Class #5581

Stretch & Strengthen

30 min - Class


In this Mat class with Jo Bezzina, you'll dive straight into work that explores the dynamics of expansion and contraction. Jo masterfully balances between stretch and strengthening exercises, playing with the contrasting concepts of expansion and contraction to help you create length and fluidity in your movements. Guided by a thoughtful approach, the use of the slightly deflated Overball and imagery will enable you to tap into and understand what muscle groups initiate each exercise.

While this class is a part of Jo Bezzina's Go Beyond Pilates Mat Challenge, it can also be taken outside of the challenge at any time.
What You'll Need: Mat, Overball

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everyone. Welcome to day 2 of our challenge. So today, we're gonna be working on the concept of expansion versus contraction, and we're gonna use the over ball to help us find that movement. So, it doesn't matter too much if your ball's a little bit bigger, a smaller, but we definitely wanna have, it's slightly deflated just to make the most of what I've got planned for us So I'm gonna place the ball onto the mat and find, the middle of your thoracic on it Feel free to adjust as we move through. I've just got my knees bent, hip width apart, and trying to find some weightedness through my pelvis. Fingers interlaced and hands behind the head.

So from here, we're just gonna roll forward, and I encourage you to roll through your pelvis as well. So we're looking to create a long curved line through the whole body. And then as we move out of that curved line, towards a neutral, again, ensuring that you're moving your pelvis, notice the weightedness of the head in the hands and use that to encourage that sense of expansion, the pelvis is also gonna tip anteriorly. All those hip bones here are gonna come forwards towards your thighs, And we're just gonna take a moment here. Just take a breath in. And then as you exhale, just feel that weight dropping both into the ball and towards the floor just depending on how big that ball is.

Now as we exhale and come forward, I'd like you to actually work with the ball. So feel as though you're pressing into it and use that to encourage the movement of your rib cage. Allow the pelvis to tip. So it's like, you know, working the two ends of the body together, lengthening out, and finding that sense of moving around the ball and with the ball So I like to think of pouring a liquid over something. So my favorite is pouring a chocolate topping over a vanilla ice cream ball that you can you can get creative Whatever works for you. We'll just do one more like this.

Just finding that connection. So we're really building that relationship with our prop rather than just using it as a little bit of a a toy. So from here, we want that weight to be, in our pelvis, but still not quite anterior tilt or posterior, fairly neutral, and we're gonna keep the hands where they are as we float one leg up and then the other into tabletop. And notice your relationship to the ball change. I have to work a little harder here to keep that weight in the ball place the first leg down and the second. And now we'll start with the opposite leg.

So left leg for me and up. And then again, noticing what happens as the weight changes as each limb moves. So we'll do another set That way you've got time. So my inclination is for my pelvis to wanna tip forward when my both legs are in the air. You might be similar.

It's also a little bit tempting just to sort of flick the rib cage up when the legs are in the air. So now we'll take the stakes up a little higher. We'll float both legs up just as before, and we're gonna have both hands over on one leg straightening the other, going into our single leg stretch. So here it's really tempting for the ball to wanna push you off. So you're having to work quite hard moving backwards into the ball. So it's not really the same feeling as when you're on the floor.

Really having to kind of find that feeling of length through your spine and really work the flexion without tucking the pelvis under excessively. Last one to each side, I think will be plenty. And we're gonna take our legs in place them down onto the ground and stretch them out long, and then gonna find quite an expansive position here on the floor for our teaser. So you may need to adjust a little bit as we move through this in case the ball moves. But rolling forward, find that connection through your center as you lift up, really reaching through the pinky fingers. And then as you roll down, you'll need to work on your timing So that as the legs come down to the ground, you can find that extension through your body.

So it's similar to doing teaser on the reformer. So we're gonna close through the center of our body, move into the ball, push forward with the limbs. And then as we roll down, find that work into the floor and into the ball. So really anticipating how we're going to connect both in space and then into the prop. And I think I think we should do one more.

So exhale rolling forward, working into that ball, finding that lift, and then rolling down all the way out into that beautiful tee, coming on up into a seated position, gonna take the ball in front of us, and our legs straight. So hands are going to be on the ball. Now because this ball is a little deflated, our relationship with it might be a little different than you anticipate, gonna roll through the upper body, not moving the ball, so the elbows will bend, and then we're gonna push it forward. And think about the feeling of when the ball was behind you and try to create that same connection. Gonna lengthen the body pulling the ball towards us feeling that drawing together of the shoulder blades, and then push the ball away once more, and rolling back up. So, again, here, our position of the ball is pretty fluid, so happy for you to change that about a little, rolling down and pushing forward.

Drawing through, feeling that wrap and the connection through the back line of the body, pressing through again, and rolling back up. Let's do that two more times. So rolling down So I'm trying to get that initial lift before rolling the ball forward. And then moving from my breastbone, rather than flicking the head, drawing through and rolling up. Using your hands in just whatever way allows you to feel like you're in control of the ball and you're not having to move it around on the ground more than is necessary, and bring it through and rolling back up. So my upper back's feeling really nice after that. I'm going to scoot myself down and place the ball between my inner thighs just a little lower than the knee, taking the arms long, and we're gonna roll the body up into a nice bridge, feeling that sense of length through the spine and opening up through the hips. I'm gonna take the arms overhead for this variation.

I'm gonna make a fist, but if you wanna have your hands in a different position, that's fine. Just really activate them. We'll float the feet or the heels up, and we're gonna move into more of an extended position as our hips dip down towards the floor. Flope the pelvis back up, find that connection back into a post serious tilt reaching the heels down, and then roll the spine back down to the floor all the way back to neutral. And we go again. So roll Find your usual bridge position here. And then when the heels lift up, you can find a little more extension.

We're gonna dip the tail towards the floor and then float back up before lowering the heels, reconnecting into our neutral position and laying the spine back down to the ground. Okay. Let's do another 2 or 3 really sort of taking some opportunity to find some flow now that you know what to expect, floating back up, connecting with the heels as you find that connection back into your neutral position, roll. So acknowledging neutral, even though we're moving beyond it in different ways, Roll the pelvis, sink the heels, energized through the arms, and final one, rolling up neutral. We go beyond. We drink it up. What a lovely nourishing feeling for the tissues.

Sinking the heels back down and rolling back to the floor, finding the earth to support us. So ball's gonna go between our hands, and we're gonna bring our legs up into a nice sort of a v position floating the legs long and just making sure you've got that weightedness through the tail. The arms are also going to go up, press into the balls as the legs go wide reaching forward, and then as the legs close, reaching up. So we'll do 6 exhale and inhale. And thinking about how you can keep that weight into the tail So you're still connecting into a contraction without losing the lift and the length. And if you're a little tighter through the hips, that can be a bit more of a challenge. One more here, And then we're gonna place the ball between the ankles, lay the head down, going into some in inversion.

Legs will straighten, we'll go up and over finding our jackknife, really pushing down through the arms, lowering the legs Nice and cleanly through the hips and laying the body back down. Reaching the legs away, find that wrapped through the backs of the thighs, rolling over and up, finding that lift. Now you can stay with this, but otherwise we're gonna try a little clock screw. So going up and over from here, take the legs over to the left. Now I'm gonna use my left leg into the ball as I come down to help whip my legs around, right leg now has to do a little bit more work and lifting up into our jackknife.

Lowering down, going over to the right, working the right leg, rolling down use your left leg now into the ball as you find your jackknife. Let's do that one more time. So going over to the left really work the left leg into the ball down around over to the right and up through the center, lowering down, take both legs over to the right, use the right leg. Lay it down. Scoop.

Up and over, find that lift, lowering from the hips, and laying the body down keeping that sense of lift up into the armpits, even though you're rolling down to the ground. So from here, taking the ball, onto your chest, creating a nice pressure from your arms into the ball, but also feeling like you're lifting your chest up into the ball as well. So it's 2 way relationship. We come forward, and we're going into our crisscross, so rotate and twist really using that breath. And with the ball on the chest, really having that focus on what's actually initiating this movement and twist. Let's do one more to each side.

Or maybe an extra one. It does feel really quite good. And then center. And let's bring ourselves back up into a seated position. So over onto our side, I'm gonna place the ball under our ribs, And the top leg is actually going to be bent, bottom leg straight, and just gonna use the ball as a little bit of a guide for our breath work.

So as we breathe into the ball, the top side of our rib cage is going to benefit. We're gonna get that expansion. And then as we exhale, we can think about creating that fluidity into the ball and weight into the ground. This time, we're going to lift the bottom leg, though. So an inhale and exhale lower.

Let's do another 5 of those. I'm just really thinking about how the movement of the ribs into the ball helps to create that connection into your center and lifting that leg Last one. Ah, it's quite nice to focus our breath into the side body. So now depending on the size of your ball, you may need to bring it into your waist a little bit more. We're going to take the bottom leg nice and straight top hand's gonna go, underneath the head. I'm gonna go through, like, a bicycle movement here, so kicking the leg forward, pulling the heel to the buttock, bringing it back and through. Now because this movement's a little less stable, we're gonna really use the opportunity to breathe into the ball to help find our centering and our stability.

So every time you need to send that breath into the body, try to direct it into the side closest to the ball. And one more Let's go the other way. Pull. Reach. Pull back from the back of the thigh. Try to keep that connection as you bend the knee.

I find this one, and a really nice challenge And that ball is really just a reminder more than anything else. One more. Pull in and reach forward. Alright. Let's take the ball out. This one's a little different.

So we lie flat, The bottom leg will be straight, and the top knee is going to go on the ball. The position as the top hand's pretty important because we're gonna create an, energy that both pushes down, but also sort of pushes forward, even though the hander doesn't move in space. So initially, we pretend that somebody is pulling the knee, but the pelvis doesn't move, which of course is not going to, be the case very long. That pelvis is going to follow along. Quite soon. We're getting a nice opening up through the inner thigh.

We create that downwards force through the hand, and we think about moving the pelvis first and then having that leg follow and embed itself deep into the hip socket. So we go leg and then pelvis aiming to keep the ribs pretty steady as best as you can manage. Do this 3 more times just so you can find that opportunity to explore how this movement starts and finishes You could probably do this with a foam roller too. And moving from the pelvis, and then bringing the leg in one more, reaching the knee, and then finding that lovely twist and then bringing the pelvis back to its home position and sliding that thigh bone nice and deep into the hip socket. So let's do the other side.

We're gonna start with our ribs on the ball, laying down, and our top knee on the ground. So we'll take a first breath just thinking about breathing into the ball and noticing that expansion that happens on the other side, and now we'll add the leg lift. And very easy here to be focused just on the leg moving, but we wanna make sure that the breath is actually our focus and our priority and that the leg movement is almost just facilitating that. So it's like Bellows Pumping. And one more, Now from here, remember we're going to use that ball mainly as a reminder, finding that long line on the underside of the waist Top leg comes up.

We're going into a bicycle movement, pulling the heel to the buttock, reaching back and stretching forward. And when you feel like you're losing your stability, you're gonna use the breath into the side that is closest to the ball to help ground us Top hand's gonna go behind the head, feeling that sort of, balance between the two arms, one more in this direction, forward, pull, sweep, and reach. And we'll go the other way. Pull, bring it through, reach it forward, and finding a way that you can use your arms to help your focus on the breath as well. Remember, it's all about expansion and contraction here. So how can you feel that expansion through the upper body while you're creating that contraction?

Into the belly and through. We're gonna take that ball. So this slightly funny one here, bottom leg, nice and long, top knee on the ball. And initially, we're keeping the pelvis still. So the knee will travel forward. And then the pelvis will follow, and we might notice that inner thigh stretch where the hand comes in handy is that we're pressing down that might create that connection into your belly without you even realizing how much you needed it.

So the knee travels first As you rotate, your abdominals might just feel a little softer, which is really nice, And then the hand will kick in. You'll feel that support. Draw the pelvis back, allowing the knee to follow. Let's do 2 more. Reach and take it through, moving through the pelvis, drawing the thigh back, and one more.

I love this one. And drawing it through. Alright. Let's take ourselves back onto all fours, and we're gonna keep something that we did a little earlier, the ball is going to go onto the chest, and we're going to be stabilizing, with the opposite arm So we're gonna inhale and bring ourselves into that lovely thread the needle position, and then exhale to rotate. And with the ball in place, again, targeting that movement from the center of our body, And as we continue, can you keep both sitting bones reaching back nice and even to the wall space behind you.

So tempting with the usual version of the thread the needle just to make it about the arm and the shoulder. Ugh, I could do this one all day, but we have things to do. Including the other side. So other hand goes on to the floor. We're gonna start the movement by opening, breathing in, And then exhale rotate.

Oh, so good. And around. I'm working quite hard through my supporting arm because, especially as we go into that rotation, some of us will find it by wanting to sink. So really finding that opposition means that we're going to have to move from the spine and from the ribs. And how about we just do one more?

Opening up, and then rotating. Hey. Good. So the ball is now just gonna rest on the floor, and we're placing our breastbone on the ball. So if this isn't comfortable for you, you can do it without the ball, or perhaps deflate your ball a little bit further. We'll have the two hands stacked and let the forward rest on the hands. Taking a breath in here as though you're trying to inflate the ball, And notice how that expands the back of your body, exhale and drop into the ball further. We'll just do that once more.

Now from here, we're going to take that breath in. Exhale to fall into the ball and feel as though you're trying to push the ball forward with your breastbone, allowing the movement of extension to follow from the center of the body forwards, ending at the head. And then as we come back through, we're gonna move from the breast bone drawing the ball in underneath us, allowing the head to end, take that breath in, exhale fall into the ball, and then press the breastbone forward as though you wish the ball to roll all the way to your hands. Stay there. Take a breath in. And then as you exhale, feel the weight of your chest draw the ball in underneath you.

Hey, let's do another 2. And as you do this extension movement, see if that support from the ball allows you to drop the lower ribs down and find that openness all the way through the inner line of your hips. Rolling back down. And this is going to be quite important in the next exercise, dropping down, sending the breath down into the ball, into the mat, finding that space through the front of the hips, long line in our in our expansion, keeping that long line in our contracted position. From here, make any adjustments with the ball that you may need. I'm gonna grab hold of the ankles or the top of the foot and come up into a little preparation for the rocking when we breathe in and exhale.

A quiet movement. That's much smaller than it would ordinarily be, but a really nice opportunity to explore breath into the front. And then coming down, Hands on the floor and moving into a quick little child's pose. Okay. Left now take the ball between our thighs, like we had it earlier. Just maybe have a quick glance, make sure that your shin's and feet are aligned with the knees.

Gonna take that time just to reach down through the front of the thighs, and it's quite, can be a little tempting sometimes to wanna hang forward. So the more we can energize both the knees and the feet or the shins, whatever you can reach, down into the ground. That's gonna give us our nice lift. Let's also see if we can just tilt the pelvis a little bit finding that length in the lower back, though, so we're not hanging forward to do so. Arms will reach forward, and we're gonna open them out to the side as we draw in on the ball.

From here, exhale, scooping long, imagine that the ball is still sitting up high where you had it right at the beginning of the class, push down through the knees, through the shins, find that reach, let's actually go for a nice little thigh stretch here with arms out wide. We're gonna return up to the start, but from here, take the back arm up, we're gonna reach for our foot and press down with our hands as we find that beautiful expansion through the diagonal of the body, bringing ourselves back to upright other side around and over, push down as you reach up and then lengthen. So we go again. Exhale flexion. Think of the ball being up high on your back.

Open, keeping that long line, moving into our thigh stretch, and up going into our rotation and extension, and and rotation and extension. And one more set, round, Open, fire stretch, float up, rotate, and find that gorgeous line all the way from right through the left and open All the way up. And then let's take our hands onto the floor. Keep the ball where it is. Tuck the toes under and bring yourself up into standing.

I'm gonna find that nice sense of grounding. Think of the outside edges of your feet reaching down, but also drawing up through the ball. So we're gonna lift the arms as we reach the heels down take the arms out to the sides as our heels lower. Let's do that two more times, reaching down through the feet, pulling up, into the ball, lowering the heels down, one more, pressing down, finding that energy, work with the ball, and, maybe we do one more just to, recover from our little slip lifting up and lowering down. I almost lost it. Maybe you did too.

Gonna take the ball out from between my knees, and we'll call it a wrap. Thank you so much for joining us in the class today, and look forward to seeing you in the next one. Thank you so much for joining me in day 2 of the challenge. I hope you feel just as elongated and contracted in your body as I do and really feeling that balance. In day 3, we're going to find the balance between working from the center our body and working from the ends. It's gonna generate a lot of heat. It's gonna be fun, and I hope you'll join me.


Clara Z
This was great ad I"m loving your style; but the third exercise in the sideline series; I just couldn't get from the cueing?  Also it's hard to see what you're doing from the video.  Are you moving your knee around the ball?  or?  I'd love some clarification!  Thank you!! 
Amy P
1 person likes this.
Lovely class, thank you!
1 person likes this.
Loved your class and your manner.  Thank you so much.
Laura Maria
1 person likes this.
Love the thread the needle and criss cross variations! And all of it really 
1 person likes this.
Wonderful combinations with the ball. Criss cross and thread through the needle with ball on breastbone was terrific! Thank you for your calmness and elegance in the movement.
2 people like this.
I love your great spirit, your positive energy and the great variation! Thank you Joe Bezzina!
1 person likes this.
Thanks Jo that was a nice stretch and the overball is my favorite!!
1 person likes this.
Love this class. Thank you Joe
1 person likes this.
Such a lovely class, thank you :)
Hello Clara Z and thank you for taking the time to reach out (I apologise that it has taken me so long to reply). The variation I think you are referring to is essentially an adductor release combined with a rotation of the pelvis and lower segments of the spine. The idea is to find space within the hip joint and control the movement of the pelvis against gravity. The cues I offer are aimed to avoid those of us with lots of laxity in our connective tissue hanging into the joints. I hope that helps but please reach out again if you need some more direction- I'm always happy to help!
1-10 of 15

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Pilates Anytime Logo

Move With Us

Experience Pilates. Experience life.

Let's Begin