Tutorial #2848

Preparing for Inversions

35 min - Tutorial


Learn new ways to prepare your body for inversions, like Handstands, in this tutorial with Niedra Gabriel. She works with fellow PA instructor, Kara Wily, using exercises that can be done at all levels to build up to more advanced inversions on the Ladder Barrel. She focuses on finding the power in your hands which will help you stay aligned and strong throughout your whole body.
What You'll Need: Wunda Chair, Ladder Barrel, Mat, Toe Corrector, Pilates Pole

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(Pace N/A)
Jan 08, 2017
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Good afternoon everybody. I am very excited. Have Kira Wiley or my good friend, fantastic power teacher, x dancer, rock climber, athlete extraordinaire. So we're going to do a tutorial of how to prepare and build up for doing handstands on the ladder barrel. And although that is an advanced part of the practice, some of the more beginning stages can be done at all levels because it's building the body and preparing the instrument. But the final result is already assuming there's a certain amount of education in the body, stability in the trunk and strength in the legs and the upper body to take to, to deal with all of this. So we actually will start out because handstands require a lot of um, strength in the wrists and in the hands in the fingers.

We're going to start with warming up the risks. So Kit. Correct. Let's come onto your hands and knees. If you take the hands, I'll turn sideways this way. I want you to place your wrists here now very much for you. Very important to stretch the elbows all the way and you can have your fingers a little bit spread. And just rock from side to side, but keep the elbows locked. So don't let the elbows give way that it's you're working into the risks.

And I'll take the fingertips and call the math very slightly. That's it. So like a cat that's climbing. Now you're going to start to go for a walk sideways step and step and step and step. Now you're going to come in step and step and step and step and step and step Ben going out again. Step. So which is kind of getting the hands used to receiving weight and um, and there's a certain amount of connection into the fingertip step and step and step and step risks together.

One more time coming out and step and step and step and step and step and then coming in and in. And now when you are enhanced stand eventually I know when that on the ladder barrel and will be wide, but eventually the arms are supposed to make two pillars. So you want to take your right wrist and bend it this again to build up re restraint. Now take all the weight on it and stretch your elbow. Stretch your elbow as much as you can. If you can rotate it a bit and take the weight. It's like you're in a plank position. I mean if you want to do, you could actually be back in a plank and just hold and lock the out both elbows. So you're really stretching up.

Building length in the tendons and the ligaments and power in the hand. The ability to actually bear weight into the head. Watch that elbow, keep it straight, keep it straight. Okay, come down. Yes. A question. When I try to put more weight on the outside of my hand, I, I, I can't, I, it's harder. It's a harder stretch. Yes.

Do I want to be trying to share the weight through the whole hand? So the question is when she takes the weight into the outer hand, she gets a harder, it's harder to get the full stretch as she supposed to be await onto the full hand. The answer is yes. And these very unusual positions are starting to stretch out aspects of the muscle fibers that need to be long for this advanced sort of work. So if you spread the palm wide apart and have a look at these two bones of your wrist, you see right here, see if you can get an even weight. The one most important part is thumb and index finger pressing down, actually not the little finger side.

Then stretch your elbow as much as you can. So let's have you facing front just like me. Actually that's it. So you want to be very aware of activating this part of the hand. Now this elbow, I really want you to lock it. I know you've got it in you. Let the shoulder do whatever it needs. And now take the other hand and just just kind of imagine you're in a plank pose here and then come out and now elbows together.

Make sure you have your left thumb and top of the no, no, you were fine, you were fine. Left-Hand. This is just so left term and we're going to circle around, loosening up the joints in the fingers without the elbows coming apart. Just to kind of lubricate because we need all these little bones. Very juicy and moist and strong. Okay. Now the same thing with the other hand. Left hand comes down, check that the bones are more or less straight if you can.

Because this is why we do all these warmups cause sometimes it takes a while for the body to reorganize. How much can you lock your elbow? That's it. Take the weight all the way into the wrist so that the chip that weight forward so it's weight bearing other arm is straight if you can as well and hold it. So it's a lot at the beginning. Sometimes this is like, this is what's preparing for these really strong arm balances that happen in Peloton, but hopefully help you have your hand balancing career to be a winner in the party when some reality show somewhere or just have fun and then come back. Now remember we had the left thumb on top.

Now we have the right sum on top risk together and again, circle and circle as big a circle. So the l the the elbows may go up and down, but you want to get the wrist really lubricated right now. Shake your hands out. Bring the hands in front. Turn the palms back to back cross. So you class, bring the hands in, bring your elbows as close together as you can stretch out. So this is again just working all these ligaments and tendons and stretch out. And two more times stretch and out.

One more time and stretch and out. So have a look. You have your right arm on top, you take the bottom arm, flip it, clasp and again and stretch and back and stretch and back. One more time like this and stretch and back. Shake your arms out. Nice and juicy. Now just to get more dexterity in the fingers.

Oh we can be actually we can be just like this. So the palms up flat, you're going to lift the wrists off so you're bending in the crease and drop their heel down and now lift up under the fingertips. So you clawing like a cat, your lift and down to this, just the strength up with the wrists and up with the palm up with a risk and like a little cup and lift and cup and lift and comp and lift and comp and lift and cup and lift. And Co. Excellent. Shake your hands out. Matt. Total corrector for the fingers. So we're going to build some strength. So what you'll be doing is you're just going to, you pull it apart and then you pull the thumbs in and you curl one, you'll do 10, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. Same thing with the index finger.

So you're going to go through all the digits and pull two, three, four, five. Why don't you turn as you're doing this right? Straight ahead. Yes. Seven, eight, nine, 10. Go to the next one. Middle Finger, pull. Pull. That's it. So what's happening is you're doing this, you're making this hand, really develop all of this power to contract. As we get older, people lose power in the hands. It's one of the strongest parts of the body. Good.

Now your ring finger and a lot of the balancing on the hands has to do with very delicate adjustments in the hands and in the wrists. It's an a and d. Then the trunk is the weight that you're balancing above and then little finger. Could you use it like a rubber band? The question is, can you use a rubber band if you don't have a toe corrector?

Absolutely. You can keep a rubber band in your handbag and do it when you're, um, just needing to keep something active in yourself. That was excellent. You do? Okay. This lady travels with a rubber band and her handbag. So Kara, I want you in plank position now. So you're just going to come up into plank. Hands Right under your shoulders. Now just sit back down again for a minute. The set up will be index finger going straight forward.

So you making a box rather than a lot of alignments. Take the third finger, this finger and this finger. Very important and slight climbing. So you're doing a slight movement like this. So set your hand up really strong. Make sure the shoulders are right over the wrist and maybe now I want to see the elbows locked, locked, lock, locked. Strong years even more.

So you want to get rid of this hollowing out. Okay, she's going, well, I'm trying now from this position. First part, hollow out this position. We'll press it up. That's it. So you open up this whole part and just push away from the floor. Imagine a magic circle between your upper arms. Try to bring them closer together to activate the pex. Now shift your weight over the index finger that it keep that upper part of the body really open just to spread the muscles here. That's it.

Very strong. Tighten your hips as well. Lock your elbows even more. There we go. Another inch and a half. She had press away from the floor even more. Bend your knees and sit back down and rest. Shake your arms out. Very, very good work so that just a spread. We've spent a lot of time pulling the shoulders back all the time and retracting them. It's not that we want to cultivate a round back, but we want a very broad spread between the shoulder blades because that becomes our base. Next one will be, I'll just demonstrate for you your beam plank.

But now we want the bat body straight rather than hollowed out or rounded straight and what you're going to try and keep the body as stable as you can. So you're shifting from side to side and as little as possible. I'm still moving side to side of it. There are people that don't move at all. So one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and 10 and bend your knees and relax down. So just to start to build up that power in the arms. Yes.

Next one will be a plank position and we will lift. I'm going to lift your legs up to a balance point. So actually we'll do balanced, controlled front first. So first of all, come into your plank. Lift the legs up nice and tall, narrow the hips. I want the hips a little bit lower. So the you're in a long line, tight, tight, tight hips. Now lift one leg up and put it back down and the other leg blocks those elbows.

Kara, that's it. Strong and down. Straighten your knees the same amount as your elbows may come locked and down and the other leg and down I we're going to up it. Lift your right leg up, lock your elbows and your knees and lift the other leg up. So here she is, she's in a plank, tight, tight, tight paddocks. And from this position I'm going to let go one leg and she doesn't know which one it is. So you have to hug your heels together. Yes, and I'm letting go. Good girl. Nice strong buttocks, feet, stomach, shoulders, head. Relax that don't relax. What a bad cue. And again, awful cue hug like crazy good.

And one foot comes down to the floor, other foot comes down. So that really catches you. You can't let go of anything. So in preparation for handstands, we are going to practice it as though you're lying on your stomach. So I'd like you to lie right out on the floor. Your head is down. Now the only thing is I ask is that you pull your hands up, fingers up as though you're pressing away from the floor.

So you want to let the shoulders come as high up as you can. And this is what we look for. Are the legs tied together so I don't want to pull them apart. Are Your buttocks nice and tight? Is your stomach lifted up off the mat? So this is a real, real hollow position. This is the part of the body would try.

That's it. Now how much can you get your armpits and how straight are you arms? And now you're going to hold it and hold it and hold it. Keep that stomach working, hold it, hold it, hold it and relax. Very good.

So this is a real good prep work for the position you will finally get into when you're doing your handstands because you do need to lift. If you look at gymnast in the Olympics, they are pressing way out of the shoulders to create this huge openness and it actually connects and engages the lats and allows the whole spine to become long. It's a little bit of an unusual position for people to start from. So the final thing will be if we had a beanbag and work you with the beanbag, but let's have you standing and you're just going to do 20 rolls in one direction, 20 roles in the other. So, um, we could always have a bag with weight attached to this, but as we don't have one today, this makes you risk work a lot too. And if you notice carer's doing a wonderful job because she's really articulating the hands and now let's have you go the reverse. So working the full range of movement in the wrist and in the fingers is much more challenging than we realize. And it actually, I've sometimes felt that I go stupid. I have no one else, like your brain stops firing.

And I have read somewhere that every finger in our connects to different part of the brain and we literally rewiring the brain when we do it. And when we get that stupidity moment, we actually hitting a vacuum in our brains. So I like to find them and fill them up with youthful information. Okay. Very good. All right. So we will now move on to the wound or chair. Okay.

So we're now progressing on and using the window chair. And of course, each one of these exercises stands in its own right, but today we're going to be using them with the exact direction of what we're preparing the body for. So we start with pull-ups. And of course, historically the pullups are supposed to have been what Joseph. A lot of these was one w one of the exercises he created to train circus performance to do handstands. And so there's two ways I'm going to have Kara work the pullups with that in mind. So let's get you into position. So you will s um, put your hands at the back. And right now the starting point, we, we're activating her powerhouse, so her hips over her heels. The one thing kit for Cara, I do want your elbows really locked as much as literally think hyper extended.

And think of taking a magic circle between the there. The moment she pulled, she pulled her up, her arms towards each other. I saw her picks fire and her bicep fire. And she needs these very strong muscles to balance herself with. So see if you can keep your shoulders where they are and can you lift yourself up, pulling that powerhouse up to the top three pulses here and one and two and three and lower yourself back down.

And then stretch your heels out a little bit. I'd like you to do this again and try to keep the weight further back. Not so far, not coming so far forward over your hands. That's your next phase. So can you lift up, I'm going to be the wall and can you lift up from the powerhouse? [inaudible] are up. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop up.

Maybe let's have you come down and let's give you a little bit more spring tension so we can get you into those muscles. So we have the um, grots wound, a chair. Different chairs have different, uh, tensions to, so we upping the spring. Now we have one middle and one top spring before she was on one high, one low, which will allow her to stay more in this lower part. So Cara, before you go up, I want you to really fill up these back ribs. Yes, yes. Really think of pulling the rips into the back and this just hang.

So try and activate from here up, up. Better, better up. You come up, you can push with those arms up and come back down again. Let me have a look at you from a distance. I can see what's happening. So have a go again. Do the best you can. I want to see those arms better, better, better, better push, push, push, push up to the top. Now three pulses here and pulse up one and pulse up two and pulse up three. Now scoop this up and Tuck your tail to bring you down. That's it.

So we get this huge articulation coming down. One more time like that. You are shifting quite a bit more. I'm trying to think how we can get you pure your in your stomach. There's no doubt. But I'd like to get you really isolating up from there. Little better. Press up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up and pulse.

Three times one and two and three and lower back down. I know the spring is strong and just step off for a minute and tell me how that felt for you and I'm going to come up close so we can hear your response. I think the new awareness of trying to um, emphasize the straightness of the elbows is shit is throwing my, the rest of your body out. I like it. That's, that's a challenge to get the other parts in place when, when I'm trying to, okay. Okay. So I'm just going to repeat in case it wasn't picked up, she's finding that it, her whole technique is changing because I am really asking her to keep this arm very straight. She's used to working with slightly more soft elbows, which is a different body. That's the interesting thing. When you shift one digit in the body, the whole machine changes shape.

I want you here. What I'm noticing is that when you work like that, you do come right over the, literally you're coming over the knuckles, which is what you need to do when you go into the full um, pushups. So let's repeat it one more time. I'm going to put you back to one high, one low. You keep coming over as far as you need to, and then I want you to push like crazy. So you start with the arms pushing up and then go into the stomach because that is eventually how you lift yourself up when you're controlling your way up. So here we go.

Cool. So first I want the weight right over the knuckles. More forward, more for there. Right over. I want those elbows. Yes. She keeps having a tendency to be soft here. I want you to contract. That's it. Now hollow your back out even more. Yes. You've seen what you pushing away. I want you to use that energy and keep cycling it into your lower body.

Now push and lift. Push and push and lift up, up, up, up, up. Block the elbows up as high as you can. Three pulses here and lower and lift. Push those elbow straight and lift and lift. Push up with the arms and reluctantly bring your bottom down.

Broaden the shoulders open. That's it. That's it. That's it. That's it. There's a whole new sensation. That was terrific. So this feeling of pushing and then slowly going through the Body a plus. Now push up. So let's have you sitting. So we're going to go into plank, pushups.

So press down, lovely work and walk yourself all the way out to a plank position. And we are on one high. One low, so long. Let's get that spine really straight. Can you lower your hips? There you go. But I'd like to see really strong glutes. Good. Three pushups with the arms bend.

Now straighten the arms all the way and all the way and all the way. And the legs go down and up and one elbows locked. So you rock in the shoulders and rock. Now Walk your hands in. So she's coming into up stretch downstairs. He coming in. Can you come in more? Can you come in even more?

So you get the sense of this is where you will be weight into the index and the thumb. Lots of weight into the inner part. Push up, push up, push. Oh yes. Now keep lifting up. One leg goes up to the ceiling. Slow. Stretch your knee lifted. Bring the leg down, lift the hips and up and lower down. Now lift your hips, push away from the floor with a Ha. That's the height I want to see. Walk your hands out again, walk, walk, walk, walk and step down and roll yourself up. [inaudible] and sends us so hard and so much fun. So there's that.

You got an extra six inches of lift coming out of you when you pulled up. Will you do it one more time? Because this is the one thing I would like you to focus on when you lift your leg up, go slow because we're all in a panic and it's very hard. So if you throw your leg too fast, you lose control. So all you're going to do is go out into plank, walk in, get as much lift in those hips and as much pressure.

And then if one they got the one thing you need to watch, okay, is there's always a tendency to roll into the outside of the hand. I'd rather you have your hands turned out because your power is the index finger and the thumb area. It's that inner part of the hand that's going to give you, this is kind of a reaction. This is power. So it's very similar to our feet. Our Big Tony, you know you're not collapsing. So if this is too much, in fact, I would recommend you come to this position. It'll be easier for you to get into the elbows and really use that pressure.

Okay, so get the hands turned out already here. That's it. Now just talk walking in, walk, walk, and eventually those hips should be going straight back that to get those hands more in. Now get your shoulders right over your knuckles, so not there. Now push away from the floor, lock your elbows. That's it. Good girl lifting. Lower the legs down. Push away from the floor before you lift. Lift, lift, lift to lift and down. Push away from the floor up.

That's the hike you want. And then walk on. Step down. Just step down. Good work. Okay. It's a lot. It's a lot of work into the hands. That's way we have to prepare them. We are now moving to the grand finale of the ladder barrel. So now we have the fun grand finale and we will build up as well.

So we're gonna start with grasshopper and we're going to do the low version of it first, where you're going to be draped over the ladder barrel and you're holding onto the lower rung. And I don't want you to arch too much with your upper body, but use your legs and your lower back to lift the legs as high as you can to go to lift up. Try to get as high up as you can. Vertical. Bend your knees in, lift up, and then beat to come down using your powerhouse to lower all the way. And now can you bend your arms a little bit so you start in the same position that you end and only have the legs lift you up. Legs lift, legs, lift, legs up, up, up, up. Good. Bend the men. Yeah, lift them up and clap to go down. So she's really strengthening all the way. And one more time like this, lifting up, up, up, up, up, up. Bend your knees in. Excellent. Lift up and lower down. Stretch your knees, Cara.

All the way. Excellent. And relax. So now we'll take it to the next level. You're going to put your hands on the floor, close to the edge, not on the floor, I should say on the ledge. And you will do the same thing. So what's happening now is almost all the body weight is coming on the arm. So she's starting to get a sense of what it's going to take. And you know me, I would love to have those elbows as straight as possible, like pillars pressing to the ceiling.

So you're going to push up with them as the legs come up. So you go up, bend the knees with control, press yourself up, press yourselves the legs up and clap to come down. Now only thing is we're preparing for hand scent. I want you to look, that's right, that's right. Can you shift the weight a little bit further? Bring the hands a little bit closer in, just a little tiny bit, right? So press away from the floor and lift up again and just look. Bend your knees with control. So that's it.

Lift up, lengthen up, up, straight up. Bring the legs over the hips now and clap to go down, down, down, down, down. Very, very good. Now move yourselves back. Move Yourself. It's yourself. You have all these body parts. The symphony is care of. Cara, I would like you to do jumping on the stomach. So she's worked her legs, her butt, and now she's just learning to power from the stomach.

So lift up the and eight times you're going to jump and up, up, up, up. So she is five, six, seven. Excellent work and eight and rest come down and just to get a breather or just hang out and have a breathe. Wonderful. Wonderful. So you worked your stomach, you've worked your arms, you've worked your legs. We will now revisit the same kind of handstand you did on the wounded chair when you walked in. Just to get a sense of what it's going to take to be right over your hands and in a vertical line, because that's the goal of a handstand.

Usually the handsets for people ends up being kind of a banana shape, but we want this locked position. So drape yourself over. Place your hands on the ledge right now. Can you shift your hips forward so they are going to be right over your shoulders, your arms and your elbows have to be even more [inaudible] and push away. Now I'm going to get my foot out of the way because I want you to look at the floor not forward. Yes, that activate your upper back. Can you get your hips even more?

Now she's starting to be in a plum straight line. Good girl. Narrow those hips and lift one leg up to the ceiling and just, I want you to feel this stretch. Push there. She got that beautiful lift. Lower the leg down. Keep the hips up, lift the other leg up. Push away from the floor, right over the hip. Lower it down. Good girl. First Aid comes up again. Lift. Can you lift the other leg up?

Yes. Get the legs over your hips, not back. That's it. Here's your Pelham line. Stretch up Locke, the hips. Lift, lift. Get that back and then one day comes down and the other leg comes down. I'm come away. Just relax. So she's working now to get this complete vertical plane in her spine going straight up. Awesome. Guess what?

Now the grand finale of the real deal. So when you're ready, you're just gonna throw yourself up and we're going to try and find that exact point. I am more interested in seeing you get hype. That's what I'm going to be queuing on. How much can you eat? Elongate, because obviously the body feels heavy and when you find that maximum length, the body gets light and you can lock all your joints. That's the secret. Once you have that, it's actually quite easy to find the balance. So let's see what happens here. So you will look at the floor. Not Too much. Your head is long, but you actually glancing. Very good. So here you go.

Good. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Now Push, lift. Try to touch the ceiling with your feet. Yes, look at that beautiful height. Now I'm just going to be, so if you're falling forward, you need to work. That's it. Even more. Lift up. Here she is. Here she is.

[inaudible] good girl and down. Okay, come on up. How cool is that? So seeing, you were doing so good. We're going to try you in the middle of the room. Final handstand. Okay. I, which side you like to kick up from? I will use my right hand and where you're, let's have a go. We're both kind of like, so lock your elbows. Lift, stretch up. Good. Good, good, good. Here she is. I want those shoes there.

Now you're right over your shoulders. One leg down. Only thing is Carrie. You'll do that one more time. You're still going wide with the hands. I want you here and I want you to press up. So if you come in front of me, reach your hands up over your head. Let's have you stand like this. Okay? I want you to push up with those shoulders more, more, more.

That's it. That's what I want. That's the feeling. Yeah. Hey, it's all good. One last time. Now press up. Push the shoulders up. The shoulders should be by your ears. Up. Up, up, up, up. Huh?

Oh, okay. Alright. What were you feeling? Ooh, um, I don't look my shoulders. We are going to do one last try. I want you to come over here for a minute. This is what I'm noticing. You're standing, you're here. I want you to think of your arms by your ears. So just turn with your face to the front.

So you are here. That's it. That's the feeling. Lock your elbows, and if you turn them out a bit, now push up. That's what I want. That. That's the feeling. It's like you're really forcing yourself up. So let's try one last time. [inaudible] so we member hands have to be closer together than you've been doing it.

Hey, here we go. Now press up. Good girl. Look at that. Oh, okay. I'm jealous. I want to do this workout.

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2 people like this.
Niedra, I love this so much. You are so knowledgeable and so fun to watch, a wonderfully playful approach to Pilates. Both of you work so well together and made this seem like such a fun session. I'm jealous that I wasn't there to be able to work with you. Keep making these tutorials please!!
Niedra Gabriel
Thank you Leslie for your lovely comment - I just sent you a personal email as I looked up your website. Yes, inversions are a passion of mine!
2 people like this.
I'm terrified of inversions so this was great to watch! I don't have hyper mobile elbows so locking them isn't a problem for me. Do you use that same cue for those clients whose elbows actually bend backwards?
1 person likes this.
I love your class, I do a lot inversions from a yoga perspective, so i your preparations exercises are amazing easy and so effective. and the how sequence great. I do love inversions, and will practice your more times.
You are such a lovely and fun teacher.
1 person likes this.

The first part very useful, as people complain about wrist issues. Not even aiming for handstand...
1 person likes this.
How about HYPER elbow extension ?

Still locking ? That gets a big angle at elbow and seems hard to stabilize
Niedra Gabriel
Thank you all for your comments - hyper mobile elbows I cue individually - usually there is lack of stability or stiffness of motion in the shoulder areas so depending on what is going on higher up I try to get that stabilized first, and then look at the wrist and fingers - making sure they provide a good base. Once the hand is activated the forearm is often activated and that pulls the elbow into alignment. if that does not resolve the problem I may ask the student to hyper bend the elbow . Sorry this is not more specific - but there is no " one solution" that fixes it all.
1 person likes this.
Absolutely love this video... love that you repeated the exercises until the student really understood and with even better cues each time. Such a wonderful teacher student experience to watch. I LEARNED lots from this video. Always love your energy! THANK YOU!
Niedra Gabriel
Thank you Amie, I really appreciate your comments. and Happy that you got so much benefit from watching.
2 people like this.
Kara!!! Niedra!!! Amazing
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