravity (laughs) to create sensation for change." And one last time, let it go. Okay, so feel how you're hanging on your bones. There's not a lot of connectivity. And now draw up and away from gravity and support yourself and your spine, right? Beautiful.

So we're gonna now take this and take it to the mat and see if we can start moving into some extension work. So let's have you on the mat. Extension work is one of those things where it can be uncomfortable just lying on your belly. You could put a bolster underneath your hips, a rolled up towel, a ball, something to relieve the lower back. You could also just let the legs widen so that you're not feeling compressed into your low back or your sacrum.

And it's really important, now, you may find that openness in the low back before you start working on this extension work. Now, hands, if you wouldn't mind, on the floor, creating a triangle, elbows wide, right? And I am gonna come down here for a second. I want you to press down into the floor and see if you can drag your sternum forward and let your eye gaze go up. And right there, just hold it.

We're looking to find extension in the upper thoracic or the upper rib cage, right? Now, let your eye gaze go toward your fingers and lower yourself back down. So press down into the floor, use the floor. You can even feel that sensation of pulling your arms or trying to pull your forearms towards you to pull the sternum or the breast bone through, and then let the sternum or the breast bone come back down or find the mat. When you breathe, your sternum actually, like a pump, (breathes deeply) comes forward and then also draws back.

So I like to think of that pump handle, as the pump handle is coming through and then the pump handle draws underneath you. That's gonna help us activate the upper thorax. This is really important. If this is your extension today, this is terrific. This is really important to upright posture, right?

And getting us to defy gravity when we're actually standing, good, hold it there. Now I will ask you guys to take your arms now and bring them out alongside your body, roughly around where your shoulders are, and we will take the next one a little farther. So again, use the ground, press down into your mat, bring your breast bone forward. Let your eye gaze go up, go up, go up. And now straighten your arms as you can.

Notice what's happening, we're getting clearance here in the pelvis because these guys are drawing in and lengthening the front of their body. Come on down. So this is not about you pulling into your back. It's not about you shortening your back. It's about you lengthening so much through the front, right, that the body goes into it's natural extension.

I know this doesn't feel natural, but that's the goal and that's the idea. So let's do that again. Breast bone comes forward. Eye gaze goes up. Goes up, goes up, goes up, goes up, beautiful.

And you're lengthening through the whole front of you. Nice, and then come on down. Last time, you're gonna energize your legs for me. So before you start, draw the belly button in. You could feel your pubic bone heavy and waited.

Lengthen those legs out nice and long. Use that as your anchor now, right? And let's have you come on up, lengthening the whole front of your body, not just from your belly button to the crown of your head, but from the belly button to your toes. Beautiful, you guys got that? Okay, now we're gonna throw a rocking at you.

Can you send your arms out in front and rock forward and then catch yourself? You guys try this however you can. Ready, go. You might not get as big a rock, and go forward and back. Beautiful, one more time.

Forward and back, child's pose. Now, I sprung it on all of you, so we're gonna do it one more time. And here's the deal. The more you reach with your arms and reach with your legs in opposition, the more you create a balanced rock, okay? So let's try it one more time.

You're gonna come down onto the mat and (chuckles) just for you guys who are watching this and trying this at home, here's the deal. It's okay if it's not pretty. (Tiffany and Kristen laughs) Okay, all right. So hands press down, sternum comes forward. Lots of length out through the whole front of the body and ready, you're gonna reach forward and reach back.

Reach forward, reach back. Reach forward, reach back. And forward and back, rest into child's pose. Beautiful. Ooh, you're gonna rock a little left and right.

Now, you're gonna come back onto all fours, and let's just do a little cat cow. Simple, easy, round into your back. (chuckles) I like to think of my nose and my pubic bone are trying to create a nice circle with my spine, and then lengthen out and sternum comes forward and let your eye gaze go up. Inhale here, exhale. And beautiful.

Find your breath. Find your rhythm. Again, I'm not structuring these guys. And one more time, round your back. Now here in the round back, sit back.

Great, bend your elbows. Look up, pull your breast bone through, and then stand and then go up. So round, down, and don't even go that much forward, Tiffany, come forward, and then go straight up. One more time, round and back, bend and forward. And last, round and back.

We just wanna counter some of that extension. Super. Last one, last one. I know I said last one, but I'm a Pilates instructor and cannot count. Hold it, beautiful.

And let's have you come to sitting. All right. So here's the deal. Three big Pilates mat moves, built up over a little mini progression, prepping the body for what it's about to experience. And really, when you do it that way, when you set the foundations and you drizzle in the experience one at a time, it means that what seems difficult is actually possible.


2 people like this.
This class is a game changer-even for a Pilates veteran like me. Exactly what I needed (today) Thanks Joy!
Another tutorial like class which is great as the others; thank you so much JOY
Thanks, enjoyed as a stretch as been cycling everyday, so great whole body stretch. 
Loved this class . Thank you. Excellent work. 
Joy P
So glad you are all enjoying. Any questions do not hesitate to reach out
Love this moving tutorial like like class. Awesome class and feels so good!! Thank you!!!!😊😊
1 person likes this.
Wonderful class. Loved the prep work. A little older now and find the extension work challenging. Great cueing
1 person likes this.
This was FANTASTIC!  Loved it all!
Lina S
Nice instructive class! Great cueing and use of imagery.
Angela T
lovely class! thank you, Joy
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