Class #5291

From The Top

40 min - Class


You will create space in your spine with this gentle seated workout by Misty Lynne Cauthen. She uses a Chair to teach a restorative class without judgment so that you can move your body in different planes of motion with ease. She encourages you to ask your body what it needs right now so you can feel rejuvenated by the end of the class.
What You'll Need: Mat, Table Chair, Towel

About This Video


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Hi, I'm Misty Lynne Cauthen. Welcome to "From the Top." This is a restorative class without judgment where we're asking our bodies what they need from us right now. Our props are a chair and a towel or a pillow as needed. So to get started, we're gonna grab our chair. For safety, if you're not working on a carpet, I'd highly recommend that you place the chair on your mat, at least two of the legs on the mat so that there's no slippage.

Then take your place toward the forward edge of your chair and your legs can be anywhere from all the way together to hip width, just depending upon what feels comfortable for you right now. So from here, I'd like for you to just put your arms behind your head. You may interlace and let your thumbs track down the sides of your neck just like this. And you'll note that my elbows are pointed to the corners of the room. That's just to allow my shoulders to be free and not bunchy.

Now from here, as I inhale, I'm going to imagine that I can straighten out my whole spine, so I'm lengthening the back of my neck, letting my shoulders broaden and tractioning myself up and then I'll relax. Let's do that three more times because it feels good and it also allows us to create some space or at least the sensation of space in our necks and through our middle backs. Tractioning and lifting up, slight squeeze on the head and back down. Two more. Big breath in and exhale.

And hey, it's okay to let your eyes close if that's where you are right now. Stretching, stretching, stretching and then relax down. We'll keep the hands here. Take a breath and then start from your head. Nod your head forward using your arms.

Allow that to take the neck. Allow that to take the breastbone forward. You're curling up and over your own waist and once you get to the bottom, which is going to be before you lean forward off of your sits bones, you take a breath and then you start to roll up, starting from the bottom. Notice how I'm taking the time to let my head arrive at the very end. Let's do that again.

Adding some traction first, I lengthen up, I nod and I curl. And as I'm curling, I'm thinking of a wave coming up and over a breaker. So I'm making a nice arc shape. And then when I come back up, I'm thinking of unfurling, stacking each bone one-on-one and I'm not done until my head's in the center. Let's do one more.

Lifting, stretching, reaching, creating space, feels so good. And then again nodding. And then again curling and stretching up and over. Hold. Feel your ribcage as you inhale here and then exhale from the bottom.

We come back up, up, and you're not done until you're back at the top. Now we'll keep one hand behind our head and the other hand is gonna go straight up. And feel free to let the shoulder lift as we go into this side bending exercise. We'll inhale, reach, and now think of spilling out from the ear first. My ear tips and the tip of my ear allows my shoulders to tip.

And as I'm going up and over, I'm trying to be aware of what's happening at my seat, keeping my seat heavy and then I'm coming back up, thinking of giving a little bit of pressure into my head with this arm. Again, reach and side bend. Breathing into this side's ribcage and then reaching out to come up. Let's do one more. Up and over.

Stretching, stretching, stretching. Weight into this foot and then come back up leading from the bottom side. Now the hands will come behind us here. If you can't place your hands behind you on the chair, feel free to put them down on the seat next to you, whatever feels better for your shoulders. But the idea is that the collarbones are gonna be nice and wide here.

So for a little bit of extension here, you're just going to lift the breast bone, inhale, let the gaze go up and then to come back down, let the ribs slide over the pelvis. The head's the last thing to arrive. Let's do it again. So I'm lifting, my gaze leads me, I'm going up and over, not leaning back, and then I'm coming back down, ribs, collarbones, eyeballs. One more.

Lifting up, big breath in, let's hold this for an extra breath. Inhale and we're returning exhaling back to center. Second side side bending, arm comes up. Remember you start with that reach and then we side bend. Think of pouring into your hand that's behind your head.

And then coming up from the bottom side. Let's do it again. Reach up and side bend over. Really allow this side to open up. And then again, reaching up to come back to the center.

You have one more of these. Up, side bend, side bend, side bend and hold. Exhale, returning back to the center. Now the hands will come behind the head again. This time as we do our roll forward, I'd like for you to let your elbows close.

No pulling on the head and neck though, so let's try it. Big breath in, nod, curling up and over. Your belly is deep, your arms are along for the ride. So let them just be dead weight. Keep your weight balanced over your sits bones and then rolling back up.

Think of laying each vertebra on the wall behind you and that's how you find your nice tall back. Inhale, let the elbows open. Exhale, they start to come forward as the head nods, we're curling over, round spine and coming back up. One more. Nodding up and over.

On this one, we're gonna stay for a second. Again, your arms are dead weight, your weight is balanced over your sits bones and you could be getting a stretch from the back of your head down to your middle back, maybe as low as between your shoulder blades. Come all the way back up and bring the arms down. Moving on, feet are going to stay here or perhaps go a little bit wider, depending upon what feels better in your own body. I'll stay here.

So this time, I want you to hinge. As you are hinging, think of your spine being nice and tall. again, like your Murphy bed hinging forward and coming up. Here we go. Just stretching, thinking of your sits bones reaching down and through the back edge of your chair as your crown of your head goes up and through the seam of the ceiling and the floor.

Coming back up with a flat back. And then again, hinging forward. How long can your spine be? Let's try to go a little farther this time if your body will allow, but keeping that long spine angle and returning back up. One more.

Hinging forward, staying here and slide the hands forward to your thighs. Now we're going to undulate. So channel your inner dolphin. You'll round your spine, press lightly into your hands and let your elbows come in and then flatten your spine back out. Three more, exhale, scooping round.

You can even let your tailbone curl under just a little bit and then flatten out. Two more, exhale, scoop, and inhale, lengthen. Just one last. Exhale, scooping it round and inhale, lengthening down and away. Come up with a flat back.

Now I'd like for you to bring your hands together and we're gonna bring both hands to the outside of this leg. So you can walk your feet in closer if that's more comfortable. And note that your chest is already angled more toward the corner of the room. That's okay. This time, we're gonna go over with a flat back, stretching over.

And as you're going over, try to keep your shoulders in the same degree of rotation and come back up. Same side twice more. Stretching over, my back is staying flat. I'm letting my gaze go over my shoulder because that's where my gaze goes. But if your gaze doesn't, think of keeping it in line with your breast bone.

So this amount of rotation is just fine as well, but if you have more, go for it. And up, second side. Take a moment to set yourself, turn your chest, spine angle stays long, here we go. Hinging forward with a flat back and I'm allowing my arm to track along the leg because that keeps me honest about my spine. No side bending for me 'cause as GI Joe says, cheaters never win.

Rotating, hinging, looking over the shoulder and then coming back up. We have one more hinge. And I don't mind if your shoulders are a little bit rounded forward as long as you think of opening them as you come up to get that oppositional stretch. Yummy. Next, we're going to bring the hands down behind us, but not too far.

Think of finding the center of your hips and then placing your hands down just a pinch behind them. You can lean back slightly here and think of rotating your elbow pits forward. This is a hip stretch, so your legs weigh 227 pounds in this exercise. Let them be heavy and planted and now as you press up, let your hips lift and float up, stretching the front of the hip and then come back down. So we're releasing all of the hip tightness that we may have gotten from creasing at our hips in the last few exercises.

Lifting, lengthening, stretching. Chest is broad, you come back down and one more. Lift and lengthen up, opening the chest, weight is even on both legs hopefully and then returning down. Next, we're gonna change our chair position. So remember again, you want your chair to be somewhere safe so that as we go through this series, it doesn't skidder away from you.

That would be very uncomfortable. Also, you may wanna have a towel nearby for when we put our feet up on the edge of the chair. We're just gonna do some partial rollbacks here, but what I'd like for you to do is press your outer legs into the chair. Do not break the chair. I want you to think of making this a subtle press, not too aggressive.

And notice as you press out, you feel your inner thighs engage just lightly. So we're gonna bring our fingertips together and put our thumbs in the middle of our chests. Sitting up tall, take a big breath in. Keep that light pressure on the chair and start to exhale back. And then inhale, roll up.

And try to find a rhythm with this. I've mentioned waves a number of times. Try to imagine that you are a wave and you're bobbing in and out and in and out, away from the shoreline and toward the shoreline. And let's add on here. Scoop and rotate your breastbone, rounding your spine.

Look over your shoulder, if you'd like. And then come back up and center. Scoop and rotate, look and then come back up. And again. So the pressure of our legs sometimes gives us a little bit more space to roll here.

If it's not comfortable for you, you can always do it without the chair. And come up from the abdominals, roll up to sit tall. Take a big breath, hollowing all the way down. If you need your arms, don't be a hero, reach forward and take the stretch. From here, you might need to move your chair a little bit farther away, so give it a little bit of a press.

Gently, of course. And your legs are gonna return to that wide position. My chair leg is pressing into my outer calf and that's again helping me stay turned on here, helping me find my balance in my pelvis. Hands come behind the head again, you can interlace or stack your palms, whatever's easier for you. So for your abdominal curls here, rotate your armpits forward and allow your elbows to point I'd say to about 10 o'clock and two o'clock on the clock.

Big breath. And then we're going to curl up to your shoulder points, hold it here, look at your pelvis and then roll back down. This time, we'll try to go a hair higher. And as you're coming up, how wide can you breathe into your back? Think of your back opening even as you're exhaling.

Rolling back down. One more like this, traction the head off of the neck to curl, to lift, to be buoyant here, nice and light. And rolling back down. Hands will go up. We're climbing a rope, friends, and I want you to think of not going straight up, but going up and away.

So big breath and then we'll curl across the body and reach one and we'll reach two and we'll reach three and then we'll gently float back down. Gently float back down. Second side, reach across one, reach across two, reach across three and roll back down. If this is starting to get hard, use your legs. They're going to help to stabilize you through your hips.

Again, reaching across, one, and two and three, roll back down and here's your last. Let your gaze go with you as you climb your rope and roll back down. Good, well done. We'll bring the arms up and overhead. Arch your back here to release your ribcage.

Feels good, but there's more. Now we're going to bridge. Remember, if you need a towel for under your feet because the edge of your chair is sharp, please don't hesitate to do so. In this position, you can have your feet hip width or slightly wider, but narrower might be uncomfortable for your knees. Your arms are gonna come down someplace comfortable, not all the way into your body, someplace where you feel like you've got space to accommodate your collarbones.

Arms are pressing lightly into the mat. Here we go, we're going to curl up with articulation, trying to get the toes down to the chair and rolling down. How much longer can your spine be? As you roll down, try to gain some inches out of it. Why not?

Two more like this. Hollowing to roll up. If your hamstrings are cramping, try to plant your big toes as you lift and as you roll down, try to keep them down as long as you can. And then eventually, they might lift. Last one, we'll roll up and stay up here.

Scooping, peeling, lifting and opening the fronts of the hips here. Hip twist, rotate and I want you to feel like you're ringing out your spine here, not just twisting your knees side to side. One more each way. Come back to the center and rolling down. Now since that was a blaster for the hamstrings, we're gonna take a hamstring stretch here.

If you have a towel nearby, you can grab it. I'm not gonna grab my towel because it's far away and I'd hate to miss one second of this. So I'm taking my leg up, my other leg can be bent and I'm holding on rotating my chest open. So from here, trying to keep my knee as straight as I can, I'm going to start by pulling my toes wide and back. Then I'm going to pull them back toward my nose, stretching through my heel.

From here, I'm going to point through my ankle, widening my toes. And then, as I point through the balls of my feet, I'm not curling my toes like that. Instead, I'm thinking of stretching each toe one by one toward the ceiling. And again, spreading and winding and flexing through the ankle and pointing through the ankle and stretching through the toes. Last one, spread, stretch, push away and point.

Bend the knee in and relax the leg down. Second side, allow this leg to be free. It's got nothing to do but relax here. Grabbing hold behind, widening the clavicle and taking the leg up. Same idea from the toes.

Spread them, flex, point through the ankle first, then take the toes away. Two more. And this can also inspire foot cramps. It just means you need to do it often. I'm not gonna let you off the hook.

Stretch one more. Spread and flex and point and stretch through all five toes. Bend the knee in, place one hand on the thigh, other hand comes in to meet it. So I have my legs pressing into my hands and I have my hands pressing into my legs. Take a big breath in, exhale, hollow your abdominals, let your pelvis tilt.

Press into the hands and into the legs. Relax. Now grab behind, same idea, wide elbows here. Press into the hands and press the hands into the legs, press and hold. Let your pelvis curl under just lightly and relax.

Now we'll do that same one and we're gonna rock up to sit up. So as many rocks as it takes, take them. Breathe through it, have fun with this. Ready, here we go. Big breath in, press as you exhale and rock and rock and rock up and hold.

From here, we're going to go into a Z sit position. Now I know this can be tricky, so if you have any knee or hip stuff, this may not be for you. Instead, take the leg through the chair legs and sit up nice and tall. You can even use your pillow or towel if you need it to raise your hips because that will give you more space for your leg in this position. That said, if you don't need it, don't use it, but try to feel this hip descending.

Your hand will come to the front chair leg. Your other hand can either be down here or reaching up. So we will side bend over. Feel that nice bending of the spine. Now we're going to bring the hand down and around.

Think of bringing this ribcage to the inside leg. Hold. Then you'll rotate starting from the ribcage. Let the arm come up and then you come up with it. Bring the arm down, let's try it again.

We reach up, we side bend over. Think of bowing your spine, rotate, twisting from your waist, find the chair leg, stretch. Can you bring this rib cage even more toward the inside leg? Unwind and come up. One more like this.

Reaching up, side bending over, keeping your collarbones wide first. When you've gone as far over as you can go, then take the rotation, grab the chair. Now this time, give it a bit of a stretch in opposition. So I'm pulling my hands away from the chair leg and I'm widening my back and I get a nice stretch across my middle back here. And then I reach over, I come up and plant this hand, the other hand reaches up.

So now we'll do a pelvic press here with rotation. My hips are going to go up and I'm going to look over my hand and then I come back down. This time, I'm gonna try to rotate a little bit more. I'm pressing up, I'm pressing my outside hip forward, I'm looking back toward my heel this time and I come back down. One more.

Up, stretch, pressing the hips forward and I release it back down. Now we lay on our stomachs. So you're laying on your bellies and your outer legs are gently, gently pressing into the chair legs here. And allow that gentle pressure to help you feel the engagement of the outer leg rather than overworking the glutes here. From this physician, you can either be stacked up and floating in the chest as I am or you can have your head all the way down.

But no matter what, we are really, really working to make sure there's no stress in the low back. So from here, we're going to do hip extension, sliding one leg up the chair leg and bringing it back down. Be aware of how square you are right here. As the leg goes up, try not to change the amount of weight you have on the sides of your pelvis. Don't forget about your breastbone.

It's buoyant, it is light. It is not like a lead suit. So keep it floating. Keep reaching long through your legs, last one here. Up and down.

And we're going to come back down. In the forehead, everyone's gonna come down this way and then we're gonna lift the hands to the head, hold, keeping the legs pressing apart, bring the hands down, bring the head down. And again. Hands come up, head comes up, hands come down, head comes down. Rotate the armpits forward, same thing.

Hands come up, chest comes up, hands come down, chest goes down. Last one, hands, head and chest, hands, head and chest. Well done. Remember as you are here, you don't wanna be gripping in your glutes 'cause the harder you work in your glutes, the more you're gonna feel it in your low back. From here, we're gonna sit back into a child's pose, but it's gonna be active.

So the arms are reaching straight away and your forehead is where it goes. Toward the floor, use a pillow if necessary. Now channel your inner black swan, we're going to rotate from the shoulder through the elbows, through the wrists to turn your pinky fingers toward the ceiling and allow that to inform what's happening between your shoulder blades and up toward your neck. Now we'll roll the other way, starting from the shoulder, roll, turn your palms up. Same idea.

Rolling and I learned this from a good friend of mine, Nikki Taylor Stewart. I love this exercise, one, because it feels very dramatic, but two, because it really stretches my shoulders in a way that I can't get in any other body position. So especially when I'm feeling tight and stressed in my lower neck and in my upper shoulders, this is really my go-to. As long as I'm not having any sort of issues with pinching in my neck or whatever, then I would avoid this one. Can we do one more?

Can we savor its goodness? Yes, so rotate into your black swan arms here and then rotate the arms to palms up. Really think about those armpits reaching around. Curl your tailbone under, you're rolling up vertebra by vertebra. Your arms weigh 2,917 pounds, so let them be heavy.

Don't worry about where they're going, just be happy when you arrive at the top. And now, we'll Z sit facing the other way. Again, remember what I said about this leg. If this is uncomfortable for your hip or your knee, take the leg beneath the chair. In the meantime, you grab a hold.

You think of this sits bone sitting down. You'll notice mine doesn't sit down. It thinks it's fancy, but that's okay. The arm's going to come up and I'm going to side bend over, finding that macaroni shape in my spine and then I'm going to rotate and grab the chair leg, bringing my outside rib across to my inside leg. Then I'm going to reestablish the macaroni position and come up.

Two more like this. Reach up, side bend over. Oi-oi-oi, this is a lot of work. Rotate, find your chair leg, twist, and then unwind and come up. You have one more here.

Reach up, side bend over, big stretch. Now rotate and we're going to stay here for a second. Grabbing hold of the chair leg, pulling the arms apart, seeing if you can get just any closer to your thigh. Then unwind. Find your C curve, come back up, the hand comes down.

And there's more, arm comes up, so now we'll go into our pelvic press. Press the hips up and rotate. Pressing the hips forward, try to get them squared to the wall in front of you and then come back down. Same idea, you are coming up. This time, add more rotation if it's comfortable for you, turning your ribcage toward the floor.

And unwind, sit down with grace and dignity. Last one. Up, pressing the pelvis forward, twisting, keeping the elbow pit aiming away and not forward. And then, unwind to settle back down. From here, let's just break dance the legs around so that our backs are to the chair.

How close you are to the chair is purely decided upon by your shoulders. So if this is uncomfortable, you can either bend your elbows and slide back or you can walk out depending upon what your joints require. I'd like for you to take the arms up as high as you can here and think of sitting up as tall as you can. So from here, flex the ankles, pressing through the heels and then lift the chest up. Like we did at the beginning of the session, I'm thinking of widening my chest here and then I'm coming back down.

Now remember, you are not a Pez dispenser, so we don't wanna let the head flop back. Instead, we want to let the breast bone inform the neck, which of course is gonna inform where the head goes. And then back down. One more here. Lift up.

This always makes me think of Titanic, the mast head on the front of the boat and coming back down. Now from here, round forward. I like to take my hands up a little bit higher and rotate my palms down and scoop my belly away from my heels as I'm pressing my heels forward. Hold it for a couple of breaths here. Slowly rolling up and one more.

Scoop, rolling away, stretching through the heels, active energetic length through the backs of the legs and rolling up. From here, we're gonna wind down. So you'll stand and you'll face your chair. Easy arms, easy movement. We're not pushing it.

Remember, we're restoring here, it feels good. So legs, wherever they go, just make sure the weight is even on both of them. And from here, arms are heavy, you're going to just hinge forward with a flat back. Hold it here. Bend the elbows, stretching your hamstrings and then coming back up to a flat back and coming up.

Just give a little spring through the fingers. As you're hinging, you wanna think of keeping your thigh bones directly under the center of your hips. So you're not leaning forward or back, as you bend your elbows, same idea. We're trying not to lean forward or back, come up from a flat back, push and come back up. And then again, hinge, zombie arms, just let them hang.

Bend. My elbows are pinned in just slightly, but a little bit wider isn't bad either. And pressing up and push. Adding on here, so we will hinge here. We'll bring one hand to the center of the chair.

The weight is even on both legs. I'm gonna bring the other fingertips toward my breast bone. And I'm going to inhale, keep my back flat and rotate. I'm pressing away from the chair with my chair hand as I'm looking over my shoulder, turning my chair side ribcage forward and then square it up. Let's do it again.

Here's the trick, friends, you don't wanna shift the weight between the legs. Keep it nice and even and square. And one more, make it juicy, guys. Press into the hand, turn, lengthen, look over your shoulder and square it up. Now one hand, spring up.

Both arms come down, hinging forward. So as I'm hinging, I'm thinking of my sits bones being wide. I'm not tucking and squeezing and making everything challenging. Bending the elbows with a flat back, coming back up and spring. Now we'll do the second side.

So you'll hinge, wide seat. Hand comes to the center of the chair, other hand comes to the breastbone. So the back hand is to the breastbone and then I am twisting as I'm pressing up and out of the chair, rotating my ribs but not my hips. And I'm coming back down. Again, press and twist.

And it's okay if they don't feel even between the two sides. You may choose to do a few extra on your less twisty side. Twist, twist, twist, hold it, hold it, hold it and come back to the center and spring up and hold. We have one more thing to do. This is the juiciest, in my opinion.

This is a standing X stretch, it feels so yummy. So bring your arms up like you're really excited for yourself 'cause you should be 'cause you're about to do the standing X stretch and you're reaching for the ceiling with one hand and the opposite foot is pressing into the floor. So here we go. You're being pulled in opposition, reach, reach, reach and return. Other side.

Push into the floor as you're reaching up. Stretch, feel this across your chest and across your back. Return center. One more each way. Push and stretch, go for it.

Reach, reach, center. Here's our last one, make it count. Big stretching, big opening, big releasing, feeling rejuvenated, coming back to the center and release. Thank you so much for joining me today.


Thank you for the class! Love how intentional it was and accessible. I feel like there's a lot we can do without a reformer or Cadillac but clients sometimes think they need all of that to do Pilates. Thank you! 
Kav Maharaj THIS!! I agree with you - we just need to move, and anything can serve as a prop to augment or simplify the work we do. Thank you for watching, and thanks for the comment.
Ruth B
Really enjoined your creative moves. Wish you would do a sit to stand class.  I don't know how many are teaching people in their late 70's into 90's who can't get down on class.
So nice and elegant! Thank you!
Beautifully cued and explained.  Humor too!  Useful routine for  anyone.
What a great class! I totally enjoyed all the movements you had me doing! Keep it going!
Patty S Thanks so much - glad you enjoyed it. More videos to come! 
Joan Breibart Thanks for watching and commenting, Joan! I truly love what I do, and I'm happy to share my little bit of silly with anyone who will join me.
Noa Vered Terry Thank YOU!
Ruth B Hi Ruth! Thanks for the comment and the fabulous idea! It's an important reminder that the floor isn't always accessible to all. I have some additional videos that may fit the bill but haven't been released yet... stay tuned! And I will keep this comment in mind if PA invites me to film again. 
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