Tutorial #3063

Long Stretch Series

15 min - Tutorial


Play with how the body moves and flows through the Long Stretch Series in this tutorial with Debora Kolwey. She breaks down some of the fundamental skills so you can see how they naturally progress through the series. She also invites you to explore how rich this material is rather than just being separate exercises.
What You'll Need: Reformer (No Box)

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Jun 25, 2017
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Hi, I' Debra Coleway happy to be back at Pilates Anytime, visiting from Boulder, Colorado. And, I'm working with Shelby and Anna today. We're gonna show you a little tutorial. Using the long stretch series as a way of showing how some of the fundamental skills that we're working with in the body all the time actually progress through a series so that you can see and explore how these series are so rich with material. They're not necessarily just separate exercises, but you can actually start to play with how the body moves and flows through the series.

And, as you advance through the exercises you just keep pulling the fundamental skills that you learn in the basics along with you. Okay, so we're going to start with the long stretch. So, you're standing to the left of your equipment. Place your right hand on the bar, exactly. And, come onto the ball of your left foot right in between the shoulder blocks.

And, come forward over your arms immediately. So, stand in this position with the pressure on the ball of your feet. Okay, lift your heels high and notice as you do so it can pick the weight of the back of your body up and slightly forward, which requires that you're going to have to put a lot of weight in your arms. So then, you look down at you hands and your wrists and you wanna make sure that you're not twisting your hands and your hands are directly under your shoulders. You do the best that you can to pull the arms up.

So, here you are, you could just stay here and it would be lovely and challenging, right? So, we won't. As you breathe in I want you to feel that you're lifting the back of your leg up by reaching the heel back energetically through space. And then, as you come forward press into the ball of the foot more and more to lift the front of the body as it comes forward over the bar. So, you're going out on the inhalations, stretching the spring, and then you have to pick your weight up from the base of you all the way out through the top of the head.

The closer in you come the more the spring closes, the stronger your arms into you shoulder girdle holding your rib cage spine up have to be, right, because you're putting more and more weight on those arms. This time as you come forward challenge yourself, we're going to go into the down stretch to roll over your toes, put your knees down, keep that weight on your arms and place the ball of your foot in front of the shoulder blocks. If you can make that transition like that without having a lot of fussing it's really, really great because then you're ready to go into down stretch. Okay, so press into the ball of the foot with just as much strength as you had when your legs were together. Lift the heel up and back to take the carriage out, breathing deeply to suspend the upper body, exhaling as you come in using the strength of your arms to maintain the lift of your upper body and squeeze that spine right up on through the shoulder girdle.

Inhale as you go. And, notice what happens as you go out, you wanna actually try to extend the hip more to get more out of your spine extension. So, think as you go, that your knees are going to get a little bit lighter. So go out, stay halfway, now don't keep pushing out with your arms, reach your heel up and back. Do you feel how that opens your hips differently?

There, and then you can keep your chest up and your head. Now, from here, it was so good, we're gonna climb on up to the fingertips and ask yourself not to lose any of your extension but just have the experience of more lift, it takes more strength from the bottom all the way up through the top to hold that, right, so that you don't fall. And then, keeping that lift slide back down onto the palm of the hand, but collapse your weight onto the foot bar. Okay, and do one more. You feel how much more open you are?

It's really nice, right? Okay, so now to transition into the up stretch feel this curve, it's the natural fetal curve, as your head goes down it brings the whole flexor system and it lifts you up beautifully. You might need to walk your feet slightly forward so that you're comfortable, but keep the weight just like that even over the arms and the legs. Drive the hips back through the heels to take the carriage out and extend the hips. Go ahead, press out.

Keeping the head curled deeply in come all the way forward and then lift the spine to finish it up exhaling. Okay, inhale as you suspend the upper body. Drive the back of the leg out. Now, coming forward push into the ball of the foot strongly to feel that length up the front of the body and then continue into the deeper flexion as you come up. We're gonna do it a little bit faster.

So, breath in as you press through the heels. Come forward over the foot bar. Exhale, and now from here lift so high up through that upper spine that all you have to do is put your feet down and you float into your elephant. You float into your elephant. Inhale as you press, exhale as you pull.

So, now we have it. Your weight is both on the ball of the foot and the heel as you press and pull you're maintaining the relationship of the back of the leg to the front of the leg, the back of the hip to the front of the hip, the back of the back, the front of the body over and over and over and over. Do you feel that? And, the more strength that you can use with your arms to maintain the lift of your shoulder girdle the deeper the flexion of your spine can be, the more you can curl up higher and higher, the more open the chest, the freer the hips, the easier the movement. Then, we take it into the next phase which would be to pull in so much that you just want to rise up onto the balls of your feet.

Without shifting off your arms walk your feet back to the shoulder blocks. Feel two arms, two legs, two hands, two feet and now lift your right leg straight up behind you. There you go. Drive through the ball of your left foot, press the carriage out and as you come in lift your foot higher and let your head go lower. So, there's a teeter totter effect here that as the leg lifts up on the way in the head goes down and the spine releases over the arms.

Let's change legs. So, by the end it's quite a lot of work in the arms. Here we go again. Inhale as you press out, exhale as you come in. Shifting to the midline of your body, there you go.

Driving through the ball of the foot, reaching the heel, exhaling as you come home so that every time you come in the leg lifts higher, the head goes lower. And now, you're going across your leg over, with plenty of room to do so, step onto the floor and turn around for the long back stretch. Okay, come on with your fingertips pointing forward. And, reach your heels into the shoulder blocks. Okay, right off the bat lift your weight and send it back over your arms.

Again, the more open the chest the stronger the arms the freer the movement in the lower body. Little bit of bend in the elbow to lower down, drive out through the shoulder blocks, and lift the back of the legs to lift the pelvis. See if you can feel, come in a little bit faster. Inhale as you go down. Now, feel this, drive your heel, see if you can feel the difference between tucking the pelvis under and just lifting the weight.

Bend, push, don't tuck, don't tuck. Lift the knee, lift the shin, lift the calf all the way over onto your upper body. We'll just do one more. Bend, press don't tuck, keep going, keep going so you have more room, more room. Now, lift the whole body up.

That's it, push through the ball of foot to find the front of the body. Reach through the heel to hold up the back. I mean, you can see how the little bit of hyperextension kind of gets in your way. Okay, so rest for just a second. You know, it's so tiring at this point.

And, I wanna be able to actually work with the legs a little bit more before we try this again. But, it's too hard to hold that. I think it's too hard to hold that position. Okay, so let's get rid of your pad and we're actually going to go into the footwork, the last variation that we do in the footwork. So, do you want all four? Okay.

So, we'll add our springs. Head rest all the way up. Okay, so we're not going to go through the entire thing, just the last one where you do the lowering and lifting of the heels. So, come on in, come to parallel and take a moment. Push off the ball of your foot without taking the carriage out.

So, just lift your heels and really get the weight onto the ball of the foot. Okay, and you feel how that brings you into the front of your body, right? If you kept going with this action you'd come all the way onto your tip toes and your knees would lift into your chest, am I right? Yeah, and so then, with out moving the carriage lower your heels as low as they can go. You feel that it drives you more into the backside of your leg, into the back of the hip.

So, that's like a mini taste of what's happening when we get out there and we do our dorsal flex and plantar flex the ankle, right? And, it's hard to do it well if you hyper extend. So, what I'm going to ask you to do is lift your ankles up, spread the toes, and now start to go out without dropping your heels. Okay, press the carriage out, breathe big, big, big. Stay there for a second feeling the power of your arms from everything you've done.

Yes, the power of your arms lifting up into the shoulder girdle to expand the chest to draw the hips up with you, right? And then, start to lower your heels exhaling. Yes, this sit bones respond. Yes, the pelvis comes with. We don't actually rock the pelvis actually in this exercise, but the seed of that motor movement is in the body.

When you dorsal flex you got toward posterior rotation. When you plantar flex you come more into that anterior. So, as you lie there can you feel this, can you feel how you reach the heel, the back line comes under? And, as you push off the toes and the ball of the foot the frontline comes up. And then, we have choice about that.

We can drop into the movement or we can reach into the movement. And you know, of course, we don't wanna drop into it, right? So, you have to find a way to feel the feet connect you all the way through your hips, all the way up through your torso and then use your arms and your breath and your intention to stay out there. And, as you lower your heels, don't drop the weight, keep it on the ball of the foot the same, right? Can you feel how you really have to work strongly.

So now, if you come off now, lift your heels high, bend your knees and step down go back to the two springs. We're going to go right back into our long back stretch. Okay, so if when you get on you don't really reach the shoulder blocks well then you might next time wanna actually block the track With some kind of a block. We don't wanna take the time to do that now, but can you even feel now that it makes sense you can pull your legs back to you. Can you feel how you're pushing but your legs are being drawn back into you?

And then, just a slight bend to the elbow as you lower down. And now, you're reaching your entire, no tuck, push. And, lift the back of your leg all the way up, up, up, up, up. Wanna try it one more time. So, breathe, press out, keep coming and feel the whole back of the leg lifting the hips so much that you can actually get back out over there making room for the next time that you go down.

Okay, and then carefully step. Does it change it for you? It's this constant back and forth between the strength of the pelvic girdle and the strength of the shoulder girdle. And, the legs' job is to push us up and propel us forward or whatever direction we're going. And, the arms' job is to hold us from collapsing in on ourselves.

So, it's not one or the other. Now, we're gonna do one more thing which is tendon stretch. Okay, so grab your pads again and put them on the edge of your mat. Your mat on the edge of your reformer. Okay, so we're on two springs.

Step up. Have you ever done this? Okay, so your feet are straight ahead, your thumbs are with your fingers. Now, try not to turn out, go parallel. Remembering for a moment your arabesques. Slightly different 'cause your arms are behind you, they're not in front of you, your hands.

But, the same idea, the power of the push off your hand, through your arm, up into your shoulder girdle to lift the weight of your back enough so that you can curl deeply into yourself to pick your front of your hips up to make room for your legs to go, right? So, the breath if you were doing footwork your torso would be suspending further and further and further and further and further away from your legs, you see. And then, the power of the combination of the push through the ball of the foot to lift the front of the body and the reach through the heel to tone the back of the body so it holds itself up, right, the back of the leg. One more time. Big inhale, drive that carriage out now feel not like you're tucking, but like you're continuing to press.

Soften your knee a little bit, look a little forward so that your tail can come through. Pick your gaze up and drive that sacrum forward. And now exhale, lift the hips, push down through the arms. And, when you're done with this one, Anna, look up a little hun and curl your tail through. Are you looking up? No, you're not.

Look up, there you go. And then drive this, drive it, drive it, drive it, drive it. Yes, now you have room so the next time you come in it's not so hard. Okay, step off. So, just standing there you feel your feet on the ground, right?

And, you feel maybe the ball of the foot, right? If you tried to reach it into the ground and press off of it without shifting your weight back or forth, just straight down what do you feel. Exactly, okay and then without hyper extending your knees just make a little cowboy boot heel. Push that into the floor, there you go. Do you feel your back lift up? Do you feel that?

It's beautiful, right? So, we're constantly doing that, we're constantly shifting back and forth through the ankle in that way. And, what makes it feel good if it's an exercise or just walking down the street is that the movement translates through you body. So, there you go.


2 people like this.
Deborah, I love that you have taken the time to actually break these series down so we really get what we can from each movement. It is so helpful to weave a thread from one series to the next to really get the benefits. More please!
2 people like this.
amazing ! Thank you Deborah !
1 person likes this.
Thank you for demonstrating how the Pilates exercises are interconnected. Excellent
1 person likes this.
I love you Deborah Kolwey! Wonderful tutorial. Gracias!
Excellent tutorial. Thank you Deborah for shsring with clarity and precision.
Debora- I just got back on PilatesAnytime and loved seeing this new video of yours, (new to me ;) and it made me miss you so much! Love this! Thank you!!
Debora Kolwey
I am so glad, and I love seeing the pictures of you with your daughter! xoxoxo
LOVED this. Thank you, Debra. Illuminating.
1 person likes this.
Wow!  so much more than I ever knew was in the exercises. Love how you translate it back to footwork...
Xin G
 it's the best tutorial video I've seen! so enligthtened! so amazing! so fluid! thank you soooo  much! I am so impressed about your understanding on the body rhythm. Wish you would come back!

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