Workshop #3641

Go Deeper on the Reformer

105 min - Workshop


Learn ways to inspire your practice on the Reformer with this informative workshop by Benjamin Degenhardt. He breaks down a cross section of the original exercises, offering tools that you can use to identify which exercises are appropriate for your body. He also gives insight to the sensations you should feel in each movement so that you can find deeper connections in your body.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

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(Pace N/A)
Dec 21, 2018
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Chapter 1

Footwork, Hundred, Coordination

Hi everyone and welcome to a workshop on the reformer with myself, Benjamin and my good friend Mary Rogers, who's here to help me, um, give you an in depth look at the original reformer repertoire. My goal for this workshop is to help you walk away with ways to inspire your own practice on the reformer, whether you're a teacher, whether you're lucky to have a reformer at home or access to one at a studio. The workshop is intended to help you identify which exercises are appropriate for you body, as well as how to modify them if needed, as well as creating placeholders for the exercise that might not be available to you yet. The exercises we'll be covering are a cross section of the entire original reformer repertoire, so we'll be looking at exercises that some would call beginner, intermediate, and advanced exercises. The parameters for me to choose these exercises were based on the original order by Joseph Philosophies, as well as the exercise that I consider as very simple and straightforward movements. So some of these might be difficult, but there are simple in execution and very easy to grasp in that they're only moving the carriage back and forth and no additional movements are required.

The reformer we'll be working on is an apparatus made by grads, so it's close to the original specifications off of the reformer as opposed to simply looking at spring tensions and the number of springs that you're using for workshop. I will try to give you some insight as to what sensation you're looking for so that if you are working with a different make of reformer, you know how to adjust. If you have any questions, of course leave a comment and we'll get you sorted out. The reformer repertoire begins with footwork. It's the first exercise in the original sequence that we do on the reformer and there's a pretty good reason for that. The thing that Joseph pull out, he's really believed in building your fitness from the ground up. The first piece of apparatus he actually developed.

Little historical tidbit was the foot corrector and the first version of a reformer was essentially just a horizontal platform with the foot bar and some shoulder blocks, but there were no straps attached to the reforming the original version, which essentially makes it a horizontal foot corrector in and of itself. So clearly, um, footwork was really important in building up the repertoire that we now perform on the reformer. So we'll start there. We're going ahead and laying down on the back. The features that are relevant to this particular exercise are clearly the foot bar, the attachment of the springs in the appropriate gear for the body as well as the shoulder blocks that the body is resting against. We begin on the toes basically covering the longest distance from brain to nerve ending that's available in the body to wake the body up, stimulate the nerve endings in the feed, which is really something we'll call on and all the upcoming exercises.

Before we get started on moving just a word on the setup of the reformer, especially on the traditional reformers, you will have the option to move the gear bar farther away from the foot bar so that you start with more distance between the end of the carriage and the foot bar. The reason that's important is if you are personally very tall or if there's any discrepancies or pathologies and your hips, knees or ankles, that would be prohibitive. Starting in all the way with the bar in the negative gear for her body were set up properly here. Basically what you want to look for is that the toes can touch the foot bar to the knees are bend. We begin with the heels touching of the toe slightly apart and you want to make sure that in this position your spine is at its maximum length, right?

If there's any sensation of cringing in the lower back, chances are that the carriage is not in the right place for your body and in that case you would move the gearbox back. We're going to do this on four springs to start. All right. It seems like that's a lot of heavy spring tension, but in fact the load that arrives in the body is much less than what you experience when you're walking upstairs for example. Right. The fact that we are horizontal means that gravity basically cancels out a lot of our body weight and the reformer springs recreate the load that we experienced in everyday life. All right. Um, I forgot to mention this, but Meredith has a microphone herself so if she has any questions about the exercises, I'm sure you will at home as well. Um, she will ask them to me, right? So feel free to chime in. Um, as I said, footwork begins on the toes. The position of the heels touching together replicates more of the natural turnout of our hips. So we're not really looking for wide open position, but really for a very small turnout position here so that all 10 toes can touch the bar and participate in the movement. From there.

She extends her legs all the way out to straight when I have a pause there for a second. Right? One of the things that I think makes the reformers so effective in teaching us how to do plays and how to move with economy and efficiency is to give us that constant feedback of how to resist against the movement of the spring. So one of the key secrets, I think the secret sauce of Pilati so to speak, is that whatever effort you put into opening the spring, you maintain as you return. So really feel here for a second what it takes to stand into your foot bar to extend your legs all the way out to find, lengthen your body and to release any tension you might have in your shoulders. At this point, if you find that you cannot release tension in your shoulders, that's a clear sign. You want to drop the spring here, right?

So the effort that took you out, Mary, you maintain as you come all the way back in. We'll do it once more slowly like that just to get the feeling of it. This replicates the movement of standing up and sitting yourself back down, but we are using the resistance of the springs to really fire up the centric work of our muscles. One more time, press it out, come in a little faster this time and then it will flow through it or just a few more times to sweetly start waking up on mind and body, the connection between the toes and the foot bar and the ever-changing resistance that comes in as the springs expand and close. Just take a couple more here. Pushing out. Coming in. What happens here is that we're stimulating the nerve endings in our feet and starting to build a good connection into the fundament of our body.

Building fitness from the ground up. We're changing position now. The movement doesn't change. We're bringing the knees together, heels and toes touch side by side, and we're moving to the arches of the foot, right Joseph [inaudible], he's taught in his original patents for both the foot corrector and reformer, a lot about rebuilding the arches of the feet. So in this position, we really want the heels to drop underneath the foot bar as far as that's available and curl the toes over as if you are trying to touch your own heels with your toes. And then the movement is exactly the same from this position. You press out a straight pause there for a moment. Again, notice what it feels like to stand on your bar. Find length on top, finding an even and normal breath, and then maintaining that resistance as you come in. And then you flow right through, out and back in. By changing the position of the fee, we're not really looking to engage different muscles as much as hitting a different point of stimulation in the nerve endings of our feet and rebuilding that arch. We'll go a few more times out and back in.

Now you notice, and you know this, if you've done any reformer work that the reformers trying to compress your body, right? So the idea of spring starting to work into compression of your body incentivizes the body to lengthen up against it, which I think is one of the great benefits of doing reformer work. It helps you to decompress the body as you go. We're coming to the heels for a final position here. The feet are strongly flexed in this one to really try and pull your toes back towards the shins. Keep pressing the knees into one another.

Check in with whether you still have freedom in the crease of your hips. Your spine is too long on the mat. We'll go right into 10 quick ones here. You press ouch. You come back in. We're just helping you get a little bit deeper into feeling both heels evenly on the foot bar. That's one of the things you really want to concern yourselves with as you go through footwork. As simple as it is, it's very easy to start leaning towards one side, outsourcing some of the strength into one foot more than the other.

We're looking for how the ribcage behaves here, but make no mistake. It's really about getting those feed to warm up. Getting those feed to be stimulated and the lower body to take the action as you enter your practice. Let's do one more here. Press all the way to straight. Come all the way back in. And then our last piece and our footwork is the tendon stretch should come to the toes. Your heels touch, your toes are apart. Who just, absolutely.

And what are you looking for in relationship to their rib cage? Great question. Right. Um, a lot of piles, tar goes about closing your ribs or keeping your ribs knit in towards the carriage. I think what we see in Joseph [inaudible] work a lot is that there is a connection into the upper body, but it doesn't have to be as rigid as we might think. Right? So yeah, if you could just come back to the heels for one second, pull the toes back and just go into the extension one more time. And it's okay with you. Stay there for a second. As I said before, the reformer is trying to compress you. That's what it was built to do.

That's what it was trying to do. So depending on your level of strength and ability and how your body processes that this movement, the compression might manifest in the ribs, starting to press away from the ground creating this arch. The other extreme would be to keep your rib cage so rigid that the movement gets kind of stuck in your upper body. And what I think we're looking for in terms of sensation, the rib cage go ahead and come back in, is that your points of contact, which is your feet as well as your back against the carriage and your shoulders against the shoulder blocks, that that movement travels from your heels all the way up the chain so that this area doesn't have to change in neither direction, doesn't have to be constricted and shouldn't let go. Right? Come all the way back in. We'll look at that again in our tendons stretch.

So you returned to that very first position we started in all tentacles. Participate in this movement, so we're not bypassing any strength in your hip complex. You stretch out one time, pause there for a second. Again, check in. Are My shoulders participating in this movement more than they need to right on my ribs, misbehaving in any way that is not necessary right now. Can you stretch the springs out just a little bit more without raising the heels or shoulders up and once you feel that effort in your body, again, we're trying to maintain it as we move the heels lower underneath the bar, you press them underneath the foot bar and you stand into all 10 toes to lift yourself back up and you repeat that a few more times.

So you try and keep the heels together throughout this entire set, which may feel like you're limiting your range of motion somewhat, but in fact by keeping your heels touching the entire time, you keep your body somewhat more honest and how far it needs to go at this point because we're not here necessarily to overstretch your Achilles tendons, but to build functional length and mobility through the ankle. Because again, as much as we're not standing much on the reformer, we'll need our feet quite a bit and pretty much every exercise that's to come lift up. One more time. Stay there. Notice that your legs are pretty much in the position we want them in, in your very near future, in the hundreds which are next. Go ahead and bend your knees, come all the way back in. And that is a very simple set of footwork exercises that were part of the original sequence, right? There's other variations. You can go to one leg, you can open the feet a little bit wider, but this is what's part of the original sequence. How are we doing on footwork? Okay. All right. So again, the idea is to start nice and simple, right?

The idea is footwork. You just lay down on your back, you press the carriage out 30 times, you stretch your ankles a little bit. It's your way to enter the practice. Let whatever happened before, go and get your body fired up. There's not much to think about. It's as easy as pushing the carriage out, coming back in, which is all the reformer can do, right? Um, next week go into our hundred, which raises the stakes. Someone in terms of getting our full body to participate in, warm ourselves up fully. There's a nifty little transition that we do in the traditional work with the foot bar that is not anchored into the reformer for that.

Maybe go ahead and bring one foot underneath the foot bar and lower the other foot towards the kickstand. All right, so the foot that's under the foot by can raise the foot bar up. She pushes the kickstand away and lowers the whole thing down. If you're practicing by yourself, this is just a really nice way to not let your practice go in an effort to transition into the next exercise because now she's ready to go. The springs do not change at this point. So if four springs was fine for your footwork, I suggest you stay here for the next exercise.

Go ahead and extend your legs out long over the foot bar and grab those handles behind your shoulder blocks. Raise your arms straight up to the ceiling. So this is where different reformers behave very differently in this particular exercise. Depending on your strapline, depending on the fact whether you have handles or loops to hold on to the traditional reformer has the straps pull down to the level of the surface that you're allying on rather than being raised up and we worked with handles so that we can really work on grip strength here and build a connection from our hands all the way into our centers. So begin with no tension at all on the springs. Exactly. With your arms straight up, you can actually move your body a little bit away from the shoulder blocks, which will serve as well. So we don't get stuck against those blocks in a second. One of the things that is often a little muddy in terms of how our hands should behave in PyLadies is um, the idea of grabbing onto the handles, right for this exercise, I actually recommend that you do that.

So go ahead and make a fiscal with your hands and start to really squeeze into the handles. Take a moment with that and start to notice how that energy begins to radiate into your forearms, into your upper arms, into your shoulder complex. And maybe at some point it arrives all the way down into your back. The idea is that energetically your arms are locked so that your first movable part becomes the shoulder and how it connects into your back rather than beginning with the elbow spend. All right, so once you have that set up and you have that sensation in your arms and shoulders, go ahead and engage with the spring slightly. Push forward just some millimeter.

Notice what automatically happens to your upper body and rib cage here and then release that again. All right. Do that one more time. The reason I make this a part of the exploration of the hundred is because I think this yields a lot of information for the body and how the body reflexively wants to contain the energy in the center so that we can manage this load in our shoulders. Slowly release that. You will find that if you work with straps that are shorter than this, that your arms begin to get loaded at a very unfavorable angle. We're trying to start loading the shoulders at 92 maybe a hundred degrees of flection. All right. Since she's perfectly set up here. Next piece is we're adding footwork into this so I'm going to step in and become a foot bar for her here for a second, so go ahead and footwork your legs out into my hands.

Lift the legs off the foot bar approximately to where we just had them pretend and stretch. Pull your straps down, raise your head and neck and shoulders up and bring yourself into that famous position that we spent so much time in and pull out and you stay with that for a second. Taking a deep breath in to test whether breathing can be controlled XL fully, maybe stretch those springs out more. Exactly and then release everything back down, legs down, arms up, head releases back. This is a little variation that I personally often teach even long before the pumps come in because this is a lot of work. When you agree really hard, we're basically lifting most of our body weight off the mat against gravity and against four heavy metal springs at this point. We'll do that one more time to pull the straps down. Linkedin, the legs out of your body. To pick them up. Bring yourself into position, right?

I've previously taught tutorials on the hundred as well. We're going too much more detail with this, but just a reminder, you're looking for even Ben throughout your spine, from your ears, all the way down to your hips. Go ahead and release that back down. Legs down, head down, arms go up. We'll take one more like that just to test one more thing before we add those pumps in. Go ahead and bring yourself back into position. Arms down, legs lengthen out of the body. Now there is a little bit of wiggle room in how far you can raise your arms at this point without the carriage moving at all.

So I want her to reach up and forward into the straps to test that range and that's the range you're gonna pump it up and down. Breathing in for five, breathing out for five [inaudible]. We're not going to do a full set of the hundred now breathing in for five, breathing out for five. It's a vigorous movement of the arms against a slow sustained controlled breath, right? Remember the movement of the arms is to upregulate your nervous system and get you going, increase your circulation, but your breath is there to downregulate and basically calm your body down a little bit. You want to be in control of your breath here. And one more time. Inhale and exhale and then release completely legs down, arms go up, head releases down, and at this point we should be somewhat warmer than where we were a little bit ago.

Now I talked about grabbing with your fists earlier on in the preparation for the a hundred you might find that once you begin to add the pumps, that that gets really stuck in your shoulders. So I saw Mary already automatically starting to lengthen her fingers out, which is completely an option, but I suggest playing around with that fist grip of your hands because I think it really sets your shoulders up. Success, my habit. Then I noticed when I was doing it and then I, when I went back to my face, it was easier for me. Yeah, well there's two things that happen here, right? The Fisk rebut. It's not just the musculature of the hand that comes to play, but the musculature of your fingers braid all the way up into your shoulder complex. So holding this tide really gives you a good amount of information of how to move your arms from your back, but it can also begin to feel really tight in your shoulders.

So once you want to unlock the shoulders for a quick pump, you might be better off linking those fingers out. So play around with those two ideas as you go through this lovely movement that we all love so much. Next in the sequence would be the overhead. I've taught a tutorial on the orient exercise here in place anytime. So go ahead and check that out if you want more detail than that movement for this workshop, we're staying along the path of simple, straight forward movements that move the carriage back and forth very simply. And we're not including any of the more precarious exercises for the sake of what I want to teach you today. So coordination is our next movement for that.

I will lower the springs down to two, which would have already happened for overhead and I'm also going to bring the headpiece down to flat, which again would have happened for overhead already, right? So her body's completely flat. The exercise is often Todd with the head curled up, but originally in Joseph [inaudible], his footage and photography, we see the head is down for the exercise, which actually makes it a little bit harder. What's coordination for, I think for one, there's more than one step to the movement itself, right? The legs extend, they open, they close. There's the breadth that needs to be coordinated, but in my mind, I think the coordination we're after here is for your center to reorganize itself as the leg slowly extend out into the open space, right? Your legs stand in the air, so to speak, for part of the exercise and unlike earlier in the hundred where we lifted two straight legs up, which is much easier for the brain to calculate how heavy that is and how to organize the ribs against that, you might've felt that reflexively in the a hundred here.

Your body has to constantly dial up the effort to keep itself stable as the legs unfold. All right, that's a mouthful, but let's see if we can find that sensation as we go. So the knees and elbows are bent completely in and again, I prefer a fist grip. The handles are round for a reason, so we're going to use that here. The elbows are parked down onto the carriage. This chest is wide open, the shoulders are back and down. The legs are bent in as far as that's available from your own strength.

So if you're Taylon and ends up lifting a little bit, I'm actually quite okay with that. Here on the inhale, we're going to extend the legs out long and low. The arms press down onto the mat and it all happens at once. So arms down flat, legs long and low. You stand in the air. Feel how your center has to renegotiate, how to keep itself stable against the weight of the legs hanging free in space. As she XL, she bends the knees back up into her chest, maybe your Chin and her elbows bend. At the end of that. We'll just do that part again. On the inhale, she unfold arms and legs.

She stands in the air. We're back in that a hundred position we just visited. She bends the knees back in, keeps pushing into the handles. Elbow spin. Remember the effort that goes into opening the spring is maintained as you return. One more time. Press apt. We're adding the opening and closing of the legs here. She's holding her breath all this time and the exhale is what draws her knees back in towards her elbows. Bend at the end. We'll do one more like that.

Press it out to straight. Open the legs, build resistance. Pull the legs back together. Keep pushing into the handles as the knees come in and the elbows bend. Now just to compare that to how it's often taught with the head and shoulders lifted up, go ahead and curl yourself up. Similar to your a hundred position. Chin over chest. Press it out. Open. Close the legs.

Head stays up as the knees come in. Head stays up as the elbow spin. Stay right there. Go right back out. Pressing up open, close the legs. We're looking for that. Even bend ears, two hips. Again, take one more like that. Elbow Span, press out. Final one at promise. Open close, knees go in, elbows bend and you release your head down. Wonderful. You see that she's going into a full squad. The deeper she goes, the more often she repeats the exercise, which is again a pattern that we'll revisit quite a bit. Um, any thoughts on head up versus down in terms of how it felt?

I think they had apps easier. Head up is easier and here's why. The act of lifting your head and the controllers up already sets off the effort in your center, your core, your abdominals that you will need in order to maintain stability in your hips and your lower back as the legs on fold. Whereas with your head down, it's a lot harder to coordinate that. Right? Again, two different approaches for two different results, but think of coordination as a way to use your mind to figure out how do I behave in my center as the legs start to unfold into the open space. Next up would be the rowing sequence. Again, I've taught a tutorial on Valadez anytime on the entire rowing series. We'll leave it out for the sake of this workshop, but I'll recommend you check it out. Our next place to visit is the long box.

Chapter 2

Pulling Straps, Back Stroke, Teaser

Next up, we're looking at the first of two sequences on the long box.

It typically in the traditional order, it begins with the swan dive exercise and then moves into pulling straps, backstroke, swimming, teaser, breaststroke, and horseback. Some of these exercises, again for the sake of this workshop, we're leaving out today a look forward tutorials on those exercises to add into your practice. We're looking at the movements that are really simple and straight forward and set the body up along this path of digestible movement patterns that take you through the entire sequence. So the first one we're looking at here is pulling straps where on one spring the box is set up flush with the shoulder blocks and centered on the carriage. And the way that I like to position a body for this exercise is to make sure that the shoulders and the knees are pretty much covering the box and have the box centered underneath, meaning you have equal distance between the edges of the box and your shoulders on one side, knees on the other. So let's find that position for you.

Reason being is we just would have come from our swan dive where our legs get activated by standing inside the frame here we want to accomplish the same and for that to happen, the hips have to be somewhat supported and depending on your height, your legs might hang off the box if you set yourself up with your shoulders right at the shoulder block, so make sure that it fits your body and that you get proper support through most of your upper body as well as your hips. You pick up the straps and bring them to the outside of the frame. Again, I'm a big believer in using a fist Squibb with both hands here on either side of the strap. You want to move your hands out pretty much again to where we had them for the hundreds. So it's about 90 to a hundred degrees of flection. It's not just straight down to the ground, but slightly forward from there. Your arms are straight from the star because we're kind of mimicking the same action again that we explored in the a hundred a little bit ago.

Some people have an opinion about where the handles should be, whether they should be in your hands or whether they can slide along the floor. I think that's really up to um, your own preference as well as whether you want to protect your floor with the handles. Sometimes it can also be nice to actually use the handle as an additional place to hold onto the strap and it kind of avoids the problem of having this handled slide. Oh yeah. I might want to show that on that side as well, as well as give you a better opportunity to work on your grip strength. So those are options. But again, I think the most important is that you use all 10 fingers equally including those pinky fingers that we tend to forget. In this exercise you'll find this goes back to our footwork to including all 10 toes and your footwork just sets off more musculature in your body to participate in the move. And the same is true for your grip strength and we all know it's hard to develop that and maintain that and it's very important for this exercise, so it's as easy as pulling the straps. The name implies it.

That's really the only instruction you need for this one. You go ahead and pull those straps back behind you, keeping the arm straight, keeping your legs energized behind you and seeing where the movement stops in your body, right? It starts here with simply pulling those straps, the effort that goes into your pole, you maintain as you return and the movement is as simple as that. We'll do it one more time. She pulls the arms back like in the hundred her shoulder complex is asked to extend to open the chest. As she pulls the straps back, she keeps all of that going as she slowly resists into the movement forward. Now you to take that a step farther, we're going back to that same point and then we'll add on. So bring yourself to that same spot where you feel like the movement ends and then reenergize the extension of your legs behind you.

Begin to pull the straps up higher by lifting your chest forward and up as well. This is your new height. Maintain it as you return, so it's really just a tumble war with those straps and your shoulders until you come back to the stab. We'll do that one more time. So first, find your maximum pole with maximum length in your body and then your hands rise as your chest rises, as your legs rise behind you. You keep all of that as you slowly let the straps when the toggle war, until you recover. This really sets up a lot of effort in your upper back, which will intensify a little bit by going into our next variation, which is the t pole. The arms go out to the side for this one, and to create a little bit more space here, we're actually letting the leather strap slide through the hands until you get to the very start of it. So just moving your hands back a little bit, and this has to do with one of the rules I like to think of the reformer widget is that we start pretty much every exercise with one exception, which we'll get to later with no tension on the springs. All right? Every repetition, every movement is an opportunity for us to figure out how to accept and receive and then manage that load.

So we want to start with no spring tension and each repetition ends with no spring tension. So having your arms at the start of the strap as we go out into t means that you can begin the movement with no spring tension pulling on you. You only have gravity to overcome. Lifting those handles up, lifting those arms up and we all know that's hard enough. Legs are energized. She pulls the arms back again, keeping maximum linkedin her body first. Exactly. Let's start simple. The chest pulls forward against the legs reaching back.

The effort that went into the pole is maintained as she opens the arms. The box barely moves at first as she returns. We'll do that one more time. Pulling straight back. The head reaches a straight forward, not up just yet. The hips, hip bones extend down into the box so that her legs and her lower back are fully supported. The arms open wide away from the center to return. To start, we're going to add that little lift of the chest back in here. Pull the arms back.

This is an optional embellishment of the exercise to pick up the legs against the chest, reaching forward and up to really fire up that full extension, the back of the body. Keep it as the arms. Reach out to the side. It's like you're flying right one more time, Paul. The straight back leg stay energized. Keep in mind that every exercise we do in PyLadies involves the entire body. It's not an arm exercise, it's not an upper back exercise. It's all of that. And more arms open away from the center.

She spreads her wings and then she gets a Swede release here, letting her head drive her arms, rub her legs, drop some nice heat coming from the body here. I would feeling all right. Yeah, it is hard to step off to the side. That's our pulling straps. Does that bring up any questions or thoughts? No. For me. Great. Next up, we're going into our backstroke swimming. So we're flipping the body around yet again.

And I think it's often elusive as for what that exercise does for the body based on where it's placed in the sequence. It's for one a preparation for a teaser which follows backstroke swimming, but it's also an exercise in synchronicity between the arms and the legs. For one, the timing of arms and legs moving as well as the effort that we put into our arms and legs should be completely synchronized so that we can be more successful in our teaser. Um, so go ahead and pick up those straps for me. We're going to add another spring. So we're now on two springs here. You want a little bit more spring tension than you will have in your teaser so that it holds you back a little bit and gets you to work on that initial sticky point that we often encounter in the teaser.

So this is all in favor of that next exercise. Go ahead and have a seat at the very front edge. Organize your straps in a way that they don't cross behind. You. Sit yourself down really close to the front edge. You feet are parked on the foot bar and I think the way to get into the exercise that helps you understand the start position better is very similar to a rolling like a ball on the mat. So go ahead and bring your arms out to the side.

There's no tension on the springs just yet. Just about enough tension so that you have something to hang into with your arms. You draw your knees up into your chest and you start to curl yourself into that tight little ball without moving the carriage all that much so that the head doesn't have to drop and be picked up again. She is in a good start position here. We're going to clear that frame of her arms for a head by lifting the hands up a little bit higher, and then from here the requirement is your arms and your legs do the same thing at the same time with the same amount of effort. They go up, they open, they circle forward and you arrive back into a little bit higher than your a hundred position and if there wasn't that second spring, you might just fly up into a teaser. Go again, same time, same movement, same efforts like you're pushing into the air with your arms and your legs to move those two springs in. You slowly retreat back into your start position.

We'll take one more like that up open, circle forward. You might even come up a little higher. Almost aim those legs down and out a little bit. Come back in. We're going to reverse that movement just for kicks. So you end or you start rather than your end position bringing arms and legs forward. Same time, same effort, they circle around and all the way back up to draw back into the center in which point the carriage no longer moves through that. One more time.

Stretch the arms forward. Like you could fling up into your teaser. Sorry, I got in your way there. Open the arms up in around. Curl yourself back in almost a little higher through the head. Take the straps into one hand. Sit yourself up. Take a quarter turn towards the side where you're holding the straps and then you can change your own spring right here. It's a little break for the body and way to lift your center of gravity back up for a second and take a breath.

But it's also an exercise in and of itself to transition in and out. So what that teaches the body, that synchronicity we were just looking for is exactly what we will need in that teaser to get past that sticky spot. The thing that I always like to tell people that I work with is that the original name for the teaser exercise on the wall charts that Joe's applied, he's had it, a studio was controlled stretch, didn't call a teaser on those. So maybe that helps us suspend the expectation that this is about the finished product to come all the way up. It just another way to come from a fully extended and inert position into as high of a lift as you can manage, which means that we can all be successful even if it doesn't look like a teaser in the end. So let's try that. Go ahead and lie down on your back.

As you notice, we changed down to one spring. At this point, do not stay on to separate your straps so they don't cross. Happens to me all the time that your arms hang out to the side. Let your legs extend over the foot bar. And actually Mary, go ahead and scoot back. Just a tiny little bed backstroke. You do sit very close to the front edge. Teaser is exciting enough without making it an exercise and not falling.

So here we are in this beautiful position where the body's just nice and wide and open, which is if you turn this around, looks a little bit like that breaststroke we would go into next. Here's the first requirement. The arms and legs do the same thing at the same time with the same amount of effort here it feels like the t pull the arms come forward. Once the straps and spring catches, Genova chest lifts the legs, hundred out of the body, footwork out of the body into the highest lift that you can. Process control, stretch. Can you stay in, breathe in this position? Where can the arms go? Where can the legs go?

Allow yourself to play around with the balance you just found and then use the effort you put into lifting up to slowly recline and retreat back down into that full release. And whether your legs are up at 45 degrees, your body is all the way up lifted. It's a successful teaser. If you use it with that idea in mind, that arms and legs do the same thing at the same time with the same amount of effort. Let's do that again. You tip t poly, arms forward, legs extend out of the body. You might land in your hundred position can come up higher. You might come up higher. You might be able to lift your arms to your eye level or parallel to your legs or even higher than that.

You might get to a point where you start to lose that control that we're so hard looking for and then you use that moment to slowly retreat back into your start position and that is the most basic form of approaching your teaser. Once you have a level of confidence where you can stay in that final position, we can embellish it with a variety of movements and we'll just do a few here. Go ahead and pick yourself back up. You can go a little quicker now. Arms the legs, lift up, arms lower ever so slightly and they pick back up. Continue to pick your legs up throughout the sequence. Hold it there.

Lower lifted legs twice down and up. One more end up. Find the highest high. Maybe pick those arms up a little higher to the point where you lose control and use that to bring yourself back down, slamming on the brakes inside your body, maintaining the effort that got you up in the first place to work that control stretch to find that release at the end. There's another variation. Do you have that in you? Let's do it. Alright, so actually hang out there for a second. Just release. Um, what seems a little more elusive in this exercise than it was in the backstroke was this idea of moving the legs and arms at the same time because clearly they're doing different things, right? But what I want you to find is the second the strap starts to engage with your body, that that's the moment where your legs start to pick up because of the timing is ever so slightly off. You may have experienced that in your own practice.

Things just get wonky and you get stuck, right? We don't want that. Let's do one more and we'll a few circles to the arms and the legs. Go ahead and pull into your straps. Pick yourself up. Find the highest lift for your body. Let the arms continue to travel into a circle. It can be small, it can be big.

See what's there for you. Reverse it after two, down, around, an up, down, around, and up to whole. We can do the same thing with the legs. Circle them down. Open and back together. One more time. Down, open together. This is so much fun. Reverse it. [inaudible] them. One more time. Think of your arms and legs. Lift up at the end and then you slowly pull yourself back down to release all the way down. Let this be a moment of recovery at your chest. Open that your ribs arch off the box for a little bed and then take the straps into one hand. Find your way off to the side.

This is our first sequence on the long box. We will move on into our long stretch series. Next.

Chapter 3

Long Stretch Series

Our third chapter is the long stretch series and I think it's called that because one of the things that all of the exercises that are part of the sequence have in common is this idea of moving the spine with maximum space between the vertebrae. Whether that's in a lengthened out position in the plank that we have in our long stretch, whether that's in an arch position, like in our down stretch or in a flex position like we see in the up stretch and elephant. The idea is not to move the carriage as far as humanly possible, but to maintain maximum length in your spine and all these different positions. Um, so the exercise we'll cover the long stretch, the down, stretch, the up stretch, all those stretches, the elephant and the long back stretch.

We have the football raise too high position. One of the things you will notice on a traditional reformer, and if you're used to working on one, you'll know this but you never want to pull on it because the kickstand will come right out. So you always want to make sure that your exert pressure down and out into the foot bar. We use a sticky pad on the head piece for the feed for the long stretch exercise, just so we have some friction against the carriage and a means of resistance so that the feed can be in contact with the head rest and move the carriage without sliding off, which would be not so great. The way you get into your long stretch without having to fuss around or adjust too much into your plan is to keep your arms and legs straight as you step up.

Um, so you want to stand on one side of the reformer. You bring your closest hand to the foot bar first. So that will be your left hand, your far third. The right foot goes into the crease of the head rest and then you take the other hand and the other third and then you're right there in a plank ready to go. So again, like I said before, we try to start every exercise with absolutely no spring tension.

So make sure that the carriage is all the way at the stop. Move your 10 fingers to the same side of the foot by of that's available to you. Make sure that your arrests are nice and long and almost pointing down in this position so that your fingers have to grab and then again, the requirement is can you keep your spine long? Not can you push the carriage all the way out. So go back far as your body can. Maintaining that length between the crown of your head and your heels and then come all the way back in. Pulling yourself forward. Do that again.

You press yourself out. The effort you put into pushing out, you'll know this by now is maintained as you come back in finding that length in your body. One more time, Joseph pull out is famously said about this exercise that every muscle is tens because you have to learn how to tense your muscles. If you want to know how to relax, this is the moment of relaxing. You Bend your knees down. We continue the exercise down on the knees and in an arch, we call it the down stretch, but it's essentially the same requirement. The feed separate against each of the shoulder blocks.

Remember to exert pressure out and forward into the foot bar. You bring your hips towards the foot bar, you press down into your hands and lift your chest forward and up. So you're truly stretching yourself in for direction here, out through the head, forward through the hips, down through the hands, and back through the heels. And again, especially if you tend to work with your elbows in a locked position, notice whether you're using your grip here enough. A lot of people start complaining about, um, the risks in this particular position. So the best way to go at it, even though it feels a little less safe, is to slight the knuckles almost downwards and really grab again with all 10 fingers in this position. All right, so those four directions of stretch are maintained forward through the chest, forward through the hips, down through the hands, back through the heels.

And then off you go. Just like your long stretch, you move the arm straight out and you bring yourself back in, keeping the effort that got you to move backwards in space. Do that again. Press yourself out. Maybe pause there for a second. Pull your chest forward and up. Kick your heels back and move the carriage all the way back in. Maintaining that halfpipe shape on your back. Let's do one more here and lead through the chest to come all the way back in and that's your down stretch. Go ahead and sit back for just a second.

Next up is our up stretch, which is a little bit of a trickier movement because we're flexing into our spring tension, which means we're bending our spine and to a potentially precarious position to receive that much spring load. So there's an element here that I think is important to address before, which is that our arms and our legs really truly have to take the weight of those springs so that our spine is free to express itself and bend into a forward bend, which is the original up stretch, but also potentially into extension, which is often called the up down stretch combination. All right? The way it starts is on your hands and feet. The hips are going to be lifted to the highest point possible and you're standing somewhat on your tippy toes. You can transition into it very easily like Mary just showed.

And then again getting clear on where we start. Your hands wrap around the foot bar. With those long gated risks, your heels are up nice and high. The hip creases are the highest point in your body and throughout the exercise you want to think that your head stays pretty much in one place, but that your arms are energetically always pushing out into the foot bar. We'll start with just getting into that effort of moving the springs out, where your arms and legs, uh, pushing the spring apart for your hips to curl down, preferably underneath your chin. How does that feel? It feels difficult. It feels difficult. Come back up. Come back up for a second.

We'll try that. It felt like if you, for my, for my size, it felt like if you weren't holding onto me out flat. Yeah. So at this point we have two options. One, the more obvious one would be to lower the springs. Uh, we're currently on two, so we will drop to one spring. Another way you can play around with this, I will choose not to, but another way you can play around with this is to move the gear bar back and to create more distance between the front of the carriage and the football, which in and of itself dilutes the spring tension somewhat because it gives you a better place to start from. But it's a lot of logistics involved. So we're doing the easy thing now to see what it feels like on one spring. Here's the trade off. It will feel much lighter, but it'll also be much harder to control. All right, so you made your bed. Now lie in it. Bring yourself back into that same start position.

I will help you keep the carriage in place as you set yourself up so you can do the same thing for long stretch too, by the way, right to drop from two springs down to one, which will change the efforts significantly into being much more about finding control rather than enjoying the lightness of the springs. You're going super far, so keep that in mind here as well. Release the head down, push down into your hands and feet. Really lift your hip creases up and then keep your head where it is as you push your arms and legs apart for the hips to come down. Yeah, this looks like it really allows her to keep an even amount of Ben between years and hips. Here she is in her a hundred position. I'll bring yourself forward. Bring the carriage to a close, no spring tension. Again, I'll give you a little assist here and then push down into your hands to come into what feels like you're about to roll into a handstand.

We'll repeat that again, so without the requirement of pushing the carriage back super far, make sure that your arms and legs are present and participatory in the movement. Bring yourself forward. Head stays low and then you ripple upper middle, lower back into your start position. We'll do one more here. You're all on your own. Now Mary, push the arms, legs away from one another. Spine is freedom move. You bring yourself forward, you roll yourself back up, you flex the feet down flat onto the carriage and at this point I'll add that spring back on because the elephant actually is not an exercise that comes from Mr Pawleys himself.

It was added later and I believe it's an excellent way to train that sticky spot in your op stretch because we're really keeping the highest point of your up stretch right there and with the feet flat and the heels pushing down the heels of your hands, pushing down in the center, staying lifted. We can work on building the strength that you will need for your upstairs. So go ahead and push your arms and legs away from one another. Lift your lower back up to bring the carriage back in underneath you. Digging those heels down nice and strong and repeat that pressing out and calming back in. If you turn this movement around, you can keep going.

You would look at something very similar to our teaser variation earlier on. Arms and legs are participating evenly. Body comes back in and your lower back pretty much stays in place because you're yearning to stretch it up in space. Let's do one more pressing out. Pull the carriage back in underneath you and then find your way off to the side. Do you see the connection between the elephant and what's was so hard in the upstream? Yes. All right, so always keep that in mind.

When you adjust the practice for your own body, there's more than one way to do an exercise. And if your body cannot fully process the movement the way that it is prescribed, whether that's the spring tension or the setup, it's more important to listen to your own body and make sure that you get the sensation from the exercise that it was there for rather than trying to muscle your way through it. Um, because life is hard enough. [inaudible] doesn't have to be all that hard. All right. Um, our next one in our last one in the long stretch series is the long back stretch, which in a lot of ways is the elephant all over again, but we're facing a different direction. We have the arms behind us rather than in front of us. But keep that in mind because the movement itself is very similar.

Also similar to a long stretches the way that we set up for this, so we're facing this way. This time you place your far hand against the foot bar and your far foot against the shoulder block before you add the other ones in. So the arms end up behind you, you feet out in front of you. And one thing that I think is super important is to keep your heels as close to the shoulder box as possible. So we really make contact with you heels rather than the ball of the foot or the toes. Maybe even flex your toes back.

Similar to what we just did in the elephant, you stand on straight arms, he'll open the chest. I'm a first, we'll do the more common variation of this that we see a lot in modern teaching where you elbows Ben to begin and then your hands and your heels press away from one another to lift the hips up, come back in. And we have the same problem here against them off to the side for a second. So here's, here's what happens, right? Again, I do this on two springs, different body, different size, different weight, same springs. That doesn't seem fair for you and maybe not for me either. I'll have to think on that. So again, we have the same options to adjust the springs.

And because I'm here to support this, we'll do this on one spring and see if it allows her body to process this movement better. Because you might find tightness in your shoulders when you place your arms to this close and the foot bar behind you, which becomes prohibitive in performing this movement. And I don't want it to be proven if I want you to get your money's worth from this exercise. So we'll do it on one spring. Same set up. Okay, we'll keep the carriage in place for you here. All right, and again, there's two variations on this exercise.

We'll do the more common one. First the elbows bend back. Your heels. Press out in front of you is your arms press back. You'd stretch your back long, you pick your hips up and you draw yourself all the way back into start looking straight ahead to start again. Elbows bent, hands and feet. Push away from one another. See your elephant spine here, your elephant heels pushing into the shoulder blocks. And then you come all the way back into sweet verse that so hands and feet push against one another. As you stretch your back long, you lower yourself back down, the elbows bring you back in and you stretch yourself up like coming out of a tricep dip. We'll do one more. Press away. Laura, down at the elbows glide back. Press down into your foot. Part of come all the way up. Step off to the side for a second.

And I want you to look at one other variation on this exercise. How did that go on one spring? That felt a lot more manageable for me. A lot more, man. Awesome. Yeah, so again, go by what it should feel like and what you're looking for in the exercise rather than what the prescribed spring tension is. More often than not, it works for most people, but sometimes it's just doesn't, it might just be a tightness thing. It might be weakness, it might be just not today. There's a second variation on this exercise, which is a little harder to process, but it's comes from the original work of Joseph plotty. So I think it's a valuable one to take a look at. We're going to keep the arms straight throughout the entire exercise, which calls on our back strings a lot more and hopefully increases the sensation of stretching your back long and open here.

So set yourself up the same way you did before. Hands behind the body, feet out in front, and then from the second you set yourself up, you forget about the fact that you have elbows because right now you cannot use them. All right? So energetically you arms are locked, the body has to take a little dip forward and then with straight arms and straight legs, you move your spine to open those spring and then you come all the way back in. We'll just have one more time, just gorgeous. What happens here is that you actually use the backs of your arms a lot more and mostly use that connection into your back that we've been exploring from the very beginning. Now reverse that. Press out, heels of hands, heels, a feed. Push the spring apart. You lower yourself down. Now the hip creases glide back and your straight arms pick you right back of really enhancing that work in the back. Let's do one more.

It's called long back stretch because we're switching all back long. Pretty straightforward. You've come all the way back in, lift yourself up. Awesome job, and then step off to the side. That's different. That's different, right? Yeah. Oh, what's that? What's the difference for you? Does the effort shift in your body? I think what's different for me is I don't often focus on my arms a lot in that exercise. I mean I know that they are supporting you and that they bend and they straighten, but I use my, I think about my legs a lot, a lot just to help me stabilize in my upper body.

I use my legs a lot and so keeping my arm straight, I don't know. I liked it. It made it very interesting. Great. Yeah. I think important to hear and we'll, we'll see that again, like the same way that we set ourselves up for the hundreds work with straight arms rather than going from benches to straight. The body has a different way of processing that because if you lock your elbow out, the first moval part of your body becomes your shoulder and how it connects to your back and because this is clearly an exercise about stretching your back, um, taking that arm choreography out and keeping the effort locked so to speak, puts a lot more emphasis on the spinal movement that we're looking for here, I think. I think also that the, the idea of keeping the spine a little bit more s just felt more straight to me like there is less articulate, less less of a very rounded spine and that felt nice. Yeah. It shouldn't feel congested in your spine ever, right, because we're still in that long stretch series and remember the idea of long stretch means we're trying to keep a maximum space between our vertebrae at all times in these positions. Awesome. That was a long stretch series. Next up we'll look at the stomach massage. All right.

Chapter 4

Stomach Massage, Short Spine Massage, Chest Expansion, Thigh Stretch, Arm Circles

Our next two exercises are the stomach massage and short spine massage and it sounds like you're getting a lot of massages. We know the truth is a little bit different from that, but what stomach massage actually means is that we're trying to create friction for the internal organs, right? So the same way that a squat position or a primal human squad, which is full of flection at the knee, knee, hip, and ankle, brings a massage to your inner organs. This exercise actually helps you and gives you feedback as well as support into a deeper squat with every repetition of the movement. Now, I said earlier that the rule is kind of that we started with the springs and no tension and end there, but I also told you there was an exception. This is the exception. All right? Um, you see that I placed the sticky pad where we're sitting on pretty far down and forward on the end of the carriage and that's where I want her to start.

I have the carriage set up on two springs, which is less than most people would choose, but we've seen in photography that Joe's apply. These did this exercise as well on two springs. So I take that as a Q as in, let's give it a try and see what it does for a body. Also, we're going from two legs to one at some point, which is where you want to really just have two springs on there. So go ahead and Marian, take a seat really close to the front edge here. Your feet can initially be parked on the wooden frame or metal frame depending on the proudest Iran and you sit yourself really close to the front edge. Remember the requirement is not to start with the springs and no tension.

You can go ahead and push the carriage out from right where you sit right now until you have enough space to get your feet up on the foot bar. Your hands curl around the front edge of the carriage, which on a traditional reformer is padded as well for that reason among others. And you want to use that grip underneath the front of the carriage to pull up as if you're trying to lift the carriage up with your arms. And you can already see how that changes the engagement of your back and giving you that really wide open spine here. So we're not looking to collapse down, but really puff our back up and out a little bit from here. You can reassess how far you can bring the springs to a close. But again, requirement is not to close them all the way. This is where Mary's starts.

And then from here we're just to footwork in that position, keeping the effort that got her out as she comes back in. So throughout this exercise thing, you're pushing the football away even. And especially as you come in, our tenders push into the foot bar as the knees and hip soften. Do a couple more like that. The spring tension that is trying to close the carriage helps her to get into a deeper squad. With each repetition, we'll add the tendance stretch on the next one.

Just like in our footwork is straighten your legs out. You stay, you lower the heels, you lift the heels and you deepen into your increase energy, your lower back to find that release. Do that a couple more times. Stretching out lower and lift and come back in. We all know how good and relaxing as child's poses. Essentially you're traveling in that very position to relax your lower back. We're going into our next variation, which takes one leg out underneath the foot bar.

Your hands are still there to keep your weight even on both your heads. So keep hooking your hands underneath and then move on. Your left leg only you stretch out, you lower the heel, you lift the heel, you keep pulling up with the arms as you come back into one more on the side. So this is reminiscent of our single leg stretch on the mat. Go ahead and switch to the other side. So the one leg version, and I swear I'm not making this up, it's right from the horse's mouth, gets you into a deeper squad on the side that you are moving and working while the other leg is completely supported from the hips and your hips are supported because your hands are pulling, bring both feedback on.

There's a lot of variations that are taught on stomach massage. The original ones go from here, right into lifting the arms forward and up. So go ahead and do that. Reach your arms forward like you're trying to touch my shoulder. Now the idea might be that you try and keep your back as straight as possible, but truth is your lower back will still be somewhat lengthened and it might feel like it's curling under.

Against that you try to keep your heels lifted and your chest lifted forward and up, but allow your lower back to round the way it would in a deep squat. We'll skip the tenants that you just press your legs straight and you keep pushing as you bend your knees and come all the way back in. And again, push to lift the spine, keep the lift, soften the knees and come back home. Do that three more times. Stretch and back in again. The goal is to deepen the squad with each one and you see that towards the end. Her lower back tends to round a little bit deeper.

She's actively trying to lift herself out of that so that we can add a twist on our last variation. You see, she stretches both legs straight, right arm, goes back behind the body, left and reaches forward towards the foot bar. Use both feet evenly to find that length throughout your spine. Gorgeous, and then come all the way back and take it to the other side. Both feet push. They continue to push even as you begin to untwist and squat the legs back and we'll take one more each side and then we're done with our stomach massage. Press out the straights, twist your right arm back, your left arm or word, and they've come all the way back in. It's almost that arm that reaches forward that's more important energetically than the one that's reaching back. Gorgeous. Nice.

Come all the way back in and then you're done with your stomach massage. How are you doing there? Then you pull your pants up. Yes. Classic. That is part of it too, right? Especially if you sit on top of the sticky pad. But again, good news is we didn't use four springs because otherwise we would have even more trouble and more original variation of this exercise, which I kind of want to throw in here as well. Just just to know that you have an option.

This one only works if you have a reformer that has padding that comes all around the front and underneath the carriage because we're sitting in front of the carriage for this next one. All right, so especially if you feel like you keep losing your pants and stomach massage, there is a way, and this is it, so this time are you wearing, just set yourself up even farther forward. Any feedback here and then come so far forward that you're no longer sitting on top of the carriage but in front of it, meaning the front of the carriage is pushing into the back of your sacred. You set your feet up from there and it'll feel a little tricky and maybe precarious at first, but once you set yourself up with your hands around and again, remembering that you don't have to start with the springs close, this actually is a very safe setup from here. Now from there, go ahead and press your legs back to a straight lower. Lift the heels right away. Come back in and feel how the carriage pushing into your sacrum gets you into a much deeper squad, right? Going get pressing out lower lift.

This variation just because it feels a little unsupported may not be for the faint of heart, but if you want to give this a try, remembering we're on two springs only, it actually gets you to understand and appreciate. I think what the idea of stomach massage is a little bit more to take of the last one here. Pressing ouch lower lift. I don't necessarily recommend doing all the other variations, but we can go for the reach, arms up and forward. Push the legs to straight, to lift yourself up and off the front of the carriage. Keep the live bend your knees, come all the way home soon, one more and then we're done. Press to straight, lift the spine up nice and tall. You see how our back also is a little bit more supported here because of the carriage goes into her rather than trying to slide away underneath her, bring yourself all the way back home.

I recommend placing the hands behind you here to transition away out of that position and that is another more original version of stomach massage there. I think it's quite insightful. Yeah, just because it clarifies a little bit as to what sensation we're looking for here. Give it a try, ask any questions you might have about pants and follow up when when can go ahead and set off to the side. Next up is our short spine massage, which is an exercise that takes us into inversion. Remember we left our overhead out in the beginning. This is closer to where that inversion would happen in the original sequence, so short spine was not a warmup as much as you've warmed yourself up. We worked through all these different movement patterns.

Now we go deep into stretching the small of the back, which is a sensitive area of the back to stretch. So we want to make sure that we're warmed up properly before going into that. The head piece comes down for this one. So I'll ask you to do that. You can go ahead and grab your straps and before we even lay down, I would suggest to shorten your handles here and on a traditional reformer. And let me just show it on this side here. Um, you basically just loop, um, or take the loop of the strap and bring it and thread it right through the center of the handle. And that's how you shorten your straps.

Go ahead and take those with you as you lay down. We're still in two springs. I'll take the foot by down here because we're not going to need it and it might get in her way. The reason we shortened the straps here is to create a deeper compression at the hip than we have in say, the beginning position of footwork because we are trying to stretch the smaller the back, which requires an even deeper squat, and thankfully we just did our stomach massage, so we're ready for it. Go ahead and bring your knees into your chest, take your feet into the straps if possible, moving the carriage minimally and then just bring your arms down by your sides. Remember the headpieces flag. Super important for this one. So again, because the straps are shorter, now you can see how the tension of the strap brings her into much deeper compression already here. But again, you want to find a place where your spine can be completely lengthened and free in the start position. Two ways to do short spine that we'll explore today.

There's really hundreds of them. Begin by pressing your legs out just like you're doing footwork or your frogs. You extend your legs out, you try to stand in your straps here, keeping your back nice and relaxed on the mat, and then bend your knees back in. We'll do that a couple of times just to get into the sensation of standing into our straps. Go ahead and press back out and bend back in. Almost employ the idea that you're not pushing the straps away from you, but you're pushing yourself away from the straps like you're on the foot bar and you straighten your leg standing up on that foot bar, which just changes the dynamic internally a little bit. Come back in.

Take your last one just a little bit high so the strap. Stay away from the top of the blocks cause sometimes it gets awkward when they get tangled up there. [inaudible] come back in next time you stay up pressing out. Now this idea of pushing into the strap continues so much that her tail begins to lift up and now the strap tension starts to pull her back into the first shoulder stand in today's workshop, try to maintain tension on the strap by pressing your feet up. This is step one. On the second one, she bends her knees in towards her shoulders, brings her hips and her heels towards one another.

This is where there's very different opinions on how to complete the exercise mine and the original way of doing this is to keep hips and heels close together. Almost push your feet down towards the seed and massage the small of the back, rolling it out onto the mat and then pressing back up. So we're getting that decompression. At the end you press into your straps, you lift up and over, you press up into your straps. Once the feed pass your head, you bend your knees, hips and feet come close together and then you keep pulling them together and like rolling like a bar. You'll make your way back down and that's the first variation that we do.

How does that feel on your back? That's great. Should feel really great right about now. It's logically placed at this point in the sequence based on everything we've done. Your body is ready for this at this point. Another variation that I would like to throw into your toolbox and something to play with is to begin with the feed actually sickling towards one another, meaning the souls of the fee completely fold against one another, which gets really tricky to the outside of the feet. Now this is not the ankle alignment.

I want you to walk around with all day for obvious reasons, but what it creates, especially if you brought your knees in just a little closer to you, it creates a bit of a lock in your SEI joint where your hips, your pelvis, um, connect in the back to the base of your spine, which helps us to get an even deeper stretch there. Now, you will not maintain this position fully, but you try to as much as you can. As you extend your legs straight up, meaning the carriage moves barely back. Once your legs are straight, you lift yourself up and over again. This is the point where you try to bring the soles of your feet back together as you Paul healed and see together, and you keep that prayer position of your feet similar to what we do in the seal on the mat. As you roll yourself back down and you might feel right in this moment how much more open the back of your spine gets. Again, press your leg straight up a little bit farther away from you.

Then you did the first time. So the Keratin was a little more than you think. That's it. Up and over. You Go. We feed back together as you fold yourself in and then roll yourself back down. And once you have that down, allow yourself to go little bit faster through it. You press up, you press over, you bent in.

This is where you can take your time, roll it down, enjoy it, and roll your back unto the Madison One more. Up and over. Fold yourself in souls of if he pressed together, especially the outside scenes as much as you can. You roll it down. Ah, she size, she tastes. It does feel really good. Yes. So yeah, often we're find your way out. Bring the carriage all the way to a stop. Once it stops, you can let those straps go.

We often think by keeping the feet in one place and then rolling the hips away from the feet in length in the legs out. We're accomplishing the short spine massage, but it really turns it into more of a hamstring stretch. Whereas this variation of keeping the feet together, not just close to the seed, but also with one another, it just creates a little bit of extra stretch in your lower back and this muscles, this short muscles of the lower back that we're really after here. Nice job. Go ahead and step off to the side. We'll go right into our chest expansion from here.

Chest expansion, thigh stretch arm circles. All right, we stay on two springs for this one and this might feel a little heavy for most of us, myself included, but it's really good way to appreciate what the exercise is about as well as to find proper initiation without having to think too hard. All right. Um, because like any other exercise, what we're looking for is full bodied effort. It's not an arm. Exercise is not just an arm pole. It's so much more than that. You try to extend your hips, you try to extend your spine as you extend your shoulders all at the same time. A couple of things that might be different in the way that you're used to setting it up is we're holding onto the handle rather than the strap. And because that makes the strap incredibly long, we're also moving away from the shorter blocks and we're folding the feed right around the front of the carriage. So again, the padding comes in handy.

I want you to really use your feet very actively to keep you from falling forward. Now a good way to prepare your body is to find that hip extension by pushing the hip bones forward in space and almost coming to that place where it feels like you're about to face plan down. Come right to that spot. That's the moment where your body begins to turn on effort in the center, your abdominals you see to starting to work. You make that Fisker, put your hands again and then again, the movement is very simple and straight forward, but that doesn't mean it's not difficult. She begins to pull the straps back behind the body. She stays there for a second. Maintaining the hip extension, the shoulder extension and the spinal extension here, and then slowly returns.

The moment of return is really the tricky part where you want to switch on your concentration to make sure the carriage does not pull away underneath you. We'll do that again. She pulls the arms back. You'll notice because the straps are held at the handle now that she has much farther to go. She already starts with the hands by her sides. So the second she begins to move, you can come back in. The hands end up actually behind the body.

Then rather than staying in front of her, cause our goal is to widen through the collarbones, increase the space for your breath. Let's do one more and add on. You pull the arms back behind you. We stay here holding the breath. She takes a full turn of our head to the right all the way to the left, scanning the room in front of her. She comes back to center, she excels and releases back. So there's a breathing pattern here, which isn't true for all reformer exercises, but here we want to be precise on the breath. It's an inhaled and Paul, you hold your breath as you turn your head one way than the other. Back to straight. Exhale the air as you come back in. And let's just do one more of these, pulling back a lot of the openness we create along the front of our body comes back to play in our next exercise, the thigh stretch. Exhale, come all the way back in. And that's your chest expansion. Nice work.

Move your knees forward against the blocks for this next one and hold on to the straps this time. So here for this one, I'm going to add another spring. Not to make it harder, but to give her more support for the exercise. This time she doesn't pull the straps back. This time. Our goal is to kind of hang off the straps a little bit. So more springs just means that you have better support.

Now she has her hair pulled up nicely and pinned up nicely so I don't have to worry about our hair getting stuck in the springs. But if you do this by yourself, um, the easiest way to make sure that nothing is happening to your hairdo is to put a sticky pad onto the springs. Especially if we go into a backbend, which we're probably not going to do today. I'm just going to keep things nice and simple. If I stretch is obviously about stretching the front of the thigh.

And in order to make that happen, there's a couple of things that I would like for you to do before and even starting to move, which is to energetically draw your knees towards one another so they don't actually move. But you have the feeling of pulling the carriage together between your legs. Feel that in your inner thighs, they're good. And then the second part is to push the shoelace portion of your feet down into the mat, which engages the front of your thigh already, a little bit. Third part, and last I promise.

Then we get moving is to take the ends of the spine, Chin and tail and slightly tuck them in towards one another, which pulls the front of your thigh attachment over your hip up a little bit. We're already stretching the thigh at this point. You don't need to recline all that much feel that stretches in front of your thighs. So go ahead and recline. Moving your body back in one piece from your knees to your ears. Pause there, see if you can breathe fully in and out in the position you find and then let yourself be pulled back up by those three heavy springs and it's go right back to that spot that you found. Pull it back. How are you feeling there? Okay. Yeah. Right.

So that little maneuver of curling the tailbone under is really just to make sure that you don't have to move super far to feel that [inaudible] stretch you out. There are stretching. She comes forward from here. We'll take one more like that. Three years Pawlenty tail and Chin come towards one another. Feet, press down, knees draw towards one another. She takes herself back. So it almost looks like a spine stretch more than a Backman, which is another option for this exercise. Come forward from here and lift yourself back up. Holy Moly. Right?

It's one of those that doesn't look like much, but certainly has a lot of effort built in. Now, a lot of people in my world of teaching anyway seem to have issues with their knees in this exercise. Have you ever experienced that? Right. Where just feels like, ah, I don't want to go back. And very often the thing that has to do with how the lower leg is arranged on the mat behind you. So I just wanted to talk over some options here for one, if you can. Basically you might be able to look back here and check it out for yourself. So go ahead and do that.

And think of the center of your heel wanting to go straight up in space. Exactly. See how big of an adjustment that was. So that's one of the things you can make sure that your lower leg is in the proper rotations that you need. Doesn't get twisted here by pressing the shoelace part of your feet down. Like I instructed her earlier, that'll just enforce that.

And another option that is not often taught as to actually bring the feet together and work in external rotation. You can even open your knees a little bit wider, which goes back to what we just talked about in short spine massage and how bring in the soles of the feet together creates a little bit more support for you as I joined. The same thing might happen here for your knees by having your shoelaces press down again. He'll spiral straight up and then take one more thigh stretch here just to see how different that might feel. How these guys still are getting, especially are they are and slowly come forward. So if you one of those people who has issues with the knees in this exercise, keep in mind there are ways to get yourself out of trouble by just changing the alignment of your lower leg a little bit, activating it a little bit more consciously, and then setting your body up in a way that you don't have to go back super far in order to feel that stretch.

And that happens by bringing your table and slightly under your chin, slightly down, keeping your eyes straight in front of you as you recline back and forth. However, again, there, that one actually, it was definitely more difficult for my knees than the other one. Yeah, everybody's different. You might find that for some people that's easier, right? Yeah. Um, and again, the goal is not to make something easier or harder. It's about making it possible. Right? Speaking of possible, let's see if our arm circles up possible that'll close out this chapter. We're taking the springs down to one at this point. Um, I always recommend stepping off and back on the carriage completely to organize the straps.

Sometimes it gets a little funky if we're staying in our knees and waddle our way around to the other side. Um, so you can pick your straps up again and then set yourself up on your knees facing the other direction. Your feet are going to be flexed against the blocks, meaning the toes are tucked under, the heels are pushing back as far as that's available just so that you have some surface contact with those shoulder blocks behind you. Traditionally they are somewhat curved to accommodate the foot in that position, so you really want to stand on them here. Your arms are long by your side and since we are having handles to hold on to you guys, what will make that fist grip again until you start to find that connection all the way up into the upper arm, into the upper back, because that's what we want to bring circulation to in this exercise. Similar to your chest expansion, think about your hip bones being extended forward again so we're not sitting back or shortening the front of the hip. And then from here it's only one spring, so we can't go any lower than this.

Good luck. He bring the arms and up to the highest point possible. You circle them back and down as far as available to you. If your shoulders can handle taking them, I knew you could do it. I knew you could do it. Bring the arms forward and up again. Now, really indulge in letting the straps take your arms even behind and past your ears so that you get that nice passive opening of the chest here. Let's take that one more time. This direction forward and up.

Biggest range that's sustainable to you. Arms come down. Nice. I think what will make you more successful in this too, if you're also thinking, I don't think I can do this, is to have that proper activation of really grabbing onto the handles and getting your back already engaged. We've already collected all the pieces that we need to be successful in this. This is just another variation on the theme, right? The other direction, however, is a little bit more tricky, right? Because we're not necessarily designed to be strong in this position here.

Our life happens in front of us. For the most parts of these are shoulder positions. We train a lot more than being able to pick our arms up back here. All right, so don't be surprised or alarmed if this feels a lot harder. We can make this a little more doable by bringing the arms in front of the hips to start in the beginning are backwards. Circle from there, take the arms out to the side and up and then circle and forward and down. Maintaining the lift of the chest, maintaining the effort that opened the spring. Again, open out to the side and up nice and strong and I will come forward and down one more time. This is also often called reverse chest expansion, right, so you want to think of that with across the chest and collarbones.

We're just trying to create more space for your breath and strengthening to support it. That's your arm circles and that closes out this chapter. Next, we're going back to using our box

Chapter 5

Leg Curls, Rocking, Swimming, Short Box Series

and we're back on the long box for the second time. It's the same setup as before. It's flush with the shoulder box and centered on the carriage. We're currently set up on two springs and the exercise we'll do here are our leg curls rocking, which is a mat exercise taken too long box as well as swimming. Same as true for swimming.

It's a Maddix the size that we take to the reformer to induce a little bit more extension and to provide a different environment for that particular exercise. Well, warm it up by getting the lower body, specifically the backs of our legs. I'm a little bit activated and warmed up with the leg curls. The set up is really the most tricky part of this. You want to have your straps, you lose in fact, in front of you as you're facing the back of the reformer seated on the box, you cross your straps and you place them around your feet right there. I could be nice and set it up for her, but I want you to learn how to set this up yourself.

Notice which strap is on top. That's the side you're going to turn towards to land on your stomach facing the other way. Now we talked about this in pulling straps a little bit, the positioning of your body to the box and the same is true here. That one, the box centered between your knees and your shoulders, so equal distance to those two body parts from the edges of the box. Your arms go against the front wall of your box. You knees are open as wide as the box.

Your heels come together and you bend your knees just to the point where the straps get taught, right? She did an awesome job not letting those fabs fall, but they will slide a little bit. So I'm just going to help you out here sort of to make sure that they're in the same spot. They feel great. Absolutely. Now you want to think almost like your one leg kick on the mat, that your arms are as participatory as your legs will be. So use your arms, draw them into the front of the box to pull your chest forward and out. Kind of like a figurehead on a boat and think of your hip bones pushing down into the mat almost to the point where your thighs start to lighten up against the box. Everybody's already shaking. All right, and that's just the setup from here. Any movement we'll do. Remember we're on two springs.

She draws her heels in towards her seat like we just did in short spine massage, right? It's all coming back at the end of her pole. She can try to pick her thighs up a little bit higher. Remember to maintain the effort that you used to open this spring to close it again so her legs extend, but she keeps pulling her heels towards her seat energetically. And once the spring tension subsides, she goes right back in. Pull the springs with your heels coming in towards your seed and with your arms pulling into the front of the box to find that extension through the spine.

And it doesn't have to be a high lift. It could be a flat position of the head forward, but your arms are pulling back and then the legs slowly extend back. You can make this more fun, but bringing your hands to your head, either in a salute position behind the head or to your lower back, but leaving the support against the box behind. So choose one of those three either. What's my preference? Well for you, I think because you can, let's bring them out in front of your forehead. Use that to press head enhanced towards one another so that your extensors are still working, your hips as toe pushing down.

And then we'll go ahead and do the two more types. Pull the heals in, lift the knees up and fold the legs slowly and one more time pole lift. Slowly release it and then keep the straps on your feet. But let your upper body relax for a second. Maybe even let your hipbones come off the box for a moment of sweet release we're going into are rocking next now rocking just like on the mat. The entry requirement is that we have enough extension, our shoulders, our hips, and our knees to be able to get our hands and our feet to connect.

Now you also have to leather straps and to heavy metal springs pulling against the odds here. So good luck. Bring your arms back behind you, draw your heels in towards your seed, using that leg curl motion, and then bring your hands back one foot at a time or both at the same time. Go ahead and grab a hold wherever you can. Try to not cover the strap with your hands from the see if it can slide underneath a little bit. Good. And how are you doing there? It's a little tight. Yeah, it's a little tight. All right, help me get my thank you finger in there. And then I think once I get down, there we go. That's what friends are for. All right. So yeah, you try not to cover the strap with your hand because then you might just slip it off yourself while you're in the exercise and that's just not fun. All right, now from here, see if you can pull your heels closer to your seat so that your upper body can relax down a little bit. All right. As, as treacherous as this may seem and feel. The idea is that the strap really supports us into that full extension, right?

You start just like on the Madd by tugging your heels against your seat a couple of times and then allow your feet to push back into your hands. Let the strap take your feet and find your maximum amount of extension or away from the box here, and then slowly deflate the shape you're in. Coming back down to start again, heels to see one heels. Just see to push the feedback that the straps pull you right. Remember you have to heavy metal springs and now also me pulling back on you.

Allow your chest to come forward and up the same way you did. Having your arms against the front of the box and then come back down. Now clearly this is just the setup we haven't even rocked yet. It's going to happen on this last attempt, so two tugs, tug and the tub. Push the feed back. Lift yourself forward and up.

Now what initiates the rock is a lift of the chest, letting the straps pull you back, create enough momentum to kick the knees up behind you, and then let the straps pull you right back. It's going to be very small. Go again, push and back. Try to keep your head lifted the entire time so it's really the chest and the thighs lifting against one another. Push the knees up behind you. You got it, and let the chest lift up and then deflate the shape you're in. Ah. All right. This one was tight from the start for her, so this was a tough one, but yeah, go ahead and let the straps go. Once you're in, you're maximum extension. Think that it's the chest lifting you up. You want to maintain the effort in the back of your body to take yourself forward and back. How are you doing my dear? Good, good. All right.

Sadly you're not done yet. Relax for a second here. I'll just talk about why swimming is a really good idea here, right? There's a bunch of other mat exercises that we perform here on the reformer, like the corkscrew, which we're not going to cover in the workshop today, but I think swimming is an excellent thing to practice here because we're on the box and because we have open space underneath most of our upper body, right? So especially if on the mat you feel confined in the amount of extension and freedom in your shoulder. This is an excellent place to do it. Not An easy place to do it. That's an excellent place to do.

Her hips are pressing down. Let's make sure that we're still in that same position where we are centered on top of that box for proper support. Exactly. The arms reach forward, the legs reach back and she finds her maximum amount of extension, which clearly after Lakers and rocking probably has increased. And then we go into her swimming emotion here. Arms and legs against one another. Both hipbones pushing into the box. Start to finish. We're breathing, right? Yes. Good.

And when you're down, you're down. Release all the way back down so you can see how that open space underneath her really would accommodate somebody in their shoulders. In this movement. Just get some extension into our back body. Cause next up we're going into our short box series. You can go ahead and step off. We'll go right into it. Um, we're staying onto the springs and it's not that springs are relevant to this exercise, but I also don't want the carriers to start take a right underneath her while she is going into a Joseph pull out, he's called back bending one back, bending to and back vending three. Um, which is different from the names that we give these exercises, but we'll explore in a second why that is. Um, the box is going to turn around and on the traditional reformer you have a little gap between the backs of your shoulder blocks and the nook or hook rather, where the scrap attaches, you place them box right there so it doesn't slip away underneath you.

This is a place where we might have to look at moving the gear back out to accommodate the length of somebody's legs. Right. We'll see how it works for you. Go ahead and have a seat. We'll use the foot straps here. There's not one but two. And I don't know if this is actually true, but I think the story behind that is what if one breaks right? Because the ultimate intention for the exercise we're doing, as I said, they're called the back bending exercises.

We're trying to go into a full inversion and into a full Highbridge essentially. All right, so you want to be able to stand into your strap, pushing the feet apart so that the strap becomes taught to go ahead and do that. Exactly. Because this sound, we really don't want to hear all that much throughout the entire sequence. You want to move yourself back enough on that box so that your legs are straight and engaged from start to finish. This is super important. Like in, you're pulling straps where remainder to you to extend your hips actively to unlock more space in your upper back. We want to do the same thing here. My goal is to get her all the way up, side down. Are you ready?

Um, you'll notice that I did not put out a bar that is typically used in the short box series cause we're not going to need it in these original exercises, right? The first one is called back-bending one. She can take her arms around the waist. She can also hold onto the hips. She can take the hands behind the head. It's completely up to you. I like the hug personally. Remind yourself of your stomach massage for a second.

Allow your back to round, reactivate your legs. Think it's a leg exercise more than anything else. And then begin to roll yourself down as if there was a mat underneath you. And you go as far as your body will take your, as far as your legs can stay energized because it's the hook of her feet under the strap that brings her back up. Shin over chest rolling herself all the way forward into her start position.

And you notice how her feet have not changed effort or position here we'll see. We can even move the strap a little bit closer to your ankle crease. You see how it left an imprint. That's how hard she's pulling on it and that's exactly what you want and we'll do another one. Pull a feedback against the strap, roll yourself back and down. If you come to a full release, you can take your hands either to the floor overhead or maybe hug them around the sides of the frame as well. If you go there, you can pull yourself a little bit into additional length. How does that feel? Good. Remember, your feet are still active, they never change effort.

Arms come around the waist again, shun over chest, roll yourself all the way back up. Now you might look at that and say, well that's Mary. I can do that. All right? He has a way that you can break it down without taking out the back bending, which again based on the name was probably the more important part of this exercise. So Mary, go ahead and just roll yourself halfway down. Let's tap into an alter ego that is a little less flexible in the upper back. Then you imagine that you try to become flush with the top of the box. We'll come down just a little bit more at this point, separate your arms and dig your elbows into the back wall of the box.

Just like that. Push them forward and traction your lower back. Does that feel supportive? Good. So now that you have your lower back supported, you can still allow your upper back to go into extension so that you accomplish your back bend without putting your lower back into any treacherous situations. She keeps digging her elbows forward. She keeps pulling the strap and she reverses the movement Shin over the chest. She hugs back around when it's time for that and then she can sit back up.

So that's back bending one. How did that feel? Really? A lot easier than the rocking [inaudible]. Awesome. Still, it's probably worth saying that rocking is probably really good preparation for this, especially when it's hard back bending to our next one is the same exact thing, except you have your hands behind your head. So think neck pole on your mat and pull the strap apart with your feet. You pull the toes back as far as you can.

It almost feels like you're trying to jump off your box. That's how engaged your legs are. And then from here, she pushes her head back into the hands for traction, the back of the neck, and she allows her back to round as far as she can go. This could be as far as getting her elbows to rest on the frame, but she has to be able to come back up. Chin over chest. She Pauls the feet against the strap to lift herself all the way back up, pushing the back of the neck long. That was amazing. Let's do that again. Pulling back. Now, what's more important than going into your full fallback bend is to honor how far your body is able to return again, right?

So we often talk about the point of no return. You want to find, find your point of return in this exercise. Let's come up and let's do one more. And another way to keep yourself honest in this is to maintain that pressure of head into hands rolling back possibly into a full back bend, which she does. Beautifully open through the chest. Pull with the feed to start your reverse coming all the way back up. Gorgeous. Sit yourself all the way up tall. Nice work back. Bending three is often known as tree today and it's often thought of as a hamstring exercise.

I want you to think of it as a one leg teaser exercise today. Go ahead and bring your right knee into your chest so it comes out of the strap or the left doesn't, doesn't matter. Hold on behind your thigh. Um, as you notice, the strap now became slacked and that's just because she took one foot out and you couldn't to offset that. Either. Move your body back over the box to have a little bit more support from it or just wait for the actual movement in the end for the strap to hold you in place again. Right. The right knee is hugged in, think of your stomach massage for a second. Specifically your one leg stomach massage as the knee comes in, allow your lower back to soften even if that means round, but also keep your chest nice and up like you pulled yourself up on the top of the carriage and stomach massage.

You now pull yourself up on the back of your leg from here. Extend your leg out as far as it will go. Stretch it out and you can bend it right back in so you can leave your hands where they were and just kind of limber it out a few times just to see where does that like take me. Now we often look at tree and things that like has to be perpendicular to the box and it has to be super straight. Um, I think you can approach this exercise slightly differently if you think back of your back-bending one and just add than one leg is up in the air. So stretch it out to wherever. Just went. Beautiful.

Walk your hands to where your ankle is right now. Leave the leg where it is just around yourself, into towards the leg. Beautiful. Then only recline until the strap becomes taught. Good. Now in her case, the leg is perpendicular to the box, but even if it was farther away from her, the idea is that the leg stays on a very strong and strict trajectory as she walks down into that full back bend again and it's the energy of this leg reaching up and it's the energy of this other leg pulling into the strap that helps her come all the way back up when she's ready from her hanging here. This is about as close as you'll get on the reformer to the feeling of hanging on the Cadillac. We'll do that a couple more times this time.

Leave your foot right here just to see what that feels like. Stretch it actively into my hand. Walk down your leg from here. At some point the strap will become tired again, but continue to reach this leg almost on a diagonal. You go back into your extension. If you like that you can go back to framing or hugging around the frame. Rather, this leg keeps reaching as she comes back up and it's that energy that helps her come all the way back up. It feels a little different, right?

So you could approach it almost like a one leg teaser. Let's do final one, whichever version you prefer for your body. Now that you have options, roll it down. Good. It's that left foot pulling under the strap. It also keeps her hips nice and active. Bring your hands to the back of the leg. Chin over, chest. Lift yourself all the way back up. We'll go back to that variation from our back-bending one. You can switch legs, um, where we explored bringing your elbows to the back of the box.

We can use the same exact technique here. If you feel like you need that extra support for your lower back. So now the other leg comes in, bring it in, kick it out a few times. Again, finding that same amount of flexibility, making sure we're even on both sides, even weight on the hips. On the next one, the leg stays out, hands move in towards the back of the leg. Give it a nice little stretch, move yourself back until the strap catches you. Walk halfway down this time and then bring your elbows back against the wall of the box. Dig them forward to traction, your lower back to open your chest, lease the head back nice and then chin over chest, you come back up.

So again, this is an excellent way to modify the tree or to create a breakdown for yourself where you get the full back. Then even if you feel like your body can fully process that or control it on its own, you outsource some of that stability to your arms with a stew one more. You can either repeat that on the side or go into a full release with your hands overhead can do the framing when you absolutely can do the frame. Yeah. Sometimes it's also fun to just play around with the variations. You know as you repeat an exercise several times because on any given day a variation might be more appropriate for you.

I'm just going to give you some guidance in squaring yourself off. Exactly. Sometimes what happens when we get into add the pole is that we pull ourselves out of alignment. No big deal. Just make sure you keep using that right foot she's have all the way to the top, gorgeous. Bend the knee back in and let that go. So in Joseph, pull out his work. That was the short box series three exercise that take you into a full inversion to reverse your blood flow, to get your circulation going again.

And to use all that work we created down the back line of our body to actually release into a full version. So that's our short box series. Next level we'll go into our final cluster of exercises, which is our knee stretch series running and pelvic lift.

Chapter 6

Knee Stretch Series, Running, Pelvic Lift

And here we are for the final sequence of exercises in this workshop. So this is a good moment to also recap why we're here and why we're doing this, right. The idea is to showcase a cross section of the reformer repertoire, which consists of depending on who you're asking, about 75 to a hundred different movements and we're just taking a few of them out of the original flow of exercises to showcase how the work progressed from something as simple as footwork into something as elaborate, as knee stretches or later on expressions like the splits or Russian squats. Right. So these exercises that we are picking today, I'm really represent the progression quite nicely and still stay in the realm of easy to process movements back and forth rather than very long elaborate choreographies of final cluster of exercise includes the Nice stretches and then everyone's favorite running and pelvic lift to finish up.

And originally the knee stretchers were called Tiger stretches, which I think is kind of interesting to think of because it evokes this image of a tigers stretching the back. We're working in various spinal positions here and the idea is really to predict regulates like a tiger woods who allow the spine to fully unfold into these various positions. While we're loading that with the spring tension of the legs. The first one is our round back. Hands go against the foot bar. Your feet are back against the shoulder blocks. We're on two springs by the way, and one of the main differences between the preparatory versions of knee stretches where the knees are down rather than lifted is in their rhythm. We're going to work very slow and sustained through these first two, but there's a lot of intensity still at the slow pace.

I'm just going to give you some support against the foot bar here and I want you to drive all your upper body energy into your arms, pushing into the foot bar before the springs even move. You want to feel how the push of your arms forward informs the rounding of your back. With that sit your hips back towards the heels even more in effort to puff out your spine as much as you can, like a wild tiger ready to jump over the foot bar. All right, now all of that effort remains. You begin to add movement now by pushing the feedback against the blocks. The knees can travel as far as past the hips, as long as you can maintain that effort through the upper body, and then the knees drive in underneath you.

Maintaining that stretch in the back. Do that again. Slow, sustained and far, and you come back in, pushing out. We're used to doing this fairly fast with the accent on closing, but explore this variation to really see how that opens up your back. Feel like I can see it on Mary. I hope she can feel it too. Let's do one more. Pushing back, pulling back in and nothing changes except we're arching our back. We're still a wild tiger. A happy one.

Perhaps the arms still pushed into the foot bar because you never want to pull on it on a traditional reformer. Anyway, use that to pull your chest open. Use that to push the hips back and then the same rules apply. Your knees begin to move back perhaps farther than the level of your hips and then bring the knees forward and underneath you continue to maintain the arch of the lower back. Keep going, push and pull it. A good place to remember as well. The effort that goes into pushing those springs out is maintained as you come in, so your feet continuously push back against those blocks, especially as the knees come in underneath you.

And then we're ready for the big finale. Pretty much as far as knee stretches are concerned. Anyway, we're going back to that round spine. Now a good way to test where body should be positioned is to stay exactly where you were for your first variation on knee stretches, which is pretty far back. And see with that energy of your arms pushing into the foot by your back being fully rounded. Can you pick your knees a millimeter off? And the answer's probably yes, but I have to change a few things in my body in order to make that happen, like lifting my shoulders or shifting forward. So let's allow that to happen.

Come forward to a place where you can set your shoulders in place, keep your back nice and round and pick the knees up there. You might want to think of your pullups on the window chair of that is something you're familiar with. You might want to think of your elephant here, which is very similar to our knee stretches, right? You pick yourself up from there. If that didn't change the rounding of your back, you're in the right spot. Go ahead and straighten your legs out.

This is where you can employ a different rhythm, a stronger rhythm of faster rhythm, especially emphasizing the return in pushback and pull in, push back and pull in. She's doing an amazing job keeping her upper body in one place. Let's do a couple more push back. Pull in final one. Come all the way in. Lower the knees down Wowza and that is your knees stretch series.

Oh, are you doing good? Good. Are you ready to cool down? Yeah. Yeah, that's exactly what we're doing right now. I'm go ahead and step off to the side. Lift your head piece up for me. Um, it doesn't have to be the highest position. If you have a medium position, that's probably the one you want to choose here. But we want to give the upper back and the head a chance to arrest. I'm going to lie down on the back for a running. And as I said, the objective here is really to fully cool down and give the body a chance to recover and let all the benefits of everything we've done so far seep into the body. We work from all 10 toes with the feet at somewhat of a hip distance.

Position the legs extend all the way out, reminding ourselves of that foot work effort into the legs back on four springs. And then from you, you just let it go. You shake it out, you lower one heel, you bend the opposite knee, you explore the length in your upper body. But other than that, no rules apply other than breathe, relax. You might even want to roll your eyes back for a second. This would be a good moment for that on the reformer.

Okay. And clearly we could do this forever, right? And we actually will for little bit longer cause I want to point out one thing. If you find yourself having a hard time stabilizing your hips in the middle of the carriage and it bothers you, right? Um, a good trick to approach your running would be to emphasize the heel that's lifting rather than the one that's dropping, right? It feels really good to drop the heel underneath because four springs pull us there, but instead focus on the leg that's still pushing into the bar and you will find that it pulls you interest center a little bit more as you focus on the lifted heel and on the lifted. He'll play around with that.

See if that gives you a sense of better center, better awareness of your center, and if so, stay with it. If that just confuses you, don't let it confuse you because this is your time to relax. Come all the way home. We're going to close it out without pelvic lift. Pelvic lift is a chance for our hips to begin. Rounding back up, we're taking our knee stretch position. We're turning it upside down for one. We're going back into this idea of our stomach massage. We're going back into the idea of our short spine massage and we're just going back to our idea of footwork as well. Truly coming full circle with this work.

The way I like to start this because we're working in somewhat open position here, um, is to start with the feet flex in the leg, sort of in a tabletop position. Your arms can be by your sides here and without your feet against any resistance straps or foot bar, you just open your legs out as wide as your turnout allows you to go with your feet, sort of staying at the width of the foot bar. That's how you know your legs are in a good sustainable position. Once you're there, attach the heels where the arches of your feet rather to the corners of the foot bar and then curl your tailbone under to bring your hips to the height of your head. Yeah, so go ahead and raise your hips up. And again, since your head is on a headpiece, you want to think your hips and your head end up on the same height.

So it's not the height of a shoulder bridge or as high as you can go because your head is also raised by the headpiece. We don't want to compress into the neck. It's a nice even bend again from our ears to her hips, just like an all the other times we've been the spine. Forward your leg. Stay in that turned out position from here. Extend your legs all the way to straight.

The challenge is to maintain the height of your hips in the length in your lower back as you come to full straight legs and then maintain the effort. Has you been the knees and Paul the carriage all the way to a stop. Do that again. Progressed to straight hip. Stay curled under backs days, round, arms push back into the care so the chest stays open. We'll do a couple more. I often feel like my hips get a little bit of a realignment here.

I feel like my back is getting a nice little stretch as I come back in, but we're also still continuing the cool down. Let's take just one more here. She likes all the way to straight. Last opportunity to keep the air for that gat you out. As you come back in length in the spine down, you hug your knees into your chest because you deserve a little squeeze and a little hug. And that is where we finish our review of the exercises that are relevant to this workshop.

We will continue this with a complete flow of the exercise we covered just so that we can again, appreciate the sequencing, the progression between them as well as the how they logically build into one another and connect with one another.

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4 people like this.
Thank you , it´s lovely Christmas gift . I´ll spend my holiday on the reformer.
...and Happy New Year
Viera from Slovakia
7 people like this.
Thank you for offering the worship for free
5 people like this.
Fantastic. You are so generous with your time and knowledge. Glad to see I am not the only one that finds certain exercises like long spine stretch are simply too heavy on 2 springs. Thank you both for this special gift!
6 people like this.
Genius!!!!thankyou. I thought the matwork workshop was brilliant and this just as great. Your knowledge and teaching style is inspiring.
2 people like this.
Great as always!!! thanks so much!!
2 people like this.
Wow!!!👌🏻Amazing 🙏🙏🙏thank you so much for this wonderful, brilliant workshop.❤️ Happy new year❄️⛄️🎄
Thank you so much for an awesome free workshop, Benjamin your expertise is just amazing, I watched the whole thing through first and now I look forward to following along. Meredith you move beautifully.
Thank you and Happy New Year.
Amazing! Great insight and understanding of the subtleties of the work! Thank you Benjamin and a wonderful job by Meredith. 😍
3 people like this.
Thank You so much for this free workshop Benjamin! Lots of insight! I absolutely loved when doing back extension over the box pressing my elbows into the box. Thank you so much!
2 people like this.
Thank you so much for this excellent workshop!!
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