The Pilates System: Make Boomerang your Secret Weapon

The Pilates System: Make Boomerang your Secret Weapon

In the order of the Pilates Mat exercisesBoomerang sets us off on a rolling spree: Boomerang, Seal and Crab.

Extra points for that.

Most importantly it puts an end to the Leg-Pull-One-Side-Kick-ness section of the workout.

Good news all around.

Finding the 2-way Stretch

The 2-way stretch is an amazing lens through which to view your workout.

With lots of body parts to keep track of, the 2-way stretch creates a streamlined and singular theme for your workout.

Many exercises offer the 2-way stretch in a straightforward manner. Consider our quintessential guide to all things oppositional, the Double Leg Pull.

The Pilates System: Make Boomerang your Secret Weapon

Conversely, there are numerous exercises which turn us literally upside down and backwards. The body position of the exercise can challenge our ability to effectively connect our upper and especially our lower body into the center.

The Pilates System: Make Boomerang your Secret Weapon

The Tendon Stretch pictured above, can be a challenge to connect and use the lower body efficiently. Our arms and upper body may want to take over the exercise and the support for our feet is not stable.

How to connect?

Another challenging position for me is when I am seated. Finding the lower body connection sitting on my butt seems problematic.

The Pilates System: Make Boomerang your Secret Weapon

The Rowing Series 1+2 presents a similar position to our Tendon Stretch but with a different set of Pilates problems. Here we are seated with nothing to reach our feet into and once again at the mercy of our overworking arms.

The Reverse Push Thru on the Cadillac is an exercise presenting a similar body shape.

The Pilates System: Make Boomerang your Secret Weapon

All three of the exercises in this post, the Reverse Push Thru especially, have caused me to ask the question:

“How are these exercises, the Tendon Stretch, Rowing 1+2 and the Reverse Push Thru, like all the other exercises in the Pilates system?”

Where is the 2-way stretch?

Enter the Boomerang

The Pilates System: Make Boomerang your Secret Weapon

Notice the similarity of position here in the Boomerang to our Tendon Stretch, Rowing 1+2 and the Reverse Push Thru.

At last!

A good rolling exercise is brilliant tool to illuminate our 2-way stretch.

The interplay of our dynamic opposition is imperative for success in rolling exercises. Lose connection to half of your body and the rolling suffers at best, and at worst it clunks to a stop.

Reach your lower body in the same manner as in our rolling exercise and see how much can come alive in our seated position exercises. It's a game changer.

All you have to do is say the magic word: Boomerang!

Related Mat posts:

And here's where to find me in 2017

March MATness Day 20: Side Kick Series

March MATness Day 20: Side Kick Series

The Side Kick Series and our exercise for March 23, Swimming, deserve to be together in an Another One Bites the Dust post.

March MATness Day 20: Side Kick Series

Well here we are.

Achieving greater proficiency in a difficult exercise can be a game changer methodwide.

Read about a few of mine here and here.

Another One Bites the Dust

March MATness Day 20: Side Kick Series

Side Kick Series shares the same fate as our very-most-favorite leggy exercise, the One Leg Circle. Lots of flashy leg moves distract us from the main event.

Our center. The Powerhouse. All we've cared about in our Mat workout thus far.

Aw, but look: my leg…

The Side Kicks literally turn our One Leg Circle on it's side. Our unsupported backs must remember back to a time when we got to lie down. A simpler time indeed.

Now you must:

  • Keep your back lifted and tall.
  • Will your center to remain steadfast.
  • Don't be content to recline and lounge on your arm.

Side Kicks Series Foreshadowed

Side Kicks Series follows a crackerjack pair of helper exercises: Spine Twist and Jackknife.

March MATness Day 20: Side Kick Series

Remember the lift in our center we seek?

Spine Twist threatens to twist it out of us.

March MATness Day 20: Side Kick Series

Next the Jackknife brilliantly connects our lower body into our center – which is awesome – while we control and lift ourselves upside down.

Holy harder than lifting up in a seated position!

Jackknife gets our seat into tip-top shape to wrangle our hips in today's exercise the Side Kicks.

Joe Pilates provides us with all the tools we need.

How nice.

Swimming 2017: Livin' the Dream

March MATness Day 20: Side Kick Series

In 2013 I wrote my most recent post on Swimming. From flail to fantastic, right?

It's all in The System.

All around the studio when we begin our Pilates lessons we have sturdy support for our backs.

Lying down for Footwork on the Reformer, sitting up on the High Chair and lying on the Cadillac for Arm Springs and Leg Springs are all foundational exercises. All offer full support of at least our backs if not even more of our body.

The major tenet of the Pilates Method is to create length and decompression in the back. Joe gives us the support of the apparatus as a template to find exactly that: a long and lifted back position.

Joe Pilates recommends us to

“lie down and try to make the whole length of the spine touch the floor, likewise the shoulders and arms, stretched above the head.

You can't do it, but trying is what counts.”

This neat little trick proves a great help to repeat this skill in exercises done on the stomach like Swan and Swimming.

Try it:

  • Lie down as you would before the Hundred or Teaser.
  • Pull your belly button in and up to the nape of your neck.
  • Use your muscles to make you the same shape as the Mat.

(It's impossible. But Joe gives us big points for trying)

  • Now remember what you did and turn onto your stomach for Swimming.
  • Now on your stomach, create the same shape of the mat as when you were lying on your back.
  • Slowly start the exercise without disturbing what you've set up in your center.
  • If you've got it then swim faster like Jaws is chasing you.

The MATness Continues

Now over halfway through the MATness I hope your daily Mat habit is in full swing.

Joe Pilates gifts us The Mat exercises to maintain our bodies. I'm not surprised they are included in a book called Return to Life.

The Mat is the perfect antidote to life's daily onslaught. The exercises here and all around the studio allow us to live – famously – with zest and pleasure.

All exercise photos in this post are featured on my Mat poster. Jaws not included.

And here's where to find me in 2017

Our Beloved Pilates Mat Exercises: The Poster Edition

Our Beloved Pilates Mat Exercises: The Poster Edition

Welcome new subscribers! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your positive vibes for our beloved Pilates Method.

ANOTHER BIG THANK YOU goes out to you, dear readers for making On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises, one of my most-viewed and most popular posts.

Many of you purchased my Reformer poster and asked “What about a poster of the Mat exercises?”

You can purchase a Mat poster here.

I can't thank you enough for your support. I appreciate you and I look forward to continuing our adventures on the Pilates path.

Stay awesome, my friends!

March MATness Day 6: One Leg Stretch

Our Beloved Pilates Mat Exercises: The Poster Edition

The One Leg Stretch has many names. We also know it as Single Leg Stretch and Single Leg Pull.

From Return to Life Through Contrology:

  1. Lie flat with entire body resting on mat or floor.
  2. Bend head forward until
    • Chin touches chest, then INHALING SLOWLY
    • Clasp hands and
    • “Pull” right leg as far as possible toward chest
    • Keep left leg stretched forward (knee locked)
    • Stretch toes (pointed) forward and downward with
    • Heel raised (about 2″)
  3. While EXHALING SLOWLY
    • Clasp hands and
    • “Pull” left leg as far as possible toward chest
    • Keep right leg stretched forward (knees locked)
    • Stretch toes (pointed) forward and downward with
    • Heel raised (about 2″)
  4. Repeat the foregoing exercise five (5) times with each leg. (Later on the number of repetitions may be gradually and progressively safely increased to twelve (12) times with each leg.)

Joe Pilates heralded his method as a full body cleansing system. Prescribed movements get the blood pumping for our daily “bodily house-cleaning.”

A prime example of cleansing is right here in Joe's very first Mat exercises. The One Leg Stretch and the Double Leg Stretch stimulate our organs and digestive system and are wind-relieving.

Joe is very specific. Right leg first. Then the left.

As we breathe steadily first our right leg gives a massage of the ascending colon followed by a massage of the descending colon when we pull in the left leg.

Our studied movements act upon our all our vital internal systems. The deep squats of the Double Leg Stretch (following the One Leg Stretch) encourage us to reach and open as much as possible and then fold the body to be impossibly small.

Footwork and Stomach Massage Series on the Reformer, the Roll Up and the Roll Over on the Mat act exactly in the same manner on our organs.

Joe Pilates doesn't call just anything a ‘massage.'

Stomach Massage Series gets a bit of laughs for its name. However, I urge you: persevere and reap deep juicy stretches from your guts and back. Good stuff in there.

Whadaya know, another squat and I managed to use the word ‘urge.'

Meanwhile on the Small Barrel

Our Beloved Pilates Mat Exercises: The Poster Edition

My 30-Day Small Barrel Project began as a self-imposed posture intervention.

It's really the nicest thing I've done for myself for a while in years. The exercise in the photo – Breathing – has a huge impact on my back and how I stand.

I couldn't stop after 30 days of course.

It was too exciting. I have to know how it all turns out.

Skills on the Small Barrel are beginning to infiltrate elsewhere in the system.

The apparatus are our teachers too.

And while we're on the subject…

There's another One Leg Stretch in a helpful little series of ‘wake up exercises' you do before you get out of bed in the morning.

Especially if you are a bit stiff, these few simple moves will feel refreshing necessary. Perhaps even more than your cup of coffee. Maybe 🙂

  • Lie on your back
  • Gently roll your legs from side to side.
  • Alternate lifting your knees up an inch or so as though you were doing the Running exercise on the Reformer. Gently, like you're shrugging the legs (Can you shrug a leg?).
  • Pull one leg into the chest at a time – a few sets – slowly and gently. OMG One Leg Stretch.

Can you guess what comes next?

  • Pull both legs into the chest and then lie them back down. OMG Double Leg Stretch.

These morning moves may also be wind-relieving…

More Mat Posts:

Here's where you can find me in 2017

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

Recently I spoke about my initial encounter with the Neck Pull.

The key to unlock this exercise for my body was a crucial skill not yet under my control: Hip Extension.

Oooh that sounds important.

Hip extension is a vital life skill.

It powers our locomotion and is a chief element of our posture.

Hip extension stands us up from a seated position.

And I don't have to tell you how important that maneuver is on a daily basis.

Check out this short article celebrating our favorite muscle to extend the hip as the “single most important muscle for movement and locomotion.”

The Neck Pull's Dirty Little Secret

Within our beloved Pilates method, we have countless exercises to extend the hip.

Hip Extension comes in myriad variations and many our of standard Pilates exercises are shining and straightforward ways to open up the front of the body.

You're sure to recognize these favorites:

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

The Knee Stretches with Knees Off: Full on gallop, human style.

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

Down Stretch is moments away from lifting you up and into a backbend, the ultimate in hip extension.

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

Make the Side Kick Series into a delicious opening of the hips and you'll want to do your Mat exercises all day long…

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

I've made my case about the Tree: Holy backbend, Friends!

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

Nothing can kick your ass open up your hips better than Going Up Front.

But this direct approach is not the Neck Pull‘s way, dear readers.

The Neck Pull, she works in stealthy, covert ways. She hangs at the fringes of our mental Pilates checklist. Having a strong center and a supple back ranked high on my to-do list as my legs inexplicably flew up into the air.

Sigh.

“Secret” Hip Extension in the Pilates Method

Friends don't let friends miss any juicy hip stretches (or back stretches) in their Pilates workout.

Let's discuss a few awesome hip extension moments you may have missed. For example, armed with only your own inner conflict  you'll be amazed by how much hip opening can be had whenever we bend to the side.

No one loves those Mermaid sisters without a damn good reason.

Keep your eyes open for our “secret” hip stretch moments:

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

Of course, the Neck Pull: you had to see this one coming.

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

And the Neck Pull's underboss, the Roll Up.

Neck Pull REDUX: Desperately Seeking Hip Extension

The Long Stretch is a a sneaky one. Work your muscles just as for Down Stretch here and see what you think.

What?? Yes. Remember what goes up must come down.

Enjoy this short tutorial.

View the corresponding blog post here.

Thanks for watching!

Hey Southern California…

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

Join me for a day of guest teaching in Michele Tandy's beautiful studio. Just a couple spots available for private lessons, contact Michele to book. Register for the 10am Mat class here.

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 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.

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

Contact Amy Kellow for more information.

1 Pilates Uber-Concept PLUS Introducing the Workout Quickie!

1 Pilates Uber-Concept PLUS Introducing the Workout Quickie!

Welcome new subscribers!

I am thrilled to have you along for the wild ride through our beloved Pilates method.

Check out my most popular post to date: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

Just a few morsels for you this week, Pilates friends!

This weekend I've been treating myself to birthday goodies. I think all of you deserve a gift as well.

The gift is from Joe Pilates to all of us…

Following up on last week's post, here's another take on how to utilize our apparatus and exercises at the Wall.

See what you think – and maybe all those exercises on the stomach will become our new favorites. 🙂

Introducing the Workout Quickie!

My 2nd treat this week is a quick and vigorous, brief but necessary Pilates workout on the fly.

Use it for a little pick-me-up during your work week.

Thanks for watching and for being some of the best-ever, most-awesomeness-possessing Pilates peeps around. Cheers, big hugs and a juicy back stretch to you all!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person? Join me this fall!

Upcoming Fall Workshops

Sunday November 27 Studio B Pilates+Barre, Tyler TX

You’ll love this jam-packed day of Pilates Continuing Education: I’ll be offering private lessons, a Mat class plus 2 workshops: A Cadillac Refresher – the Unsung Heroes(3 PMA CECs) and Strategies and Exercises on the Wunda Chair (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3 Excel Pilates, Washington, DC

Join me for my post popular posts Live! and in person: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises (4 PMA CECs) and On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises (2 PMA CECs). I’ll be teaching my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and Progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs) as well as a Mat class, private and semi-private lessons. Register today

Saturday December 17 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