Class #5288

Mat Magic

30 min - Class


Find the magic in your practice with this creative Mat workout by Misty Lynne Cauthen. She takes you back to the basics so that you can build on the fundamentals and rejuvenate your body. She teaches innovative variations using Hand Towels and Sliders, showing how you can use them interchangeably depending on what you have and your environment.
What You'll Need: Mat, Sliders (2), Towel (2)

About This Video


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Hi, I'm Misty Lynne Cauthen. Welcome to Mat Magic. This is a beginner level mat class that takes us back to the basics and rejuvenates our workout. Our props are the sliding discs and two hand towels which can be used interchangeably. And you can keep a pillow nearby for the seated series just in case.

We're gonna start on the floor today. So join me on the mat. I'm coming down onto my stomach, and I'm gonna take my props and just place them off to the side because I may decide to swap props in between. A lot of it's gonna come down to what moves comfortably on your floor, what feels better in your body. I'm gonna start with the disks.

So you wanna start with your head up close to the forward edge of your mat, and bring your arms into this cactus position. So not wide in the hands and not too narrow, but think of your wrists and your elbows being in a straight line. My legs are extended long behind me, and I'm thinking of rotating my armpits forward. That's gonna allow my chest to lift just a little bit and I'm fine with it. So from here, I'm gonna start with arm extensions trying to keep my elbow on the mat for as long as possible.

And when I bring my arm back in, I'm thinking about getting my elbow down as soon as possible. And as I do this alternating sides, what I'm really, really thinking about is rotating my armpit to face the floor. So if you were to make a sweat mark on the floor with your armpit, you would need to think of rotating your armpit forward and stretching your arm. Let's do one more on each side here. And here's the other.

Now sticking with one arm, we'll slide it forward and hold. Now, keeping that rotation of your armpit, you'll open your arm out to the side, and bring it back up. And then from the armpit, pull the elbow back in. Second side, you'll reach up, you'll open, you'll bring your arm forward, and you'll pull back in. As you are doing this again, don't get cheap on the breath.

Use your breath to help keep you buoyant here in the chest. And we'll pull both elbows in, reestablish that connection in your cactus, and lower back down to release. If you need to release your hips here, give it a wiggle. But the goal is not to feel it in the low back. So from here, I'm back into my position and we're going to wax the floor, to quote Mr. Miyagi.

So you're gonna come forward here. Elbow stay on as long as possible, no tension in the back, both arms are gonna open out to the side, both arms reach back up, and then getting the elbows down as soon as possible to return to the cactus. Let's do three more like this. I'm reaching, I'm opening, I'm reaching, and I'm drawing back in. So it's not just a bend, it's a resist.

And open. And reach. And find the floor and draw it back in. Last one. Reach, and open.

And reach, and pull in, finding the floor, and let's release this again. For our next action, we're gonna bring the elbows in. You may need to slide forward a little bit. So now you're in a sphinx position. Your armpits are rotated forward and your chest is up.

If this is uncomfortable for you, you can bring your elbows a little bit more forward. But always think of the ribs being buoyant into the back as opposed to schlumping down like this. So from here, I'd like for you to think of rotating from deep in the shoulder joint. So I'm going to rotate. Think about rotating that armpit forward toward the wall in front of you.

Then bring it back in. Second side. I'm rotating. I'm letting my shoulder blade go where it goes. I'm not thinking about pushing it down.

Instead, I'm thinking of turning my upper arm bone. And that's going to have an effect on the shoulder blade. One more each side. Keeping the neck long here. So you know how your mom told you to keep a book on your head and walk around and that's gonna help you with your posture?

Do that here. Now, both arms are going to rotate. How broad can you keep your chest? Now you may notice as you rotate here, your breast bone may want to extend up a little bit higher. And that's good too 'cause the idea here is we're creating a lot of length by rotating the upper arm, we're decompressing the middle back.

Let's do two more because it feels good, and maybe a little bit torturous, depending upon what your thing is, and let's do one more. Rotate, wide chest. Bring it back to the center, return to your cactus, and release. You can take a break here by sliding into a child's pose, and then we'll come up. So for the next one, you have a choice, you can either stick with your discs or you can use a towel.

You'll make the decision based on what kind of flooring you have and how much friction you can tolerate. The friction's gonna make it a little bit tougher to slide your legs forward and back. So you'll be lying on your back. I'd like for you to be aware of where you put your arms. The arms are going to be straight but they don't have to be pinned into your side body because they really want your upper body to be free here.

So choose your poison, choose it wisely. Your heels are gonna be in the center of your disc or towel, and your neck is free. So we'll start with one leg, and we're just gonna let it slide away. And at the very bottom of that, think of flexing through the ankle as if someone is pulling you by the heel. Now, because you want your heel back, you're going to resist.

And that person's pulling you that way, but you are in control of your leg, you're drawing yourself in. And then you'll go to the other leg, sliding, lengthening from your sits bone all the way through, eventually, through the heel, and then dragging the heel back in to return to center. Again, starting with the first side, reaching away, reaching through the heel, stretching. Now, this time as you come in, I want you to think of getting the ball of the foot to the floor. So your focus here is define the floor with the whole ball of the foot.

And that changes the way the leg activates. So let's play with that on the second side, stretch, stretch, stretch. At the very end of that, I'm going to reach through my heel, hopefully, without displacing my pelvis. Now I wanna return, so I'm gonna push through the ball of the foot. As my leg is coming in, I'm trying to find the floor with the ball of my foot and my toes.

And if you get a foot cramp, hey, congrats, it's not a bad thing. Now one more on each leg. We're reaching away, we're stretching and we're flexing. Hold, and exhale, drawing the leg in as if it weighs a lot. And you're trying to dig a groove into the mat as you go.

Last side. Reach it away, and stretch through, and find the floor, the ball of the foot as you're drawing in, and hold. Knee sways side to side. And this is just a clearing type of action. I'm not really thinking about how they get there, I'm just letting my knees sway because it feels good.

And because I have more fun ahead. We'll do one more each side. Now note in my knee sways, I'm keeping my pelvis neutral. That's all I'm really asking you to focus on here. We're letting the five bones change in the hip joint.

For the next, you're gonna turn your legs out into this frog position. I like a flexed ankle, but you don't have to flex if that's uncomfortable for you. Now from the back of the legs, same idea. You're reaching through your sits bones all the way through the back of the leg without displacing the pelvis. And then exhale, draw the legs back in as if they weigh 237 pounds each and you're trying to make a groove into the floor.

Let's do three more like this. From my seat, I'm pressing away, I'm lengthening, I'm dragging my legs away from my hips, and then I'm exhaling and I'm pulling them back in. This time, I'm really allowing my knees to rotate but not so much that I lose my connections. Two more. Push and slide and reach and pull in, in, in.

And let's just do one more here. Push and slide and hold. Now, turn your legs parallel, and with resistance, exhale, draw your legs in, feel your under butt and your inner thighs working in peace and harmony, and I'm staying flexed in my ankles here. Opening, pressing, getting every inch, turning parallel, drawing back in. And I like to exhale there because I really feel my abs and that makes me happy.

I rotate, I press, I turn in, I drag. And let's do one more. Press, stretching through your inner ankle bones, turn in and drag. (Misty exhales) Relax the balls of your feet to the floor, and now let's just straighten one leg. Push it away.

We're going to open it away from the midline of the body. And as I'm opening, I'm not thinking of my foot opening my leg, I'm thinking of my outer hip pulling my leg out to the side. And every time I do that, I'm really, really being aware of what's happening in my pelvis. Am I able to keep my pelvis still? Or is it sloshing about?

I'm hoping I'm not sloshing. But every day is different. So if you're having a sloshy day, ah, own it. It'll get better next time. Second side.

Reaching the leg away, keeping the pelvis balanced. I like to turn out just a little, and then I'm gonna open my leg and I'm pulling it back in. Three more just like this. Inhale. Exhale, pull.

And two more. And as I'm pulling in, I'm not fighting it too hard, but I am remembering that I need my inner thigh to do the work, not my foot. I'm dragging the leg in and I'm holding still. So from here, just to clear our minds and our bodies for the next position, I'd like for us to take a neutral bridge up. So neutral bridge means my spine is not curling, it's not arching, it's staying flat like a Murphy bed.

So I'm going to lift my pelvis up. Notice my toes are on the floor. That's important and it's on purpose. So be like me, it's fun. Let's just do one more.

We'll go up here. Yep. And think about pressing on the gas pedal lightly with the balls of your feet. And then sitting back down. Good.

Now you can come up any way you like, but I'm gonna make this choice. I'm gonna bring my knees into my chest. Inhale here, rock my pelvis toward my nose. And then exhale, try to roll up and find your balance. No shoulders, just check in with your belly.

Is it coming to the party or have you left it behind? Now place your feet down. We're going to lay on our bellies. And I'd suggest that you use the towels rather than the discs for this. Super easy reason why, the friction of the towel is going to be less than the disc and it'll be more comfortable.

And you'll also be able to keep the discs, I mean the towels underneath your feet a little bit better In terms of your upper arm position. Upper body position. You're going to rotate your armpits forward. See how that lifts me? This way, I'm not cranking, I'm just hovering delicately.

Stacking my hands here and rotating my armpits forward. Now, if this is uncomfortable for you, feel free to put your forehead on the mat. From here, allow your thighs to be heavy, and just take a little bit of a wiggle side to side, and take a rock forward and back. Now notice that you use different strategies on both of those positions and that's okay. But when we come back to center, the goal is that your pelvis is evenly balanced, right to left and forward and back.

So you should feel nothing in your low back here. If you do, please take the forehead down position. From here, this is lower body awareness. What I'd like for you to think about is reaching through your big toe knuckle to straighten your leg here. Now to bring your leg back down, think of pulling the front of your thigh down to the floor.

It feels a little bit strange. Let's do four more on this side and lean into strange. So stretching the front and the back of the leg away from the seat without over-gripping in any place. And then gently bring the leg down. Again.

Reaching long, stretching. hold. Where's your energy? It's in the big toe but it's also through the heel. And pulling forward. See if as you pull forward, you can keep your pelvis balanced.

So you're not pulling forward, you are dragging the thigh toward the floor. Let's do one more like this. Stretch away, energy through the heel. Feel the front of the leg and the back of the leg working evenly, and then drawing the leg in. If you're propped up, take a short break.

Break is over. What joy? Here's the second side. Again, finding the width of the foot. So I'm making a footprint on the wall behind me as I slide my leg away.

And then I'm dragging my leg back in. Again. From the seat through the heel, and returning. Again, this is a very subtle action but it speaks. If your tendency is to roll your hips or to arch your low back, you're very aware of it here.

Try not to overwork your glutes. So your under butt is firing but your whole butt is not squeezing. And pull down. And let's lower down here. A little wiggle is always a good thing.

And then we're gonna come back up. So your hands are gonna come back. This is a modified cactus. So we're not all the way wide. I'm thinking of my inner elbow being at the closest at the inside edge of the mat.

So I'm lengthening here. And this is another place where a towel could be good under your forehead if you need it. Working to lengthen through my legs, I'm going to lift up, let my gaze track along the wall as high as it'll go. There's no weight in my hands 'cause it's magic. And then I'm going to lengthen back down.

Think of rotating your armpits forward as you lengthen up. Still magic. And then come back down. Can we do one more? Lengthen up.

Hold it here. Stay. Still magic. Both legs are going to open. Both legs are going to come in.

And think about as you're opening and closing, are you using equal effort between both sides or is one side dominating this action? Also, equal effort out, equal effort in. One more. Open. Resist as you draw it in.

Let's press. Now we're pressing into the hands. You're coming up. No collapsing into the shoulders. Rotate your armpits forward.

Hold it here. Even though I'm using my hands, I'm still light in my palms. 'Cause you know what mom said, "Put the book on your head for better posture." My breast bone leads me forward. And we'll do one more here. My gaze lengthens way to the forward wall.

I'm lifting up, up, up. But no compressing. What are you doing with your butt cheeks? Do not squeeze them too hard. To come down, think of drawing your triceps to the wall behind you and your breast bone forward.

I get my elbows to the floor, and then I lower rib by rib, bone by bone. And now I've earned a child's pose. So again, curl your toes under, press back, sit into your heels, stretch here. Well done. Now you have the option again, towels or disc.

I'm gonna switch to the disc because for this one, the resistance is actually a good thing. It keeps me from splattering on the floor, and it also requires me to work my armpit a little bit more. I'll show you what I mean. So I have my palm planted on this disc. My hip may lift, but my goal is to keep it seated like so.

My free arm is going up, but before that, I'm thinking about rotating this armpit forward. So if it's rotated back, I have a schlumpy shoulder which makes me feel sad. But when I rotate my armpit forward, I feel happy. So my arm is going up, I have a nice long spine, and from here, I'm just going to slide away. Think of it being a hinge, not a side bend.

As I go to come back in, I'm thinking about this armpit, maintaining its rotation forward. And in fact, if it helps, you can bring your hand behind you, pull that tissue forward, and maintain that rotation as you hinge out and in. Now if you're comfortable, bring the arm back up. But if not, you can stay right there. And pull up.

For the next two, we're going to add rotation. So first, you're gonna slide out with a nice long spine, hold. Then you're going to thread the needle. Your top arm is going to come under and reach toward the back edge of your mat, hold the rotation. And then come back up, let the arm reach ahead, reach up, and then pull up.

Let the arm come down just for flare. And then same thing, arm reaches out, you hinge, long spine, energy through the crown of the head. Stop when your body tells you to, thread the needle. Rotate, reach for the back edge of your mat. Palm up on the arm that's reaching.

As you come back around, check back in with that armpit. Arm comes up and come in, and we'll take a counter stretch here. So come over, reach for the shin, stretch your spine away from the shin, and you should get a nice stretch through the back of the shoulder on this side. Excellent. Now we have to go to the other edge of the mat because we have to do the second side because I don't wanna leave you lopsided.

That's my gift to you today. So again, your hip, your inside hip is going to roll down, as down as you can go. And by the way, if this position is uncomfortable for you, feel free to take the leg out to the side. It's not harming anyone. And in fact, it'll give you time to prep for bending the knee in.

Free arm goes up, and we'll reach. Hinging forward, armpit rotates forward, staying long, rib to hip here, and then coming back up, up, up, up. (Misty exhales) I love this. Three more. Reaching, reaching, reaching.

And on this side, it's a lot harder for me to not sink. So I'm really thinking of someone holding me at my ribcage, and they're pulling me out to the side. (Misty exhales) And then as I come back up, they're lifting me up. They're not letting my ribs sit on my pelvis. Two, thread the needles.

So we're hinging first, reach, reach, reach, and then we're reaching through. Rotate, find the back of your mat. If your hip rolls up a little bit, ah, it's okay. Unwind, and pull up with a tall spine. Taller, taller, tallest, energy up.

Last one, energy continues to reach up. Keep the rotation of this down, armpit rotate, twist, and reach for the back of your mat. Unwind, reach up, and you come up as well. Counter stretch time, arm comes across. And then round your spine away from this leg.

Let the shoulder pull and stretch in the back, breathe into this lung. It feels good. I love it. And then you'll return to your center. All right, we are in the home stretch but we're not done yet.

So I'd like for you to grab your disc or your towel. We're gonna go back to the other side of the mat here. And for this one, I'd like to give options. If you have any wrist or hand issues, you actually may wanna use both the towel and the disc. I'm gonna use just the towel, but the discs are good here too.

And the reason why I'm just using the towel is because I have wrist stuff. So I need the added support of the towel. I'll bring my heels of my hands forward and let my fingertips just track along the floor lightly. And we're on all fours. Now, your ribcage is not hanging out.

I want you to control this. So it's as if there's a painted fence under your ribs and you don't wanna ruin your shirt. Pick your ribs up and away, and we'll find this flat back position here. So we're gonna start the way we started the lesson. One arm is gonna slide forward, and then that same arm pulls back.

And then the other. And as I'm doing this, I'm trying to make sure that I am controlling this action by keeping it isolated to the arm and its supporting structures, not letting my ribcage take over here. As I'm sliding, I'm reaching from the back of my arm. As I'm bringing it back in, same idea. On the opposite side, reaching long, and trying not to wing my shoulder blade or shrug my shoulders as I come back in.

Now holding it here. If your hands are too narrow, go ahead and open them up a bit. Keeping the ribs collected, we're going to rotate the armpits forward and we'll just dip the torso. So my elbows are aiming toward the back edge of my mat. And as I come back up, I'm thinking about keeping my spine angle long.

If you had your favorite meal on your back, I don't know why it would be there. But what you're thinking about doing as you bend and extend here is trying not to disturb your meal. Two more. As you come back up, think of firing through the back of the arms to straighten up. And last one, keep the armpits rotating forward to come up and hold.

If you need a break for your hands, please take it now. Let's continue bending the elbows and holding. Nice long spine. One arm is gonna slide out to the side, the fingertips can rotate to turn out, and then pull back in. Four more on the same arm.

Pay close attention to what you are doing with your legs here. Have you fallen back? Have you fallen forward? Are you keeping your weight balanced between both knees? Two more. Slide.

And pull. One more. Armpits rotated forward, and pull, and come up. To stretch here, we're going to take one arm forward off of the towel and stretch back into a child's pose and admire the ring on your hand. And if you don't have a ring on your hand, just pretend.

It's fun. Second side. So rotating your armpits forward, making sure you're balanced between both knees. Bend your elbows, hold. The other arm slides out to the side and pulls back in.

Think of rotating your armpit so that the palm turns on the mat. Notice I said rotating your armpit and not rotating your palm. The rotation comes from the shoulder joint. And drag it in with resistance, use the floor. One more. Out.

And in. Rotate and press up. Second side, stretch. Sitting back, admiring your ring that you may or may not have. And then come back up.

That was fun. I love arm work, it feels good for me. But afterward, I have to give my wrists and hands a moment. So let's do that now. Take one hand to the other, stretch the arms forward and give just slight traction onto the wrist.

And while you're giving that traction there, put a little bit of pressure from this hand into the other. So I've got opposition here and I'm creating space in my wrist. And I'm holding and I'm breathing. Other side. Same idea.

I've got action up, action in, and I'm holding. 5 to 10 seconds is more than long enough. But we've gotta keep the shoulder down, and then bring it back in. Prayer position, let's switch the cross of our legs. And from here, you're going to take the hands up just for a moment, and press the fingertips into each other.

This is a hard action here. We're staying really active here and feel as if the fingertips are pressing into each other but the palms are doming. And release. One more time here. Lift up, press.

Strong, wide back. Breathing, check. It's all here doing all the good things. I know I said one more time but I really meant one more time this time. So we're up.

Find that energy. Dome the palms. Breathe. Don't pass out. And relax.

One more thing here. Make fists 'cause you're super strong. Bring the fists together. Keep that energy inward, both fists are active. Turn your elbows down.

And as you're turning your elbows down, you're feeling a stretch in the wrist. Now see how my big knuckles have come away from each other. Wrong answer. I'm really trying to keep those together. So that may limit the amount of wrist flexion I get.

But that's okay because I'm still feeling the stretch where I need it. And back up, and let's release it. Thank you so much for joining me today.


Will G
Really lovely class! Fab ideas that I will be teaching to my clients! Love the arm pit cue, too :)
Ruth B
1 person likes this.
Great lesson. Really isolates the muscles. It may look simple, but these moves really worked the upper body. Your explanations were perfect. Can't wait to try in on my clients. I can hear them moaning and see them sweating!!!
Great excercises! Good explanation, challenging and fun. Thank you!!!
Lina S
Great cueing. Another fun class!
Looooooooved this :)) As always. Lots of shoulder opening and back extension, don't we all need this ? Thanks Misty Lynne
Different kind of stretching than I have ever done before. Really enjoyed it. Thank you!
Marian Lunah
Great exercises for the wrists at the end :)

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