Class #5321

EXO Chair Inversions

20 min - Class


Explore being upside down in this EXO Chair workout by Amy Havens. She gives you tips and tools to help build your confidence and strengthen all the components necessary to go upside down, whether it is a handstand or other exercises on the Chair. By the end of this quick class, you will feel accomplished and ready for anything.
What You'll Need: EXO Chair

About This Video


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Hi, everybody. Amy Havens here, Pilates Anytime. Another EXO Chair class. What I'm doing today is some upside down work, and I would like to share with you that I have a little fear of being upside down on my head from long time ago, but I'm working through it. And if you're that person too, let's work together.

We can do this, okay? And it's fun to get upside down, but it is a little bit like, whoa, I'm upside down. But what that entails is some trust and strength in your shoulder girdle and your hands and also a sense of play and not worrying about perfection, right? To just get upside down a little bit. And a lot of, so many of my colleagues are masters at upside down and I admire them so much.

I'm working on it. But join me for this. We don't have any Slastix for this class. In fact, we're not really doing a whole lot of spring changes either. We're starting the class with no springs at all.

So I just want you to come on down to the floor, okay? On your mat. So no springs. And have a seat comfortably. We're going to start with just a little bit of scapular warmup.

So I want you to reach your arms forward and just start to glide your scapula, right? I could spend a lot more time on all of this, but we're gonna move. I do want you to flow through this. And what I'm thinking about is my trunk being a nice column or a cylinder and my scapula moving back and forward around that cylinder, okay? I like to open my hands 'cause it feels kind of nice if I were going around and around, right?

And a lot of these being on the hands and elbows, we have to push. So stay here with me. You, we get to push the scapula, especially this outside line, really strongly toward the hands. It's okay to push, we need it and our chest is gonna work and your shoulders. That's great, right?

We want less of pulling the scapula back when we're upside down. That's the thing we wanna avoid. So let's go back and enjoy the push. Couple breaths of pushing. Pull up your stomach while you're here.

Pull your spine tall while you're here. And then everybody relax your arms down, okay? Do a few up and down scapula, just easy, right? Pilates, we have a lot of often the cues of pull your shoulders down. I would say this is one place where we can say, not always.

It's okay if they're maybe gonna be a little up and forward, more forward than anything else. Okay, let's move on. We're gonna move on to a quadruped position. So set your knees on the mat, little space between and for right now too, you can just stretch your wrists a couple times, bear some weight. You can go on your knuckles.

You can even make some circles. Again, I, not a lot 'cause I wanna get us moving through here. So we'll set our hand up on the pedal, open up your hand and then reach those fingers long and grab the pedal with your hand, your fingers, everything. Like if you were gonna try to pick it up without bending your elbow, you've got a suction cup hand right? Neutral spine.

Let's take a few deep breaths. The other place in the body that we wanna pay quite a bit of attention to is this bottom of the ribcage ring here above your waistline and the bottom of your ribs making that solid and long, instead of collapsed. Okay, so take a breath. We are gonna go into a cat back because I want you to right away, open up that space. I am pushing my shoulder blade strongly toward my hands.

It's okay that my shoulders are not over my hands at this point. Can you get your head in between your shoulders, your arms and your tail under and then just come to that neutral line everybody. Breathe in, try to manage that low back space. And exhale, push the arms, dive your head in between your arms. You're gonna get that opportunity to get your head on the pedal in a minute.

No spring though, so you're fine. Long, we're not collapsing the bottom of the ribs. And yeah, sometimes I'll refer to that area as the like the, the lower rib rings, rib 11 and 12. We want those to go up toward the ceiling at this point. And then come to your level.

Tuck your toes. We're gonna hover our knees off the mat. Keep this organized. It helps from here. Breathe, push your arms.

Hover your knees. Just hang out there. Feel how much weight you can put on your arms. Your scapula are not losing their position. And then set the knees down.

Let's do it again. Exhale and push the arms, lift the stomach in, lift the knees up. How you doing? Bearing weight on your arms, right? We're building it to go upside down.

Next one. Exhale, hover the knees. Now with the crown of your head aim the crown of your head toward the pedal, straighten your knees and stretch your hamstrings. Now here's a place I want us all to push those shoulder blades up toward your head. You're stretching your lats and I am trying to get a lot of distance from my hands, shoulder blade, that whole long line.

Lift the heels, come back down to your knee, hover and set the knees down. How'd you do? It's our first upside down. Let's try it again. Let's do it again.

Ready and hover and aim the crown of the heads. We're really trying to do a head, head focus. Sometimes in, I cue my head, if I had a large antenna out the top of my head for some strange reason, I reach that, I focus on that as a cue. So my head has some awareness, right? Now I'm pushing my shoulder blades toward my hand as if I'm trying to push the chair away.

My last couple of ribs on my back are not collapsing into me. I'm stretching that wide and then everyone come back down. One more time. Okay, one more quick one, breathing in, exhale, hover the knees, just move right through it. We're gonna add some elbow bending.

Push those shoulder blades up, bend your elbows, try to point your elbows towards your feet. Now in these elbow bends, we're still not letting the scapula slide and glide together. I'm still working on pushing them apart. But I want you to get into some of these arm muscle groups because you need it, a couple more. Push, push, push the chair away and one more time.

Okay, lift your heels. Come on down and let's come off the hands for just a moment. How we doing? Okay, now it gets a little more real meaning we're gonna put our head on the pedal. It's okay.

Find the middle of your head. Tap it sometimes putting your thumbs in your ear holes and then your middle fingers on the top of your head, that could be the center of your head. That or where I think of my antenna coming out of my head. Woo, I'm gonna put that on the middle of that pedal. Okay, now it's, it's really important to be light on your head.

Today I'm putting my hands on the mat first or on on the side of the mat by here. And I can see my elbows in my periphery. Right now I'm not quite on the top of my head. So if you wanna take a quick look, I'll show you. I'm not quite flexing my neck, right?

I'm making a C curved neck. It's kind of straight. So I have to start at my tail, low stomach and woo. Pull that up and see how, see how kind of rolls me toward the pedal. I'm not putting weight on my head.

I'm moving my spine into more flexion. Stay with me. Take a breath. Use your hands everybody. Push the hands on your floor.

Push your shoulder blades wide and bend your neck. Bend your neck. You're going to feel it. There are muscles in there. Stay with me.

Be light on your head. Push your hands and then relax. Come off of that for a minute. We'll do it again, okay? That might be your headstand for right now.

Or your upside down task through class. Perfect, this next time around I'm actually gonna put my hands closer to the pedal. Going upside down. I'm not you know, it's really light on top of my head. No, I'm putting my hands on the mat.

It feels better on the mat. Same idea. Push the hands, pull the stomach up. Pull those last couple ribs up toward the ceiling. It's as if we're taking the skin of the neck and facing it into the chair.

Feel that, stretch that neck. How light can it be on your head? In mat class we know the crab exercise has this element. Isn't that lovely? Okay, wow.

Good, so a lot of this is going to work the muscles of your neck. I think you're probably already feeling that. Here we go. Standing up, face your pedal, round yourself down. Wash your woman kind of feel.

All right. Grab a hold of the ends of the pedal. You can do soft knees you guys if you need to, that might feel safer. Drop your head. It's the same position.

We're just up on our legs. Pull your stomach up, pull those last couple of ribs toward the ceiling. Arms are straight. And now pull your body weight and the pedal weight up. But keep your head hanging.

Control how you lower the weight. Again, use the strength of the abdominals to pull the pedal up. It doesn't weigh that much, but it does weigh something. Drop your head. There's a, I think a reflex most of us will do to kind of look forward.

Don't, try to keep your head upside down. How are we doing? All right, I think we're good with that. Bend your knees, let your hands go. We need to roll up.

So that's our theme, right? We're gonna add a little bit of spring now and I'd like to add, lift your pedal to do this, safer from the back. Ah, boy washer woman. I'm going to load two low springs and then we'll do just one round. But then we need to add heavier spring because we're gonna go up.

Okay, so here, face your pedal. Just reach your arms forward, round. Remember that push thing we did at the beginning? Here's another chance. Oh, push from the shoulders to the hands.

Is your head hanging as much as it can, crunch the abdominals. I can't believe I just said that. Contract you abdominals. Little pulses down, down. I want you to let the head go.

Push shoulders to hands everybody, shoulders to hands. And four, three, two, hold it down. Now, bend your elbows. We already did that upside down and stretch. Can you point your elbows toward your knees?

Can you hang that head? Can you bring those last couple of ribs up towards the sky? Last one and then we roll up, okay? Now we are going to load more spring because we're gonna do that exercise of pull up or pike first from our elbows and then our hands. We'll see what we've got.

All right. Be honest with yourself, please. I have, I'm going to keep one low spring, maybe mounted up on the second cactus. It depends on how you feel. The other side, please go high.

This might sound like a lot, but why not get support to lift, right? We don't wanna struggle to get ourself up. That's what these springs are for, is to give us that levity. And then when we feel more confident, we say, okay we don't need as much. I like a lot, a lot of support from the springs.

They're there. Okay, hands at the back, legs can be parallel. Set your elbows down. Notice my head position is not where we want it to be, right? Here it is.

I'm looking at my groin, shift weight. Before you try to pull the pedal up, push the elbows bring those ribs up. And then maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe you pull up a little. Let's not worry about how high up we go. Let's stay interested in how much we're pushing.

Trust me when I say the push will make the lift happen it just does. And also if you have enough spring if you don't have enough spring, you'll struggle and you may fall. Who wants to fall? Push, lift. Get your head upside down.

Push and lift. Okay, everybody come on up. You can either repeat that or do this from your hands. Where should your hands be? I just don't know where to tell you.

Some people can do it back here. Anywhere, play around. You might be here today, you might be here, I don't know. It's again, where you can get the maximum push, head position, ribs up, shift into your arms. We certainly don't wanna go too far that way.

Think, ooh up, grunt if you need to. I want you to stay up, stay there, push those arms. We're only gonna go down an inch or two because I want you to focus on the push of the arms, the antenna head right down to the chair seat, up. Two more please and lift. And lift, control your landing.

Okay, we've just gone upside down. We have a few more to do upside down. How you doing? It's kind of fun, right? All right, now no worries to change anything in here.

We're down on the ground. We're back on safe ground. So now we are, take a look at that elbow plank position if you wanna say it that way. And then that hamstring stretch that we warmed up with, feet will climb up here for now. Later there's an exercise where the feet are here.

We're gonna go here. It may take a couple practices, we'll see what we've got. So I'd like to get cozy, get down on the knees, elbows, elbows. Sometimes people make a fist with a hand around it. Sometimes people cross here.

Your head's not touching the ground anyway if we can help it. But you're close. So check out what my shoulders just did. Collapse, that's not a great environment to load, push. It's more about the scapula, not so much the ribs but the ribs are certainly up to especially the last couple.

Ready, now go upside down. Get your hips up in the air, walk your toes closer to the frame and let's step up and step up. You can bend your knees, push your shoulders and your elbows into the mat and go up. Now remember those last ribs we warmed up with? Pull those in.

Push your elbows to the floor. Push, push, push, push, push, push and come down for a second. Okay ooh, how are we doing? So that you can hear my breathing. Ooh, I get a little anxious.

I'm still working on it. Yeah, I'm getting through it. So are you, stay with that or come along. I might try it one more time actually. Okay, yeah.

Elbows, push, maybe not overthink it. Climb right up like a kid at the playground. Have some fun. See, mind over matter. Push those elbows into the floor.

That's it because we still have to do hands. Okay, now when we do hands there, hips will hopefully be a kind of above me, toes here. We're gonna see, it should kind of sort of resemble a letter L. Warm up your hands. Okay, ready?

So before we go all the way upside down everybody that neutral position we felt earlier when we did the scapula movement. Do a couple, press the shoulder blades wide. These ribs here, up, if you'll have that came from here. Antenna head right about here. Go.

That might be it. Come with me. It's really fun. Push the hand. Start with one leg.

There's nothing wrong with, you're upside down. And that can happen, upside down. Get up on high tippy toes. Push the mat down. Pull those ribs back up.

Hold, hold, hold. Take a couple more breaths. That's all I've got. I'm proud of it. Oh my goodness, we went upside down.

How'd you do, feel okay? Little brassy like me. Good, oh man, great. I had a great compliment this week from a student in one of my classes. She also has some apprehension of going upside down.

I've been practicing it a lot. And she said, "Amy, I've never been able to do that." She's a teacher. So of course I get a little weepy because that's a moment. But it, you have to build trust I think with yourself to do some of these hard things. Yeah, we did it.

So thanks for coming with it. But we're not finished, we need to relax the neck. So here you go. Hands on your thighs, let your head go huh, heavy. And just slide the hands down to thighs.

Calm the breathing. You did it, we did it. Practice it. Practice, practice, practice. I used to never practice the teaser.

I wondered why I never got better at the teaser because I never practiced it. I was afraid of it because it's hard. Same with these upside down businesses. One more time. I think that goes with anything, right?

We have to practice things to get more confident. Once you do one, then you say, oh, I can do that. Or maybe not yet. What do I need to work on to build a skill? That's what our Pilates practice is about.

Practice and enjoy every time you come at it. Let me know how you did it. I'm very curious how you've done. So let me know, okay? I'll see you next time everybody.



Thank you, Amy! That was an amazing experience, as I am also always afraid of going down with the head. And even as a teacher, I am still afraid of falling down by showng the full pike on the chair )) 
Was really great! 
This was an awesome starter for inversions and got my body set up for headstands in the best way! Thank you!!!
Loving all the new chair workouts, thank you!
Hi Amy
You are awesome !  I wish I had a chair at home so I can follow along.  I'll have to write down notes and do it in the studio for now.  Wish me luck!!  I have arthritis going on in my shoulders, especially the left but I know how to stabilize so I think I'll be OK   
Merry Christmas

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