Push-Ups are a great and effective way to strengthen the upper body. The important thing to remember is to keep the full body connection. Body is in a strong straight line from the head to heels. Arms are a little wider than shoulder width apart with the entire palm and all ten fingers actively pressing into the mat. The creases in your elbows should face each other. Shoulders are drawing down your back with your abs pulling in and up. Thighs and heels are actively squeezing together. Maintain these connection points as you move only the arms.
- Stand at the end of your mat with a tall lifted spine
- Keep the tailbone lengthening heavy to the floor
- Drop the weight of the head forward and round forward until your hands reach the floor
- Walk the hands out onto the mat until the body comes into a straight plank
- Keep the hands and arms actively pressing into the mat as you inhale and bend the arms lowering the body to the mat as far as you can control
- Exhale as you press the body back up. Repeat 3x
- Walk your hands back towards your feet and round back up
- Repeat the whole sequence 3-5x
The Seal is another rolling exercise similar to rolling like a ball and the open leg rocker. Difference is you are adding in the clap of the legs to start the roll back and while you are balancing. Start by just adding the clap at the beginning of the exercise if needed. Try to initiate and feel the clap of the legs from the deep scoop of the abs.
- Sit on the mat with your legs bent, heels together, toes long towards the mat and the knees apart
- Dive your hands between your legs and grab onto the outside of your ankles
- Keep the active press of the thighs and arms against each other
- Maintaining the deep scoop in the abs, lift the feet away from the mat so you are balancing
- Inhale, clap the legs from the hips 3x and roll back
- As your roll back the weight of the body is on the shoulders not the head
- Clap the legs 3x while balancing on the shoulders, exhale and roll back up. Repeat 6x
Side Kick Kneeling is similar to the side kick series we performed earlier but you are kneeling. This will be more challenging for your core stabilizers. Still focus on creating as much length in the thigh as possible and keep the waist long and lifted!
Side Kick Kneeling
- Kneel in the center of your mat with a tall lifted spine
- Place the left hand behind your head and extend the right arm out to side
- Plant the right hand onto the mat as the leg left extends to the side as high as you can lift it
- Your top hip should be stacked over your bottom knee and the shoulder over the wrist
- Maintain the active press of the arm into the mat as you inhale and kick the leg forward, exhale kick the leg back. Repeat 6x and then switch sides
The Mop Series is an excellent chest opening exercise. We thank Benjamin Degenhardt for teaching us this series that has helped many of our clients perfect their chest expansion! As you are moving through this series, image the poles are attached to springs for additional resistance. This is a great addition to the mat work that can be done at home with a pole, broom or mop!
The Mop Series
- Stand on the mat with a tall lifted spine
- Grab onto a stick, pole or mop shoulder width apart and hold at chest height
- Make an active fist around the pole and feel as though you are going to pull the pole apart – you should feel your arms and upper back
- Inhale as you press the pole down until it touches your thighs and image you are going to snap the pole across your thighs
- Hold the pole at your thighs as you look to the right, center, look left, center
- Exhale drag the pole back to chest height. Repeat 6x
The LegPull is basically the reverse of the Leg Pull Front. Once again, focus on finding and maintaining the ‘full body’ connection through out the movement. Holding the position and focusing on your breath and stability is a great option to build strength if you are not quite ready to add in the leg lifts!
- Sit with your legs extended long and together on the mat
- Arms are extended long by your side with the palms actively pressing into the mat, fingers facing your hips
- Continue to actively press into the mat with the arms as you squeeze your glutes and thighs together and lift the hips off the mat
- Body is lifted and lengthened into a strong straight line
- Maintaining stability in the hips and torso, lift the right leg as high as you can
- Lower with control and switch sides. Repeat 3x each side
Leg pull front begins in a straight-arm plank position…….. think push up. When you are in the straight-arm plank you should feel every muscle in your body working to support the position and movement. Maintain proper alignment of the head and spine. Actively press your arms, palms and all ten fingers into the mat. The creases in your elbows should be facing each other. Keep your abs pulling in and up. Glutes and thighs are squeezing together tightly. Heels pressing together. Now you are ready! Remember, you can hold the position and work on stabilizing and add in the movement when you feel stronger.
Leg Pull Front
- Come into a straight arm plank position
- Keep the entire body stable, especially the hips, and lift the right leg off the mat with a small double kick
- Maintain stability as you switch sides. Repeat 3x each side
Swimming is a common exercise that you have probably done or seen in any fitness class. Swimming is a contralateral movement and therefore a challenging exercise when executed properly. Focus on maintaining a long lower back and putting more of the work into the upper back. The deeper you lengthen and put the work into your own body the greater the benefits.
- Lie on your stomach with arms and legs extended, forehead resting on the mat
- Actively squeeze your legs together, pull the abs in and lift the arms, head and legs away from the mat
- Keep your tailbone lengthen and your pubic bone pressing into the mat
- With control from your center, alternate lifting the right arm left leg and left arm right left
- Following a natural breathing pattern keep the movement going as you focus and lengthen the arms and legs from your center with each movement for 10 counts
From the teaser we move right into the hip twist. Your in the hip twist is to keep everything from the waist up stable as the legs are circling. Also, focus on keeping the chest lifted. The hip twist is a great way to stretch the lower back.
- From your teaser position, extend the arms behind you with the fingertips facing away or to the side. You can also prop yourself up on your elbows
- Legs are actively extending up to the ceiling at a 90 degree angle
- Keeping your ribcage tight and your abs pulling in, inhale as your begin to circle your legs to the right, down towards the mat to your point of control and exhale as your circle them left back to center
- Reverse the direction of the circle and repeat 3x to each side
- As you are circling the legs, try to bring the legs as close to your head as possible
It’s hard to believe we are almost half way through March MATness! By now you have hopefully developed and devoted yourself to a daily practice of moving well. Today we are doing Spine Twist, which is similar to the rotational twist in Saw, except that your legs stay glued together. A great tool to keep you honest in your rotation is to put your feet up against a wall. As you are twisting, keep your feet pressing into the wall.
- Sit tall with your legs long, thighs squeezing together and your feet flexed
- Arms are reaching to the sides creating as much length as you can from fingertip to fingertip with the shoulders anchored down your back
- Inhale, squeeze your glutes as you lift and lengthen your spine
- Maintain your height as you rotate to the right – the arms are moving only because of the rotation in the spine
- As you rotate, keep working the opposition of the arms, head to tailbone and the hips to heels
- Exhale twist back to center, inhale twist left. Repeat 3x each side