Single Straight Leg Stretch on the Mat
Single Straight Leg Stretch, aka Scissors, is one of my favorites in the Ab Series of 5 on the Pilates Mat. It’s more challenging than it looks like for both the flexible Pilates lovers and the tight ones. If you’re super flexible, it is easy to cheat and rest back on your mat and pull your leg over your face without activating all the strength of your leg. If you’re tight, it’s actually easier to not cheat. But harder to grab your ankle. So, when doing this exercise focus on the strength of your legs assisting you in finding your longest flexion.
Press your legs into your hands to help challenge the lift off the Mat.
From your Double Leg Stretch straighten your legs to the ceiling and reach your arms from your back to grab your ankle of one leg. As you lower the other leg towards the floor, pay attention to how low you can go and remain in connected to your center and that includes your seat! It’s easy to let that free leg hang off your hip and then when you go to do the switch then you’ll be moving from a non-connected space. Use your top leg to press into your hands to help lift your head and chest off the mat and use your center to oppose this lift.
“Pull” on your top leg 2x from your back. That’s the tricky part. Instead of bending your elbows and making it a bicep, exercise treat it more like a row and press your leg into your hands 2x. This will help you remain more engaged in your center and as you switch your legs it will ask you to remain connected to hold this lift and long connected flexion. Repeat on the other side and then switch again 2-3x each side.