Tutorial #5627

Incorporating Props

15 min - Tutorial


Laura Hanlon demonstrates how to use props such as the Magic Circle, Hand Weights, and Overball to support and challenge the body during exercises. She guides you through movements like Bridge, Neck Pull, and Teaser, emphasizing proper alignment and muscle engagement. The class is designed to help you activate the correct muscle groups and prevent unnecessary strain, ensuring a balanced and effective workout.
What You'll Need: Mat, Hand Weights (2), Overball, Magic Circle

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Jun 17, 2024
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Hi. I am Lara Hanlon here to share a bit about how I like to incorporate props into my Pilates this when I am teaching or even practicing something on my own. I find that I first like to think about what muscle groups should be working and all just as importantly what shouldn't be working. And then what can I use to help myself achieve those goals? So today, we will be using a light set of weights a ball somewhat deflated and a circle, magic circle to move through some exercises. I'm gonna be doing them on the mat. They could also be done on the apparatus if you have that, but just to kinda gear you into how you would wanna be working.

So for now, we'll start with the circle. I'm gonna place these other props off to the side. And I'm gonna begin using this for a bridge exercise, a pelvic press shoulder bridge, which, as you maybe know, can be done on all different types of apparatus. So we'll start by sitting in the middle of the mat. What's so important throughout a bridge exercise, pelvic press, is that we work our alignment for our legs. Yes. We wanna focus on our glutes and our hamstrings, but adductor, inner thighs, abductors, a, b, doctors, outer thighs are important is anything to keep our alignment. So my hips, my knees, my middle toes are all square.

I'm not letting my legs float open or inward, knock kneed, bowed legs, all of those things really important here to take care of our alignment. So to start with the circle, I'm gonna place it on the outside of my knees. Think of like a little mountain snow topped capped mountain here with the kneecaps out of the snow and pressing outward with that circle to engage those AB abdot reach your arms forward. Hold on behind your legs. Take a deep breath in.

And then as you exhale, make your way all the way down onto your mat, already starting to press outward on that circle. Once you arrive at the bottom, arms will be down tailbone is lengthening. Sit bones are lengthening. Adjust the legs, even the circle, however you need could also use some type of band round band around your thighs for this. Again, we're engaging outer legs, outer glutes, pressing gently outward into your circle, into your band. Take a breath in. And then begin to tuck and curl the pelvis up away from the mat. This is a great use of the circle. Often, we use it just on the inner thighs with this those outer legs, outer glutes engaged.

So you lift the hips. You feel this open sensation across the hips and pelvis. Take a breath in. And then exhale to roll back down. Chins stays lifted.

Think about the spine here lengthening all the way out through the tail. We'll do one more just like that. Deep breath here. X. Yeah. Pulling the belly button down. Already think of pressing gently out on that circle.

Even as we press outward with the circle, I still squeeze my glutes together. Sit phones, butt cheeks, engage, press down into the heels. You'll feel those hamstrings and glutes fire. Maybe you're able to find a little more length for the front of the hips and pelvis here with that circle supporting us, deep breath in, and exhale to roll back down vertebra by vertebra articulating all the way through the spine, feeling that release at the bottom, that outer leg connection, both keeping our knees square and also a nice leg line toning the outside of the thighs. We'll do the same thing, taking the circle off the knees and placing it on the inner thighs.

Now to work our adductors, I remember that my inner thighs are my AD add because it's like I'm adding my legs together towards my midline towards one another. So we'll do a few simple squeezes to prepare. Again, heels are in line with the sit bones, feet reaching forward, not turned out, not turned in, really focusing on alignment. Inhale, let the knees open without rolling outward on the feet, exhale squeeze into the circle from those adductors From the low belly and the pelvic floor, the ribs connect everything like an accordion drawing to the midline. Inhale, let it expand as you bring air into the lungs.

The ribs may open slightly. X, how to squeeze your circle into an oval shaped drawing the belly down and end drawing the ribs together. Again, like that inhale over the zest as you open. Exel to squeeze. We're squeezing until ideally we get those knees straight up to the ceiling. Again, working our alignment.

Inhale to open, exhale to squeeze in this time to hold. We'll move into that pelvic press bridge. Take a breath here to prepare. Keep squeezing in her thighs. Begin to tuck and curl the hips up. Again, press into the heels, press into the palms, squeeze sit bones and butt cheeks together, maybe peak 4 word for a second to see that those knees are straightforward.

They're in line with the hips. They're in line with the middle toes. Everything is parallel and square. Deep breath. And can you squeeze an earth eyes tighter, really firing up underneath the seat, exhale to roll back down vertebra by vertebra. The more you squeeze into this circle, the more you are working in your own body.

You could just squeeze it a little bit, kinda cheat the movement, not really get a lot of work out of it. That's up to you. The more you squeeze it, the more you're going to work, the more you see your body improve, inhale, exhale squeeze the circle. Pull the belly down. Draw the inner thighs together.

Find that proper alignment, knees are up to the ceiling, take a breath here, pull the belly button down to initiate, think of that scoop, that tight zipper in the low waist, start to fire up those glutes, press into the heels, maybe wiggle your toes a little bit. You wanna keep them forward, but the more weight is in the heels, where you're able to get into this posterior chain backside of the body, that's our hamstrings and our glutes. Lift up a little higher. We're aiming for that straight diagonal from knees to hips to shoulders. Pause at the Exelt to roll back down. Keep squeezing your circle.

Keep squeezing your glutes. You get into the middle of your back, your pelvis, your tail hovers, you're still connected in inner thighs and glutes. Finally, we'll release the hips. We release that squeeze, and we take our circle out. We'll place the circle off to the side and do that bridge one more time without the circle.

So in your positioning here, knees are up, you feel outer thighs, you feel to inner thighs, especially because we just worked them engaged here to keep the alignment. Imagine you're still pressing out and in into something. Take a breath here. Scoop from the belly tuck and curl the hips up, hagglut squeeze tight. Pressing into the feet, lifting the hips, lifting the chin away from the chest, maybe feeling a little more engagement now in this exercise, deep breath here, and exhale to roll all the way back down vertebra by vertebra by vertebra, enjoying that articulation, finally releasing the hips and releasing that engagement at the very bottom.

Draw those knees into your chest. Give them a squeeze. Should feel nice work for those legs. Whole rocker bodies back and up. So that's one of many, many ways I like to use the circle.

But again, it's working the right muscles, keeping us in alignment. That's it's doing its purpose. Yeah? Plus it's a little magical, magic circle. Next, we're going to use the ball. Where is it? For some, I like to call it a neck pull prep exercise. It's a great abdominal exercise, but it allows people to really get into the right position, right muscle groups for neck pull, standard mat exercise, So instead of in traditional knuckle having the legs straight, I like to have them bent here. They could be straight.

We wanna think of relaxed seen through the legs, so we're not gripping in our quads here. That's going to allow us to work our transverse abdominals, pelvic floor, low belly, a little bit more. The toes lift. It's fine. Kind of depends on the flexibility in your feet, but those heels stay planted on the mat. And then you kind of think of wedging this ball underneath you. If your pants are slippery material.

These are a little bit it might roll away, but the most important thing is that you don't kinda get it here and slouch back because this probably looks terrible. Quite frankly, I see it all the time. You're kinda like sitting here with this bad posture. I want us to think of our back up against a flat wall as we often do a gorgeous posture like preparation for spine stretch or neck pull, you get this to support you. It might actually help you sit up a little bit taller.

We'll start with our arms straight out in front of us for our first variation here. You think of that zipper sensation. You think of growing taller through your spine. Take a breath in. And then just like neck pull, begin to hinge back on a diagonal.

Now you have the ball to support you. How lovely is that? You also have something tangible to pull your low abdominals back to, which kinda gives our bodies a feeling of drawing our abs back to something that we can feel versus just the space between your back and the mat. Stay here. Take another breath in. Maybe hinge back a little further. Now my goal is to keep this long flat diagonal line breathe and and then so pull the pubic bone back to your sacrum, navel back to your spine towards that ball to curl up ever so slightly.

Probably seen me do this in my mat classes here. It's such a great abdominal exercise, inhale to hinge back on that diagonal, exhale right away feel that scoop, What I often see when I give this in person is people wanna come all the way up. The ball starts to roll away. That's not doing it correctly. It's not about how high you lift.

It's about how much you can pull your abdominals back. We'll do it again sitting up tall to start. This time with the hands behind the head elbows wide, if that's accessible for you, certainly more challenging here just like the neck pull. So maybe you keep your arms extended. Maybe they're over your chest, listen to your body for this prep.

Sit taller on the inhale. Begin to hinge back lengthening through the spine as you exhale. Our back stays flat like a board. We never hyper extend or go into that arched back here. It's always straight. Take another breath in.

Maybe lower a little bit further keeping that zipper sensation, adding on, we breathe in to prepare. Your core should already be trembling, exhale, pubic bone to sacrum, navel to spine, small curl up and over the ribs, low belly pulls further back to that ball, inhale back to that flat back. Feel that scooped out sensation, drawing the belly back towards the ball to curl up 2 more times, lengthen a little longer through the spine, Excel draw the ribs a little tighter to the midline. Pull that belly button back as if it's gonna touch the ball behind you once, Maureen, he'll hinge. And exhale to curl up and forward.

Sit up tall and take a moment to release. We'll remove the ball. We'll do one just one full neck pull. Maybe you choose to keep your knees slightly bent, dig your heels down, flex your feet, do whatever you need to keep those heels anchored. Feel your sit bones on the mat. Again, hands could be here, here.

I'll go here. Think of the zipper. Imagine your ball is still there. It's helping you maybe lift a little taller to get out of those hip flexors. Feel the core engaged to be begin, inhale here, and then exhale start to hinge. Now the ball's not there to support you, but can you pull your low belly further back to your low back to support you.

Take another breath in. Keep the zipper sensation. Keep this length. Maybe go a little further. Again, we don't wanna arch. We keep the back flat.

Deep breath in. Exale hinge go a little further. Hold it. Find that long diagon. I'll reach to the crown of the head. Stay inhale.

Now we take that small tuck sensation we did earlier. This time we pull back in the low belly to draw us back. That's going to allow us to roll first through the low back then into the middle of the waist. Then we find the tips of the shoulder blades to hover. You're still keeping that scoop before releasing down.

Should be nicely engaged and warmed up, allowing you to roll with control to support your back and your spine. Now on the way up, dig the heels down, start by lifting and printing face to the ceiling hovering at the shoulder blades. Take a breath in. As you exhale, it's that same scoop. The belly pulls back. And we curl all the way up and forward into that full forward stretch.

Full range of motion there, which feels so lovely. Sitting right back up tall. Neckpole. One of my favorites never gets old. Alright. The last way I like to incorporate props would be weights. There's so many more things you could do, but that's what I'm gonna be showing you today.

So weights are excellent to introduce any type of arm work where there is a spring tension, a strap, something added with actual weight, attached, whether you're on, maybe the apparatus on the reformer on the Cadillac or tower chair even. The holding of the weight is going to challenge your balance. So we're gonna work through some teaser variations here. It's a great thing to do on the mat. Maybe you even put your client on a box on a reformer, but holding the weights instead of the straps to introduce teaser there because it's already more challenging in itself of being on a raised platform. Once you add those springs in and a moving carriage, it gets a little scary. Right? Joseph Pilates wanted to instill a little fear enough, so we paid attention.

We concentrated on the control. 2 of your Pilates principles. I hope you know those. Reach your arms forward. Palms to the ceiling.

Take a deep breath in, and then exhale begin to roll all the way down onto the mat Always finding our preparation with control here. Palms are facing up by the sides. Head is released down. Similar to how you would be in a teaser on your reformer on that box. Take a deep breath here to prepare. As you exhale, start to curl up, chin over the chest, hover at the tips of the shoulder blades, and hover those arms right by your hips. Those palms stay lifted.

Take another breath here. And then as you exhale, we'll work just the upper body, pull the belly button down, scooping those arms forward and up, feeling that scoop of the waistline, keeping arms in line with the shoulders, both shoulder height, shoulder width. Again, just like you would do, if those hands were in the straps. Deep breath here. Axle roll back down with control. Pull that belly button a little bit deeper.

Find that hover of the shoulder blades before releasing head and arms down. Lots of ways we could do this here. Of the legs versus them going from straight. This is how I would also introduce it on a reformer. Deep breath here, exhale start to curl up and over the chest your palms are hovering.

You take another breath in. Maybe your legs stay at tabletop. Maybe you begin to extend the legs as you reach your body up, reaching fingers towards the toes. Take a breath in and then begin to bend your knees back to tabletop as you roll back down. Now we're fighting against the resistance of gravity end of this added weight, keeping those shoulder blades anchored, using the back, using the arms, really strong through the upper body. Again, just like that inhale.

Ax. I'll start with that scoop of the low abdominals, begin to hover chin, hover arms, really moving with control using that breath. From here, maybe legs are straight. Maybe they're bent. We'll start to lower the arms down on the inhale, scoop and reach right back up. Pull the belly button back as you exhale.

Now, if you were on that moving carriage, would be a little more challenging, a little scary. Yeah. From here, you still have the added weight the added balance challenge of the arms moving, hold at the top, take a deep breath in, lift everything a little higher from here if you're able, lower the legs straight down along with your body. Still rolling vertebra by vertebra, zipping up tighter through the inner thighs, finding the hover of the heels of the shoulder blades, releasing everything at the bottom. Last thing we'll do here is add those arms circles, take a deep breath into prepare, exhale chin over the chest, belly scoops back, arms hover, legs hover, pull your abdominals back as you lift everything up, up, up. Start by lowering the arms down on the inhale.

Circle around and up as you exhale, really working to stabilize the body, the legs, the core, the crown of the head reaching up, as you move from your shoulder joints and your arms reverse open inhale, pull the belly button back as the palms lift up on the exhale last two. Reach it forward. Keep that gorgeous lift through the waist, exhale, pull the belly back, reach everything up 1 more inch, take a deep breath in. Lowering with control in 4. Work against the weight against the gravity in 3.

Can you zip up a little tighter through the inner thighs all the way up to that belly button? Find the hover 2 and finally release everything on 1. Whoo. We'll let those weights release to the sides. Hug your knees into your chest, giving them a hug, take a deep breath, and I'll exhale let it go. If you're moving with me, give yourself a little rock back and all the way up to a seat. That is the movement that I have for you today.

I hope you felt the benefits of working with me on how to add some props into your math classes, apparatus classes, just a few of my favorite things here. And, I hope you take this with you and enjoy.


Laura,  I absolutely love your  very detailed cueing!  Teaser on the reformer is one of my nemesis, being on the box on the reformer physics me out... losing connection!..Game over!! Hahaa.    You've inspired me to revisit this exercise again.    I look forward to discovering more of your classes!  Thank you!
Michele H thank you for your kind comment, and I am happy to hear that I have inspired you to give Teaser on the Reformer another shot! Please let me know how it goes... fingers crossed and abs engaged! xx

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