In Pilates the Roll Up, Neck Pull and Spine Stretch Forward have more people feeling like they will never "get it" than any other Pilates Mat exercises out there. Aside from them being basically the same exercise just done at various levels of strength they share a common problem. Most people struggle to get out of their hips and into the center which includes activating their hips! By adding in the Magic Circle you not only get to tap into some underused muscles but you'll give your overworking ones a break. And then, try to do these exercises without the prop.
Do not press out from your knees. Press out from your outer hips.
For the Roll Up, Neck Pull, Spine Stretch Forward, Saw and even Spine twist you can place the circle around your feet. Press out on the pads of the circle and feel your outer hips turn on. This will allow you to sit up taller. You will truly feel that "scoop" or "lift" of your abdominals off your legs. And then give the exercise a try.
For the Roll up, Neck Pull and Spine Stretch forward notice if the circle is dropping as you round forward, sit up tall or rollback. It should remain parallel to the floor the whole time. If it does dip, it means you lost your seat somewhere in there. And, that's exactly when you need more strength!
During Saw and Spine twist you can see if the circle is twisting from one side to the other side. If it is that means you are twisting from your hips and not from your waist.
Use the circle to teach your body what you need it to do when you take the circle away! Be mindful that you are not pressing out on the circle with your knees. It's easy to do that instead of keeping the press out at the upper thighs.
Be sure to check out more of my Pilates Mat exercises. I want to help you continue your Pilates Mat training!