I used to absolutely hate the Neck Pull on the Pilates Mat. And, I know, hate is a strong word but the whole exercise simply did not make sense to me. I wasn't sure what the "pull" was. I felt like my hip flexors were doing all the work and that without a strap I was just wasting my time. But, after studying with Jay Grimes I discovered exactly what the exercise was all about. I now love the Neck Pull and desire to share its benefits with everyone. 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!
Round to the mat and feel your hands and head press into each other.
If you have a strap place your feet under the strap about a fist distance apart. Flex your feet and lay on your back, hands behind your head, interlace your fingers. Press your head into your hands and your hands into your head. Press your feet out wide on the strap and back so you connect into your outer hips. This connection to your seat is key to enjoying the neck pull and not letting your legs lift up as you do the exercise. Feel your upper abs connect and your back widen along the mat.
Round forward over your legs and pulse your spine up and over your legs three times. Sit tall and then round backward on to the mat as you reach your legs long and away. As you round back down to the mat feel your hands press into your head, your head press into your hands and gently pull your head long to stretch the neck. The Neck Pull's pull part happens on the way down. Your body will want to just collapse onto the mat but if you can create the opposition of your hands and head you'll be able to create the length on the way down into the mat. Do 3-5 reps.
Be sure to check out more of my Pilates Mat exercises. I want to help you continue your Pilates Mat training!