Tutorial #3208

Twists and Rotation

10 min - Tutorial


Learn how you can add twists to your Pilates routine with this tutorial by Blossom Leilani Crawford. She shares how working in all three planes of movement will help you with more functional movements outside the studio. She encourages you to play with the movements you have been doing so that you can change some of the patterns in your body.
What You'll Need: Wunda Chair, Mat

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Oct 20, 2017
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I wanted to talk with you a little bit today about adding a little twist in your Pilates routine, and as hopefully a lot of you know or can tell, in Pilates, there's a lot of forward and back. We do a little bit of side-to-side, but I've been really playing a lot with adding rotation, and maybe even adding flexion. Rotation and extension. You know, all three plains, which is funky and not really Pilates-like, which is why I think it's an important thing. You know, forward and back is great, especially as you're accessing your body and trying to strengthen, but as I've been getting older, doing Pilates longer, I feel like you know the patterns creep in and so to change my patterns or to really look at that, you start playing with the movements that you've been doing.

So instead of just going forward and back, you know, I add a forward and a twist. So, you know, the other thing is in like normal human movement it's not just, these things. Like, it's sort of like a very Virgo thing to think. Like yes, just do this and only turn from the shoulders, which is a lovely thought, but that's not real life because when I need to get that cup in the back of the car while driving from my kid, this is usually what's happening, right? Or to turn and look to make sure there's no car in the other lane.

Like, I actually have to turn. I used to not, by the way. It scared my husband and it, long story. So that's what I want to talk about is really adding some twists in and I feel like there's a lot of places that they can come in and they're unexpected, so. Just play around a little bit with me.

So for instance, one of the places that I like to really do it is in the Wunda chair. And if you start, and you know this pumping one, I like to do with a little bit of a bent leg, and in my pumping, I add a little twist. So if you put your hands behind your neck and slowly twist. The thought usually is actually to twist. See, I did it again, to twist toward the, usually when you're pumping, this hip is higher, and we usually like to twist to the higher hip.

But I'm messing with people a little bit and making them turn to toward the standing leg and not move the hip, because I wanna do this. But to isolate, whoa, you're gonna really keep the pedal down and turn, right? And then to sort of make me sort of be three dimensional, which I am, I am three dimensional, I'm gonna twist again and add a little bit of extension as I rotate, and come back to center. So it's a little scary, but you know, this is great for my balance because when I'm out there in life and there's a lot of reaching, grabbing and like, oh, I gotta just get that thing and maybe just back there a little bit. That's real life.

This is sort of like my pretend life, which I like a lot, right? So that's a way that you can add a little twist in there. And you know even just if you don't even have to pump the pedal much. Just a press, and sometimes, I have people hold onto a chair. If you don't wanna do this part, hold onto a chair, just twist, right?

You could just put your hands on something, twist and look up. You know, to facilitate the twist. Have your hand behind the neck, twist and there again, use that hand behind your head to lift and get extension, and hopefully that feels good. Feels good for me. The other place that you can add it in is not just in the upper body, because you know, this, or we couldn't do all these three dimensional moves here.

You also want to be able to do it back here. I'm not funky, I don't know if you noticed that. So in the swan, 'cause you know I don't want to sort of reinvent the Leo. I'm a Pilates teacher after all. But, after you do, you know, your swan movement, you go up and down.

There's a really lovely opportunity here because of this position where you can go into Irene Dau's seahorse, which adds a little bit of rotation and extension. So, from here you kind of bend the knees with the heels together, press the heels together, and I'm really pressing down on the pedal and I'm going to try to lift my left thigh up while my torso stays center-ish. And take it down. And I would like you to imagine that that's exactly what's happening on my harder side. Bring the forklift, there it is.

And then you can also see how one sides harder than the other. Yay! And here's number two. So this is my weaker side. Can you see how different my rotation is in my pelvis 'cause I can't cheat? Right, you could also do that just again, holding onto, you know, your chair if you did like this and did a little bit of rotation, maybe hold the ribcage.

One hand here. So that as you're taking the leg back, the ribcage isn't going with you, right? You hold the ribcage. Hold the chair for balance and just get a little bit of rotation and extension back. Let me do that again, other side.

So, again hold the ribcage so that when you take the leg back, right, you get a little bit of a spiral, but you can think of the ribcage moving against, look at that, easy. Work! Not just in my back, but in this whole department. The other place that I like to really throw in the twist, especially in all dimensions, is what's called Kathy Grant's lateral. She had several laterals that she made up. But she did the seated lateral.

So, gird your loins. I think that's how they say it, right? So, bare with me. There are four of them, and this is number one, so. Sitting up, if you have tight hips or hamstrings, roll up a mat and sit up on a mat.

Especially for the men, because the hamstrings can be tight, or you can bend the knees slightly, 'cause we're really gonna work the spine from the more waistline up. Hands behind the neck. Lateral number one is you just tilt to the side, right, and from there you would stretch the flesh, and I'm really letting my ribcage go and stretch, stretch, stretch, and slowly come up to the other side. You tilt and you stretch, and stretch. Some sides are harder than others.

And slowly come up. This is lateral number one, so again. Tilt, I think Leaning Tower of Pisa. And then I stretch. That's where my Italian language speaking comes from by the way.

Mhm. And slowly come up. Again, tilt and then stretch the flesh, is what Kathy Grant used to say. This is, that's it, and then to come up, my cheat is I lean my head into my hands. So that's just right side bending, lateral side bends.

But now it gets fun. So when you're ready, you're gonna bring your left elbow to the outside of the left knee. So that's now going to other plains. You're gonna fold in, open up the right elbow and sit up tall, hold. Other side, right elbow to the outside of the right knee.

Fold the left elbow in, open up that side, and sit up tall, right. So we're getting side bending. Rotation and flexion, right? Open up and sit up tall. This is lateral number two, last one.

Side bending, flexion, open and sit up tall. So lateral number three is actually one that Kathy got rid of for a while, and it's tricky, but I think it's great for this example. So you're gonna twist to face one knee, you're gonna bring your nose to the knee, and you're gonna twist as you sit up, up, up. Find center. Twist again, nose to the knee, and you twist as you sit up.

And so this is a tricky part that we really don't do extension rotation and it comes up, up, up, up, up. And you do a funky little head center. I have to admit, as I do this one, I get a little confused if it's this and then this. I don't know if you saw that difference. It's very subtle, right?

So you're gonna go this, so a little side bend, and then you twist and rotate, lean back. 'Cause number three she didn't do for a while because the problem with number three is often when people do this they twist in the hip. It is very hard to isolate this to just the upper body. Yes. So I'm kind of doing it in two different ways.

I'm just doing a little side bend of the upper body and then twisting and rotating and that's the part that I feel like I never get! From traditional, classical Pilates. Number four is simply this. It's called the butterfly. You just twist your right knee, you go down and twist to come up. And go butterfly.

Nose to knee, twist. Right away, other side. Nose to knee, twist. Can I even say it fast enough? Nose to the knee and twist! One more, nose to the knee to the knee and twist, twist, twist, twist, twist! And sit up tall.

And now, I kind of feel like my spine had a little flossing action. Like it wasn't really fun, but it feels better later. Right, so that's kind of what I think of when I add all these twists that I'm just kind of keeping whatever rotation I have in all those segments, 'cause I know I'm getting older and it's gonna get harder but I wanna keep what I got. All of it! For as much as I can. Without going crazy, 'cause you know what?

I like getting older, I really do. Alright guys, so play around. Add a little twist in when you can, and have some fun! Thanks!


3 people like this.
I hope there are many more of your classes in the wings. Each of your classes has helped me open up in new ways. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your great and fun approach to it all!
1 person likes this.
Thank you so much Blossom. You are absolutely correct that we need more rotation than we think. I love your examples. It immediately brought Elizabeth Larkham to mind, in that she also creates wonderful workouts based on much more rotation, extension, etc. Your language base is amazing! Ha ha ha.
1 person likes this.
4 people like this.
Brilliant Blossom! I love the Seahorse!
2 people like this.
fun, love the butterfly😃thx Blossom!🌷
I love to hear /see you keep Kathy’s work alive -just wonderful to the roots !
You are a brilliant spirit to the Pilates movements
My clients call me the rotation queen because I’m alll about twists! Haha. These are great ideas-thank you!
Fantastic. Thank you Blossom. Seahorse is my new favorite.
Thank you Blossom! Feels so good.
Spine flossing—ha! It's so true! I sometimes practice extension with rotation in standing with a magic circle overhead, and I think I'd rather floss my teeth, but once it's over, oh boy, it does feel good. Love all of this. Thank you!
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