Class #5360

Concentration and Control

35 min - Class


Make the most of your time on the Mat with this Mat workout by Karen Sanzo. Now that you have worked on awareness and breath, she adds connecting movements that require concentration. These connecting movements will allow you to pick up the pace and move.
What You'll Need: Mat

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This class is going to start with letter C. It's like A, B, C. This is the third class in a series and this class is about connections. In Pilates, we talk about concentration, control and centering. So in this class, it's still a beginner class.

Some of the classes, excuse me, some of the exercises might seem a little more intermediate but we're really working on making clear and concise connections with our awareness which was A, and our breath, which was B. So I'd like you to join me now on the mat and we will start lying down on our back. So keeping with our awareness of the breath, we'll start with our reach and rotate. We've done this before in some previous classes where we reach the knee and rotate the pelvis. Reaching and rotating help us create space in our ribs and space between our ribs to allow our breath to help us expand.

Continuing with the arms, we'll just go side to side. Again, nothing fancy here to start with just getting some movements. Reach and rotate and reach and rotate. Push with that hand reach and rotate and reach and rotate. And then bring yourself back down.

Pressing into the feet, you're going to start to tip the pelvis and then untip the pelvis. Again, my hands are here just to teach you, excuse me, just to show you what a tip of the pelvis would be. One more time, side to side with the legs. We're making connections now with the breath. So now we'll start with the leg coming up on an inhale reach it up to the ceiling exhale, lower it down.

(Karen breathing deeply) Again, at the beginning, this feels like it's pretty easy but as we become aware of our breath and our control and the centering of our movement, we see that it becomes a core connection in the cent er while we move the legs switching legs in and up and down. Relaxing your arms, resist the urge to press anything super-duper hard in this very beginning piece. One more time. And then bring yourself all the way down. Knees, stay bent now, feet are flat.

Open your legs a little bit wider. Now, you start to build your feet pressing down as you start to tilt your pelvis up and then lower it down. So you're starting to lengthen the back of your bottom by curling the pelvis. We call this a pelvic tilt. I'm not gripping my butt, but I'm curling my pelvis from the bottom to the top.

And now we'll leave the bottom alone and we'll switch to the top. So we'll reach and reach. So as we reach, we reach the shoulder blades, we rotate the trunk, we come down, reach and rotate and then come down. One more time, reach, rotate chest. Other time, reach and rotate.

Again, doing those little bit of rotations in the very beginning, allows us now to get ready for our flexion of the trunk. So the head lifts, I reach my arms and curl. This is top to bottom. This is against gravity and then lower down. If your head is super heavy or it feels too heavy for you you can support it with one hand but you still have to reach with the other hand and that elbow, this is what it looks like with both hands behind the head.

You still want this elbow to reach because that elbow is really this hand and this hand is tied to that shoulder blade. So everything is reaching. We'll do this one more time and then lower down. Now, we're gonna do what I call the little combo. So this is really nice and safe for the spine, we're gonna do a little tilt of the pelvis and then a little reach and a curl.

So now both pieces are coming to the center. And then both pieces lower down. A little tilt of the pelvis to curl, a little curl of the upper trunk, front body shortening, back body lengthening. And then we do a little dance. So now the bottom stays and the top curls.

Top stays down, bottom curls. Here's the tricky part. Reach the arms, curl the top, curl and uncurl, bottom. Curl and uncurl bottom. And then everything lowers all the way down.

Arms to the ceiling again, reaching and reaching and reaching and reaching. Now, we hold the arms, press the feet, lift the bridge. Now with the bridge, arms go up, forward, everything down. I need to move my leg. Your feet have to be a little more under your knees than mine just were. So I have to start building my bridge.

Feet press down, bottom lifts up, arms up over the head, arms down, bottom down. Let's do five in a row. (Karen breathing deeply) Two more. (Karen breathing deeply) Last one. (Karen breathing deeply) Now we're going to add the breath for our connectedness.

It goes like this. I reach my arms long, I start to move my arms and I'm gonna count to four counts inhale and four counts exhale. Inhale. Exhale. (Karen breathing deeply) Now, we're gonna build it up to five.

(Karen breathing deeply) Now, you know why it's called a 100 beats, because when you're doing that exercise you do five inhales, five exhales, that makes 10. You do that 10 times and that makes a 100. So now the challenge is to do that all in a row either with your head up or down. So when you curl and reach and hold, if you can only do this for about 20, then you put it down and you finish down here, okay? So we're gonna get a 100 in no matter what.

And we're gonna play with our position so that we can practice so that when you do other classes you'll be able to get fully connected into your a 100 beats. We're going to leave the feet down to start with the head lifts, the trunk curls, the arms reach here we go. (Karen exhaling) Two, (Karen exhaling) three, (Karen exhaling) four, (Karen exhaling) five, (Karen exhaling) six, (Karen exhaling) seven, (Karen exhaling) eight, (Karen exhaling) nine, (Karen exhaling) 10. (Karen exhaling) Now, if you were able to stay curled up the whole time, great if not, great, feet are down, great. Everything is really great, believe it or not.

We just have to work on that breath. Just to show you the next level. One leg comes up, tummy tightens, right? Other leg comes up, now we lift and curl. And then our next level would be here.

We're not going to do tons but this is where the exercise heads. So sometimes it's good to see a fuller expression of the exercise so you can kind of know where it's heading to. And then of course in the finale, not in this class but it kind of looks like this. Your legs are long, your belly's in, and then you reach and then you lift, and then you start. Whether you ever get there or not really, doesn't matter.

But we understand that that's where we're headed, okay? So that's our breath connected with our 100 beats. Pull one knee into the chest give it a big hug and give it a stir. Other leg comes in, give it a hug, give it a stir. Remember we're working on connecting.

Now, we're gonna do another reach and rotate. So the arm, the leg comes up, arms are more out to the side to push down, we're gonna reach and rotate, come back and down. Three times on the same leg reach, rotate, leg goes, pelvis goes tummy goes back and down. Rotation allows us so much space to build from other side. Reach, rotate, back and down.

Reach and rotate, and then back and down. One more time, reach and rotate and back and down. That exercise, reach and rotate in that lying on our back position allows us to loosen up the leg and the pelvis. And now when we get ready to do single leg circle, all right? We can really see that we have our length up here and our torso arms are just softly down by our side.

If your knee can't go this straight, you just bend it, okay? Most important position of this exercise, is that your thigh is vertical. Inhale, exhale around. Inhale, come up. Exhale, inhale, come up.

I'm gonna exaggerate my breath, inhale. (Karen breathing deeply) Now reverse it around, down circle and up, out down and then circle and up. Here's two more circle and up. Last time, circle and up knee comes in give it a hug. I like to flex that foot and pull the leg in.

I'm lifting my head, reaching my shoulder blades by way of my elbows to curl up, hovering the other leg up off the ground, I'm gonna take a big inhale and a big exhale and I'm gonna hold for three breaths. (Karen breathing deeply) One more time (Karen breathing deeply) and then lower down. These are nice, good clean Pilates exercises, right? So leg comes up. If it doesn't go straight, you bend it.

I'll do it this time in a modification. Inhale, exhale around. Inhale up, exhale around. Inhale up. Here's three, here's four, last one.

And then it comes up, now reverse it. Out, down, sweep it over up, out, down pull that tummy and up. Here's the third one. Here's the fourth one. And here's the fifth one.

And give it a big hug and pull it in. Now lift up your rib, your head, lift up your ribs. The front body is shortening, the back body is lengthening. As I reach these elbows long, it pulls my ribs backwards. In response, I hover up the other leg.

I'm gonna take three breaths. (Karen breathing deeply) Do knees come in, lower yourself down. You could even hear how my voice changes when I curl up because I'm contracting the front of my body. Now from here, we start to lift up into a bridge and down we get five good bridges. I don't know if there's a bad bridge, but I don't know why we just say good bridge.

And then last one, come up and stay up. And remember, one of our newfound awarenesses is when my hands reach gently up, it allows the place for my ribs to drop down. All the way down, all the way down. Now I'd like you to roll to your side to sit up and we'll start our rollbacks. So we did this in a previous video as well, where we allowed our arms to reach forward a little bit to help the ribs guide back.

We're just gonna go partway. Gonna stay here and then I'm gonna reach and reach and reach and reach. And then I'm gonna straighten my legs and sit up round forward and then stack up. And as I go back, I'm gonna actually reach forward. So I'm not sagging or slouching, and I'm letting my knees bend so that my pelvis can rotate around my hips.

And I'm gonna go back and back dropping the ribs and dropping the ribs and dropping the ribs. And now I have to come up. How the heck are we gonna come up on a day when we're tight? Well, we bring the knee in, we give it a little giddy up, and we push our leg down and we lift up. And this time when you roll back, you're gonna take one knee in with you and you're gonna reach the elbows as you roll the ribs.

Inhale, exhale. Come up, push reach, roll up and forward. Reach forward, roll ribs, reach and rotate. Move the hips. Move the trunk on purpose because lengthening the sides of your body is a good thing.

And rest, Ooh, press the feet, lift up the bridge. So we work the front body then we work the back body, connecting it with the breath. You could also take both legs in. Use a little momentum, lift the head curl up. Because momentum is something that we think is bad or people say, don't use momentum.

But sometimes momentum will comes to our favor. And now when we do ball rolling and we pull the knees in and we let the elbows go out and we balance like a ball, we have to pull the front ribs back so that we create this rounded flexion connection. Then we inhale and exhale. Inhale, exhale. Now inhale here.

Exhale be patient. Inhale, exhale. Inhale. One more time. Exhale, inhale. Legs out, long spine stretch forward, stack up, drip down.

As you drip, you reach, reach, reach, reach all the way down. Woo. That gets really good, really challenging. Get your breath going. So now we start our very traditional series of the abdominal series. We're going to learn the exercises first.

You've seen this in a lot of classes and maybe you've experienced it as well, but we're actually gonna do it a little bit differently today. We're gonna use our arms to the ceiling, and the reason why is when you press your arms up just a smidge kind of invites the ribs down. So the first part of this exercise we're going to do is with the head down. So one leg comes in, we sink the belly, tighten up the tummy, other leg comes up. So we're gonna keep reaching up with the arms.

I'm moving that on purpose just so you can see what I'm doing. And then we're gonna reach one leg away and pull the other leg in. So a lot of times when we just keep doing this, I'm just gonna ramble. And then when you need to stop you just rest and stop and then turn and listen and then come back and reach your arms. And a lot of times we go, oh, reach the leg really, really long.

But what I'd like you to do today is pull one of your legs really, really in with your belly and your hip muscles and pull one leg in and pull it in and pull it in. And then, so then you're really feeling as your arms push up, you're really feeling that diagonal relationship when you pull the leg in rather than always thinking about reaching it away. Both of course are valid, both of them work, but sometimes it's fun to change that up a little bit. So that exercise, which we call single leg stretch, turns into reach, curl hold the leg. You see how that just becomes this exercise?

Let's get 10, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, rest. Press the feet lift up. Now in this bridge here, let's have a mini little conversation about where your head is, because the bridge of your nose is what pulls your head backwards into the mat. Because what happens sometimes when we bridge is people do this, you see? And they smash their chin and that changes that.

We don't wanna smash the chin. You want the head to lengthen. Bridge of the nose is the back of the occiput. Arms up, drip ribs down. I know that's a lot of information.

Press the feet, arms up, lift the bottom. The point being is, I don't want you to change your head always when you do a bridge, just leave it alone and talk to your spine. Talk to your pelvis, invite your breath, all those things. Double leg stretch. One leg comes in, other leg matches.

Two legs are now in. Arms, what are they gonna do? Well, they can hold the knees and we can go reach, hug. Reach, hug. Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale, okay? We can also push the ceiling and that gets those shoulder blades to tie in to those external oblique muscles, which are in your ribs. And then we go reach hug, but we don't hug them. Reach, pull in, reach, pull in. Then you add all that together, where we reach the elbows curl the shoulder blades, curl the ribs, and then we reach, hug.

Reach, hug. One more. Reach and hug. Come down, lift up. So now you have lots of different options, right to do that exercise, always have to fix the pants.

Always worse. Last one, lift up into a bridge. Reach your arms up to roll the ribs down. So that single leg stretch and double leg stretch. Now, we have a single straight leg.

So let's lift up the right leg, goes to the ceiling and hold that there. Keep that leg very tight. As a matter of fact, let's take the other hand and press it to create that diagonal connection. And then let's just raise this other leg up and down while you keep the pressure in these opposing extremities up above rest. Ooh, that's a good one.

I can't wait for you to try that. Left leg goes up, right arm presses creates a diagonal between the right arm and the left leg. Right leg lifts up, it lowers, it raises. How far does it lower? Well, it only lowers as far as nothing else changes.

This would be too far, right? So we just lower and raise. We keep the center, keep the pressure and then everything comes down lower down. I lift the butt. Why do we lift the butt in between these?

Well, we lift the butt because when we work the crease of the hip, it feels really good to then lengthen the ribs and then lengthen of the crease of the hip all the way out. So that that exercise single straight leg becomes single straight leg with a curl. So one leg, other leg, reach those arms just like we have been doing, reach and curl the chin in the head. And we grab, we reach, we reach. Let's focus more in the chest direction rather than the reach.

Well, we're actually focusing on both, but I want you to make a notice if you can curl up more than just stretch your leg more and then down. And we press the feet and then we lift up. Now, when a bridge this time, let's do a little hip dip. Let's give our spine a little bit of side to side motion or a little bit of dipping down. Like there's water dropping off the left hip.

And then it raises and water dropping off the right hip and then it raises. And then you drip your yourself all the way down. So we did single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg and now we do double straight leg, one knee in, sink the tummy, other leg matches. Two legs go up. If your legs can't go straight, then you bend them.

Two hands come behind the head, lift the head curl. Reach your elbows, right? Because the elbows reaching help the ribs I mean, the shoulder blades reach, which drops the ribs. And then we go lower raise, lower raise. How far do we lower Only the part where we can where nothing else changes.

Bend the knees in, lower down. Now we combine the reach, we combine this final exercise which we call crisscross into this abdominal series. And it's gonna be built from this. Reach and rotate. Reach and rotate and keep my hands together. Reach, rotate, reach, rotate, okay?

But now from my hands being there to my hands being behind my head, that increases the weight because it takes the weight back here behind my head. So at no point am I just holding my chin up like this. And you hear how my voice changes. But I'm gonna reach my elbows and curl my trunk and I'm gonna reach and rotate and come back down, reach and rotate and come back down. Can I go further?

Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe some days. Maybe other days. Can I do it with my legs lifted? Can I reach one leg out?

It's always just a question away, always just an invitation to your body away, keeping them all connected. Lower down, press the feet, lift the bum, arms up and then we drip. Turning now to the tummy, we start our extension series. So first I want you to recognize that just by being on your stomach and pressing your forearms down, starts to get us in this extended shape in our upper back. And I want you to take a couple breaths here, because now the front of the body is long and the back of the body is shortened or contracted.

(Karen breathing deeply) And then we'll lie down I'm gonna call this a goalpost lift. So we'll lift the arms and lift the chest and lower down just like this. Now, if this is too heavy for you, it gets lighter by your arms reaching this way. So you do the choice that you need to do to get 10 of these. That's two.

This is three Four. You can change it. Five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. So you can actually change how much weight you're lifting your upper back into extension just by the position of your arms. So now you're gonna press yourself up using your arms, not with them, just smash.

But pull your elbows back, reach your elbows behind you. Pick up the chest, use your arms, come back to your knees. Let your butt go back. Come forward. Now watch, I'm gonna lift my feet and I'm going to allow my thighs to drip down as I lengthen my belly and my head all the way down.

So I'm gonna use my arms to pick up three times one, two I'm gonna pick up, press back, that was my elbow no worries. Press back, lengthen my armpits by pushing forward weight bear into my arms, lift my feet. Now I'm not just sagging my waist down but I'm pressing my arms. I'm jiggling, 'cause I'm showing you up, pressing my arms. And I'm gonna let my thighs drip down all the way down.

We'll do that one more time. It's really important concept. So lift one, lift two, using my arms. Lift three, pushing arms, scooping belly, sitting back, reaching forward, lifting feet, pushing arms. I still have a belly toned.

The belly is still toned even though it's an extension, I drip, I drip and I drip all the way down for our extension. Come to lie on your side. So in the sideline position now, you're gonna start with both of your legs long. And we're just gonna lift both of these legs up and down. So now my core, right?

My trunk is gonna stay put while I lift my legs. This hand really isn't doing much but it could if it had to. And now watch. You're gonna lift and hold. You're gonna bend the knees in reach the legs away, lower down.

I shrugged a little bit that time we're gonna try not to shrug. Okay, lift, bend, lower, down. Lift, bend, lower, down. One more time. Lift and bend.

Lower and down. Let's let the legs come forward. Top leg lifts up about hip height. We've been here before. This is a very classic lengthening exercise here.

And we're gonna lift it up and down 10 times. I'm gonna count these two. I'm gonna count 'em out loud. Three, four, five. You're hitting the home stretch.

Six, seven, eight, nine, and 10. Now, you're gonna hold this and you're gonna circle it. Five, four, bottom leg presses down, three, two, stay long, one, reverse the direction. One and two, three and four, and five and then rest. Here's another good part.

The knees bend in, your torso moves forward on the mat just a little bit. But your knees bend way in, so that now you can invite your trunk again, to twist and to reach. So this arm that's on top, this is my right arm on top. It doesn't have to go all the way to the floor, it can just help coax the ribs. I could even straighten my top leg to make that be heavier that way so that I can feel the rotation and the reaching this way I can reach this arm long reach and reach and rotate.

We love the reach and rotate. Let's switch sides. Okay, two legs are reaching long. Two legs are reaching up and down. The tummy is tight.

Right as you reach the legs long, you actually feel the sides of your torso kinda cinch in. Now, we're gonna lift and bend and reach and lower. Lift and bend, reach and lower. Bottom leg presses the top leg up two knees, pull in two legs, reach away, lower down. One more, lift up, bend in, stretch out, lower down.

Let's let that bottom leg come forward a little bit. Lengthen your body out. Take this top leg very long and then this top legs gonna lift up 10 times. Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and 10. And now we circle five, four.

Bottom leg presses down the whole time. Three, that's the hard part. Two, and then one. Now reverse it one and two and three and four and five. And we lower that leg down.

Two knees bend forward, bottom arm comes forward. Take a second. Get yourself all situated so that you can invite this twist. Nothing has to be perfect here, but you do have to have these knees nicely inward because that will eliminate any back extension. And it'll kind of coax if you will, your trunk to rotate.

You can reach this bottom arm. You can reach the top leg. Reach and then bring yourself all the way back. Bring yourself up to your hands and knees and then bring yourself up to high kneeling. And then bring yourself to standing and then kneel yourself back down.

And then switch the leg that you started with. The goal here is just to do this several times. So you practice getting down and up off of the floor. Use your hands if you need to. It's okay. Take turns with a leg that you start with.

All you're looking for here is a constant clean connection. I'll do a couple here. Constant clean connection and consistency. Thank you so much for joining me today.


1 person likes this.
Karen, you are a gem.  I'm so thankful you are on Pilates Anytime!  
Loving this series! Thank you! 
Lina S
Excellent cueing and explanations. Revisiting the basics helps mastering them.
👏👏👏👏Another amazing class from Karen Thank you so much! The difference really is in the cues Your cues are so good! So important! Makes all the difference to how accessible these movements can be for anyone. I’m lapping it up! Totally enjoyed this session🙏
👏👏👏👏Another amazing class from Karen Thank you so much! The difference really is in the cues Your cues are so good! So important! Makes all the difference to how accessible these movements can be for anyone. I’m lapping it up! Totally enjoyed this session🙏
SUPER! You are the best!
Jen U
Excellent cueing and connection.  Always good to go back to basics.  I like your approach to building the exercise up.  I do this often in my classes because it helps all levels to feel successful!  Thank you!
Sue S
I enjoyed it, thank you!
I always enjoy your classes so much. Your cueing is exceptional. Thanks a lot Karen :))
Excellent class
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