Tutorial #1836

Open Leg Rocker

25 min - Tutorial


Michael and Ton analyze the Open Leg Rocker in this in-depth tutorial. They demonstrate common mistakes with this exercise, and they offer many variations to assist or challenge you in the exercise. They also tell us how Romana said it was Joseph Pilates' favorite exercise, and how he even had photos of bears in the Open Leg Rocker position!
What You'll Need: Mat, Triadball, Theraband, Magic Circle

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(Pace N/A)
Sep 07, 2014
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Hi, I'm Michael and I'm tone and Aaron. Yay. Okay. Today open like rock every day. Yay. Um, Romana told us that the open lake rocker was Joe's favorite exercise. Um, she said he used to love to sit in that position and even conduct interviews. Um, she also talked about in his studio, he had a picture of bears.

Well, they don't really have hands, so it would be paused with the bears just holding in their little paws. They got the front paws, I guess holding the back paws and just standing like this. And he used to have pictures of the bears cause he liked that, which then supports the story. All the elders always talk about of how Joe watched the animals. So it's appropriate. Open leg rocker comes from watching the animals.

So that said before you start and try this at home, make sure that you're comfortable with all the rolling exercises, like rolling like a ball, um, seal. So you're sort of used to it and you've experienced it before, before you try open like rocker, because it's [inaudible]. [inaudible] right. It is. So, um, we're gonna go over, we're going to start with the most often done version of to open like rocker and that's the one with the Lexar straight, slightly wider than your shoulders and the arms are straight. So Aaron is going to show us how that's going to look. Um, generally we are coming out of the spine stretch forward. So let's pretend we just done the spine stretch forward to the like slightly, um, slightly opened. Like what, why do I do I do what?

Do the way there we are and she just finished and she rolls back up. There you go. Now from this position, she's going to rock back and bend your knees and hold on to the ankles and she's going to find her balance. And then she slowly going to straighten her legs out and the sh arm, the legs end up being slightly wider than her shoulders. Now the gays, they are for a second. If you look at the shape of it, you can just imagine of like what we are working, right?

So we working the abdominals, we deepening the seeker of off the spine in the lower back. We're working on our balance. We are working on the connection of the arms, the shoulders into the abdominals and we're also are stretching the whole back line of the body. So flexibility of the hamstrings in the back of the legs and the lower back are going to be an issue and we'll deal with that in a moment. Now the rocking motion, just relax for a second. She's like give me a break.

Um, the motion is also going to massage the spine so you also have that massage component in it, but you have the strength, the strength in the abdominals and you have the stretch component of the exercise in the back line of the body of that, if that makes sense. Okay. So let's go again and then we'll go into what we want as the perfect, perfect. If that does exist. Starting position. So the starting position, she's slightly curled under in the lower back. The middle back in the upper back are actually long and lengthened. The collarbone is open. The head is just in a natural alignment of the spine.

We wanted to hold onto the angles or as high as she can and the legs and the arms are absolutely straight. So if you look at the position of the spine, if we would close the legs and take the hands off, he's basically in a teaser position, right? So despite his pretty much, or you can relate it to the teaser position of the exercises now and just move a little forward because you're going to roll off the mat here. There you go. They are now to initiate the movement of the rocking. What Erin is going to have to need to do is curl the tailbone by pooling the pubic bone up towards you.

Now I'm going to hold her so we can do it in slow motion. So she's going to pull the pubic bone in towards her that lift the sitz bones up. She's going to soften her sternum and that's going to round the spine. The head just naturally is going to go forward. Then she's going to continue to curl up and then she's going to curl back down.

And this is just because this is going too slow for her. So now what we want to focus on is the up and down motion. If you let the energy go back, you're just gonna roll back and never come back up, right? So it's an up and down action of curling the sitz bones up to the ceiling and actively pushing them back down, right? So she curls under to lift and drop down Diego.

Now too, can you do two more? Couple more to stop the momentum. She's going to pull in more into the stomach and lifted collarbone up. And that helps her to control that part when she's there. So she curls in lift rolls down. Now generally we inhale on the way down.

Exhale on the way up. You can reverse that. As a matter of fact, if you've read Joe's book, He actually reverses it, right? But generally it's taught inhale down, exhale up. But don't get stuck on that one. You can reverse all of that. Now Aaron did this really well, but not everybody's going to do it as well as Aaron. So what we did a lot of times is we have a partner way to do it.

So if you have a partner at home, and the way we did it too with tone, and I Romana taught us this, so you're in the open leg rock position. We start with the legs up and if you have the partner, all you're gonna do is like gently touch the legs, grab it on and think up. So you're thinking of lifting up, drop down. And I catch again, lift, drop, lift and drop as it feel. Lift and drop it. Keep, go and slowly bring your legs together. And that's if you have a partner at home. If you don't, well, too bad. So now you saw this perfect rocker, you can turn back around for the sunlight reflects across your face.

Now, however, not everybody's going to be really this perfect. Um, what usually goes wrong is that people bend the arms or the legs. That's a big no, no. Rule number one is nothing bends ever, ever, ever. The other thing they do is they do the regrab as we call it. You roll back and then you, we grab because you sort of slide or you slip or you're reaching too high up or you do the head toss the whiplash. So a way to get rid of that going, first of all with nothing Benz.

And there's nothing wrong with doing the open leg rocker with bending. So she's gonna just start. We finished the spine stretch forward. So from here, because she's stiff and old and can't move, she's going to bend your knees, she's going to curl her coxix back from here. She just balancing her feet are still there. She's going to press her hands into her thighs and her thighs into her hands.

Now from there, she's a good, she's going to rock back and find that position. And this might be all you do in the beginning, just finding your balance. However that rule about nothing changes, nothing changes. And now she can do the open like rocker, but the arm position, even though they are bent and even though the legs are bent, nothing changes. Let's see what happens.

So roll and up gold star up and hold it back and roll down. So and relaxed. So that's one way to take care of that. If she's got the head toss thing going, what you want to think about is just slowly bringing the chin down the chest. So rock back and from here, Chin down. And as she goes back, the same thing. Tone talked about you think of lift and drop. But as you come back up, think of from the crown of the head.

So you're going to lift and from here drive the crown of the head forward to help keep that from the whiplash and relax. No, she made it look really easy. So from there you would just build. So slowly start to take your legs and then you would just build, straightening them, straighten the legs, maybe first have your hands go up higher. Even if the legs are slightly bent, you could still be here. Whatever position is the golden rule, whatever position you start in is what you roll in and what you ended good. Great. So that was modifications.

Now going back to partner, if you don't have one, we have a ball so you can wedge the ball back in. So what you're going to do is think of curling the coccsyx back into it. From there, place your hands on the backs of your thighs. Stretch your legs up sooner in the open leg rocker position for Erin because she has such a beautiful position, I'm going to make her work for it. So she's going to be with the legs beautiful and straight and all she's gonna think about is lifting the sits bones.

So lift and drop it down and lift and drop into the ball. Fella lift and drop. It will give you the same feeling that if you had a partner at home you can do it. But if your partner lists then you can always do it with a ball. Just lift and drop, how's it feel left and drop and relax. So for those without a partner, you have a ball.

You might've seen different versions of um, the open like rocker. And one of the ones that you might've seen is the one that's in Joseph Valadez book where he has his legs really wide open. So let's talk about that one. So the legs are going to be as wide as possible and he's going to get into it very differently than what we've done before. So again, we're going to go in from, from the spine stretch forward. So if you take the spine search forward position, but we have to take his one the way he describes it in his book.

So if you sit up, I'm roll up for me Aaron, and he does a spine search forward already with really wide legs. So the legs are all the way open. There you go. From here, you're going to place the hands on the inside of your legs and you're going to create a strong contraction in curl back. And in this position started lifting the legs off the floor. So you might want to contract even more. Now bend the legs, hold on to the ankles, and then open as wide as possible. There you go.

So we in a very wide position now, are you okay? Because it is so wide and waive from your body, it's going to be a little bit more challenging than having the legs inside right now in his book. He describes the emotion as pivot on the base of your spine to curl under and try to touch the floor with your toes. So she's going to cruel under touch the floor where the toes and then come back up now or not. Now I know it's very tricky.

The other thing that he checked that is slightly different is that the head is down the whole time, right? So he stays rounded like we talked about, like lifting the upper body up. In this version you don't. So in the shape, the first shape was very similar to the teaser. This shape is actually more like a spine stretch forward, right? So pivot on the base of the spine and now bring your head forward more to come up there. You got it. So you pivot the base of the spine, you press the chin towards your chest and press the arms forward to come up. So curl, pivot, touch and come back up for less forward.

There you go. Relax. So you can see right away with Aaron, it's very different for the body. So the body's going to have to find out its new balance. And it's going to be slightly different. Now there has been some talk about like is it safe or not safe to touch the feet on the floor. The only reason why it's pretty safe when your legs are opened that wide is that the hips do not go past the weight of our upper back, right is the legs were closer.

She will have to move further back in order to touch the floor and then it actually will become a loaded stretch and the weight will be on her neck. So that's when you don't want to do it. Right. So you can only really do this version if you have the flexibility and the control, but primarily the flexibility to be that wide. That way you touch the floor. The head is not touching the floor. Does that make sense? You can say anything. I don't know what you're saying.

Now the other thing is you cannot do this exercise on a raised mat or on a Cadillac because there is no floor, right? So it's going to be too far for you. So you can really only do this version on the floor on the mat if you have the flexibility to do it. Okay, so that's the version. The Way Joe describes it in his book, another variation is one from Romana and it's the open leg rocker with closed legs, creative name. So she's going to take her open leg rocker position.

He'll be tired of this exercise by the time to tell her from here, you're just going to close the leg and we do the same thing. You lift and you drew her up to come back up and you lift and [inaudible]. Now if she wanted to, this is version one from Romana. Version two is she flexes those beautiful painted pink toes, grabs the toes. That's it from here, straightens the legs, pushing through the heels and we do it here. She goes down and up and down and up and down. Told you I'd make you look good. I got and hold it there Paul.

And that's two versions from Romana usually done with grabbing the ankles. But if you are extremely flexible, it makes the exercise really hard because of the leverage in your body. How did it feel? Fun, Huh? Right, right. Fun. Good. Then adding props, adding props. So one of the reasons why you would want to add props is that someone does not have the flexibility to do the position that you want.

The other things that props can do is focus on different things within the exercise that you want to highlight. Okay. So the first thing we're going to deal with is what happens if someone cannot hold on to their toes? Well, this is what's going to happen. You can use straps. Now we prefer these kinds of straps that we actually stole from the cow, from the reformer. Um, you can also do it with therabands and stuff like that, but they have a gift to it, right? And it helps people if it does not stretch while we're doing the exercise.

So obviously we have noticed that Aaron does not have a problem in the flexibility department, but we don't pretend that she does. So if she cannot reach for her ankles or her toes or ray ever, you want to reach, she can now curl back, stretch the legs into the open like rocker that she might not be able to straighten them still, but she's going to have this little extension strap. Now the trick is, remember how we talked about of like not changing anything in the exercise, the arms, the legs or regrab. The tangent on this strap has to maintain. So when she rolls back she cannot lose the tension and she has to maintain detention on the way up as well. There you go. So we can do it this way, right? If you were going to do Romanos closed leg, open leg rocker, just give me one strap.

We can put both feet in one so we can do it in this position. Here you go, bag up. If you don't have a strap, but you have the magic circle, we just replace strap for circle and she does it again, right? So there are all kinds of different straps or circles you can use in regards to the flexibility. If you have other issues like for example you feel like in the normal open like rocker, your traditional, and just give it to me. Um, you can, might have a little bit lack of control over your legs is as you roll, you feel your legs opening, closing while you're done, while you're, while you're going. There is another aid we can use for that one.

We can muse the magic circle or the triad ball and what it's going to do. Is this a, again, one more time with feeling open like rocker. We can put, we can insert magic circle, open legs, insert, circle and squeeze. So what it's done is it's created a midline in her body and so now she's created through the use of props, created the mid line. We can do it with the magic circle, which is the traditional bend.

Your legs are relaxed for a second. We can also do it with the triad ball. So you stretch the legs up, squeeze the ball, and from there rock back and art. The beauty with using the tried ball as you can also open your legs for a second on. Gotcha. You can change a position. I can bring it down closer to her growing. So it gives you more opportunities to find what would be at best work for you for your open, like Rocco, where your strength is going to be of where you placed the ball.

So if you have a ball at home, play around, put your ball in different positions in the squeeze and find the position that works best for you. Laughter is good for using your abs. Good. And hold it there. Hold, hold and good. Right? So that helped for finding the midline by squeezing. Sometimes that does not do it for people and you're right and try to use it, but it's not really helping you.

So you might want to try placing your feet on the inside of the circle and instead of squeezing, you're now going to pull it open. And that might be just the help you need to be successful. So just roll back and roll up. Right. So Michael just did squeeze the inner thighs. The add doctor to help you find the mid line and now we're pushing out using the outside of our thighs, our abductors to see if it works.

If that still doesn't work, it might not be the legs at all and your problem might be somewhere else. So like we talked about in the beginning, that position, can you go back to the starting position? This connection is very important for you to help you to come back up and if you feel like when you come up you're losing that and you sort of like rock and rolling. The thera-band can really help you out on that one. Now the strength of your theraband does matter. So if you feel like it's not strong enough, you might want to double it up. You might want to make it shorter or as we did with these that we have here is we actually are using three of them to give Aaron de feeling.

So we're going to, because you're so strong, strong like bull, so you're going to place your feet around it. You're going to hold on really close to your feet, and then you go back into the position. Now the beauty of the strap is don't change the legs, though. As she comes up, she's going to pull on the theraband and that helps her to engage a little bit more. And that can help you up. Roll back and pull. There you go. Right?

So roll back and the action of puling kicks in and can help her to come back up from the open leg rocker. Thank you, Aaron. So first of all, we hope this was helpful and we have to think Aaron for doing for [inaudible] open like rockers for anybody. So I think that's the open leg rocker according to Tony and Michael today of what we know next week, probably more. Who knows? Thanks Aaron.

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5 people like this.
I admire and enjoy the casual calmness, the precision and lightness of these two youthfulness have kept instructors - stimulating fresh!

3 people like this.
Questo tutorial e' meraviglioso .
Nothing is missing : focus, props, history, tips...
Hoping is going to continue ...??

Looking for proper photo credit on this one... anyone know?
1 person likes this.
So much fun and yet helpful too.
Jennifer W
Very useful! Excellent rocking Erin!
Monica said it all, Michael and Ton, you are awesome!! And, of course, Erin!! So many open leg rockers with such precision ...
I love Ton and Michael's teaching...I've just done a triadball workshop with them and it was amazing! Fantastic and enthusiastic teachers - thank you!
Thanks Ton, Michael & Erin - very helpful info
Thank you ! Clear , precise and complete!
Great variations :) thanks for the fun video!
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