In Joseph Pilates Return to Life, only the Front Back variation was there. But, over time and with many of his proteges, more variations have been added.
The very end is a series of rolling exercises, one into the next. Which can seem daunting but then you do it and you end standing up and feeling strong.
Your challenge is to keep all your connections together when there is not a smooth transition like from Side Kicks to Teaser and Hip Circles to Swimming.
As you deepen your Pilates practice, the transitions will help you get stronger in each exercise and help you see how you are doing one exercise 34 ways.
Challenge your Mat practice and focus on how you exit and enter each exercise. The transition from one exercise sets you up for “success” for the next one.
I find it’s easy to throw away the first rep most of the time. In this workout, you are forced to really do your best and then move on. Enjoy this practice.
It’s as if Rolling Like a Ball, Double Leg Stretch, and Hundred had a Pilates exercise together. Perfect for when you only have 1 minute to workout.
You can still do many of the standing exercises with light weights. You won’t have springs to challenge your center but you also don’t have help to connect.
The Short Box series is challenging whether you are on the Reformer or the Mat. What I love about doing it on the Mat is that you can’t cheat your muscles.
Add the Circle to this exercise you ensure that you connect to your seat. Doing this version of Shoulder Bridge to wake up your muscles. Then ditch it!
In Pilates the longest extension in our practice is always the goal. The connection you’ll find here will help you in all your extension exercises.
Give these a try and add them to the end of any Mat workout to work your outer hips and learn to “stand” in your legs from all the right places.
Challenge your arm and back connection using the Magic Circle and recreate some of the Cadillac exercises with the roll back bar and neck stretcher.
It’s so easy when doing the Double Leg Kick to “pull” on their shoulders or hang out in other joints in the arm and miss all the back connections.
Add the Magic Circle prop to your practice to help engage those muscles. The goal is that you can take the circle away and still use those same muscles.
In Pilates it’s easy to cheat your way through an exercise and allow dominant muscles to take over. Adding in the Magic Circle allows more isolated training.
Grab a ball and use it to teach your waist to lift off. Your range of motion may be smaller but you’ll feel more stability in your body.
It’s a fabulous exercise for stretching your entire back body. But, it requires you to use your front body to lift up and over while anchoring your legs.
Find length, strength and maintain the connections of your arms to your back. Use a ball as a way to focus on your connection without feeling stuck.
If you don’t have a Cadillac or Reformer to practice the Teaser, use a ball like the Triad Ball to connect to your center and challenge your center.
If you struggle connecting to your inner thighs, you can find the connection by using this ball. Then, you can teach the muscles what you need them to know.
Try this if you are working on getting more length in your Swan, Long Stretch, and Breaststroke. It’s a great warm-up for your Teaser, Arm Circles and more.
While it doesn’t give you the same instability or resistance that Breathing on the Cadillac provides, it does allow you to feel your arms work from your back.
Props, like the Ball, are such a great tool for telling our body what it should do so when you take the prop away hopefully your body will remember!
It’s easy to do the ab series incorrectly or “cheat” yourself and your body, then you think that Pilates doesn’t work. When all you needed was get connected.
Do all six Rowing exercises or pick and choose what you want. You will see some variations that you can take advantage of the shoulder-back connections.
If you feel a “click” in your hip while doing the Single Leg Circles, then using the Magic Circle to challenge and teach what muscles you should circle with.
Try this quick and easy prep that you can do before you do your Pilates practice to teach your arms where they connect to your back using the Magic Circle.
Add in the Magic Circle to tap into some underused muscles and give your overworking ones a break. And then, try to do these exercises without the prop.
Practice your longest flexion, connection to your center. Use the circle here will help you either connect to your shoulders, your seat, and your center!
Adding a prop to your Pilates practice helps to connect deeper to your practice. Then, take the prop away and see if you can maintain those connections.
Crab challenges your Seal and Rolling Like a Ball. As you roll back and forth maintain the lift and space in your center.
A great replacement for the Roll Up, is the Half Roll Back, considered a beginner or Pre-Pilates exercise. As you gain strength straighten your legs.
An excellent exercise that helps you feel exactly what muscles you need to be using to get through the toughest part of the Pilates Roll Up.
What is lovely about the Push-ups is the amount of variety they bring. They will meet you where you are. Make them as simple or hard as you need.
That moment when the legs switch and you have to balance on your shoulders is the moment you will feel the essence of Contrology.
Rocking back and forth does not come from the head but instead, it comes from the strength of the legs. Press your feet into your hands and your legs up.
Boomerang is a rolling exercise. If you can keep that in mind as you move through each rep, you will enjoy this exercise so much more!
If you like the Side Kicks on the Mat, then you’ll enjoy the Side bend. Another side body exercise that needs all the strength you learned in your sidekicks.
In the setup pay attention that your standing leg hip is directly over your knee. It’s easy to stick your seat out, especially if you are tight in the hip.
You do not have to lift your leg. You can get into the position and just hold and think about lifting each leg. One day they will lift on their own!
The Double Leg Pull aka the Double Leg Stretch in the Pilates ab series is also probably THE Pilates exercise that preps you for ALL Pilates exercises.
Picture each rep, maintain your connection until you are ready to lift the legs, and move. This is great for preparing for Long Stretch on the Reformer.
Swimming is absolutely essential for our bodies fight against bad posture and shrinking. Due to lives in front of computers and sitting, extension is needed.
The key to this exercise is not thinking that it is all about the legs circling but more about the seat circling the legs. Reach your arms back and go!
Teaser is not the peak pose in Pilates, it’s not the end all be all of Pilates exercises. It’s a great check in and see where you are in your practice.
if you can keep from twerking your way through this exercise you will feel a great stretch across the front of your hips and your hamstrings
The Swan has several variations. Instead of focusing on how “big” your Swan is, focus on how long your Swan is! That is where you will find the strength!
Some days you will roll up into a shoulder stand, other days you won’t. Some days your Corkscrew will be bigger than other days. Focus on the control.
Spine Stretch Forward looks like a simple hamstring stretch. However, when done correctly, it is an incredible strengthener, back and hamstring stretch.
It will also challenge your back connection that is. Because it also goes by the name Single Leg Pull. You pull on your leg from your back!
The Neck Pull is really a tougher Roll Up. So, if your Roll Up is rockin’ add a little weight behind your head and go for it! But, don’t forget the pull.
After years of Roll Ups and talking with my teacher who studied with Joseph Pilates, I’ve learned that the strap is essential as you advance your practice.
Preparing you for Pilates exercises like Teaser, Boomerang, and Jackknife! Learn to connect to your seat as you move your legs up and down.
There is a difference between twisting and turning. The Spine Twist on the mat will show you if you are twisting or turning.
Jackknife is a fun exercise to do and one that has many layers. Each rep you can try to get more length and more height!
Some of the mat exercises are easy to cheat your way out of. The High Bicycle is one of them. It requires that you truly oppose yourself.
Single Leg Kick on the mat is fantastic for getting you connected to your seat and your back. But it’s also one of the most misunderstood exercises.
When you do your Shoulder Bridge be mindful of equal weight on your feet front to back and side to side.
When doing High Scissors on the Mat one leg is reaching UP while the other leg is reaching AWAY! This prepares you for High Bicycle and Shoulder Bridge.