Ballet Stretches, or simply the Stretches on the Ladder Barrel, are fabulous for each and every Pilates practitioner. You can do them before you do your Pilates practice or at the end. Either way, give each part of the stretches a go, focus on the strength each one requires and not just the stretch that feels good. Lift up and over yourself, like you would in your Spine Stretch forward, Side bend and Side Sit Ups and stand firm in your standing leg. If you want to really challenge yourself, do the whole series without holding on. Work your balance and your length.
Standing in your strength and lifting up and out of your lower back is key.
Standing inside facing the barrel, sweep one leg across your body and up over the barrel. Bend and straighten your standing leg to find your reach and seat. Lift your center up and over your leg 3x. In between find a Swan like stretch. Then without using your arms slide your barrel leg forward and back a few times and when you're ready from your center and seat to lift your leg up and down 3x. Then sweep the leg diagonally across the barrel. Turn your bottom leg out and towards the back corner of your barrel.
For the side stretch, begin with a bent leg and then proceed to do side bends over your bent leg and over the ladder 3x. After, straighten your leg out, stand firm in your standing leg and then lift up and over your leg and then up and over the ladder barrel. Finish by sliding your leg on your ladder barrel from your center. When you're feeling connected lift your leg up and down 3x (or think about it) and then spin to face the ladder for your quad stretch. Bend and straighten your standing leg to deepen the stretch. Press your knees towards each other, lift tall in your center and enjoy the stretch in your front body while working your back body. Switch sides and repeat.
Be sure to check out more of my Pilates Ladder Barrel exercises. I want to help you continue your Pilates Ladder Barrel training!