Class #5319

Hip and Knee EXO Chair

35 min - Class


You will learn more about your hips and knees in this detailed EXO Chair workout by Amy Havens. She simplifies the work to focus deeply on the concepts she introduces. She uses the Slastix as tools to give you feedback as well as to help you feel the movements in a new way.
What You'll Need: EXO Chair, Slastix (2)

About This Video


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Hi everyone. Thank you for joining me for this more beginner level Exo Chair workout. And what I've decided to do with this class today is simplify some of the work. So it's not a real full workout, meaning a not full body. We're really focusing a lot on the hip joint, like hip and knee, the difference between hip extension inflection, knee extension inflection, and those more complex movements, both supine and sidelying.

And I'll throw in a little bit of articulation and some rolling through the spine because it always feels good. So all you need to do is set up, we don't need any springs. Don't worry about it. I've just got one or two attached just to keep the pedal up. But I'm using the longer Slastix with the foot loops.

So this also could be done, all of this on your wallboard, your springboard, your tower, even your Cadillac. It's really the leg springs. Think about that. But broken down a little bit. So for beginners, we're gonna come all the way down on our back.

And I just think it's really lovely to study and focus on one or two concepts a little more deeply. So here's the deal. If you look up at your strap and your hook, if you're like me with some kind of particular tendencies of things, I like the clip facing out. And you'll see why, it's just a detail. We're gonna put that around the knee, both of your straps, you just don't want that clip facing your knee.

And trust me, in a minute, you'd feel it. So my particular people, you get me, I think. All right. As many classes begin, and my programming is spinal articulation because it just feels right to warm up with movement of the spine. And depending on the exercises, we may have to move farther out, away from the chair to increase the tension, or we might have to move in.

And all of that is kind of discovery. So we can play and feel and you could also measure yourself this way with a full arm reach and length in terms of the distance of how far away you are. That seems to be pretty appropriate for me. And you can join me there. So we'll begin with the feet flat, little space between this feet and the knees, and settling in.

So much of the leg spring work, the attention of the muscle areas of the body are inner thigh and the back of the leg, where our hamstring muscles are. We don't wanna grip the buttocks too much, which would kind of look like something like that shape in the pelvis and the tone around here. But yet, we do want tone. So we'll play with what's too much and maybe what's just right. Long arms, let's just start with a few deep breaths, everybody.

So filling up. (inhales) And have fun here, exhaling, just let the air go. You might feel a little, a soft engagement of the abdominal muscles just pressing down against your contents here. And then an inhale to fill up through the ribs, the lungs, let the diaphragm move. And as you exhale, (exhales) just feeling all of that diffuse a bit. One more time.

Alrighty. (exhales) So right away, feel where the strap is on the back of your leg. That lower hamstrings, right behind the knee, up above the knee. Can you flex those muscles a little bit? Sometimes, there's a cue we hear, of pull your heels towards your sitting bones. Try that out.

Now if you pull your heels up toward your sitting bones, feel what you feel, keep that. Keep that engaged. Let's take your breath with it. Use that, we're gonna start to sink the abdominal muscles deeply down into the body. Feel how your back got flatter.

And roll up your spine now and see if you can keep the feeling of pulling your heels toward your sitting bones. Those are your hamstrings. Yeah, and your inner thighs are probably working too. You feel that? Take a breath up there.

Now as we roll down, what would it feel like for you to try to stretch these Slastix? My body is stretching the Slastix, my spine is stretching, but I'm also feeling more work in my legs right away. We're gonna do it twice more. (inhales) And exhale, sink in here first. So the pull from the abdominals up underneath those ribs, the tail is curling under. Keep that heels are pulling toward your sitting bones.

And I'm really working to keep that activity in the back of those legs. That's useful to open up the front of the hips, that hip extension, a lot of what we're doing today. So you feel work here to open the front here, take a breath. Now as we roll down, you still keep that work going, keep that work alive. At the very bottom, you can relax it just a little bit.

Take a breath into it. (inhales) And here we go. Use those muscles. Feel how you can squeeze them and make them work and roll up. (exhales) Yeah. Pull your heels energetically toward your sitting bones. Check it out, feel that, inhale, and exhaling rolling down. (exhales) You could do that for 10 minutes on your daily, and that would be so good for you.

But we're gonna move on. So I want everyone to take another breath. And then as we exhale, sink even deeper in your tummy, your abdominals, and imprint your back. And see this is a act as if. Move, but don't move yet.

Those are some cues I love. To what it feels like to try to pick up the feet. You're trying so hard to pick up the feet, but you can't lift them yet. But feel all of this active, and then relax it for a second. (inhales) Try it again. So the focus right here is gonna be right into this abdominal wall from pubic bone to ribs.

Deeply pull in, you're trying to lift your feet, but you can't. You're moving, but you're not moving them yet. That's for me some organization in your center, and then relax it. We need that a lot in Pilates. So let's do it again.

You're gonna exhale and activate. And now, the legs lift. (chuckles) It's magic. These elastics picked them up for me, and guess what we were doing? We're right into hip flexion. The thighs come toward the chest.

Now, let your whole body relax for a second. Feel that? That's not active. It feels good, but that's not active. I'm not working too much.

So let's put the legs back down. We get the legs back up, but from that active place. All right, breathe. (inhales) We activate, we get connected. We're trying to lift our feet, but we can't quite yet. But then, there's something that happens.

There's some magic that happens where you lift your legs up. Hip flexion. Sometimes, we'll call it hip folding or creasing. As we're here this second time, keep it, keep the abdominals active. Now try to reach your tailbone to everybody out underneath you and to the opposite end of your mat.

So we're not curly cute tail. We're really long tail. Yeah? Feel how active that is? Okay, good.

I'm gonna put one foot down. I don't have a preference. I'm just gonna put that one down so that you can see and we're gonna work this leg. Back of the leg again. Start to move your thigh away from you, feel your foot land, you've just extended your hip.

Pretty low level, but we've extended the hip. Then we flex the hip. Practice that a few times. You extend your hip. Where is it coming from?

In the back of the leg. Just where that strap is on the back of the thigh. You kind of get into that. Feel how that contact is happening. You're probably feeling some of the inner thigh too.

That's a group that works together. So we're flexing and extending the hip. Nice and simple. We'll progress as we go along. All right, set that foot down and leave it there.

Keep that pelvis relatively level. Back is nice and engaged down on the mat. This is in, take a breath. Here comes the second leg, float it up. And we're gonna work the hip extension again from short leg, sometimes known as short lever, just flex and extend.

Sometimes breathing will (exhales) associate. Inhale, I like inhale extension. (inhales) Exhale (exhales), in (inhales). Feel the strap at the back of the thigh and really work that relationship. Press your thigh to the strap couple more times with a single leg. Nice and basic.

Thorough. All right, and then both feet down. Now breathe in again. Let's move on. We're gonna bring on two legs.

Exhale, same thing from the middle. (exhales) Up they come. Now, I want you to make your legs in a little more like, there's some space between. And just leave them easy. We're gonna move the legs in tandem or opposition, reciprocally. Sometimes, this is known as piston.

Piston-like movement. Focus on the back of that thigh. If your foot lands on the mat, great. If it doesn't, that's fine. Let's put a little rhythm.

I'm gonna do a little breath. In and... (exhales) Just for fun. (inhales) I'm inhaling for two movements and exhale for two. This feels so good. And inhale, inhale and exhale, exhale. And then relax.

Okay, how you doing? Bring your knees more formally into what we'll call a table top position. More of a right angle here and a right angle here. And we'll make a shape change of the feet. Separate the legs a little bit.

You can choose to keep both legs up or if you need to put one leg down, I'll show a couple with down. That's a little more simple, a little more complex or challenging is here. But for learning. All right, we've already opened the hip. We know what that is.

We're opening the hip. Add your knee movement. So that's knee extension, often in leg springs, we're doing both at the same time. But let's program it and learn it with precision. So it's gonna start at the hip by moving the back of the thigh.

Then the knee says, "Oh, I'll go along too." On the return, I start at my hip, and right behind that is the knee. Let's go again. So it's hip and knee and hip and knee. If you want a more challenge, if you're feeling like, "Well, gosh, Ame, this is pretty simple." And that's fine, simple's fine. Go lower to the floor. (exhales) That's gonna challenge your organization of your pelvis, your spine, your low back.

You might even feel more work in the back of the thigh. That feels pretty good. One more time for a hip and knee. All right, well I said I would do some up here, didn't I? So that would be like that.

Well, let's do four like that. So I'm holding the other leg up while I add that hip and knee extension. Yeah, and extend. Looks a lot like what we do on reformer, footwork. A lot of leg spring stuff, of course.

All right, I'm gonna set that leg down, move the other thigh, hip, and knee. I'm gonna start real basic there. How about some inhale as we lengthen? (inhales) Exhale. (exhales) Pull it back in. Start at the hip joint, carry it through the knee. Flex at the hip, flex at the knee.

Elongate, keeping your pelvis centered and level and flex. Two more with this leg down, opposite leg down. Or even going lower to the floor, I did that a few times. A little lower to the floor before we pick up the other leg. (Amy exhales) Okay, four more, raise the other leg up.

That side of your body is stable while you move the opposite leg. And the straps are still on the back of the thigh. I like that so you can really feel the contact of the fabric strap on your muscle. Make that muscle deliver the leg forward. And I will say, you can rest for a second.

I've been prone to have some knee issues in my life. And when my knees are cranky, I do my legwork like this. I put my straps behind my knees, and I can do all kinds of things with my legs to strengthen all of the above the knee muscles. So if that's you, this is always an option. But let's challenge all of this.

And by that, we're gonna move the straps to the feet. Aha. Strange things can happen when we go to the feet. Meaning, what if your knees don't straighten? That's okay.

Your legs are up, that's all right. We're still moving the femurs in the legs. If you are a straight leg person and you tend to over straighten your knees, that's me. I would ask us to engage those muscles even more strongly behind the thigh. You'll feel it.

But first, put one foot down, please. Just let that go. The elastics on the outside of my thigh. Let's check this out. Here's a long leg.

Pelvis is level, keep this organized. Here's your thigh. Extend at your hip joint with knee like a straight knee. If you can get your leg all the way down to the floor, that's what I want you to get without whoop and whoop. All these weird things that happen in the torso, and raise it back up.

So this is a long lever hip extension. (exhales) Really feel that. Stay focused on the back of the thigh. I would encourage you to stay with the feeling of where the strap was on the skin here. Engage that to move the thigh. It can get a little bit tricky pulling from the foot.

And I've had clients say to me before, "Ooh, it hurts the back of my knee to do this." That would be an indication that they're not maybe ready for it and then you'd put the strap above the knee. That's just an option. Hey, guys, let's do it one more time. Long leg, straight leg down and up. And then we're gonna bend that knee and just relax here.

Other leg comes up. We're in a parallel aligned leg, pelvis organized, take a breath and lengthen it down. So you can inhale down and (exhales) right back up. Inhale lengthen. Same conversation.

Feel it behind the thigh, not the knee. Different part of your anatomy. It's close, they're real close together, but you don't want the knee to be pulling those tension. There's more substance in this part of your body muscle than behind the knee. Use the muscles.

Flexion of the hip, extension of the hip. We'll do it twice more. Yeah. (exhales) And so we're starting out with single leg movement is kind of nice, so you can really feel, "Oh yeah, I got it." But then let's progress our connection. Just bring your thighs to your chest for a minute. Knees slightly apart.

The elastics are inside the knees and heels are touching. So this is often a shape that we see called frog. We are gonna do frog. Frog is wonderful. You can keep your arms here.

I'm gonna make a change and just feel some extension and length through my torso. And now, we start at the hip again, and then it's the knee. Hip and knee, and you stretch those legs out and you pull your heels back in. Let's inhale as we stretch (inhales). And exhale as we pull.

Let this elastics do some of that pulling in for you. (inhales) Now, if this is bothering your knees, and it's okay if it is, I hope it's not, but if it is, put these around your knees and do the same movement. I'm gonna do four more now. And reach. Do you see how it's really those lower extremities. We start at the hip and then the knee, we come back from the hip and then the knee.

Last two. (exhales) I love a good frog series. And now we hold the legs out. Hold the legs out. By engaging the back of your legs, is anyone able to bring the legs a little lower? Feel the back of your body also long and strong.

Your ribcage package is down on the mat, your pelvis is flat. Isn't that empowering? Feel how strong and long you feel. Hopefully. I'm gonna raise one leg up.

Oh boy. Now things could start to get a little interesting in the pelvis. We wanna keep it really level and stable. Let's begin switching the legs, everybody. Now I've just made a change with my leg angle.

I've gone into a slightly externally turned out mode. And I like that, it's a nice change. And I can feel a little different spot on the back of that thigh. Let your breathing be natural. Sometimes, we get kind of over queuey with breath, and sometimes, you really need an exhale breath (exhales) to lower and feel work here in stability.

I like that on this, so it's an exhale down. These are known as our scissors, aren't they? Yes, scissor movements. Long levers, reciprocally moving. Let's do one more Each thigh, hip extension, hip flexion.

Hip extension, hip flexion, and then bring your thighs back in. Lower your arms for a little break. Great. Take one strap off your foot and just lay it down. I'm gonna keep the knee bent.

I wanna raise the opposite leg. Okay, we've done a lot of down and up, down and up, down and up. We're gonna start going across the body and away from the midline. This is known as our midline. Right down the middle.

Tighten up the cord a little bit here. I want you to take this thigh. I'm in parallel and I'm going to cross it so that this inner thigh touches this inner thigh. Just feel that. Feel that for a minute.

Pelvis didn't go anywhere. Your thigh moved. And now move the thigh out to the side. Ooh, you're gonna feel a little bit on your side. Booty, the side of the butt, hip.

Cross over, its inner hip. I'll just say it that way. Inner hip and outer hip. Pelvis stays pretty level, if not exact. Now, it might feel better, or is an option to get this guy out of the way.

Keep going across and open. Ooh, across and open. Keep the stretch on the Slastix. We're defining our leg circle diameter. All right.

What does that mean? You're gonna find out right now. Bring your leg right above your hip. Single leg circle, like mat work or leg spring work. Crossover, want you to go down.

Externally rotate the femur. You did it already and find that width of your thigh. And up, hip flexion. Crossover, down to hip extension. You've got it, everybody.

We'll do one more this direction. So you're defining the boundary of your circle, and your hip joint is probably smiling. Let's go the other way. Ha. Feel free to put your arms above you and hold the chair if you need it.

Stretching that elastic cord. Feel the length and strengthen your torso. (exhales) Wonderful. That's our single leg circle. Let's do the other leg and then we'll come back in for some double leg circles. All right, bend your knee on the opposite side.

Engage some of the tension on this elastic stick. And now we wanna move this leg across the midline of our body so that our adductors, our inner thighs touch. And just hold that for a minute. You've really gotta feel that leg, meet the other one. And then as we move the leg to the outside, I want you to feel here, the side of the hip.

Okay, let's go again. My femur, my leg is pretty parallel as I go. It's interesting to keep the trunk of the body pretty stable as all of this motion is happening there. And once again, we're defining the width of our leg circle. Let's get the other leg out of the way a couple times.

Yeah. And then we'll take it into, ooh, I got a nice adjustment. And then the leg can come back up. That's always nice. To hip flexion.

Ready for leg circles as we cross, pull down. Go out to that outside with control and bring it up. You wanna feel that inner thigh engage. Really feel all of this. Again, if you need to move the strap so it's more on above the knee to feel, that might help some of us.

Control your arc, ready for the other way. Yeah, stretch, cross and hip flex. Move it out, extend, cross and up once again. And then that foot will stay in the loop. And then I want everybody just to bend the knee.

Bring the other foot back up again. All righty. Hands above head, I think this feels nice. Start in your frog shape. Extend your hips and your legs.

Let's close in parallel. Ready for leg circles? I am. Okay, hip flexion. I'm gonna go down first everybody to extend from the back of the legs.

Now down here, roll the femurs away from one another. Explore the diameter. I want you to find what feels best for you in this moment. And then arc the legs, pull them to center. Twice more down, you're using the back of those thighs.

You're using the side of the hips while the inner thigh stretch. Do you feel that? And then in. I do. And down, and open.

Feel free to do more if you want. I'm just sitting in three of each here and going the other way. Feel the side of the glutes. You wanna make sure that's working. And then the back of the legs, inner thighs, and then again, the abdominals.

Deep, deep, deep to pull the legs up to hip flexion. Open and down and up. For one more. Open and down and up, up, up and rest. Okay, wonderful.

We're gonna challenge our stability even more in a sidelying. Everything stays the same. I'm just rolling to face you. How's everybody doing? Hopefully, good.

So I like to lie on my side, get my body relatively in line with the back of the mat, my shoulder and my pelvis, then legs forward. Let's use this strap, let's place that on the foot. We're gonna go foot. You could go above the knee but for this, I want it on the foot. All right, fold your bottom arm, and we're right here.

Okay, so parallel legs. We just did some of leg going away from the body and back into the body. It's different on our side. So as you're holding here, just feel like your pelvis is like a set of legos, one above the other. And you're gonna start to lift the leg.

Now the Slastix is pretty strong. It might pull your leg up for you. You've gotta control how you lift that. There's that contraction again. These muscles pull the leg back down.

We're going up, I'm in parallel, and down. And raise the leg up. Notice that you're more challenged in stability lying on your side of course, than you were on your back. This is nice to challenge that you're gonna feel your abdominals. You're definitely gonna feel your lower back all around here, helping to keep you stable.

Hold on, we're gonna lift the thigh and move hip flexion. Whoa, it feels different, doesn't it? Bigger stretch. And then pull it back to the other leg, that's your hip extension. But we're gonna go beyond and to take the leg just a few inches beyond the hip.

Hold that position and feel. Remember I said at the beginning class, you're gonna feel your buttocks a little bit? This is it. 'Cause you can take your leg behind you more. So let's play with that.

Farther forward, keep your tailbone reaching to that wall. And then as you bring your leg back behind, you feel your buttocks contract. Again. How about an exhale? (exhales) And an inhale. (inhales) Twice more, exhale. (exhales) And inhale. Nice, just clean, simple movement.

And exhale. And then please place your feet together. Keep things organized. Stretch this elastic a little bit more. And then raise your thigh.

We're going to do tiny little circular movements of the femur. Stay balanced in your body, on your side body. (exhales) One more for five. Always nice to go the opposite way for five, four, last three, and two and one. We do relatively the same choreography, but we do a change of this top leg. I like to keep the bottom leg parallel.

Move this window to turnout. So it's the same idea. But notice how different it feels in your hip joint. You might feel more, hmm, different muscles around the side of the buttock. Leg up and down.

Trying to stay balanced on the side of your hip. Did five. And then we'll take our five front and back and then some little circles. Trying to stay balanced down that hip. We're externally rotated, hip flexion, hip extension.

Going at it again. Bring it in front and bring it behind. You may feel some different things around your body, your abdominals and your back. The demand is different when you have a parallel leg versus a turned out leg. (Amy exhales) Last two.

Who knew you could use your Exo Chair like this, right? And last one, front and back. You can. And then little circles in turnout thigh and two, and three, and four, here's five, reverse four, it's five, four, three, two, and one, and release. Well done.

Let's take that off of that foot and we're gonna roll over. And of course, do the other side of your body. Feel that out. So strap comes on that foot. If you wanna line your body up the back edge of the mat, the best you can, right shoulder and pelvis, then legs come front, bottom arm is bent like a pillow.

Top arm is just here resting and you're in parallel to begin. Get really balanced, everybody on the side of that pelvis. The waistlines are long on both sides. Raise your thigh, we're in parallel. Feel a lift of the thigh and contracted the side of the buttock and pull from the inner thigh.

When we are on our back, we are moving our thigh away from us. We are again. And we're pulling it in toward our midline. Three more, raise it up. So I haven't given the names for this.

This is AB duction AD duction. That's okay. Out and then feeling the lateral muscles, medial muscles. Front and back, bigger hip flexion. Feel the abdominals pull in your tail is reaching to the opposite wall.

Leg pulls behind you. Contract those glutes a little bit. It somewhat naturally happens, (exhales) but you can add a little extra effort there. Hip flexion, pull those abdominals up the front of the body the whole time and making sure your tailbone's reaching to the opposite wall. Okay, one more front back, then we have our little circles (exhales) in parallel.

So five, keep stretching that Slastix. Three, stretching your body. Four, and five to reverse it, and one and two. Don't forget to stretch your abdominals and your spine here the whole time. We're doing the same choreography.

Externally rotate your femur. Same idea, up and down. Let your hip have a little more range. Explore that and use the inner thigh to pull it down. Inhale and exhale. (exhales) Inhale to exhale. (exhales) Think you're probably feeling the change of effort through your leg muscles.

Inner thigh, back of thigh, more buttock. Aha, front and back. It's still a little externally rotated. (exhales) Front. Keep pulling those abdominals up the front of you, your tailbone to the other wall. Energy through the top of the head toward that chair and we're all doing so great.

We've got two more front back, little circles and then some lovely spinal movement. Okay, little circles. One, two. Turned out little circles for five. (inhales) There's your fifth one, reverse. One, two, don't forget to hold the abdominals in, keep checking that.

Four and five and finish that. Okay, everybody, bend your knee. Let's carefully take the strap away from your foot. Now roll yourself up, just get yourself up and face your chair. How are you doing?

I'm sure you're feeling quite a lot around your leg and hip joint. I want you to reach ahead and grab those straps. You can hold anywhere along the strap that feels right for you. I'm gonna go right here today. So all of that was our leg moving from our pelvis, clearly.

Now we're really gonna focus pelvis moving away from legs in rollback. So let's take a deep inhale here. Pretty simple. Let your pelvis roll away from the extended hips all the way. Ah, that feel good?

And lift your head and chest. Let the Slastix give you a little help to come up. I wanna take the crown of my head toward the chair and we'll inhale to tall. Two more times, everybody. Pull your pelvis back away from your extended hips.

Nice and long. And roll yourself up. Let the elastics help you a little bit. Roll crown of head toward the chair. Abdominals way back into that low back.

Inhale and exhale. It wouldn't be a class without a kind of a hint. Stay right down here for me, bend both knees. Let's try something. We've got a little time.

Take one leg up. Pull those knees together. I just want you to feel yourself. This is our kind of single leg teaser. We're just throwing it a little extra here.

Coming up, rolling down. Still feel your pelvis pulling back away from the extended hips. Can you do one on the other side? Don't be afraid of these teasers, even at a beginner level. They're very important to practice, they're fun.

They can be. And roll yourself down. Let's give it a try. This could be a foreshadowing for future classes. Can we try two legs?

Let's just see. Bring your knees to that tabletop position. We're gonna try it. Bring your head and chest up. Okay, we have to do hip extension.

We have to do knee extension. Ta-da! We're going for it. You did it. You're balancing. Don't worry if you're shaky.

These have gotcha. Hold, hold, hold. Hold, hold, hold. Bend your knees, hip, knee flexion, extend. Let's finish class, everybody.

Reach forward, you're gonna just let those go. Hold onto your shin bones and say, "Gosh, I just learned a lot about my hip joint and how all of that can move. Isn't that great?" Thanks for joining me. Let me know how that felt for you and I will see you next time. Bye.


Pam D
Absolutely love this simple class but done correctly I’m sure it would be a strong class. Particularly for older clients before and after knee surgery.
Thanks Amy I’m a real follower of your classes.
Thanks Pam 
This class was an absolute joy, Amy. I’ve been having some PFP pain and this really helped my anxiety with it. Thank you so much!

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