Class #968

Fire Up your Powerhouse

35 min - Class


Niedra teaches a class on the Wunda Chair which will make your body feel longer and stronger when you're finished. In her class, you will fire up your powerhouse and open the side of your body with variations on exercises like the Teaser, Tendon Stretch, and Mermaid. She also gives a bit of Pilates history by showing how Joseph Pilates designed the traditional Wunda Chair to be used as furniture and exercise equipment.
What You'll Need: Wunda Chair

About This Video

Mar 18, 2013
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I am so excited tonight because I'm going to be doing a window chair workout and I actually for the first time have the real traditional style window chair, which I personally grew up with and I have a soft spot for, but this is a design that Joseph Pilati is actually created the chair. And his idea was that this should be a piece of furniture in your house. And I've seen videos of him sitting there reading and then going got to do a workout. Guess what? Let's stand up, take the pillows out and this chair get tipped down swiveled around and you attack the springs. And the beauty of this whoops is that there's your wonder chair. The traditional would the chair and it was intended to be a piece of furniture in the home. So not everybody has room for reformer, but then it can have a small tool to work with.

And I just think that is so cool. So just to share, this piece of equipment has ma less spring variable. There is three springs and I decided in one tension of spring. So I'm attaching one high and one low spring for the legwork. The strength of the springs can be variable and it can go up to two high, which is a highest tension, but a one high, one low for legwork is often appropriate and each chair is slightly different. So the further forward I am, the more work it is in my powerhouse here.

It allows me a little bit more stability to balance out the pressure of the springs. So starting out at start up with my hands on the, on the chair, really lifting up and as I press down I'm lifting up through the spinal column, so I'm lengthening the trunk, lengthening the spine, pulling the stomach muscles in and up and controlling the movement of the s, the ledge down and up with my legs are the few of them slow and then quicker movement every time. Gathering the work up into my powerhouse feels wonderful. I love this chair. I have to say I'm definitely prejudice and you can hear the squeaks. It needs to be oiled bird on a purchase.

Next really wrapping the toes around as all the gripping, really climbing through to the metatarsal, the challenge hands behind. So the collarbones a nice and wide, a few of them more slow and the pressure of the spring, it's so awesome because it makes you work deep into the powerhouse and lift those lower abdominal muscles up. So you literally want to feel as though someone's pushing down in your head and every time you're getting taller and longer and then a few faster ones looking to get elongation and height. Oh it feels great. Moving on to the heels with the toll as a broad, really spreading the toes. Often the little toll is the one, whoops and I forgot hands here. So now it's up to me and my trunk to keep myself right so nice and long working the toes, working that little toe up very strongly so the feet are really active and spreading. If I was to do the feeling of the foot in the hand, that's the feeling you want to want to open up those toes.

Open up across and at the tar. So arches do faster ones. You can always add the hands here. The hands here, there's lots of variations. It can be done. Coming back onto the balls of the feet, four tendons stretch, a few, two different variations going down. My knees are going to stay steady, so now I'm really isolating my ankle and needing to work and stabilize in the hips. The lower down the ledges cap, the harder it is to challenge the alignment and the integrity and then the chair stays steady so the ledge is not moving at all and just my ankles are going up and down. It's been a bit of a brain twister, but a good one to get twisted on standing up, holding the front of the chair deeply scooping into the powerhouse and lifting up for 10 and stretch.

So there's two ways that this can be done. Making sure that the lower back is really opening, can be done with the feet on the balls of the feet or you can work again in bird on a perch, slightly different purpose or different way. This works higher into the floating ribs area. If you want to really work hard one leg at a time. Yeah, we all want to work hard, don't we?

And the other leg pulling way, way, way up, sitting down, standing up on the chair and turning around for another variation of tendon stretch. I'll put pull my legs up here. So either [inaudible] stance or parallel shoulders right over pulling the stomach muscles in and up, lowering and lifting the ankles, opening up the lower back [inaudible] so as the heels go down, really lifting up through rib cage to lengthen the back body and deepen into the powerhouse and then going for running. And the interesting thing is to keep those shoulders right over the wrists so that they are not moving. And then stepping down, letting the legs come up. So pressing down front, I have just shifted the spring.

So I have two middle springs. You can go one middle spring, two middle springs, one low, one middle, or just one middle, depending upon the strength of the spring and the potential of the client per se. So starting out Pilati stance or parallel lifting way up as it bend over, I'm making sure my hips stay forward. They need to be right over my heels, easy to go back, much more challenging to stay forward to the whole back part of the hamstrings is engaged and then deepening through the powerhouse. Depressed down, pumping three times here. Again, lengthening through the back body, rolling up to the top of the spring, which really feels fabulous in my powerhouse. I do feel very powerful. And last one and rolling up, rolling up, rolling up, rolling up, lengthening way up, all the way out and down and walking over to the back.

So with this indentation here, I'm placing my feet on the bottom ledge, leaning into the chair. I have just released one spring, so now I'm working on one middle spring, making sure my hamstrings are strongly engaged and long diagonal from the heel through the crown of the head and the fingertips. Nice long diagonal. Then deep scoop through the powerhouse as I get the hands on the ledge. And then the feeling is that, Whoa, I didn't release the spring. Just release the spring here, so one middle spring, big lift, bending over, pulling the powerhouse in and up, and then what's beautiful here is a hole back open so beautifully, so similar exercise to the one I just did before, but much more potent in releasing and elongating the spine and stimulating the muscles to get toned and to really work and one, two, and three. Now as I come up, I lean forward, I hug the midline and then I stay forward to unravel the spine, lifting up, lifting up, lifting up all the way out and down, coming up onto the ledge, hamstrings, wrap hips, nice and tight, stretching way up and scooping again to press down. This can be a variation for people who are shorter or just in order to challenge yourself extending down, trying to keep this area of the back really opened, pressing down if possible, all the way to the floor. Again, I'm pumping three times, pulling the shoulders on your back and keeping the hips forward so I can see myself.

But ideally the hips want to be as close to vertical as possible. And the further back they are, the less you're engaging into the lower part of the powerhouse. So if I was to demonstrate if I was super, super, super strong, I would be right here, but I'm not that strong. So I'm a little bit back pumped three times rolling up, rolling up, rolling up, rolling up. Now keeping the hips as far for so I can lifting the arms way up all the way out and all the way down. Fabulous. It just feels phenomenal.

Coming onto the stomach for Swan, pressing down. I'm still with one spring in the middle on this chair and working the shoulders down the back and the shoulders right above the risks. So the spine is long, can work a [inaudible] stance parallel. You can even work with the feet hip with the part. I like to have the legs extended and watch that the legs are lifted enough to engage the hamstrings.

Then shoulders down the back and pulling the chest forward and up, going back down, pumping three times again, making sure that the risks integrate into the back and the spine is long and the sternum moves forward and up pumping three times. One more time, shoulders on the back, lifting and lengthening up through the spine and coming back down. Now left-hand is coming just a here closer and the right hand is to the side. Very tempting to be here, very tempting to be dropped. It's supposed to be a complete sideways angle and the spine is long and three pumps without the spinal column shifting coming up right through the center again, and this is fabulous when you have one side of the back, uneven or one side or this is my more challenging side.

I can feel it wanting to zigzag and let me get that side to work. Very good. I'm very pleased with myself because I can feel I'm making the right side of my erector spinae fire and then one hand here stepping back and getting a nice stretch out. Now side bent, working into the side. Waist hip will come right in the center of the chair and pressing down again, the body is right on the side. This shoulder wants to go up, you want to keep it locked down and the right side of the waist long because the body wants to do that. So head is long. Hopefully my head is straight.

And then lifting up using the waist muscles. This is fabulous for the obliques. Five of these. And if possible, the feet don't move. Now from here the hips stay sideways and the hands come down. So now we're starting to bring up a huge twist into the spine.

And again the ankle stay together long, but the chest, if you can, the goal is to get as much of a parallel alignment across the collarbones. Then the legs go wide. And if I was holding somebody, I would take that back waist the top waist and length in it. So huge spiral unraveling in the waist area. Feels absolutely amazing. Ah, Soak Nice legs together and here coming back up and sitting. Just incredible. So again, I am taking my hip, placing it in the center of the chair and lowering down in double checking this.

This is definitely a placement that's dependent on body size of shoulder, right over wrist, right on the side. The top waist is long and the head is going straight and then without letting the waste shorten, lifting and lowering. So it's very tempting to kind of crunch the race, but you want to think of the bottom ribs being the one that's lifting up as much as possible. Very good. Now the hips, US stacked left-hand comes forward and moving the hands to the side of the step and really working the spiral. So my top hip is pressing back my top left shoulders pressing forward. And as I lift I'm thinking of lengthening forward towards my sternum.

At the same time, my top leg from my waist is pulling backwards in order to really work the twist. So Nice. And then the top leg goes back and again it's from the waist lengthening. In order to get that opening in the side body and fine. Such a lovely feeling. The legs come together, the hand comes into the middle, other hand comes to the step and sitting back up from here, the back twist the leg, the long end. I like to work with my hands like this.

So the legs along and the hands are up. So nice length through the side body, nice length through the ribs and the powerhouse. And I take, let's take my left hand so you can see what happens and I'm following it with my eyes. Now the right hip is down, so the arm that's stretching out in the right hip, pulling away from each other and lengthening out. This is amazing. Opening into the ribs, gathering back in the middle, other side, pressing way, way, way out, coming back and up for a side again, pressing down, opening up the side, ribs and coming up and other side, pressing down, opening up through the side, ribs and coming up. And one more time lifting every time the rib cage and the spine open up a little bit more and you just get this big open, expansive feeling across the rib. Kate such a nice feeling and coming back up and down.

And as I'm already sitting here, let me go right into the teaser. So move my pelvis a little bit further forward and I'm making sure I'm slightly back of the sit bones. So sitting on my sit bones, lifting my legs up into teaser, bringing my hands back. Fingers are pointing forward and slow. Leigh Rolling back and scooping to come back up. Rolling back.

And you can add pumps here to open up the shoulders. Open up across the collarbones but still keep that scoop and stomach muscles engaged. Rolling down one more time. Adding three pumps to three and rolling back up. It's too much. It can be done from this position a little bit easier. Kind of find what's happening. Rolling that up. Oh, the legs along the arms along if you want to add a little stretch and then sitting back down and coming up to an upright position.

Now. Kneeling Mermaid, I'm sorry, not kneeling Mermaid, but sitting mermaid. Let me see what would be a nice angle again, I have it on one spring in the middle sitting. The length of the chair. Few ways the legs can be, they can be parallel, they can be slightly turned out or they can be with one leg on top of the other. The leg closer to the legs should be on the top. So this hip is pressing down. So lifting up out of the hips.

This hand is a here forward of my shoulder line and I am pressing out but not letting my right hip leave the chair. I'm going to work this way. Now the fetus, so going a little bit deeper, a little bit deeper, a little bit deeper, and then pulling the stomach in and up in the waist up to get the leg. One more time. Big Long stretch along the whole side of the body. Come back up and legs apart, legs together for the other side.

So both hips are nicely anchored down, nicely length through the left arm. Now the right arm is slightly ahead and I take my time because this is a deep stretch and every time goes a little bit further. The big trip is not to let the hips come up so you really stretching and opening the whole side of the body. Now going as deeply down as I can. Pressing the hip, stretching the arm, coming back up and now going into Flying Eagle. One of my favorite ones on the floor. Going to move the chair slightly back.

Move my Mike out of the way because I'll be on my stomach and here we are lying on the floor so the arms along and the head is down. If possible, just this can be an amazing stretch. So lifting the head and chest up, pulling the shoulders down the back and then moving the sternum forward as the arms go down to lift up, lengthen the arms up, lengthen the stomach, lower back down to the mat. Amazing, amazing expansion and elongation in the chest. Lifting your head and chest. Pull the shoulders down, pressing down to lift up. And if you want to add three pumps, constantly making the back higher and longer and lengthening out, pulling the stomach in all the way down.

Last variation arose. Legs are in the air. Harder to do because it's just a lot of work into the hamstrings and the back. Really need some flexibility to do that. Sitting back into child's pose, opening up and taking a breath in, breath out, coming up and now kneeling mermaid. Love this one.

Traditionally the setup is as important as the exercise itself, pulling the stomach up, bending down, always nice if there's a pad on the floor and placing the hand, just the here in front of the shoulder line. This hand comes up. Now I know normally we always want the shoulders down in long but I have seen pictures of Joseph [inaudible] spotting someone in this exercise. He had their risks and he was pulling it way, way, way up to expose the high ribs and there is definitely benefit to working from this way because it releases something that can get very jammed if we're always working energetically down. So huge stretch along the whole side of the body. In my case it's my left side narrowing my hips and I press down without my hips shifting at all.

So this are pressing down is really working from the shoulder down. This arm is pressing into my ear and then with control coming back up so it really opens up the trunk. I love it. Pressing up and down and stretching through the arm, through the side body and not letting the hips wobble. If I'm working with somebody I check because usually the hips want to go somewhere else and we don't want them to go anywhere. Big Lift up, pressing down and deepening into the powerhouse of the waist is challenged, stretched and contracted all at the same time. Three times only curling the toes under and woops coming up a little bit better than me.

No Hopson supposed to be part of the agenda, so nice live, narrow hips powerhouse, active and kneeling down. The hand is down, the arm is up, lengthening and pressing down and coming up, lengthening a little bit more, going a little bit deeper and coming up and last one lengthening as far as possible, pressing down, pressing down, pressing down. Sometimes people can get the hand all the way to the chair and come back up, curling the toes under and coming back up. I did it now sitting down, pressing the chair down the legs along and really working the collarbones wide tricky to do because the body wants to collapse in looking to get that part of the rib cage in the [inaudible] between the shoulder blades to really lift up the, especially the spinal column so the front chest is long and then press. Every time I'm pushing down, I'm thinking taller and longer and more lifted in my spine.

Ideally the elbows are going straight back. The wonderful exercise, this chair is smaller than some of the other chairs really makes the muscles fire very nicely. From here the fingertips go back and the body comes further forward and now is the big, the real work because you're looking to keep the arms long without hyper extending. So you really work those upper arm muscles, the triceps and biceps get a very lovely work and nice stretch forward, lengthening out and relaxing. Oh, felt very nice. And now teaser on the floor again. Another one I love because sometimes clients can feel this stomach it will you giving them stomach massage and I've had experiences where they go, I don't, I don't get it. I don't get it. I can feel those deep stomach muscles.

When we do this, they feel it and you place the feet here. If the client is weak or new, I stand behind them and I hold their back up. But the first part, you just grabbed the chair, you pull your stomach in and you give yourself a stretch and believe it or not, everybody can do a stretch. Maybe they're not as flexible as me, but this is a favorite part of the teaser because it's so powerful. He opens up the back body, but in a way that supported at the same time. Then the hands come onto the chair, the powerhouses lifted and you press down.

Now what happens in order to get this ledge down, the stomach is really challenged. The lift. If you want to add an advanced version, you lift your legs and you come back and press down, deepening into the powerhouse, lift the legs, lower the legs and come back up. One more time. Pressing down, lift the legs, lower the legs and come back up on one more stretch just to get that nice openness in the back spine. Stretch forward. The legs along the arms are long so you starting with that sense of from the base of the spine up through the crown of the head, nice lift and through the powerhouse and root lift to go down. So lot of work in the stomach and again, something about the dimensions of this chair really allow the arms to stay straight, but the spine to get into that shape, that spine stretch forward asks and works the lots a lot works the alarms, a lot of really nice exercise to do. If you want to work harder, you put one hand in the middle of the other hand, round your waist and again deepening in worky even more into the obliques and allowing that back body to open other side and press and press. And press so nice and coming back up.

Just a little bit of work into the calves. Toes on the ledge. I'm taking this soft spot. Just be know the knee cap and placing it right on the ledge here. Now I already know this is going to be way too light for me, so I'm putting it on one low and one medium spring in this case. So the foot is on placing it right in that soft spot below the kneecap.

Knee. Lift my foot up. The other foot is in parallel. So if I was standing we'd be standing in parallel to check that the hips completely square. I'm blocking the step and pressing down and up. Okay. Very, very therapeutic for the ankles and for the feet to strengthen and check the alignment. He want all five toes on the step and all five toes pressing in.

So that whole outer line of the foot, the little toe has a tendency to get pretty lazy and it doesn't fire and it has a connection with the high muscles around the thigh. So getting that out of foot to really be engaged, leans out the legs in a beautiful way. So other side, this is my rusty foot, so this is feeding just marvelous on it. Um, chair can ever be right without pull-ups. So I'm coming up, toes apart, heels together. Whoops, let me change and put two middle springs on. So toes apart, heels together.

You lift up a little bit so you can see what's going on. Shoulders or right over the wrist, deepening into the back, floating ribs and pulling the navel up and narrowing the hamstrings towards each other. Lifting right up to the top of the spring and three pumps here. Lifting one, lifting two, lifting three lowing down. Lowing downloading them without the shoulders changing shape or change. Changing their position in space. One, two, three. And lowering down. It's like a roll up in reverse, actually hugging the midline. One, two, three, lowering down, opening up the back body and moving a little bit forward and just giving myself a stretch in the back. Then left foot is on and right foot is hooked over.

Both hands are on the chair and I'm shifting. I have this diagonal, but both collarbones are even um, in relation to the floor. And then pulling up one, two, three and lower dow again, one, two, three and lower down. And one more time pressing up. One, two, three, lowering down and other side. So making sure my shoulders, I even, I'm already lifting up both sides of my waist so both sides are working to get pull up. One, two, three and lower down again. One, two, three and lower down.

And last one, one, two, three and lower all the way down. Stepping down from here, letting the step come up just to finish. Nice. Stretch up and rolling down. Again, similar to pressing down on the chair, I'm really looking to keep my hips forward so the back of the legs hold me cause I am striving to get my heels, my knees and sit bones in the same line, which means the whole back part of the legs is very open. Okay. Keeping those hips forward.

It integrates a skeleton so beautifully. One more time. Deepening through the powerhouse. My back feels wonderfully open as a result of what we've been doing. Three little circles. Okay.

Rolling. Back Up. Rolling. Back Up. Rolling back half and that was great. Thank you very much. I'm going to go read my magazine now.


Hello Niedra
What's the difference between leaning or not leaning to the chair when you doing the standing roll down behind ? Monica Italia
1 person likes this.
Lovely form as always. Love the Gratz chair!
Delicious class--beautiful! Thank you:)
Lovely, feel-good class!
Niedra Gabriel
Hello lovely ladies, I am just now reading all your posts - many thanks for your comments.
Monica - I know you cannot lean into the chair with some types and then simply standing and pressing down is fine.
The further forward your weight, the more pressure and demands on your Powerhouse - hence, the leaning forward. Try doing roll down against the wall and place heels, knees and hips up against the wall before rolling down and you will probably fall down instead of rolling due to tight legs and stiff back and weak stomach! The lean in is emulating this position with support so you can work on increasing your range as well as strengthening your power house. Hope this makes sense?
What I was able to watch was wonderful. Many of the videos stop and start and then I get a message the video is currently unavailable. I've used all the suggestions but am still experiencing problems.
Valerie ~ I have just sent you an email and will work with you directly to fix the video playback issue.
Thank You Niedra :)
Beautiful as always, wonderful flow and spot on cueing.
Nedra~ I love your classes! Your knowledge of classical Pilates with a combination of such positive energy makes me keep returning to watch your classes. Where can I purchase an original Wunda chair?
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