March MATness – Teaser

Teaser

  1. Sit tall with your legs longs, thighs squeezing together arms lengthening long by your side
  2. With control, bring the weight of the head forward, pull the abs in and begin to roll back as you continue to squeeze your thighs together tight
  3. With control through your center and the curling of the pelvis lift your legs and reach the arms parallel to your thighs reaching towards your toes
  4. Keep the deep scoop in the abs and control back to your starting position. Repeat 3x

IMG_1622

March MATness – Side Kicks

Side kicks series challenges your stability while lying on your side. The closer the body is to a straight line from the crown of the head through your toes the more challenging it will be, so choose an angle that works for your body. As the leg is moving focus on creating as much length in the thigh as you can.  Remember the more opposition and work you can put into your own body the more you will get out of each movement!

Side Kicks

  1. Lie on your side in a straight line from the crown of your head down through your tailbone. From the hips the legs come forward towards the front corner of the mat
  2. Your top hand will actively press into the mat about 4 inches away from your chest.
  3. Actively draw your abs in – imagine you could slip a piece of paper between your waist and the mat
  4. Lift your top leg to hip height
  5. Kick the leg forward with control, kick the leg back with control. Repeat 6-10x on each side

IMG_1599 IMG_1601 IMG_1602

 

March MATness – Saw

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.

Spine Twist

  1. Sit tall with your legs long, thighs squeezing together and your feet flexed
  2. Arms are reaching to the sides creating as much length as you can from fingertip to fingertip with the shoulders anchored down your back
  3. Inhale, squeeze your glutes as you lift and lengthen your spine
  4. Maintain your height as you rotate to the right – the arms are moving only because of the rotation in the spine
  5. As you rotate, keep working the opposition of the arms, head to tailbone and the hips to heels
  6. Exhale twist back to center, inhale twist left. Repeat 3x each side

IMG_1630

IMG_1628 IMG_1629

 

 

March MATness – Single Leg Kick and Double Leg Kick

Single Leg Kick

  1. Lie on your stomach with your upper body propped up on your elbows
  2. Actively pull your abdominals in, anchor your pubic bone into the mat and squeeze your thighs together
  3. Squeeze your glutes and try to lift your legs a few inches away from the mat
  4. Keeping the legs lifted and thighs tightly squeezing together kick your right heel in towards your glutes, actively press the leg away and switch sides. Repeat 6x on each side

IMG_1588IMG_1592

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Double Leg Kick

  1. Lie on your stomach with the head resting on the right cheek, hands interlaced behind the back as far as you can reach with the elbows reaching towards the mat and the legs actively squeezing together
  2. Squeeze your glutes and lift the legs a few inches away from the mat – keep them actively squeezing as if they were one leg
  3. Inhale as you kick both the legs in towards the seat 3x
  4. Actively press the legs away from the body as you extend your arms down the back of the thighs lifting the chest
  5. Exhale as you rest to the mat turning the head to the left cheek. Repeat 3 sets

IMG_1594 IMG_1595

 

March MATness – Swan

Strengthening the posterior side of the body is an important component to your  “full” body health. When working in extension it is important to keep the spine supported by pulling the abs in and up. Also, focus on creating length between the vertebrae. For the swan, create a 4 way stretch within your own body. Imagine someone is pulling you from the top of your head, from your toes and from both sides of your arms. The full swan can take some practice, be patient and diligent with your practice!

Swan – Prep

  1. Lie on your stomach, forehead resting on the mat, arms outstretched to the side, legs actively lengthening together behind you
  2. Inhale and actively lift the arms off the mat – reaching to opposite sides of the room
  3. Continue stretching the arms as you lift the head and legs creating as much opposition in the body as possible
  4. Exhale as you rest down to the mat. Repeat 3-5x

Swan

  1. Lie on your stomach, forehead resting on the mat, arms outstretched to the side, legs actively lengthening together behind you
  2. Inhale and actively lift the arms off the mat – reaching to opposite sides of the room
  3. Continue stretching the arms as you lift the head and legs creating as much opposition in the body as possible
  4. Bend the arms and press your palms into the mat under your shoulders
  5. As you actively press your palms into the mat lift the chest and press the legs into the mat behind you creating a stretch from the pubic bone up to the chest
  6. Exhale with control as you quickly release the palms and reach the arms back to the sides rocking forward as the legs lift. Repeat 3-6x

IMG_1585 IMG_1588

 

March MATness – Saw

The movement in  “Saw” comes from the rotation of the spine not the hips and pelvis. Think of it as a “wringing” out of the abs. Also, try to create and maintain as much length from fingertip to fingertip. The deeper the work you can create in your own body the more you will get out of every movement! 

Saw

  1. Sit on your mat with a tall stack spine, legs extended wider than hip width, feet flexed at the ankle joint and arms extended out to the side
  2. Inhale as you squeeze your glutes, pull your abdominals in and up and twist right as far as possible – remember the twist comes from the rotation of the spine!
  3. Exhale as you round over the left leg reaching your left arm towards the outside of the right leg. Right arm is reaching and lifting back behind you as far as possible
  4. Inhale as you stack your spine back to your starting position and repeat twisting left.
  5. Repeat 3x to each side

IMG_1580 IMG_1582

March MATness – Corkscrew

Corkscrew

  1. Lie on your back with your legs full extended and engaged. Arms actively pressing into the mat by your side.
  2. Squeezing the legs together tightly, pull your ribcage and abs into the mat, lift both the legs away from the mat up to a 90 degree angle
  3. Inhale, begin to circle the legs to the right, down around to the left and exhale back to center.
  4. Each time you return back to center curl the tailbone away from the mat lifting the hips
  5. As you circle the legs and lift the hips, keep deepening the work in the abs and continue pressing the arms into the mat
  6. Reverse the circle. Repeat 3 sets to each side

IMG_1574IMG_1579 IMG_1576

March MATness – Open Leg Rocker

Open leg rocker is another great rolling exercise similar to “rolling like a ball” but with straight legs. Try to focus on finding the stability aspect of this exercise first before you add in the movement. Be careful as you are rolling not to place the weight onto your head and neck and don’t let momentum control the movement.

Open Leg Rocker

  1. From the spine stretch forward position, begin to round back onto the mat
  2. As you are rolling back, lift the legs away from the mat using your abs
  3. Grab onto your legs as close to the ankles as possible
  4. Your goal as you move through this exercise is to keep your legs and arms completely straight
  5. Inhale and deeply draw the abdominal wall in creating a deep scoop in the lower abs and lift the chest
  6. Exhale roll back maintaining your position and your connection
  7. Inhale rolling back up with control. Repeat 3-6x

IMG_1570 IMG_1572IMG_1571

 

March MATness – Spine Stretch Forward

Spine stretch forward is an amazing exercise when executed correctly. A great tool for the spine stretch forward is to sit up against a wall. The wall will give your tactile feedback for where you are moving. Also, if you are really tight and feel all the work in your hip flexors you can sit on a block or roll up your mat and sit on the mat. Remember think FULL BODY!

Spine Stretch Forward 

  1. Sit on your mat with a tall stack spine, legs extended hip width, feet flexed at the ankle joint and arms extended at chest height
  2. Inhale as you squeeze your glutes and pull your abdominals in
  3. Imagine you are lifting your torso away from your hips
  4. Maintaining your core connection and as much height as you can, exhale and begin to round forward creating a “c” curve with your spine
  5. Create as much oppositional movement within your own body as possible (abs and lower back pulling one way, as the arms, crown of the head and legs reach the other way)
  6. Inhale and stack the spine back to your starting position. Repeat 3-5x

IMG_1569IMG_1568

March MATness

Happy Friday! Today we will add the last 3 of the “series of 5.” The single straight leg stretch, the double straight leg stretch and the criss cross. These 3 exercises are not part of Joseph Pilates original mat repertoire but are great core strengtheners. Your ultimate goal is to perform the “series of 5” without rest in between.

Single Straight Leg Stretch

1. Lie on your back with your knees into your chest and your head and shoulder blades curled off the mat
2. Extend both your legs up to the ceiling and walk both your hands up your right leg towards your ankle
3. Left leg lowers down a few inches away from the mat
4. While keeping a strong stabile center scissor kick and switch legs
5. As the legs are moving focus on keeping the tailbone and shoulder blades anchored into the mat. Repeat 6-10x

IMG_1559

 

 

 

 

 

 

Double Straight Leg Stretch

1. After you have completed the single straight leg stretch, interlace your hands and place them behind the base of your skull, legs lengthen long and squeeze together as straight as you can up to the ceiling
2. Inhale, stretch your legs away from your body as you actively pull your rib cage and abs into the mat
3. Exhale, deepen the abs and pull your legs back up to your starting position. Repeat 6-10x

IMG_1562

 

 

 

 

 

 

Criss Cross

1. After completing the double straight leg stretch, keep your hands interlaced behind your head, bend your right knee into your chest and lengthen your left leg a few inches away from the mat
2. Inhale, twist your torso to the right, bringing your left armpit towards the right knee
3. Exhale as you maintain control and twist to the left bringing the left knee into your chest
4. As you alternate side to side try to curl up deeper into the work each time
5. Focus on the rotation of the spine as you are twisting. Repeat 6x each side

IMG_1566 IMG_1563