I used to really hate the Seal on the Pilates Mat. It hurt my elbows and felt like I was just hanging off my shoulders and hips. I really didn't get it! Classes I was in would talk about beating my feet like a "seal" and I have to be honest I never even knew what that meant. Then finally after a few years of teaching, I discovered some deep connections and layers to this exercise. I even know an instructor who uses the Seal as a "check-in" for what she still needs to open or connect to in her body. So, the Seal! A rolling exercise that challenges what you know but doesn't make you be an actual Seal.
Hug your inner thighs to your elbows and your elbows into your thighs.
Sitting up pull yourself into your "ball" shape and then dive your hands in between your legs. Reach your hands around and grab the bottoms of your feet. Hug your knees towards your arms and press your elbows into your thighs. Lift up and over yourself so your arms are still connected to your back and your spine can bend over your legs. Balance with your feet up off the mat.
Open your thighs and close them 1-3x without rolling back. Then As you find some "air time" repeat this while you balance on your shoulders (not your head). Come back up and repeat 3-5x.
It's really easy to make this exercise "look right." But, the key is to use your thigh bones and arms like there is a magic circle. Press your legs apart with your arms and your legs will press back against your arms to close them. If you do the "beats" from your center your whole body will feel it. If you do the beats from your feet you'll be wondering why on earth you are in that position in the first place!
Seal will help you get prepared for Crab. And even if you think you will never do Crab you still want to work your way towards it. The coordination and challenge of Seal will do wonders for the rest of your Pilates practice.
Be sure to check out more of my Pilates Mat exercises. I want to help you continue your Pilates Mat training!