Tutorial #3255

Cat Variations

15 min - Tutorial


Take a look at different Cat variations in this tutorial with Deborah Lessen. She works with Blossom Leilani Crawford, who is know for her work teaching Kathy Grant's Cats. Deborah shares the traditional Cat she learned from her mentor, Carola Trier, in addition to other versions on the Cadillac and High Chair.
What You'll Need: High Chair, Cadillac

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(Pace N/A)
Nov 12, 2017
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Hi, I'm Deborah Lessen and we are at the Green Street Studio with Blossom Leilani Crawford. And what I would like to do with Blossom is go on with her work with cats because she teaches Kathy Grant's Cats, and teach her the traditional cat as I learned it from Carola. And also another variation that I do on the cadillac and a variation on the high chair which is wonderful. So, just to warm up, I'd like you to come onto a tripod. That's it.

And just, yeah, okay. So, start an extension. You're gonna start from the bottom of the spine and scoop all the way under, all the way into the head. Good. And come as far forward as you can onto your shoulders.

Good. And then reverse it. Bring the head in. That's it. Go way back.

Extend from the top of the spine to the bottom. So you're gonna start from the bottom of the spine and scoop under. Good. And carry that forward, over your arms so you really stretch your thoracic and cervical spine. And then take that whole shape back, head between the knees.

Extend through the thoracic spine and out through the end. One more time. Exhale, scoop under. Come high up. So the more you round the tail under, the deeper you get into the upper back.

And bring the head back and under. Extend. Good. And rest. Okay, all right.

So, let's start with my cat, which is seated. You're going to straddle one leg on either side and let's do this on one spring first to learn the movement. Okay. So, the closer you are to the push through bar, the more difficult it will be when you're on more weight. Okay.

So, you're going to keep your arms straight the entire time. Start with the pelvis, scoop way back, bring your straight arms down, dive your head down as close to your pelvis as you can. Good. Now stay. On your sit bones, start from the bottom of the spine and extend up through the back.

Good. And now reverse it. Scoop under, go way out. Way out. Yeah, but stay on your sit bones.

Round under, deepen all the way back. So, literally, you're pulling back with your pelvis and pushing forward through your arms. Come to center and hold. Arch up and back, pressing down on the bar. Rise up to your vertical line.

Lengthen forward on the diagonal with straight arms and you wanna be careful not to hyperextend your shoulders here, so you wanna be opening your shoulder blades wide around your back and pressing forward through here, and come back to center. So let's repeat from the beginning. Scoop the pelvis and the head under, straight arms down. Excellent. From the bottom of the spine, extend up on the diagonal.

So, some people will have to come higher here to extend through their lumbar spine. Exhale, take the body way out, round over. Imagine you're bringing your femur heads together as you scoop back, you're going to go off-center here. Rise up, find your vertical, arch up and back. And center.

And lengthen forward on the diagonal, just test that anterior serratus. And come back to center one more time. Exhale, scoop under. Come close in and inhale up on the diagonal. Exhale over, scoop way back.

Come off-center, rise up through the vertical, arch up and back, and center, and forward on the diagonal. And center. Okay, now we're going to try the same thing, oh, I'm sorry Long toes. With two springs. All right, so, the difference will be (laughs) that when you scoop back, you're really going to have to oppose Okay.

With your arms pressing forward. Oh. You're a little too far away. There you go, okay. I'll help you if you need help.

Thank you. Exhale, scoop under, straight arms down, straight arms, straight arms, that's it. Good. And inhale up on the diagonal, exhale, round over. Good.

Pelvis pulls, arms push. Here's the wonderful part that you really have to work that opposition. Yeah. Arch up and back first. That's it.

Rise up through center and lengthen forward on the diagonal. And rise up through center. Good, again. Scoop under, straight arms down, so you're abdominals really have to work. And inhale forward and up on the diagonal.

Exhale, round. Connect the legs right into the center of the pelvis. Good. Come back off-center. Pelvis leads, upper body opposes.

Good. Up and back. And rise up center, and lengthen forward, and come up and finish. And rest. Thank you.

You're welcome. So this is a challenging version of cat and I want you to always feel when you get to that vertical balance point. Okay. Okay? Okay.

All right, so now, let's do two springs because I know you can. So this is the regular cat as I learned it from Carola and I want you to come in close to the bar. All right, this is going to give you more challenge. So, every slight variation in your placement changes your relationship to the resistance and this is really important in Pilates. So we're going to start elbows wide, and think always of describing the movement with your spine.

So, the crown of the head is going down between the knees as the bar goes down the front of the body, right into child's pose. Good. Now lead with the head and go down and forward and inhale up in extension. Excellent. Now reverse it.

Go way back, scoop under, meet the bar with your chest, continue though the arms, and hang back in one piece. So, this is not a full-body arch. This is a hinge from the knees, but if you want, you can do a little Cambre at the top. Good. And come back up to your starting position.

And exhale, head between the knees. Okay, let's start that again. So, I don't want you to do this. I want you to work under here. That's it.

Good. Head way down. And inhale, forward and up. Exhale, go way back, and deep under, rise up and meet the bar. Finish the arms.

Good. And elongate as you hang back. Open the shoulders, open the chest. And rise up through center. Let's do one more.

And exhale, head between the knees, way back. So you wanna be as low on your heels as you can be and still wrapped and supported underneath. Go forward and inhale and exhale, scoop. Rise up, and hinge back. Good.

And center. Excellent, thank you, Blossom. All right, so now we are on Mr. Pilates' high chair and Blossom is going to do a version of cat on this chair with the roll down bar. So, we're using the pedal to stabilize the lower body, so she's just going to keep enough pressure that the bar's maybe half-way down, and just hold it at that level. And elbows open wide, okay.

So, on your exhalation, you're going to start with the head, take that bar right down the front of your body, and the head goes between your knees, exactly the way you did on the trap table. Now, keep the bar where it is, start from the bottom of the spine and extend out on the diagonal. Keep the bar down. That's it. Now reach through your arms, bring them up in line with the spine, and you're going to rise up in one piece.

Good. Open the elbows, come back to the chest to your starting position. Exhale, roll down. Good. Manage the resistance and reach out from the bottom to the top of the spine.

Good. Arms come up in line with the spine. And rise up in one piece and let's do one more repetition. Come into the chest, elbows wide, exhale, roll down. Keep the bar down, start from the tail and come up through the spine.

Reach out through the arms, and rise up in one piece. Now, we're going to reverse exactly that from here. So pitch the whole body forward in one piece. Round the spine and bring the bar all the way down. Good.

Now, hold the resistance and start rolling up through the spine. Bend the elbows wide, meet the chest. Good. And bring the bar up to the top. Pitch forward right from the hip joints.

Exhale, round over. Start rolling up, so you always start with the spine. Bring the arms up, meet at the center of the chest, and extend up. Good. And you don't wanna come too high here.

You don't want the springs to go on the slack, so meet the springs. Once more. Pitch from the hip joints. Exhale, round over. Good.

Roll up, open the arms wide, meet at the chest, and stretch and rest. Fabulous. Okay, thank you. Thank you. Okay, let's regroup now.

Okay. And, actually, since we're on the chair, and I sense that you would like to do some rotation with your spine, Yes. Let's do that. All right, so, actually you can stay where you are. I'm going to change.

So, Blossom, sit just like that, right on the edge. Take this foot halfway down, and you're gonna take this thumb, Oh, yeah. Okay, I want you to, yeah, just like that. So, you're free hand can be on the seat beside you. It could be on your hip, whatever works for you.

And you can touch the back of the seat, but I want you freestanding. That's it. And open that arm wide. So notice we have this arm position in everything we've done so far. I want you to actually feel a little outward rotation here and keep that shoulder blade wide.

Okay. So you're going to inhale and extend the arm forward and come back in as if you're bringing your thumb right to the front of your shoulder joint. Again, inhale, extend. So, no rotation yet. We don't want the shoulder to go forward.

She's just extending her arm. That's it. One more time. Inhale, and come back in. Now we'll add the rotation.

So, inhale, stretch. Now, keep the chest open, from the center of the chest, lift and rotate toward the brick wall. That's it. Rotate back into your center. And open the arm wide.

Excellent. Inhale, stretch. Lift and rotate right from the center of the chest. Rotate back into center, and bend. So this is very challenging to meet the resistance without changing the relationships of your chest, your shoulder, your spine.

Once more. Inhale, extend. Lift and rotate. Come back into center. She's smiling, you just can't see it.

(Blossom laughing) And open wide. Good. Now open the arm wide, you're gonna bring the arm down by your side, scoop forward, palm up. Now, from the bottom of your spine, reach out, turn the palm down, rise up in one piece just like you did in the cat before. That's it.

And open wide, arm down by the hip. You wanna make sure not to go behind the hip. Scoop under, head between the knees, all the same ideas. Reach from the hip joints, out on the diagonal, and rise up in one piece. One more time.

Open, inhale and pull down. Exhale, scoop under. Reach out from the hips. Good. And rise up in one piece.

Now, we're going to reverse it, and just for the sake of showing how you would progress with this, take your right leg further back. That's it. Okay. Now, you're going to pitch in one piece. Forward on the diagonal, round over, bring the arm down.

Start rising up, and open the arm wide. Arm forward and up, pitch out on the diagonal, round over. Start rolling up, and open wide one more time. Forward and up, and pitch on the diagonal, round over, rise up and rest. Okay, that was beautiful.

So, Blossom, one of the things that Kathy told me many years ago was that Mr. Pilates said to her, "You can make up your own exercises if you want, "but they better be good." And it's really hard to make up a good exercise that doesn't already exist in the Pilates' repertoire and the key is simplicity. The simpler it is The harder. The harder it is, the more difficult it is to be precise in the coordination. Okay. So, thank you, Blossom.

And now, let's move on. Okay.


Cat Queen on display! Wow.. just beautiful and the work on the chair was brilliant. Thank you for filming this and sharing these gems!
1 person likes this.
Who's the handsome kitty overseeing all of this good work? Nina cat and I watched this together. The warmup felt fantastic! I can't wait to get to the studio to try out all of these variations. You are such a good cat, Blossom! Beautiful movement and exquisite instruction, Deborah! Thank you, thank you! Muah and meow!!
1 person likes this.
What an amazing collection of cats! How fabulous. Thank you!
1 person likes this.
Thank you so much Blossom and Deborah!! It's such a pleasure and chance to learn with you!!
1 person likes this.
all the details!
1 person likes this.
Two amazing cats at the same time:) Thank you Divas:)
Love how when the actual cat (Lola) jumps on the table (totally unplanned) neither Deborah Lessen or Blossom seem to notice! Too perfect!
i am thrilled ! Thank you , thank you, thank you
love, love these cats! wish i had a high chair to practice that variation. too good....
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