Class #70

Mat Basics

25 min - Class


Meredith describes the fundamentals exercises for the student at home while teaching a class to her student Joe. Basic explanations are given for post-lateral breathing, neutral pelvis and the fundamental exercises from the pelvic curl to the basic back extension. This is a good class to help you get started with your Pilates practice and a great review for the student with limited experience.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Feb 02, 2010
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Today we're going to explore the fundamental exercises. I'm Joe, I'd like for you to just breathe in and breathe out naturally. And, and while you do that, just kind of think about what's happening in your body as that natural process happens. So as we inhale and exhale and everyday living, we will notice the chest rise and fall. Perhaps the abdominals rise and fall. That's by no means an incorrect breath pattern or an incorrect thing to happen in our bodies. It's just the way that we respond to bringing air in and expelling air out. What we want to try to find a little bit differently with the polite his breath is, um, a sense of heaviness through the abdominals perhaps. And, and definitely maybe eventually a deep contraction in the abdominals throughout the inhale and the exhale. So what I'm going to ask Joe to do here is try to put a little bit more intention as he breathes in and out into expanding his ribs.

Kind of out into my hands, Joe. And then as you exhale again, let the McDonald's just be heavy and feel the ribs slide down the front of the body. Exhale all the air out of your body. And in that way you'll be able to feel quite simply a contraction of your abdominals in healing. Again, feeling the ribs expand broadly and XL. Just feel the chest relaxed downwards. The ribs start to knit together. It's potentially a corset like feeling and in through the rib area and through the waist area. So that's just the difference between natural or diaphragmatic breath and posterolateral breath, which is what we call pole Polonius breath. Um, intentionally breathing, not only to the sides, but also expanding the ribs in the back of the body to increase air flow into the lungs. And uh, with that Joe, ah, breathe in this time as you breathe out, I just want you to start to again, draw your abdominals in and press your spine into a flat position.

So he started in a neutral spine, meaning he was straight across through his tailbone, handheld rock your pelvis, back to a neutral spine position and Xcel and just flatten the spine. So I invite you to try to do that with this little pressure on your feet as possible with as little leg activities as possible and just in Hillshire rock back feeling the difference between a neutral spine where the tailbone is down in the front. Hipbones are straight across and a talk where the spine is flat and the pubic bone has curled upwards towards the face in healing to relax. We're going to take that all the way up into a pelvic curl. Now here we go. Breathing into prepare, so Joe's going to start with that really from contraction through the abdominals. That's the first step for our pelvic Caroll.

Then he's going to start to articulate his spine at bone by bone, meaning his pelvis is lifting up. As his pelvis lifts up, he has to start to engage the muscles in the backs of his legs, so he's working there. He's going to lift his hips up. Note that he comes to a straight line between his shoulders and his knees. He inhales to hold there. As he exhales, he's going to come down to start from the chest, allow chest to relax away from the chin, feel the ribs, start to slide down. Just working real hard to keep his shoulders down away from his ears by reaching his arms in the direction of his heels as he rolls down. If he weren't doing that, they'd kind of slide up into his ears like so.

Breathe in again. Let's move, excelling as you articulate. So in order to find the backs of the legs, which is one of our muscle focuses, we want a sense of the knees reaching out over the feet, or perhaps a sense of the heels pulling back towards the hands. Both of those things in my mind mean the same thing. Breathe in and breathe out. So we're using the, the front of the body here are the abdominals to manipulate to articulate the spine, creating space between the bones of the spine. I'm just going to ask you to straighten your arms a little bit. Going again, inhale and exhale. We're rolling.

So it's a spinal articulation exercise. Also looking for some pointers. I would generally wants to happen as the knees will want to splay apart, and what we want to do there is just, you should see that your knees are straight out in front of your hips. That might entail you putting a little bit of extra weight or more weight than usual on the insides of your feet. Taking a breath, excelling to come down, the pelvic cra, spinal articulation, abdominal control, hip control, lots of things going on in that exercise. All right, so we're going to head into the spine to a supine Joe. What I want you to do is just bring your arms straight up over your shoulders and then allow them to just drop out to the sides a little bit.

Now they're gonna. There's no space between the mat in your arms and you know we're just going to have to live with that. I'm pulling in your abdominals. I want you to pick up one leg, so let's try and make every contraction or every movement and piles worth it. Meaning nothing is wasted again. So he's going to engage his abs.

He's going to pick up that heavy leg with his abdominal muscles. And now his legs are up in what we call a tabletop position. Tabletop position refers to the position in which the knees are straight above the hips, the feet are straight down from the knees and the knees are together and touching. And now that may be big, a bigger challenge for some of us than others. Now as Joe Inhales, he's going to take his legs towards me. So it's a l, it's a lateral fucker. It's a rotational exercise. Anyway, so he's going to inhale and he's excelling. He's contracting through as the sideways pulling his ribs down.

The the or or the way my hand is moving is the way his muscles are contracting to bring him home. Note that his knees stay perfectly lined up with one another and he's actually picking up his bottom hip in order to make that happen. Good. And just keep your arms about as high as the mat, so you're going to have to do a little work there. So, and he also, what generally happens is that the knee that's furthest away tends to want to drop down lower than the knee. That's closest to me anyway, so he Joe's going to pick up that side of his pelvis so his knees can be too connected and come back. Keep moving, Joe. It's really not a big movement, so he's not going so far that he can't keep his opposite shoulder blade down and then he's thinking about a lot contraction or a underneath of arm contraction leading into a rube contraction leading into a pretty formidably construction. Jill, let's do one more on each side. Skews me.

There's your inhale and here's your exhale. Good. So he's real heavy through his abs. That's his focus here in heels, feet. Her Leyenda knees are connected together. I'm not real really helping them. Just giving them a little bit of resistance. I'm going to work at work against and a guiding him into position with my hands.

All right, Joe, put his feet down one at a time, please. The spine twist Supine, mobilize the lower back. Get that ready for some, some more movement that are to come. So, um, reach your hands fully. Interlace your hands. Place your hands behind your head so the hands shouldn't be at the neck, they should be just kind of, the thumb should hook just under the base of the skull. And then the hands kind of fan out behind the head. From there, the elbows are slightly lifted away from the Mat, just in a place where Joe can see them in his periphery.

In order for him to feel his shoulder blades pull down and, and not a lot of tension in his neck. So the chest lift, just get your feet in just a little bit closer. Okay, so you're going to breathe in, prepare as you exhale, feel the back of the head first. Reached back lengthening could start to curl your head and chest up off the mat. He's pushing his ribs down just a little bit, feeling and knit together. He's going to exhale all the air out of his body. He's looking for his height. Good. Inhale to pause at the top.

And this is a more complicated feeling. Exhale, feel the abdominals working or drawing downwards as he comes in or down. Go again. Breathing in at the bottom, breathing out. Feel a sense of lengthening first. Drop the head it heavy in the hand. So I encourage everyone to to find a place where your hands feel kind of like a hammock for your head and your head is as heavy as a bowling ball. And, and with that, the, the work actually comes from the abdominals. Go ahead and inhale, pulling in and excelling to release down so you know the breath pattern and the movement pattern. Go ahead and keep it up. Breathing in.

Prepare Jo's working to try to keep a neutral pelvis, meaning go ahead, meaning that he's not tucking or, or using his legs or using his hip muscles to, to move his pelvis as he lifts his upper body. That's gonna work his abdominals most efficiently in nail pause and excellent. He's trying to create a little space as he pulls his abdominals in XL is to come down. So he's creating a sense of space between the ribs in the hip. Inhale, exhale. Coming up. This is our last one, although he's not intentionally talking, his pelvis are moving away from a neutral spine position. It is important that if his low back isn't able to connect to the ground, you can bias towards a little bit of a Tuck. He's doing a pretty good job and I know him so I know that he's all right and he's not. He's not needing to text.

So go ahead and lengthen down an extra six exercises. Just lift with rotation. Here it comes. Breathe in. Prepare as you breathe out, lift again the head and chest. Feel the ribs. Start to slide down the front of the body. I'm going to let Joe reach behind his thighs for just a moment. Hang on with both hands.

Pull up just a little higher or just look for intensity so it's not a great deal of height. We want up off the shoulder blades. I'm just giving him a break, giving him a chance to really solidify his position here. Drop your tailbone down just a little bit and here we go. He's going to bring his hands back behind his head for the chest lift with rotation fully into locked hands and head heavy. So it's going to be, your eyes are going to look just over the knees. The elbows are nice and wide. We're going to go to the back of the room first. It's an exhale to lift up and across and an inhale to come back through center.

So you'll see that it's not a huge movement. I'm going to challenge Joe to see if he can turn his waist without turning his face. Meaning he's going to keep his head a little heavier. He's not gonna let his eyes do the movement or his shoulders do the movement. He's thinking about the opposite rib. Come into the opposite hip and he's keeping his height in center. Opposite Rib, opposite hip. We'll get that back inside rib connected. Good.

And by that what I'm talking about, this is the last one, Joe. I know it's tough. He, I want him to cross the body with the outer rebut. Also connect the inner ribbon across the body with the outer rib or think rib to hit. But also don't let this rib totally go in y'all to come back to center. And that is plenty. You're probably had enough of those anyway. Yeah. Alright, so just lift in chest lift with rotation, some pretty fundamental exercises. I'm definitely fundamental exercises that never actually will get any easier.

Unfortunately. They'll just get harder and harder as you're able to go deeper and deeper into your body and your mind body process. So with that, I'm going to head into supine rocking. So I'm gonna ask Joe to once again pick up one leg at a time. He's going to do so with some intention, some support through his friend. It's important for those of us who may have, you know, back pain or back problems to, to start to educate the body to work from a correct place.

We start to educate the abdominals that they support the spine. So should be used whenever possible, including real life. Okay, so take your hands behind the backs of your thighs and you're just going to curl your head and chest up. All right, so it's not a very large movement here. What Joe's going to do to go ahead and start rocking today. He's gonna start to come up and he's going to go back and I'm not going to push him. I'm going to let him find his range of motion. So what he's doing is just massaging his spine.

It's an abdominal exercise as well. And he's team pretty round through his back now. Had to make this harder on yourself. If you're into it, don't kick the legs. Yeah, yeah. Push. Let's let do this. But your hands in your up pushed the back of your hands into your legs and push your legs into your hands.

Now try and solidify that shape around a little more and then just go tailbone to shoulders to elbow and to shoulders. It's going to be more habs. Yup. And got it. So he could just, he could stay back a little further. He is coming up each time. We should just makes it harder on him and that's just fine for me. Good. We're doing one more Joe and bring yourself all the way up and then I'm just going to let him stretch his legs out and have a stretch forward and go ahead.

So for those of us who are a little tight in the back of our legs, it's helpful to bend the knees when stretching forward, but in that position also make sure that the knees are pointing straight up. Where is rather than just flopping out to the side or for that matter into the middle. Um, in order to functionally stretch the muscles of the legs, just get back just a smidge for me. All right, so we're going to do the spine stretch forward and we're going to modify it. So what I'd like for you to do is bend your knees and put the bottoms of your feet down on the mat. Yep. Just like that. And they're going go a little wider and they may need to go a little further away from you depending on how comfortable you feel in that position. So just basically I want you to be pretty happy and pretty sure that you can sit up pretty tall. Lots of pretties there. You're a pretty tough guy too.

So there we go. Okay, so put your hands just just on the outsides of your shins. Okay. So push in and with that push in, and what I mean by pushing is just engage the muscles of your back to pull your chest forward. And so you just have a little work happening in, in the back muscles here. All right, now imagine that you're sitting up against a wall. What you're going to be doing is rounding down one bone at a time away from said wall. Take a breath and expand through the back. And here you can actually, you'll actually be able to see it, especially when it goes forward. So start with the head. Now. As the chest falls forward, the abdominals are pulled deeply and, and he's just gonna start to slide his hands down towards his ankles as he goes down. Not that he's not letting his shoulders hunch into his ears. He's still pretty active in the muscles, just underneath his arms. Inhale, pass there. And as you exhale, again, focusing on the front of the body, allow the spine to start to restack.

So he's very much engaged through his abdominals, are very much working to create space in his spine as he works to come back towards the city. And that was lovely Joe. Let's do it again. Excelling as he drops his head in kind of long in the low back as he curves his upper back. So it's like a seated chest lift perhaps. And then as he continues to go forward with his spine, he continues to pull deeper and deeper into his abs. Now watch this. Inhale big expansion into the back of the rib. You'll actually see his bat get bigger. Xcel start to knit those ribs together.

Feel this bind. Start to mobilize Elon intentional feeling of lifting up upwards, not just sitting up, but actually trying to defy gravity. Defy the space that you're sitting and let's do two more. Excellent. As he rounds down, he's still doing that little, I'm pushing into my legs a little just to engage my back muscles. I'm avoiding curling my shoulders up into my ears.

I'm real deep in my abs as I go down. And in that way, he's getting himself as stretch in the back, which is what we're after here. Take a breath, exhale, drawing the abdominals in. Start to Elongate the spine. Maybe he'll feel a little bit more easy in the movement as it happens each time. So just a little taller for me. Yeah, it's like it that top places, like someone's pulling you up, up to the ceiling. That's it. And then here's our last one.

Okay. The spine stretch forward, modify. This can also be done with, you'll see people do it with straight legs or slightly bent knees. This is a really good place to come back to you if necessary. X, Helen, to come all the way out growing the spine, creating space between the bones of the spine, supporting that movement from the front. All of those are important things to think about in the spine. Stretch, exercise, lovely work. All right, I want to have you lie down on your right side, facing that way. I'm on your right arm. Your right arm is going to be straight up.

Okay. And then Joe, I want you to bend your bottom knee. So it comes up just in front of your hip. Foot goes just in front of the Nisa and a little bit higher maybe. So what we've done is created kind of a, um, square, like tripod of strength. It didn't really make, it wasn't clear anyway, head down.

So a square like tripod of strength to me means his legs in a 90 degree angle. So this is an exercise where the leg is going to be lifting up in space. But what we're, we're trying to target as the muscles around the trunk. So Joe, what I'd like for you to do is, um, just bring your leg a little forward. You're a little bit behind yourself. Okay. And then he's gonna, he's going to keep his supporting.

I'm just kinda right in front of his abdominal. So that's just going to give him a sense of am I working? Can I feel it just to a guidance I'd place of guiding. All right? And then I'm gonna have him reach his leg so far away from him so far away that eventually it has to have her up off the mat. Okay, so there he is.

Note that his hips are stacked one right on top of another. If I had a wall behind him, that would be his hips would be stacked right up against it. All right now, now that that leg is lifted, Joe, I want you to try to relax the leg and space without dropping it down. Okay, so we're going to intentionally hold the the leg up from the muscles in the sideway, specifically the upper muscles, and then we're going to take the leg down, reach it away from you as it goes down. Squeeze in right here under my fingers and reach up, but also away from you. So no, and he's just going to keep going here. He's positioned his head on his arms so that his spine is in alignment.

He's looking straight ahead of himself. He's not changing anything in his trunk. In fact, as he lifts and lowers the leg with the intention of away from himself, he's creating more space. He is in essence working those muscles pretty functionally. Here. I just put my hand here so I can encourage him to go deeper. So if that's something that you want to do for yourself, it just write and right kind of underneath the side of your body, you'll be able to feel those muscles.

Contract depth is what you're looking for here. This is going to be our last one, Joe and them. And have you changed sides? So he's reaching out, reaching out, no that nothing changes right in here. Go ahead and lower the leg down and then just sit yourself up and spin yourself around to the other side. In fact, why don't you face yes this way. Okay. Okay, so just a view from behind. Same setup. Joe.

I knee at 90 let's see, should I just lie down on your own? Yeah, the other side. Alright. Okay. Okay, so he's got the same set up. I'm just showing you the same thing from behind. So again, he's, he hasn't let his shoulder crawl forward. Let's get you moving Joe. So we can, we can. So reach the leg away, pick it up gently, and then do your very best to try to relax the leg and space. So putting the focus into the waist instead of in the leg from there, let the leg lower, but reach it away from you and then pick it up.

So you'll notice the space between his pelvis and the space underneath his ribs right in here. If he were to lift his leg any higher than he's lifting, that space would change. It would shorten. Well, he's doing a really good job and focusing on lengthening and putting a lot of attention to the waist. So the back is actually very still here. And even though it seems like a real simple movement, there should be a pretty significant effort and the place that the effort should be focuses in the trunk, may or may not feel the muscles and they have just a little bit. But let's, um, all remember to focus in that upper abdominal muscle. All the oblique. Now again, one last thing, his shoulders, it's not kinda crunching up into his ear. He's got a little bit of work supporting his shoulders. They're single side like left Jack. Good work. All right, I'm over onto your abdominals if you would please all the way down, things on your forehead and your arms at your sides. Okay, so I'm just going to make sure Joe's lined up nice and straight.

Bring this leg over just a little bit, Joe for me. Who would go on basic back extension here. All right, so I'm going to have Joe turn his pinky fingers to face upwards. Thumbs face down. Now the most important part in my mind anyway of back extension is that we're supporting properly from, from our abdominals and that is going to help us support our lower spine. So we're not getting too much work there or all the work.

They are not enough work in the upper back where where we most need it. Really? Okay, so what Joe is going to do is going to try to lift his abdominals off the floor. Now, they may or may not lift off the floor, but they're definitely tight now and he's gone into a little bit of a shift forward with his pelvis, which is going to lengthen his low back and protect it from there. Inhale, Joe, as you exhale, you're going to stretch your start to stretch your arms down the sides of your legs. Reach your head in opposition like you're trying to pull taffy in your spine and lift up just up off the chest. So it's not a big move in, but he's feeling a lot of work. I know it. Taking another breath in and as you exhale, I want you to lengthen downwards.

So stretching the head forward, stretching the feet away from you, taking another breath. As you exhale, slide the arms down the sides of the body, so he's kind of pushing gently into his, into the sides of his legs. He's working really hard not to just arch his lower back, which is of utmost importance. Breathe in and be that as you lengthen down, and Nancy goes down similar to the chest lift, which was just a movement in the opposite direction. He's thinking of working in both directions here and it, go ahead again, please note that as he comes up, he doesn't take his eyes forward. If his eyes were to go forward, it would create too much tension in his next of his eyes are down, maybe just slightly forward of himself.

So he gets a little bit of an arch in his neck and go ahead and really [inaudible]. And then for those of us with tight shoulders, one more time there potentially be a focus on a little bit of rear underarm rolling forward. So what he's done is, is squeeze his shoulders not very tightly together, but he's actually turned his arm, his elbow towards the side of his body in order to give himself a little bit more upper back or come and give you one more of those. So it's the feeling not of bringing the hands higher than the body, but of rolling the elbows inwards, the rear under arms forwards and just allowing that to give you a little bit more intensity in the upper back. [inaudible] that was a beautiful job. Put your hands under your shoulders. Just let your back settle as long as you need to. And then you just can push yourself up onto your hands and knees.

And with that settled back into a rest position. So rest position is where sitting down towards your feet, you could either have your arms next to your body or stretched out in front of you are really in a comfortable position for you. And what we're after and this position is just to allow the muscles of the back to stretch, to relax, specifically to relax. And, and most importantly, after we do any sort of back extension exercise, we want to let those, those muscles stretch. So the fundamentals.


1 person likes this.
Great! I love all of the small details!
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1 person likes this.
I really liked it!
1 person likes this.
This was very helpful for an absolute beginner like me. I'll watch and do this one again before moving on!
Great idea Sharon. It is so valuable to start with the basics!
1 person likes this.
Is there a way you can increase the volume? I have it turned all the way up on my netbook and I can barely hear it. Thanks.
1 person likes this.
Hi Carly,
Thank you for pointing out the volume was low for Meredith's class. The issue should be resolved now so I hope you enjoy taking the class.
I found the volume too low. It was difficult for me to hear even with my Macbook turned all the way up. Otherwise it was a very decent instruction in basics,
Bronte~ I have forwarded this volume problem to our video editing department so that they can fix it in the next week or so. Thank you for pointing it out.
Thanks Hannah. And thanks for taking class with me Bronte.
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