The Pilates Spine Corrector: A Tutorial on the Teaser

The Pilates Spine Corrector: A Tutorial on the Teaser

For Luz

Let's give ourselves an extra dose of Teaser Tuesday this week. I invite you to reap the benefits of daily Spine Corrector and Small Barrel exercises.

More on this – plus an invitation to my Small Barrel Project! –  later in this post.

I think the Spine Corrector is the most multitasking of the Pilates barrels.

It's good for everything.

In the video below you'll see a few versions of the Teaser done on the Spine Corrector:

  • Basic Teaser position: You'll get support from the Spine Corrector to strengthen your position in the exercise.
  • Teaser 1: Legs stay in position as the body reaches up and over the Spine Corrector.
  • Teaser 3: Legs reach away as the body opens up over the Spine Corrector for our ultimate Teaser 3.
  • Teaser 2: Now facing the hump of the corrector, the legs have support to work on the lower lift of Teaser 2.
  • The Teaser Dismount: Challenge yourself to control and balance yourself atop Mt. Spine Corrector.

Maybe you learned lots of exercises on the Spine Corrector. But how do these exercises fit into the greater Pilates system? Who should you bring to the Spine Corrector and why?

The Teaser done on the Spine Corrector has a lot going for it. It's got all the charm of our Arm Series exercises here and more. Does this look familiar?

#onehumptwoways

The Pilates Spine Corrector: A Tutorial on the Teaser

Which brings me to my latest focus obsession…

The Small Barrel Project

 

The Pilates Spine Corrector: A Tutorial on the Teaser

My neck posture has never been the greatest. We have a bit of the slumpy gene in my family.

Ye olde head forward.

I bend over all day at work and put in major time on my laptop.

My upper back and neck need an intervention.

The neck and upper back are major factors in our posture. And our mothers were right: we should stand up straight.

All of our bodily systems as well as our minds are enlivened by proper upright posture. Organs have space to function optimally, we present a positive persona to the world and we lessen wear and tear on our joints.

Not to mention the need for our daily quota of power positions to feel vigorous and vibrant.

I've been a longtime believer of the curative power of the Spine Corrector/Small Barrel exercises so I decided to do a few exercises on the Small Barrel each day for a month and see what happens.

Best case scenario I make it to 5'4″ (When you fight gravity, it's win-win).

My second thought was that 30 days in a row of anything will be a challenge for me.

So now I come to you, dear readers, with an invitation.

Won't you join me in this project?

It's easy and here's how you can play along:

You'll need a Spine Corrector and/or Small Barrel. Either one will work, I'll be using the Small Barrel.

Choose just 3 exercises from each of the following 2 barrel series to do each day at least once.

If you can do your exercises 2-3x/day even better.

So far I've been working these exercises once in the morning before work and once at the end of my day. If my day is very long I'll squeeze in another #posturein10 after lunch.

It won't take more than 10 minutes each time you do your exercises.

1. Arm Series

The Pilates Spine Corrector: A Tutorial on the Teaser

In this position choose to do CirclesOne Arm Up/Down, Hug, and Breathing.

Use this video if you're unfamiliar with these exercises.

2. Leg Series

The Pilates Spine Corrector: A Tutorial on the Teaser

You can choose Circles, Scissors, Bicycle, Shoulder Bridge, Helicopter. Lots of options here. Be sure to finish with the rolling of the back and the rest position. Use this video for help with this series.

Okay, the plan again:

  • Choose at least 3 Spine Corrector/Small Barrel exercises in each category.
  • You can do more if you have time.
  • Do your exercises every day at least once.
  • Do your exercises 2-3x/day if when you can.
  • Leave a comment below with questions, observations and moments of epiphany…

Enjoy this tutorial on the Teaser.

Hey, another option for our project if you've got the time. And for Tuesdays 🙂

Thanks for watching!

Hey Southern California…

Saturday March 4, 2017 Studio Flo Pilates, San Diego, CA

Join me for an awesome Pilates Mat class. Clients and instructors are welcome. Register here.

Saturday March 18, 2017 California Pilates Center, Oceanside, CA

Join me for a day of guest teaching. Just a few spots open for private lessons –  use this link to snag one for yourself! Register for my 10am Mat class here.

Saturday March 25, 2017 Studio S Pilates, Temecula, CA

Join me for a brand new workshop on Transitions in the Pilates Method. What are they, who should do them and why. If you're a fan of my Transition posts here on the blog you won't want to miss this blog-post-comes-to-life moment. Come for the whole day and experience my teacher, the fabulous Karen Frischmann in her workshop on Connections. Register today.

Saturday April 15, 2017 Studio Flo Pilates, San Diego, CA

I hope you’ll join me for a workshop based on my most popular post,  On the Order of the Reformer Exercises presented for the first time in San Diego! Register here or contact Jennie Groom for more information.

Saturday May 6, 2017 California Pilates Center, Oceanside, CA

Join me for a day of guest teaching. Just a few spots open for private lessons –  use this link to snag one for yourself! Register for my 10am Mat class here.

Experience the blog live and in person this year!

Thursday – Sunday May 11-14, 2017 Equinox, London UK

Contact Jayne O’Brien for more info and to register.

Friday – Sunday September 22-24, 2017 Pilates Mödling, Mödling, Vienna 

Join me in Mödling just 20 minutes from the capital city of Vienna. This event is jam packed and not to be missed! I’ll be offering lessons, mat classes and workshops. Workshops include: The Teaser: The Truth will PrevailOn the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises and 3 Chairs + 3 Barrels = 2-way Stretch and On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

Contact Andrea Seipel for more info and to register.

Saturday + Sunday October 7-8 2017 Everybody Pilates, Portsmouth UK

Contact Amy Kellow for more information.

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

Thanks for the great response to my first installation, Footwork on the Reformer, part 1.

Many of you asked about breathing and how it relates to both the Footwork Series on the Reformer and also the greater Pilates method. Thanks for entrusting me with this huge topic and I hope you'll find my perspective to be helpful.

What does Joe Pilates say about all this?

We're all familiar with an iconic quote from Joe himself:

“…above all, learn to breathe correctly.”

That sounds important. But how do we do this exactly?

Oh good, he goes on:

Squeeze every atom of air from your lungs until they are almost as free of air as a vacuum. Notice how your lungs automatically completely refill themselves with fresh air.

Indeed. The power of the exhale shall set us free.

In my Pilates education as well as my experience of the Pilates workout in my body I believe our focus should be mainly on a thorough exhalation.

I'm looking at a key word here from Joe: automatically. Do your workout and you can't help but experience a deeper fuller breath. The exertion required in our exercises, the ever-changing position of the body and our commitment to moving get the job done for us.

A teacher once said to me “I can't teach you how to breathe any more than I can teach your heart to beat.”

We're pretty good at breathing. We've been doing it for a while now.

With the introduction of exertion, our body knows what to do.

We. Need. More. Air.

The Power of the Exhale

The bulk of our 500+ Pilates exercises will find us breathing simply as we would while walking down the street. In through the nose and out through the nose if possible, silently and without any undue noise or tension.

Tense and noisy breathing translates directly into unwanted tension in the body, not unlike the locking of our joints. Tension is diverted away from our center in both cases. We want all the exertion in our center, not in our extremities and not in our throats.

However.

Within our beloved Pilates method we do have a handful of exercises specifically designed to increase our lung capacity: our Breathing exercises. Yay!

With the help of these specialized exercises we'll exhale fully, enabling our bodies to “automatically fill up more deeply with fresh air. ” 

We are on the case, Joe.

Some common exercises to give your lungs (and your body) a workout:

The Hundred

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

Right out of the gate no less… our prescribed breathing in this exercise serves to increase our lung capacity as we focus on our long steady exhale. Variations on the inhale/exhale count of this exercise for special populations like opera singers and athletes further challenge breath control.

Double Leg Pull

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

Our signature move in the Pilates method. And boy is it a good one. Soon our lengthened out position here will fold up into a tight ball to force all the air out of the body.

Down Stretch

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

The Down Stretch, I must say, is an exemplary breathing exercise. Perhaps it's my favorite…

The Twisting Exercises

From the Stomach Massage Series to the Short Box Series to Snake/Twist on the Reformer and Wunda Chair. All of our Pilates twisting exercises are designed to wring out the air from our lungs.

Ok actually these guys are my favorites…

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

Our Twist in the Stomach Massage Series is the first rotation of our workout.

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

Next we'll take our Twist onto the Short Box and add a new element to our twisting, the Reach.

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

Our Twist position gets more complex as we proceed further into our workout.

Breathing and the Pilates Method: The Power of the Exhale

And even a nice Twist on the Mat, where we've also got the Saw, Criss Cross and the Corkscrew.

Enjoy this short tutorial.

Thanks for watching!

Hey Southern California…

Saturday January 21, 2017 California Pilates Center, Oceanside, CA

Join me for a day of guest teaching. Just one spot open for a private lesson, they filled up fast –  use this link to snag it for yourself! Register for my 10am Mat class here.

Saturday March 4, 2017 Studio Flo Pilates, San Diego, CA

Join me for an awesome Pilates Mat class. Clients and instructors are welcome. Register here.

Saturday April 15, 2017 Studio Flo Pilates, San Diego, CA

I hope you'll join me for a workshop based on my most popular post,  On the Order of the Reformer Exercises presented for the first time in San Diego! Register here or contact Jennie Groom for more information.

Wanna experience the blog live and in person?

Here’s a bit of what’s cooking for 2017:

Thursday – Sunday May 11-14, 2017 Equinox, London UK

Contact Jayne O’Brien for more info and to register.

Friday – Sunday September 22-24, 2017 Pilates Mödling, Mödling, Vienna 

Join me in Mödling just 20 minutes from the capital city of Vienna. This event is jam packed and not to be missed! I’ll be offering lessons, mat classes and workshops. Workshops include: The Teaser: The Truth will PrevailOn the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises and 3 Chairs + 3 Barrels = 2-way Stretch and On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

Contact Andrea Seipel for more info and to register.

Saturday + Sunday October 7-8 2017 Everybody Pilates, Portsmouth UK

Contact Amy Kellow for more information.

The Pilates System: A Brief Tutorial on the TEASER!

The Pilates System: A Brief Tutorial on the TEASER!

For Tessa

Welcome to a special Teaser Tuesday Edition of the blog!

The Teaser is our most iconic Pilates exercise. Perhaps the Hundred is slightly more infamous but many a Pilates student wears a successful Teaser like a mark of valor.

The Hundred is tolerated, but you can talk smack if you've got a killer Teaser.

I love this exercise. It feels good to fully embody your oppositional forces, doesn't it?

I'll trade my fondness for writing ‘2-way stretch' for a new favorite: global stretch of the back of the body.

Oh God, that's good.

Even typing it made my back feel a weensy bit delish.

You too can be an apparatus!

First a bit of a tangent (not a tangent).

In a recent post I talked about how to be your own Spine Corrector.

The skills we learn on each piece of Pilates apparatus work their way into our bodies. Joe Pilates is training us, right?

We use the apparatus to get support and assistance to do our exercises. Whatever we get to touch and contact we must use to our advantage.

OMG it's the premise of our beloved Pilates method!

I've been traveling for the last few months. Subsequently I do many, many Mat workouts.

Sometimes even on the Mat – essentially bereft of apparatus – we do get to touch something.

OURSELVES!

Well that came out wrong…

The Pilates System: A Brief Tutorial on the TEASER!

See? It's reminiscent of an apparatus…

The Pilates System: A Brief Tutorial on the TEASER!

Sure I've found the hand touching the Mat to be helpful, but surely that one on my head can help out?

The Pilates System: A Brief Tutorial on the TEASER!

All those hands-behind-the-head moves just might help me sit up taller and figure out where my head sits on top of my body!

The Pilates System: A Brief Tutorial on the TEASER!

This hand position is particular. Let's help it connect us to our center too.

Yes I've got all the skills and info I find on every apparatus in the studio built right into my body.

And then there's the apparatus called the Reformer.

Reform:

verb

1 a plan to reform the system: improve, better, make better, ameliorate, refine, alter, make alterations to, change, adjust, make adjustments to, adapt, amend, revise, reshape, refashion, redesign, restyle, revamp, rebuild, reconstruct, remodel, reorganize.

2 after his marriage he reformed: mend one's ways, change for the better, turn over a new leaf, improve.

Pilates: Things that make you go “Hmmm…”

Enjoy this short tutorial.

Thanks for watching!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person?

Here's a bit of what's cooking for 2017:

Thursday – Sunday May 11-14, 2017 Equinox, London UK

Contact Jayne O'Brien for more info and to register.

Friday – Sunday September 22-24 Pilates Mödling, Mödling Austria 

Join me in Mödling, Austria just 20 minutes from the capital city of Vienna. This is an event not to be missed! I'll be offering lessons, mat classes and workshops. Workshops include: The Teaser: The Truth will PrevailOn the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises and 3 Chairs + 3 Barrels = 2-way Stretch and more.

Contact Andrea Seipel for more info and to register.

October 7-8 2017 Everybody Pilates, Portsmouth UK

Contact Amy Kellow for more information.

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Up Stretch COMBO!

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Up Stretch COMBO!

For Andrea, Rachel and Corrie

A recent post included a video tutorial on my current nemesis the Up Stretch.

Congratulations! Now having mastered the Up Stretch I hope you'll join me for a look at its fraternal twin, the Up Stretch Combo

The Up Stretch and the Up Stretch Combo bear a striking resemblance to each other but look close and you'll see they have traits decidedly of their own.

Essentially a variation on the Up Stretch, the Up Stretch Combo is a staple part of the Long Stretch Series. Combining elements of all the exercises which precede it – Long Stretch, Down Stretch and Up Stretch – the Up Stretch Combo also foreshadows many of our super advanced exercises, notably Snake/Twist.

Enjoy this short video and see how you do.

Thanks for watching!

Wanna see the blog come to life?

Join me this Saturday in NC!

Saturday December 17, 2016 LauraBPilates Studio, Raleigh, NC

In Raleigh we’ll have a full day of Pilates Continuing Education: private lessons and my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Desperately Seeking Neck Pull on the Mat

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Desperately Seeking Neck Pull

Recently I shared my torrid love affair with the Snake/Twist on the Reformer

But nothing compares to your first, right?

Me and the Neck Pull, baby.

Now that's some tough love.

I first laid eyes on the scoundrel – now my beloved – in a Mat class. Alas, relegated to a foldable foam mat, my tight back would wait nearly 5 years to blossom more fully with the help of the strap on a studio mat.

It's a classic case of preparation meets opportunity.

What are the pitfalls here? What are the necessary elements to cultivate from the moment you begin your Hundred?

Years ago I confided to Pilatesology my great fear of completing my first Pilates teacher training program still unable to achieve full-on Neck Pull.

Global stretch of the entire back of the body and extension of the hip is what we're after.

Right there you've got some information: if you know you've got a tight part of your back it's likely to show up during the Neck Pull.

My luck had clearly run out when I had an intermediate mat class in my teaching schedule. A friend of mine – Kim Schraf I will remember you forever! – had a question about the Neck Pull (which I totally understand – like how do you frickin' accomplish it???) and asked me to demo. 

Nooooooo…

We theatre folk though, we never crack under pressure. We go for the standing O. 

Nailed it!

One Neck Pull in hand and all subsequent ones on standby. Cause I'm comin' for ya.

Strap-tastic!

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Desperately Seeking Neck Pull

Some facts about the strap:

  • The strap is not just for beginners.
  • The strap on the Mat is for everyone!
  • The strap will become your teacher too.

Who doesn't love a good apparatus?

Support, right? Assistance? Yes I need it. And gradually as one becomes more proficient and Pilates-savvy, the strap will dig into the body deeper than is possible without it.

The Order of the Universe

This past weekend On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises came to life at Excel Pilates in Washington DC.

It's one of my favorite workshops to teach. 

And there's a special Neck Pull moment I'd like to share.

(Want this post to be a video tutorial? Your wish is my command.)

Thanks so much to all the awesome Pilates peeps in attendance!

I got to nerd haaaaaaard…

Such a pleasure to meet new friends and see all my Pilates besties at Excel: Lesa, Louise, Michelle, Janice, Alix and Tatyana.

A special shout out to Tara, Ellen, Kathy and John. Got a little misty over Pilates and all of you lovelies. Mariska, always a delight…

And thank you so so much for all your kind words on the blog and tutorials. Love you!

“There IS a reason!”

Joe Pilates is truly looking out for our best interests. He has prepared us well. 

The gift of his order of the exercises is a treasure map to Neck Pull success. 

Let's take a look at a few roadside attractions on our journey:

The Roll Up

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Desperately Seeking Neck Pull

Ah yes, the prerequisite.

In my first mat classes I used to size up what might happen in the Neck Pull by how – goes – the Roll up. In the Roll Up you get a bit of help with the upper body lifting and reaching forward and the legs together. 

Later our arms will be all tied up behind our head. And our legs apart,

Considerably less helpful.

2. Time to warm up

The 18 exercises which precede the Neck Pull get the back moving and more supple.

Oh God it just has to right?

3. The Fab 4

Swan, Single Leg Kick, Double Leg Kick and Thigh Stretch, hone in on a crucial skill we'll need for Neck Pull success: strength of the lower body and the seat.

To fully execute the Neck Pull you must have sufficient extension of the hip.

OMG is it that whole ‘extending the hip' thing again? Sheesh…

Let me repeat. Your butt must work so your hips and legs don't tank the exercise.

Let's go.

Swan (Dive)

Desperately Seeking Neck Pull on the Mat

This one's a big flowing movement to get it all working now for the first time in this on-the-Stomach position. The back must work hard to open up the front of the body.

Single Leg Kick

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Desperately Seeking Neck Pull

Now we've got a fixed point from which to reach our lower body deliberately away one leg at a time. Re-emphasize the Swan lift of the upper body as your leg reaches away to the mat for the compete Double Leg Pull experience.

Double leg kick 

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Desperately Seeking Neck Pull

Double Leg Kick contains a boatload of foreshadowing of the following exercise: Thigh Stretch.

Both sides are working together now to strengthen the seat and open up the hips and thighs.

OMG it's not too early to get ready for March MATness 2017. 

Thigh stretch

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Desperately Seeking Neck Pull

You've strengthened in the last 3 exercises and now it's time to put it to the test. Now the seat and back of the body must support us as we control our lift into the Thigh Stretch

Keep this area on fire and don't let it go as you start your Neck Pull

How did you do?

Tangent (not a tangent…)

Remember our friend the Small Barrel?

Use this video every day for two weeks and watch your Neck Pull change.

Mat happens…

In 2017 I'll be teaching a Mat class at California Pilates Center in Oceanside.

(Wanna join on January 21st? Awesome! Register today.)

As you might well imagine, I've got boatloads of empathy for Mat class students who struggle with the Neck Pull

I also know that what you don't like, you do TWICE.

Oh yes, the struggle is real…

I've seen their Roll Up by now so how about a little love? Empathy-o-meter – off the charts!

If possible I like to pair up the students. One student does the exercise and their partner gets to be the strap. 

You can really hit home the concept of the 2-way stretch too. Yippee!

The “strap” student gently pulls their partner's heels and ankles on the rolling down portion of the exercise. My gosh it might even feel good and foster a bit of Neck Pull love for us all.

Arm yourself with your order of exercises and see what you think…

You'll continue this theme of hip extension with the next few exercises as well: High Scissors, High Bicycle and the Shoulder Bridge. Read more about them in a related post.

Only one more chance to catch me this December!

Saturday December 17, 2016 LauraBPilates Studio, Raleigh, NC

In Raleigh we’ll have a full day of Pilates Continuing Education: private lessons and my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs)Register today