Over the last 2 1/2 weeks I've been
obsessed with focused on my Pilates apparatus du jour, the Small Barrel.
It's amazing the discoveries to be had with just these few exercises done daily.
True to form I was surprised (not really) by how my Small Barrel Project has infiltrated my Reformer and Mat workouts.
When one exercise gets better, they all get better, right?
Not news – exactly – but a new experience.
In last week's post I declared the Small Barrel exercises to be a microcosm of our entire method of 500+ exercises.
True, but how do we apply this to our teaching?
Back in the day…
I vividly remember when I knew lots of exercises on the Small Barrel, Spine Corrector and Ladder Barrel, but had no idea what do do with them as a teacher.
When and why would I take someone to the Barrels to better their skills on the Reformer and Mat?
Maybe I didn't even know to ask this question…
How do our Pilates barrels fit into the greater Pilates system?
The Premise of the Pilates Apparatus
Even without springs, the Barrel apparatus offers us all the benefits of support and assistance to better our Pilates skill set.
Remember that's why we're here on our Barrels… to take a fresh look at an all-too-familiar skill we need to improve.
Small Barrel Project Recap
Today is day 21 on my 30-day Posture Intervention on the Small Barrel.
Wow. Only 9 days to go.
Although I may never stop doing these 10-15 minutes of exercises.
Observations from this last week:
- My back feels fantastic all the time.
- Weak side and tight hip have come to an understanding with the Barrel's feedback.
- My head is now completely in contact with the barrel in the Arm Series.
- I've got a more complete connection along each side of my body from toes to fingertips.
- My lower body connection is stronger.
- I've found my seat in exercises in which I didn't even know I needed it: Hip Twist and Helicopter.
Moreover I've furthered the following skills (just to name a few) that I can take to the Reformer and the Mat:
- Connecting the upper body (shoulder girdle and arms) into the center
- Finding the seat creating length in the low back and extending the hip
- Balancing the body side to side to untwist myself
Those are some biggies…
Let's take a closer look.
1. Connect the upper body (shoulder girdle and arms) into the center
Here we are on the Small Barrel:
On the Reformer we'll use the connection here, the waistline reaching all the way to the hands into the apparatus (the pole in this case) to sharpen our Rowing Series.
And our Short Box Series…
And our Hundred…
You see how this goes.
2. Finding the seat to create length in the low back and to extend the hip
Our Small Barrel exercise(s):
The lower body exercises done on the Small Barrel emphasize the strength of the center driving the action of the lower extremities.
We'll see this scenario everywhere…
SemiCircle utilizes the stomach and seat to lengthen the back and extend the hip.
And the same thing in the Snake/Twist but – whoopsie – upside down.
And upside down again for our old favorite Knee Stretches Knees Off.
3. Balancing the body side to side to untwist myself
I've often been told that no one is entirely symmetrical. Strength imbalances from sports, old injuries, surgeries and the like can create one side that likes to bully the other.
Sometimes there may even be a little twist in there to wrangle.
Well we've got an app(aratus) for that.
The Small Barrel exercise:
In this simple exercise, the Scissors, which shows up every 5 seconds in our Pilates workout in one incarnation or another, we've got an opportunity to see how one side of the center affects the other.
What happens in the center when one leg reaches away? The Small Barrel can give us wonderful information on imbalances in the back and hips.
Where will we use this skill again?
Oh Tree, is there anything you can't do? Use the feedback from the Barrel to inform your center here where you don't get the luxury of support from the apparatus.
OMG look familiar? Again, in the Side Kicks Series you must figure out what's going on in your center sans support and feedback.
So jump on those Reformers and dust off your Mats.
Flaunt your new skills in your next workout!