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.

The Pilates Apparatuses: What’s in a Name?

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

Lately I've been spending considerable time with my Foot Corrector.

Although there are countless exercises one can do with this lovely device, I've been focusing on the basics: the foot positions we also use for Footwork on the Reformer.

  • Toes
  • Arch
  • Heel
  • Tendon Stretch – Which on the Foot Corrector I call The Massage. How nice.

For more details about these 4 exercises check out this recent post.

It's working!

I am amazed at the power of this little device to correct my feet.

I've known for years that my left foot has a fallen arch and poor alignment with the joints of my leg. In my training program I was encouraged to lift up the arches of my feet when standing.

Well you know, these things take time.

To coerce the arch of my foot to lift (or move at all) or what muscles would even be in charge of said action was a big ol' mystery.

Enter the Foot Corrector.

Repeated use of this humble device is teaching me how to pull up my arch into my center. Oh yes, it's all connected…

Literally correcting my foot.

Did you just hear that sound?

It was my mind. Blown.

I love when that happens.

So get out those Foot Correctors and experience the magic.

I have been working just the 4 exercises I mention at least once every day. If I have a long day of standing, I might do them a few times throughout the day.

See what you think 🙂

Wait! We have other Correctors…

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

If you've been reading here for a while you'll remember my love for Joe's other device, the Spine Corrector.

I have a great respect for Joe's apparatuses which happen to include the word ‘corrector' in the title.

Clearly he wasn't kidding.

Joe Pilates' brilliant Spine Corrector is an anti-gravity machine worthy of a daily habit.

Check it out in these related posts:

The Toes Knows

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

Oh the cute tiny apparatus. Pocket-size, travel ready and with a spring!

Also called the Toe Tensometer, Joe's Toe Corrector lives up to its name: both of them.

Tensometer

(from Wikipedia)

It is usually a universal testing machine loaded with a sample between two grips that are either adjusted manually or automatically to apply force to the specimen.

3 exercises I enjoy on the Toe Corrector:

(oh dear, the whole name thing…)

  • Single Toe Pull
  • The Bunion Eradicator – a classic.
  • Seated Single Leg Pullcan you long the back?!

Single Toe Pull

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

  • Sit up tall with legs long out in front of you.
  • Hold one side of the TC with an index finger. Put the other end over each toe one at a time. I like to start with my left pinky toe and work left to right until all toes have had their turn.
  • Pull each toe forward 5x with the goal that only the working toe moves and the others are still. This probably will not be what you see happening.
  • Persevere.
  • Work to locate the muscles of the center that move each of the toes. This should keep you busy for some time.

The Bunion Eradicator

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

Classic Toe Corrector magic, this one.

It can be done as above, legs long out in front of you. I enjoy the seated version.

  • Sit tall on the edge of a chair or Reformer with feet planted firmly on the floor.
  • Press all the toes firmly into the floor.
  • Place the TC on your big toes either above or below the joint. I like above.
  • Keep all toes on the floor and pull the big toes evenly away from each other 5x.
  • Hold one bog toe in place and move the other away from center 5x.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Seated Single Leg Pull?

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

I love a daily dose of Pilates déjà vu…hmmm haven't we been here before?

  • Keep the TC in the same place as for the previous exercise.
  • Hold one toe down on the floor and bring the other knee up toward your chest.
  • (Your big toe will pull upward on the TC)
  • Hey look Single Leg Pull!
  • Lift your waist up out of the hips and work to find length in the back in this exercise. Not easy…

See what you think 🙂

Enjoy this short video tutorial on a related subject: Footwork on the Reformer!

Stay tuned for further tutorials on the  Footwork series.

Got a question you want covered in the discussion?

Lay it on me in a comment below.

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.

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

The Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Up Stretch

The Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Up StretchThe Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Up Stretch

For Jayne

Hello and welcome to a brief tutorial on my new nemesis exercise: the Up Stretch.

With all Pilates exercises, the more our body changes so does our experience of the exercises. Now with newfound control we can tackle deeper nuances of an exercise and peel away at the artichoke.

Recently, in a tutorial on the Backstroke, we looked at moving beyond the choreography of the exercise to examine how the exercise will best benefit our bodies.

Let's take a look at this same theme, now in the Up Stretch.

What makes a successful Long Stretch Series?

The exercises of the Long Stretch Series encourage us to cultivate the lower body:

The Down Stretch exemplifies most clearly the “push-pull” aspect of the 2-way stretch. I find it to be a great help with all the other exercises in the series.

The Up Stretch is one of the more complex exercises in this series. Consequently the drive of the lower body feels much more tangible. It's almost an upside down Long Back Stretch.

Um…because it is…

Remember, the starting/ending positions of the Up Stretch are certainly helped by the Elephant.

Find an exercise in this series that speaks to you. Use it to perfect the others and see how you do.

And what about our old friend the Order of the Reformer Exercises? Help from Joe Pilates is always appreciated…

Be mercenary

To the casual observer, the choreography of the Up Stretch includes a moment when the carriage moves out and the hips lower toward the carriage.

Sometimes I wish I didn't have this idea in my head. Choreography has a way of hijacking the exercise, lessening its benefits.

What's really going on here?

Moreover, let's ask ourselves “What is this exercise doing for our body?”

Corrective exercise should serve our bodies well in LIFE – not just in the Up Stretch.

Enjoy this short video tutorial. 

Thanks so much for watching!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person?

Join me in December!

Upcoming Workshops

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3, 2016 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, 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

3 Pilates Phenomena from Last Week

3 Pilates Phenomena from Last WeekHey there everyone!

It's been a busy week in the studio and I'm excited to share a bit of what's been on my Pilates mind recently.

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for joining us here and a big hug and thank you to all my awesome readers. I'm always happy to share a Monday morning bit of Pilates nerdery with you.

1. Get your Scoop on 3x/week!

Post5a

Last week was the very first week in which I completed my ideal workout schedule:

  • On Mondays I have a lesson with Karen Frischmann and I am completely obsessed with the Reformer. As much as I love the other apparatus in the studio I always want to shake off the dust of the weekend with a full-on sweat-infested Reformer workout.

I need my internal shower. 

I depend on my Monday private lesson to invigorate and inspire me all week long.

  • On Wednesdays my teaching schedule is full and I aim to squeeze in a Mat workout plus Spine Corrector if I am lucky. This week I got the job done. Yay me!
  • On Fridays I work only in the morning. I know myself too well to think that after I finish work I will buckle down to do my workout. So I begin at 8am and schedule my 3rd workout (on the Reformer again – I tell you I'm obsessed!!) for 6am Friday morning.

Despite the early hour it's not bad.

And it's always transformative.

I am energized and empathy-filled for my workday and I've just had a shower.

Boom. 3 workouts per week. Who's with me?

Find more tips and strategies for your own workout in these posts:

As well as some Pilates inspiration in this one.

2. Get. Busy. Lifting.

Imagine what's been on my Pilates mind lately…

It's nothing new, really. And every day it gets better.

I've also written about it before:

  1. The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series
  2. Lift in the Pilates Exercises that are Upside Down
  3. The Short Box: A Vital Shot of LIFT!

Yes.

LIFT.

You just can't get enough.

You just can't get enough.

And don'cha know it jives tremendously with our other best helper:

Surely you remember him.

My favorite places to find lift are where we least expect him: lying down.

3 Pilates Phenomena from Last Week

Yeah, yeah I'm sure there's a scoop going on, but remember your lift is 50% of your 2-way stretch.

That sounds important.

All those limbs are reaching forward but what's happening in the other direction?

Lift!

What about upside down?

3 Pilates Phenomena from Last Week

Yes, the lower body is reaching up but whats happening in the waistline?

Lift!

Don't settle for 1-way stretch…You deserve 2.

Stay tuned for future posts about my very favorite place to find boatloads of lift…

3 Pilates Phenomena from Last Week

Our old friends Frog and Leg Circles. Please tell me you've visited them recently. They have so much to teach us about pretty much all of the other exercises!

But for now, lift! Use your lift here to move that carriage. See how much it can transform the exercises.

3. The Elegant Sufficiency that is the Wall

The Pilates exercises that comprise the Wall cannot be emphasized enough. They are good for everyone. They are simple and straightforward. Do them well and you'll feel tall, lifted and freaking fantastic at the finish.

Enjoy this short video tutorial on the Wall.

We'll look at the 3 standard exercises, an extra one that may not be on your radar yet PLUS! a challenging one-leg variation.

Thanks for watching!

What's your favorite ending to a Pilates workout? 

Share your favorites in a comment below