Class #5244

Rotation Focused Mat

35 min - Class


You will find a deep connection to your abdominals with this Mat workout by Erin Wilson. She focuses on the different ways you can rotate your body, incorporating exercises that will strengthen your obliques and hips. By the end of the class, your body will feel more mobile and able to perform daily activities, like walking, with more efficiency.
What You'll Need: Mat

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I'm Erin Wilson and today's class will be focusing on the ways we rotate through our body. Let's make our way down onto our mat. And you might find that for these first positions that we'll be in, you'll be more comfortable propping yourself up on a couple of pillows or a couple of blankets. So we're gonna try to sit in a cross leg position. However, if that doesn't work, feel free to sit in more of a diamond shape or even separate the feet wider and have more of the open diamond position here.

So it is helpful if we can go cross legs or any kind of bent knee position because we will be using our knees as something to hold onto. So if you're gonna straddle, maybe grab onto your thigh instead and that would still work. So settling in, just feel your pelvis underneath you and then hopefully, you're able to be up on your sitting bones pretty well, which is gonna allow our spine to grow fairly tall just automatically. 'Cause if our pelvis is back here, we're naturally gonna have a little of a rounded posture to begin with. So we really wanna take a moment, try to get up onto your sit bones and then see if you can stay on them throughout these first two exercises.

So picking your favorite direction to twist towards we're gonna take our opposite hand and grab a hold of our other knee. Now the free hand here can go behind your back. You can push into your fingertips or you might find that just having both hands on the opposite knee is enough rotation already for where you're comfortable in your back. So wherever your hands are, we're gonna use one or both of them to do a little push and a little pull. So if your fingers are behind you on the mat, press a bit into them and that's gonna also help send your pelvis forward.

The hand that's on our knee is gonna feel like it's pulling upwards on our knees, so we're sending our spine into a bit of extension with the rotational. Don't force this position. A lot of interesting things can happen if you try to torque a movement too much, especially so soon in the class. So just taking a few breaths, feel free to close your eyes and just sense where you might feel restrictions in your back or even restrictions in the upper body and where things feel pretty smooth and pretty easy and light. We'll slowly unwind out of this side.

And then take your opposite hand to the other knee. And then just the same thing here. So maybe that again is enough rotation and you just wanna rest your hand on top of your hand. If the back hand can go behind us, we'll do the same thing here. So pressing into our fingertips and pushing into our arm back there, but also using our hand on our knee and pulling upwardly on that knee.

And just notice again, one side we usually rotate better towards or it feels more easy in our back especially. So if this is the side that was easier or feels a little more sticky, just take some notes of that, but don't feel like you have to make both sides feel the same. They're not going to be, it's fine. We rotate, generally speaking, in more one direction throughout the day anyways. It's only normal, we would feel tighter on one side.

Okay, we'll slowly unwind from there. And we're just gonna do that one more time in each direction. So we'll reach across to the first knee, take our hand behind us if we were able. If you didn't the first time around, maybe now try to put your hand down and give yourself a bit of leverage, a little bit of support. And as we're pulling and pushing with both hands, there's this upward spiraling motion we're continuously thinking about, going through the spine.

So we can get taller, right, staying on our sit bones. That could be really helpful. And then we'll unwind slowly out of this side. One more time, reach across to the opposite knee, other hand behind us on the floor, wherever it works. And then that same feeling of pulling up on the knee, pushing down through our fingers behind us, and just feeling the spiral of your body growing upwardly towards the ceiling.

Okay, from here we're gonna slowly unwind. So hopefully that gave us some inventory, what's fueling good and really moving in our bodies well today. And maybe where we're a little more stuck and hopefully towards the end of class those areas will feel like they have more mobility. So we're gonna bring our legs together and then this is where we have to figure out, depending on how much upper body weight we have versus how much lower body weight we have, how far away or how close our feet can be to our pelvis. So I do this movement all the time.

I know where my legs should be. We are starting to move backwards and coming forward. If your legs are too close, you'll find that you're gonna fall back. If they're too far away, you'll find that you lose your sense of stability as well. So the first one or two, take some inventory, again, and then figure out where your sweet spot is.

So we're gonna grab behind the backs of our knees. We're gonna try to bring the knees together, but if they have to separate a bit right here, that's usually more comfortable. So feel free to do that. And then again, figure out where your sitting bones are underneath you. Try to be right on top of them.

So going right away into some rotation, as we start to connect our knees, we're gonna tuck our pelvis and round our back. At some point, see if you can let go of your legs and let your arms reach forward. From here, we're gonna rotate our upper body, very similar to what we did a minute ago, but now we're in flexion of our back. So we're just framing our arms off to one side of the mat. Feel free to come down a bit lower if you're able to challenge yourself more.

Probably nothing further than the back part of our sacrum. And then as we come forward, we're gonna unwind and just look straight ahead. Take a moment here if you need to to grab behind your knees, separate 'em, get up on your sit bones. And then as we start to scoop our abs back, away from our thighs, and we let go of our legs, you could also hold onto them on the outside of the thigh that we're going towards. We're gonna twist the other way.

And then if I have the strength and my body says I'm willing, we're gonna go down a little lower on that side and as we come up we'll start to unwind, face our arms and our eyes straight ahead. And again, if I need that moment in between, separate our knees and grab behind them. So we'll speed this up a little bit. We'll connect the legs together, let go if we can, rotate to the first side. And then as we come up we're gonna unwind.

Look straight ahead, sit upright. And then as we tuck and roll back again, we'll swing our arms and rotate our upper body to the second side. And as we come forward, again, we'll unwind and look straight ahead. So things to think about as we rotate. If I'm going down my right side, I'm gonna think of pushing my right knee more into my left knee.

It's gonna help us keep our legs and our pelvis more centered. And if I go down my left side, I'm gonna think of pushing my left knee into my right knee. And again, all of those things should help wake up our oblique muscles, the sides of our abdominal muscles, and also wake up the inner thighs. There's always a connection that the inner thigh muscles have to our obliques. And we'll feel more of that out in a minute.

Give yourself one more. So you're even side to side. If that means you have to do an extra one right now, go ahead. And then we're coming up all the way and we're just gonna change the direction. So we roll down in the rotation, we're gonna be rolling upwards in the rotation instead.

So if we look straight ahead, push a bit into our feet, squeeze the inner thighs, right? Abs are scooping back, go where you can. Hey, probably just the back of the sacrum at the most. We're not going way down here. So pause where you can.

We're gonna rotate to the first side. We're gonna come up that side and then back through the center. So again, we roll down the middle, we try to keep our legs in pelvis level, we rotate our upper body to the second side and we come forward that way. When you're at the top, find the middle again. So keep that going.

So you might find this a little different, having to strengthen your oblique muscles when the gravity's working more against you 'cause we're in a low angle. Find the middle, but still think inner thighs are squeezing against each other. And then whatever side I twist towards, that leg is gonna press a bit heavier against the other leg. We'll do one more of these to each side. Okay, hopefully we're feeling our abdominals, we're feeling our hips, getting a little bit of heat here.

Twist, roll up that side, find the middle. And one more time. Down the middle we go, pause right there. Nothing moves with the upper body. Find that rotation, go forward, back to the middle.

And just take a moment here. If the knees can drop out to the sides, great. Maybe shake 'em out a few times. It's a lot of good hip activation that we get when we're doing those kinds of exercises. All right, so coming back together with our legs.

We're gonna be rolling onto our backs next. So feel free to lay down however you need to. And this might be where you would like a pillow behind your head to help support your neck position. So we're laying down and we just wanna walk our feet in so they're fairly close to our glutes, but they're also about shoulder width apart. So we're gonna have our feet maybe a little bit wider than where there would be for a traditional pilates bridge set up.

And then check in with your feet for a moment. Spread the toes out. You wanna feel for your heel pressure the most. So as we lift up our pelvis, we're gonna be trying to feel very heavy in our heels and very light in the toes. So allowing our arms just to rest down.

If you have a tight chest area, tight from the shoulders, opening them up a little wider, and even flipping your palms to the ceiling can feel better there. So we're gonna stand firmly in both feet. And before we even lift up, press down on your feet and just see if you notice what foot might feel heavier out of the gate, right? We usually are more dominant on one leg. And if there is one foot that's like, "Oh, it's not really connecting quite as well," try to put a little bit more weight on that foot just straight away.

So as we push down equally through both feet, as best as we can tell, we're gonna be lifting straight up into our bridge position. Okay? Generally speaking, for a pilates bridge, you want the chest to be relaxed. We want our abs to be relaxed, and we're just focusing on the length that we're getting behind our back and in the front of our hip flexors. So you wanna feel like you're almost suspending yourself in a bit of a hammock.

When we're ready to rotate our pelvis though, we're gonna drop the right pelvic bone down. So on purpose, we've twisted ourselves just from the lower half. And then as we lower down through our back, we wanna try to roll down the right side of our back more so than the left, okay? So eventually as we get through the lower section of our right back, it's a little harder. It gotta almost tuck more in that position.

And then you'll let your pelvis roll to the middle and of course you'll feel kinda off. But as soon as we press into our feet again and lift our hips straight up, hopefully everything will balance itself out at the top. So we'll stay to the right a few times. So if we drop our right pelvic bone down, okay, kind of release the right glutes a bit there, stand extra firmly into the left foot, especially that heel 'cause the left glutes are really keeping us up here at the moment. And then as we start to come down, can we feel the upper part of the right ribs flattening down into the mat first and then that section just underneath the ribs, so that whole right side's just trying to melt down piece by piece and open it up.

And then eventually when we get to the bottom, relax your left glutes, push into both feet evenly. Lift straight up into the full bridge. We'll do one more this way. So again, the right pelvic bone's gonna tilt down on purpose, the left side's staying higher. And then as we come down, once again, you're moving through the right side of your back.

You could even picture reaching your left knee past your toes. Sometimes that gives it more movement, more sensation. And then eventually we're back in the middle. So let's scoot our butt to the center so we can kind of level ourselves out. Reorganize your feet if you need to.

Reorganize anything else. And then before we lift our pelvis up, push into your feet. Just kind of find that even pressure point, lifting our pelvis up. We're gonna try to connect the glutes, give 'em a good squeeze, keeping our chest area relaxed. We're gonna go to the left side this time.

So start dropping the left pelvic bone down. Relax the left glutes a little bit, right side's holding us up. And then as we come down the left side of our back, just feel for what might be different. Okay, usually we can get a little adjustment here and there. Sometimes the spine has a nice little release point.

I just got one myself, yay. And then we get to the bottom. Okay, we're weird, we're off. But as soon as we lift our pelvis up again, hopefully that balances us out 'cause the top of the movement here is where we want to feel, "Okay, this is middle." And then intentionally we're dropping the left side of our pelvis down, keeping the right side lifted, and then rolling down the left side of our back. This is also a big part of walking movements.

Okay, so one leg's behind us, one leg's in front of us, essentially when we're doing this bridge. And we do that better on one side, right? We're humans. And then one more time, let's go straight up the middle. One more time, drop the left side down.

And if you're still needing a little extra as you roll down the left side, think of reaching the right knee, further past your toes all the way through. Hopefully a lot of good stuff's going on in the right glutes and hamstrings as well. We're gonna do one more bridge just so we can feel ourselves centered again. So we're here at the top. Try to put your hands on your pelvic bones and just connect to them being level.

They're gonna try to stay level this time. And then just really gently, we're gonna soften our chest. Keep letting your stomach sink down into your back. So both sides of the back are melting equally into the mat right there. From here we're gonna relax our pelvis.

We'll start opening our arms out to the sides, palms up or down, whatever's comfortable. And they don't have to be that wide. We're gonna walk our feet and legs together. So we wanna find that inner thigh connection that we had for those rollbacks. And we also wanna start finding a deeper connection to our abdominal.

So if we picture what we did in the initial part of those rollbacks, which is to pull our abdominals and try to sink our lower back into the mat, we're gonna start this next movement like that. Squeeze through your inner thighs more actively, pull both legs up to a 90 degree. Sometimes it's easier in this position to hold the legs up if the lower legs are dropped down, relieves some of the weight. So feel free to do that. It can also be helpful to pull your knees a little closer to you and not have them right over your hip joints.

So feel for your upper back. It's gonna stay flat on the mat as best as it can. And as we're ready to roll our legs to the right. Okay, we wanna again feel the right side of our back, the heaviest on the mat. The left mid and lower part of the back is hopefully coming off of the mat.

If it isn't, that's okay. Don't feel like you have to go too far. Do what feels safe. As we breathe out though, we're gonna think of deepening our abdominals, pulling them down a little further into our back and then both sides of the back are gonna feel even pressure on the mat here. Let's take our legs over to the left.

Okay, same thing. So the whole left side of our back hopefully feels the mat, right side, mid low back's off the mat as well as your right glute. And then as you're ready to breathe out, we'll pull our legs back to the center and we'll just pause right there. So already you might notice one side, the legs are able to go further, one side has more control. Breathe in over here, we'll breathe out and picture the left side of your abdominals just pulling down more and more into the floor.

And that's what's guiding our legs back to the center again. Let's take our legs to the left. Deep inhale somewhere over there. And then think the right side obliques are gonna pull down, right side of the back is trying to touch the mat as soon as it can, as if that has something to do with moving our legs, kind of a lie, but it helps, right? We're gonna move our legs one more time over to the right.

Breathe in somewhere over there, think abdominals drawing deeper into our back are guiding our legs to the middle. And then one more time, bringing 'em to the left, squeezing the inner thighs. You could always have a little bit of space in between your knees if that's just getting more tiresome. Legs are back to the middle again. We're gonna be lowering the left leg down.

We'll keep the right leg in the air. You can choose to do the opposite leg as well. And we're gonna start bringing our arms up to the ceiling. So our leg is gonna stay at this 90 degree position. And as we bring our head and chest up, we're gonna right away grab onto the outside of our thigh.

Start pushing your thigh into your hands, bend the elbows, and open 'em wide. And what we're doing here, essentially, is guiding our spine into a nice rotation with the flexion. If I were to let go here, I probably can't stay up this high. So it's very nice to be able to use our leg and use our arms to just assist our body to feel, "Oh, I could probably get more mobility in this direction if I had some help." We are gonna let go here in a minute. So we'll take the bottom hand behind our head, keep everything the same as best as we can.

Top hand comes behind our head. And as we're ready to lower our head and chest down, let go of our head and just reach our arms up to the ceiling. We'll keep that going. So as we bring our head and chest up, we're gonna reach and grab onto the outside of our right thigh, elbows pull wide. That's just gonna pull the shoulder blades apart.

If I'm squeezing 'em together, I'm telling my back I'm going into extension essentially. So we're not doing that, we're doing flexion. And then here we are. Can I hold the feeling of rotating, right, just from the mid upper back? Pelvis is trying to stay level.

Put one hand behind my head. Can we stay up? Put the other hand behind our head. That's not fun but we lower down, very strengthening, reach our arms up to the ceiling. Again, we'll go once again to the right.

If we go grab onto your leg, use your leg to your right, push into your hands, use your hands, pull against your leg. Can I turn a little bit more without letting my pelvis lift up? And can I stay there? Letting go one hand, letting go with the other hand. Lower your leg down this time, let your head rest on the mat, arms reach up to the ceiling, left leg's coming up to that 90 degree.

Big inhale here, we exhale to curl up and over to the left. Grab onto the outside of our left thigh. We push our thigh into our hands, we bend our elbow, so we're thinking of curling our upper back a little higher off the mat, and also turning more to the left. Let's test it on this side. We'll take our left hand behind our head first.

We'll maybe take our right hand behind our head. If you're not ready for that, keep holding on with one hand and just breathe there. Lower your head down, reach your arms up to the ceiling. Leg stays still, we breathe out as we come up and across. Push your leg into your hands.

Pull your hands against your leg. Can we turn a little more? Can I lift a little higher? Can I stay there? One hand comes back.

That might be enough if we're good for it. Other hand's coming back, hold and breathe. Lower your head and chest down, reach your arms up to the ceiling. And just one more time, we come up, grab onto that left leg, use it, curl a little higher, twist a little further. Maybe we take one hand behind our head.

If we're able, we take our other hand behind our head. Breathe. This time as we lower our leg down, we'll let our arms reach up to the ceiling. Slide one leg down on the mat, bring the other leg in towards your chest. We're gonna grab behind the back of that thigh.

And then as we're ready to lift our head and chest up, just what we did a second ago, keep pushing your leg into your hands and allow that to help you to roll up. If you have to get up a different way, go ahead and do that instead. So we'll be transitioning into some sitting exercises. So this might be where you want to prop yourself up on the pillows or on the blanket to make these exercises feel more successful in your body. So we're gonna begin with the seated spine twist.

So you can take your knees and do the open diamond shape. We're gonna attempt to go straight legs, but you can also bend your knees here and just have them in parallel. So this would be the most challenging position to sit in for this exercise. So feel free to move your legs in any other shape. That's gonna make you focus more on what's happening in the upper body, okay?

Not just the tension that we might be gathering in our legs. So if we have our legs straight out in front of us and we can get up on our sit bones. Sometimes even for the most flexible person, it's nice to have a little bit of a knee bend. Okay, just to help us stay upright, pull those hamstrings a bit. So we're gonna be going into the seated spine twist.

I'm gonna show a couple of different versions and you can choose which one you think is most successful for your body today. So the first one we're gonna attempt is hands behind our head. And then we get the opportunity of gently pushing the back of our head into our hands. And hopefully, it's another moment where we can stretch the neck extensor muscles back here a bit if that's a tight area in your body, So elbows where we can see 'em, and as we go to breathe out, we're just gonna think of twisting from the ribcage up. So if our pelvis in our legs try to stay still and there's that lazy Susan effect is going on from the ribcage up, and then we'll twist to the other side, breathe as we move.

And then inhale brings us back to the middle. So right away, we can usually tell which direction we like to twist towards and which direction I'd prefer not to, but I guess we will. Back to the middle we go, exhale to the other side, and inhale to the middle. So very similar to the first thing we did. When we're twisting, we're imagining spiraling upwards towards the ceiling.

So we're actually thinking of getting taller as we turn. And we're also attempting not to lean back but just keep our upper body right over our pelvis. If we're wanting to add a different movement with our arms, we're gonna open them out to a T. Palms up, forward down, again. Make sure it feels right for your shoulders.

Your arms are an extension of your body now. So as we turn, we wanna keep our arms fixed, right? We want our body to feel like it's what's turning our arms, essentially. And then come back to the middle again. Okay, so body's directing where our arms go.

And especially to that tighter side, you might feel like, "Oh, but if I move my arm a little further, then I'm getting further." Not necessarily, right? We're trying to focus on the rotation, staying in the torso, 'cause our arms, our shoulders have so much more movement than our back usually does. We'll go one more to each side. And if you'd like the version more when your hands were behind your head, go back to that again. One more time, we twisted the second side, lifting up more as we go, figure out where the middle is there.

And we'll just let our arms rest and come into a nice relaxed, lazy position again. From here we're gonna be separating the shape and the width of our legs and feet to more mat width apart. If you were with the legs closer together, if you're choosing to stay in a cross leg position or in the butterfly position, the diamond shape, right? You can choose to stay there as well for the next exercise. So we're getting into the saw.

So if your arms were out to the sides before, this is where we're gonna begin again. If you had done this version the whole time, we're gonna maybe attempt opening the arms out for this next part. Flexing the feet's an option if you want more stretch going on in the backs of your legs as we move. So we're gonna say rights and lefts, just so we can all be on the same page. So we're gonna rotate our body to the right.

Okay? As we bend forward, we're gonna reach the left hand towards the outside of the right foot. Doesn't mean it's actually there, that's just the direction it's going, okay? The right hand is gonna turn so our thumb is pointing down to the floor, and we're constantly sensing the abdominals lifting away from our right thigh. As we sit up, we're gonna keep reaching our arms long, and then as we come back to the middle, we'll open our arms out to the T.

So in this version, our arms and shoulders are definitely moving. So we'll rotate towards our left. That could be an inhale. We'll exhale to dive forward over the left leg. And we're reaching our right hand towards the outside of our left foot.

Again, doesn't mean they're actually touching. You might not even be close, but that's the direction it's going. Left thumb is pointing down to the floor, both arms are reaching further apart from each other. Take that reaching energy as you lift up. And then open our arms out to the T and face straight ahead.

We'll go one more to each side. So we do a twist to the right, we round over the right leg. Okay, trying to stay pretty even as far as the weight goes under our pelvis. But of course, the left glute's gonna be a little bit lighter. And then as we go to sit up again, trying to lift up tall, keep reaching through our arms, open 'em out to the T, find the middle.

One more time, rotating to the left, my not so favorite side, personally. We round over our left leg, right arms reaching more towards your left foot. Left arm continues to reach further behind us. Pick yourself up, open the arms out to the T again. And right away, just let it relax and collapse.

Take your hands on your legs. If that feels good, we're gonna shake 'em out a couple of times. Okay, the undertone of all of these exercises usually is some pretty deep hip flexor strength that's required and some endurance that's required out those muscles. Okay, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they do tend to get tired. So let's give 'em a minute to relax.

All right, we're gonna get into a movement called the reverse saw. So we did forward flexion with rotation. We're gonna be going into extension with rotation instead. So instead of going towards our legs, we'll go away from our legs. So we'll open our arms out to the T, we'll turn to our right again.

So very similar to what we did in the beginning. We're gonna reach back and put our fingertips on the mat. It might be your whole hand. And then as we push into them, we wanna think of pushing our pelvis a little more forward over our sit bones. As we're doing that, we'll take our left arm and start bringing it up.

It might go high, it might barely lift it all. The undertone here is to think of lifting up through the chest the most. There's our rotation, there's our extension. And then as we come out of this position, we'll bring the top arm down, we'll take our back hand off the mat, and then we'll just come back to the middle. So it's all the same here.

So we'll twist to our left, just like the first side, we're gonna take our left hand behind us, okay? We're all different with our shoulders. So your hand might be way out to the side on your mat, and that's okay. Push into your hand, you're using your arm for a purpose. Feel like your pelvis is rolling forward.

And then we'll take our right arm and see if it can lift. And even if it can't, maybe you put your hand on top of your head. Doesn't necessarily make a difference where our arms are. We wanna lift up through the chest the most. And then as you bring our right arm down, take our left fingers off the mat, reach both arms out to that T, and then come back to the middle.

We'll do one more to each side like this. So we turn to the right, then we again, we put our right hand down wherever. Let it rest somewhere, but use it, right, push into it. And then again, we pick our chest up with our left arm, finding our extensor muscles. Not an easy movement unless you're reaching behind you in the car or something.

I don't know when we do this throughout the day very much. And that's not good. Should probably do that more. Take your back arm up, find your way back to the middle, and just one more time. Everything's in front of us, you know, in regular life.

So it's great to feel, "Oh yeah, we can go backwards too. There's something that can happen behind me." Taking the right arm up if it's willing, lifting up through the chest, bring your right arm down, pick up your left arm behind you, find the T, and then we're gonna relax it right there. So hopefully the next exercise is gonna be a great way to open up the front of our hips that just had to work pretty hard to keep us in these seated positions. So you might find that sitting on your pillows, we're getting into the mermaid exercise next with some flexion and some rotation through our back. Sitting on the pillows underneath the glute of the leg that's actually rotated in front of you, might be more comfortable.

If you don't need that, we'll go ahead and have our right leg in front of us, external. We'll have our left leg behind us in that internal position. There's also enough moment here where you can sit in a cross leg shape, okay? And you can still maintain that diamond position as well. So we'll stretch our arms out.

We're gonna go towards our right and we'll place our hand on the floor. We're gonna stay on this diagonal here. And as we take our left arm around, we're gonna follow it with our entire upper back. So at some point, your left hand's gonna land. It might be pretty close to your right hand.

It might have to be actually on your right knee. Don't feel like you have to go too far. You might just wanna reach it out in general. So we're rotating, and we're getting some good rotation, hopefully, in the mid part of the back. And that's where things can be very tight around the back of our ribs.

So as we breathe in here, specifically the inhale, try to expand the backside of your rib cage. Okay, as we breathe out, we'll keep our right hand on the mat, we'll open our left arm, find that long diagonal position. Your hand can stay like this, you might wanna flip it forward, but we're gonna take our left arm and start pulling it behind us and go into a little bit of extension with rotation like we just did with the extension saw. Okay? And then we'll come back to a middle ground.

So both of these directions, pick and choose how far you want to go into them. We'll come around again. And if the left hand can land somewhere on the mat, great. If it wants to rest itself somewhere else, go ahead and do that. And then one more time, we're breathing into our back ribs the most.

Really hard to breathe when we're in a twist. So trying our best to still get some full breath in there. And then we'll open our left arm, find just the diagonal. You can always take your hand behind your head here if you need some neck support. And then as we pull our left arm behind us, we wanna follow it again by rotating through our chest, rotating through the upper back.

And again, again, just check it out. Like your arm might go forever, but your body might have stopped moving. So we'll stop moving through our arm when we know that our spine has stopped right there. Figure out where the side position is or where you started from. And we'll bring ourselves up.

And all we're gonna do is switch which leg is in the front and which leg is in the back. Okay, so again, if you're using the pillows, go ahead and prop one or both up underneath your left glute this time. Or if you have your legs in any other position, just stay right there. Okay, we're gonna stretch our arms out to the T and let's go ahead and take ourselves over to the left. So we side bend, press into your arm, from the diagonal we're gonna bring ourselves around.

And then let's see where the right hand wants to land. And it can be very different. We've talked about this the whole class, we don't rotate quite as well, usually to one side. Okay? So this might be the tighter side.

This might be the looser side now. But either way, try to take some deep breaths into the back of your ribs. And then as we're ready to release our right hand from whatever it was doing, touching the mat or being on your leg, we'll find the diagonal, flip the palm forward if that feels more comfortable, sometimes just actually rotating the shoulder, makes it move better. That's all that is. And then we're gonna pull our arm back, rotate back with it.

Okay, but picture your chest, right, your ribs, those are moving the most. Hang the arm, just going along for the ride. And then back on the diagonal we go. And then one more time we'll reach around with our right arm. Maybe it feels better to just keep reaching your right arm out in space and not actually put it down anywhere.

Play around with it. We're all gonna be different. Press into both hands. Breathe into the back of our ribs. And then one more time, as we open our right arm, we'll find the diagonal, rotate the palm forward, if that helps open the shoulder better.

And then we're lifting up through our chest, taking it back, find that extension in our rotation, and then back to the side we go, we're gonna help ourselves up. And then just find a comfortable way to sit. You could definitely stand for these next few stretches. You could also kneel, might be a bit more comfortable. So we're gonna open up into the backside area of our necks.

So this tends to be a pretty tight spot for most all of us, right? Especially if you do a lot of computer work. So it's a classic physical therapy exercise, and it's just called the smell the armpit stretch. Literally, that's what it's called on the PT exercises. That's what we'll be calling it today.

So we're gonna take our left hand and you're gonna find the crown of your head. It's that very back part of the skull towards the top. Okay, once we have it there, you can hopefully see your left elbow in front of you. Okay, we're not looking for it to be way out here. Hopefully the shoulder's nice and dropped and the elbow's pointing more straight ahead.

So the first thing we wanna do is turn our head. So my eyes are now looking at my elbow, so that's gonna put us in a good rotation. Then we'll gently pull down. So here's where your arm's actually gonna do something. We're gonna gently pull down.

So our chin is coming towards the left side of our chest. Now you can do as much or as little, it feels safe. You can also do the resistance thing where we kind of push the back of our head up into our hand at the same time that we're pressing down on the back of our head with our hand. So more often than not, just having your head in this position is the stretch. Don't feel like you have to add anything extra to it.

And then we have a good grip, hopefully on our head with our fingertips. You know, grab onto it there and then let your head lift up. So use your arm to help you do that. And then we're just gonna turn our head back to the middle. We'll do that one more time to this side.

So we're gonna turn our head just on its axis. We're looking at our elbow here on the left, and then we'll bring our left chin down towards our chest. Okay, the option this time would be to put your right arm next to your side, or drop your arm a little bit heavier and use the weight of your right arm to maybe give you an even bigger stretch the second time around. If you don't need any of that, just keep doing what you did the first time. And then again, we'll use our arm, our hand, to help lift our head up.

And then we'll come back to the middle ground and let go of it right there. Let's try the same thing the other way. So we've got our right hand. Find the crown of your head on this side. Turn your head, we're looking at our right elbow first, okay?

Then from there, chin, everything, eyes, go down towards the right side of our chest. And just feel the feelings, okay? Could be tighter, could be looser. Yeah, these are generally tight areas of our neck. And then if it feels good, you could put a little bit of pressure.

Push the back of your head kind of up into your hand as your hand's pulling down on it. And then use your hand to help lift your head up. You're still in the rotation. And then we'll kind of unwind just to reset ourselves. We'll try that one more time.

So we twist. This always feels strange, like some external forces moving my head like, "Oh, it's just myself. Don't be scared." All right, bring our chin down and do what you gotta do. And then on this last one, if we wanna add a little bit more for this stretch, if it feels like it needs extra, let your left arm just drop down or feel like your left arm's heavier. And then we'll slowly bring our head up. And we'll unwind, let go.

And maybe just for a few moments, let your head move around in the breeze, just light and easy. And then figure out where the middle is or what feels like the middle to us. And thank you so much for joining me today.


Anna S
1 person likes this.
I love this series!  Very gentle and needed for recovery to an injury or just maturing bodies.  Thank you
Jessica G
Give me a twist any day of the week! Thank you for this Erin!
Thank you so much, Erin! 
I like the Smell the Armpit Stretch! Or is it Smelly Armpit Stretch? 😄
Loved the class, you are so giving so much useful extra cues and also enough time to respond and follow.
X Erica
it was a very nice class thank you
Meira H
Lovely class, thank you Erin :)
Julie Lloyd
Great class, thank you again! I really loved the one-sided bridge move. I feel more balanced in my spine after this class, much appreciated!
What a pleasure! Though I’ve been practicing Pilates for years, as I age I seek a gentler approach. This was just what I wanted today.
What a pleasure! Though I’ve been practicing Pilates for years, as I age I seek a gentler approach. This was just what I wanted today.
Anna S thank you so much for your feedback and for taking the class! 😊
Jessica G me too! Ha! Love a little twist! Thank you so much for taking the class!
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