Get a Backbone Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 7

Rounded Open

30 min - Practice


Friends do push ups together. With Julia’s help, Kate shares a sequence of movements designed to stretch and strengthen the small deep muscles of the spine. You will be fresh, fluid, and juicy.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Oct 11, 2014
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So, I'm here with Julia and we're going to start standing today and roll the spine down. Do a little bit of movement for the spine and the pelvis, and then we're going to roll the spine down from standing, which I actually think is kind of advanced and hard, and then we're also going to roll the spine down onto the back. So we'll start standing and finish down on the back, which I think will be really nice. So we'll go ahead and start standing, Julia. So you can just be in a comfortable position.

It doesn't matter where you are on your mat, and I like to have my feet apart, and I actually have my feet, I think, sometimes wider than hip distance apart. That makes me feel more stable. So wherever you feel stable in your feet, that's my most important thing. I want you to actually feel as if your legs are like a plant stand in a way. Your legs are going to stay relatively stationary, and then we have the flower pot of your pelvis, and then we have the sprout of your spine growing up.

As we move, though, we're going to allow the flower pot to move. So we're going to allow the pelvis to move forward and back as we do these. We're doing half sun salutations. So we're going to allow the pelvis to move, but different from what you might have normally been taught, I don't want you to move the legs so much. And that's just because I want you to feel the pelvis moving on the thigh bones, on your femur bones.

So I want you to feel the roll of the pelvis forward and the roll back up. Main thing before we start, too, is I think a lot of times when people fold forward, they just push their butts back. It's like engineering. It's cantilevering. You're just shoving the butt back to bring the chest forward.

So what I'm going to ask Julia and you all to do today as well is to soften the knees and to think of the pelvis rolling forward. And as you come forward, you try to keep the pelvis relatively over the feet as you tilt forward. It's hard. It's definitely hard. So of course, the butt's going to go back a little bit, but all right.

So Julia is going to find a nice solid stance in her feet, little softness in her knees. Remember, we're always checking on the joints beneath the pelvis. I mean, you can check on the other joints, too, but check on the ones that you're standing into. Maybe if you can feel the buoyancy of your arches, and maybe that makes sense to some of you. Maybe it makes sense to some of you that you feel like the trampoline of your arches.

My Pilates instructor says that to me often. So we're going to start her here, equal standing. And if you want to open your eyes or close your eyes for a moment and just settle in, take maybe three to five breaths here, just start to find the front body and maybe kind of pull the, maybe a little lift of the pubic bone, which fires up the lower belly, fires up the lower rectus abdominis. Little softness in the knees as you lift the pubic bone, beautiful. And then when you're ready, you can open your eyes.

And remember, we're going to try to keep the weight relatively even in the feet and just inhale the arms up. So bring the arms up overhead and you can look forward or wherever you want to. And then as you fold forward, just exhale and try to reach the breastbone forward to the front of the room. Softness in the knees, arms can part, it's like you're parting the sea with your arms as you go down. Good.

She's doing a great job. You can tell it's kind of hard. And then just let your arms drop down at the bottom. So we're slowing this first one down. That would be an exhale, but when you get to the bottom, really let go of the back of the neck, like let the back of the neck release.

And now you got to find your feet beneath you again, a little softness in the knees. Take an inhale and lengthen the spine. So you might look up, but just lift the front of the spine, lengthen up and lift up. Yep. Front of the spine, long.

And then exhale, fold it back down. Beautiful. And now push into the feet and come back up. So you're reversing the swan dive. You pick yourself up with your pelvis and your lower belly and your arms.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. And then you can release your arms down. Nice. So we're going to do that two more times and we're going to pick up the pace a little bit.

Little softness in the knees, little that tickling on the backs of the knees, remember. And then inhale the arms up when you're ready. And then just exhale, fold forward. So try to stretch the breastbone forward as you fold softness in the knees, stretching through the front of the spine. That's an exhale, all the way down.

And then inhale, lengthen through the front of the spine. You might look up, reach long through the crown of the head, exhale, fold it back down, release the back of the neck, and now push down into the feet, let the pelvis bring you up. Inhale. Beautiful. And just exhale this time, fold it right back down.

So let's go right back into it. Exhale. Nice. Inhale. Pick yourself up with the front of the spine, if that makes sense.

Get the front of the spine long. Beautiful. Exhale, fold, relax the back of the neck, and now inhale, push down into the feet, pick yourself up with the lower belly. Good. Gorgeous.

And then just release your arms down to prayer or to the sides. So you could do that a few more times. It's a very calming movement, really, really nice. Almost think of it as like Tai Chi rather than yoga in a way. So it feels like you're moving energy in a good way.

All right. So now we're going to roll her spine down. We kind of got her inside a little bit more. We're going to roll her spine down. So little softness in the knees.

Remember, a little tickling in the backs of the knees, and you want to feel yourself lift up through the arches of the feet, all the way up through the crown of the head. Nice. And then maybe a little lift of the pubic bone, y'all, just a little lift. So pubic bone's down here. You lift them up just a little bit, and the rectus abdominus attaches down here.

So you're firing up the lower rectus abdominus to pull the lower belly in, give you that strength for the low back from the front of the body. Really nice. So now you're going to feed it up through the spine, relax the arms down by your sides. So arms are going to try to help you, y'all, as you roll down. Don't let them.

We want this to be about the spine. Okay? So relax the arms. So you even could, Julia, bring your hands to your front ribs. So think of the way a dolphin dives.

It dives like up and over where I think rainbow, and I know I'm talking like dolphins and rainbows and all that, but so it's like you go up and over. So the tendency is to be like mooch and collapse, but you want to think of as if you're diving up and over these front ribs as you come down. So your hands are here, and then just lift up tall through the crown of the head, and then start to round forward. So think, surround. Good.

Good. Nice. So now pause here. Stop for a second. Yep.

And let your arm bones dangle down. Let your arm bones dangle. So now the arms aren't doing anything, right? I'm going to try to get her to lift up a little bit more here. Drop the head down.

Oh, there we go. So I'm getting her to curl into what I call a standing cat position. So now start to slowly keep coming down. Keep wrapping the sit bones to anchor here, yep, and keep lowering yourself down. I'm just standing behind her to keep her weight forward into the front of the foot, knees soft, y'all.

Arm bones dangle. So stop here for a second, and just really let the arm bones dangle. So she's proving that the arms aren't doing anything. And just pause here for a second. This is a true standing cat, right?

We got that beautiful arc of the back of the standing cat. Pull the belly up, up, up, up, up, and dive the head deeper. So she's using her muscles to stretch her spine here. So lifting the belly up, dive the head down, wrap the sit bones around the backs of the knees. Mm-hmm.

And then eventually the belly puts the hands down on the mat. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Hard movement.

If you didn't get it, it's okay. Walk the hands forward to the front of the mat, or if you're at the front of the mat, you can walk your feet back, and come into a downward dog. So we're not going to stay in this downward dog too long. We're just using it as a way to open up the backs of the knees a little bit, maybe get a little stretch to the backs of the thighs, and also just a little stimulation for the upper body, because we're about to take it down onto the floor and work the upper body a little bit. So if you want to bend one knee and press the opposite heel, you can walk your dog out.

And again, it's okay if your heels do not touch the floor. That might not ever happen, and that's all right. And then just shift yourself forward into a plank pose, and pause here for a second in a plank. Yep, looks good. Find your lower belly, and then start to slowly lower your knees down to the mat.

So keep lifting your belly away from the floor as you lower the knees. Good. Beautiful. Let's do this for just a moment. In her child's pose, just giving her a little wobble of the spine, just a little wobble of the whole body, just to remind yourself that you're a jello mold and not a statue.

And so I'm not putting a lot of pressure in my hands. I'm not pushing her down into it. So before I bring her up, we're going to do some push-ups. And something I'd like to just let you be aware of is that when we work muscles, the muscles that are working request blood from the heart. And so when we work these muscles, they start to request blood.

So if we don't work the muscles, then perhaps they're not requesting blood. So we're going to work some muscles of the upper body, and I think you will feel afterwards that you can actually sense that there is more blood moving in your upper body. So don't think of push-ups. We're going to do push-ups. Don't think of them as like, ugh, push-ups, I hate push-ups, you know?

Think of it as a way to get the chi moving, the blood pumping in the upper body. That's the way I think of them now, and I don't dread them quite as much. All right, so I'm going to ask Julia to come up on all fours. And I'm also going to say, just say, be a good yogi scientist and observe now. Observe right now.

How does her upper body feel? And I hope you can observe it at home as well. Maybe you feel not so much stimulation. Maybe you feel something going on in the upper body. Usually you'll feel more once we do these push-ups.

So I do want to be clear as well, though. I might get her to slide her knees back a little bit. If you don't slide your knees back, y'all, and you're on all fours, and it's okay to do this in the beginning, because sometimes we're not that strong in the upper body when we first start doing them, but you end up just doing this, and you're like a hand pecking. So I don't want you to be like that. That's just not doing much for you.

So instead, slide your knees back a little bit, and then it is a little more challenging in the push-ups. As well, I want you to know you can have your hands wide. You can have your fingers turning in or out. I don't mind where you put your hands. And we are not doing chaturangas, so your elbows do not need to be in.

This is not to work the triceps. I'm actually going to try to get you to do almost military-style push-ups and work the pectoralis more. Okay? All right. So hands can be wide, like I said, and we're going to do three to the front, three to the center.

We'll do asymmetrical ones, too. So she'll do three to the side, three to the other side, and then three to the front. Okay? So, all right. When you're ready.

Do you want me to do them with you, Joya? Okay. I will do them with you. I'm not going to block you, but I'll do them with you. I usually do them with my students at home, too, because it makes you feel better.

Okay. So we're going to do three to the front. So when you're ready, elbows bend. Just one, two, three. And your elbows can go wherever you want.

And then you move it over to the right. And you're just turning about 45 degrees. You know, it's not that big of a deal. The spine is getting a little movement. You just do three to the side.

And we're not hands pecking the ground. You can see that. And then you take it over to the left. You'll feel how the body works differently. Three to this side.

And then three back to the center. I'll suffer through them with you. So elbows can go wide if you want. And then press back to a child's pose. Hips to the heels.

Maybe even forehead touches. Maybe not. Just see if there is more blood flow into the upper body. You know, just observe. And you don't have to say it out loud, but do you feel more stimulation?

Do you feel more blood flow in the upper body? Okay. So Julia, I'm now going to ask you to come forward onto your belly and come into sphinx pose. So in sphinx, you're going to bring your elbows underneath your shoulders. And I think this is kind of counterintuitive, but if it might feel better for some of you to slide your elbows slightly forward, and I know you don't need to, but if you'll just demonstrate that a little bit.

So as she slides her elbows forward, it actually decreases the slope of her back. And so that would possibly, for some of you, take the pressure off your low back. But you can slide your elbows back. She's fine to have her elbows underneath her shoulders. But I think sometimes new people like to slide their elbows really far back.

And that's actually sometimes going to make it harder, and it's going to jam the shoulder blades up into the ears and make it uncomfortable, possibly. But I don't mind if you let your spine really sag and really let your lower belly just drop down. You know, it's up to you how you want to do it. That would be almost more of a yin fashion of just like hanging off the bones in a way in a good way. But if you also want to kind of press down into your forearms and lift up a little bit, yeah, beautiful.

And so that might give you more stimulation. Again, you're trying to find the place where you feel like you're productive, and it's a good, maybe a nice stretch to the front of the body, or maybe some of you are feeling like a nice, slightly dull ache, slight discomfort in the low back, but it's productive, you know? It's almost a good pain, good discomfort, I should say. I don't want it to be painful. So just a couple more breaths here.

This is a really wonderful pose to do because it's taking us in the opposite direction that we're normally in. We're normally in flexion. I've talked about that before. This is stimulating and opening up the front of the body and also taking her into a little bit of a back bend. And since we're mostly in forward bends all day long, you know, around our computer, around the steering wheel, around our phones, it's good to open up through the chest and the front of the body.

And it's nice that I've held her here for a while. Okay. So when you're ready, you can just come down and drop your, bring your elbows out wide and just let your head rest down. And you could use your arms as a pillow and turn your head to the side, or you could bring your arms back by your side, whatever feels most comfortable. And that's, it's all up to you.

Some people might like to turn their head to one side. Some people might like to just rest their forehead down on their hands. It's up to you. And then when you're ready, I'm going to ask you to press back into a child's pose. So just bring in your hips towards your heels.

If you wanted to do a knees together child's pose here, sometimes that makes the, it gives you a little more stretch in the spine. That's up to you though. If you feel like your spine almost feels a little achy, like sometimes I almost feel like an antique when I come from sphinx back into child's pose. And that's okay. I think that's really okay.

You just got to be gentle with it. And maybe you don't go all the way back into child's pose. Maybe you stay on your forearms for a little while. All right. So now I'm going to get Julia to roll herself up.

So slide your hands back beside your thighs. So keep your head down. Yep. Slide your hands back. So her arms are almost like in a cobra position.

So actually, can you slide your hands back a little bit more? So like palms beside the knees y'all with fingertips forward and your palms are facing down. So now draw your elbows back towards the wall behind you and notice how that gives you like a gentle pressure in your hands. Like you can kind of feel that you're just gently pressing into your hands. It gives you a little traction.

And then start to use your lower belly. Find your lower belly from within and draw the forehead in towards the knees and start to slowly roll up bone by bone. Just stacking your spine. Don't bring the head up to last too. She's doing a beautiful job so that the head's the last thing to come up.

Keep finding your belly. Think about your tailbone wrapping around your heels down there so you get that feeling of the pelvis being turned on. She's doing a beautiful job. You only get one spine in this life. That's what I always tell students.

And there's a natural pause at the top which by that I mean that normally students just pause which is great. If this bothers the knees you might not pause as long but you can come out of it. So now let's roll onto either hip. So I'm going to get you to face, come sideways on your mat Julia and you can come to the center and let's just bring you onto your right hip first. So you'll just be kind of off to the side like this.

So this might be uncomfortable for some of you. If this is uncomfortable then you can do whatever you want with your legs. The legs are just in the way honestly in this position. So just put them where they need to go where it makes you feel comfortable and you look like you're fairly comfortable there which is great. So then this is called in Pilates, this is actually called the mermaid and so I got this from my Pilates instructor who I've said I've worked with for over 10 years and she's a dear friend of mine Mary Ellen.

But I also, this also comes from a little bit of stuff I've done with the grillies, with Paul and Susie Grilly. So somewhat of a yin exercise in a way and we're going to try to stimulate the side body and the upper body. So you can lean down into your right hand or you also could bring your right forearm down to the mat and just lift your left arm up and over. You don't have to come into the, onto the forearm and just really get a nice stretch. So I'm going to, we just let her move her arm, I'm going to get out of the way and let her move her arm all that she wants to.

So she's using the arm bone almost like as a lever to stretch all of this. So you can kind of drop yourself forward, you can open up more towards the front of the room, you know, you can open up more towards the ceiling, you can move the arm all around so that you really get a nice stretch in there. And this should feel good, again I'm not inside of your body, you are inside of your body so you've got to find these places. You can make this movement slow but you also can make it really big and broad, it's up to you. And then if you'll come back up onto your right hand, Julia, so you lift up a little bit.

So nice side stretch and now let's try to get onto the back of the body. So your right hand's here, you're going to tuck your left arm underneath your right arm and then round yourself in. So you think of like your nose towards your right sit bone or your nose towards your right hip bone, I probably should say. Reach your left fingertips back behind you, pull your belly in and really round. So hopefully getting a stretch up here between the shoulder blades, let the head relax, and then open it back up again and just really let it open again towards the ceiling maybe if you want, nice, beautiful.

And then come back up and let's take it onto the other side. So Pilates instructors might not love the way I'm doing this but we're getting the gist out of it, we're getting the yoga of it. So again, you can adjust your feet as needed, your legs as needed, and then you're going to just be on your left hip and lean into your left hand and lift your right arm up and over. So she comes down onto her forearm, you do not have to come down onto your forearm to do this. Just really moving this upper arm bone and if you found a place like she's kind of lingering in a spot, that's great.

If you find a place that's perfect, milk it, stay there and linger there and just enjoy it. But I encourage you to just feel free to move the arm, bend the elbow, spin the wrist if you want to, like really let the body shift and move so that you're getting into stretches all along the ribs and all along the back and the front of the body. And again, this should feel really good, I hope it does. So side body stretch in a lot of ways. Maybe even opening up towards the ceiling, getting a stretch across the chest.

Let the head and neck be relaxed but let them be a part of the stretch, you know, so that they feel like they're not like the wallflower loser off to the side of the middle school dance. Like bring them to the dance. Let the head and neck be part of it. And then you're going to come back up and come on to the left hand. So stay down on that hip but just come on to the left hand and now let's tuck the right arm underneath the left arm and just curl in.

So think of nose towards that hip bone, towards that left hip bone and reach the fingers through the back of the room, pull the belly in and try to think of cat pose, really round through the spine. Good, beautiful. So getting a nice stretch, it's almost hard, it might make you constrict your breath a little bit and then go ahead and open it up and this should feel good just to open it all the way back up. So my father is a shoulder surgeon or mainly a hand surgeon now but I really think a lot about the shoulder joint. So this movement of the shoulder joint is just so, so nice.

It's so great. Good for us, especially as we age. Alright so now I'm going to get you to, we're going to roll the spine down but I'm going to ask you to face this direction if you wouldn't mind. So we'll do a little stretch for the back before we come down, Julia. You're doing great.

You're doing lovely. So your feet are about, let's put your feet mat distance apart. So your feet are going to be wide. So the distance of the mat apart, we're not going to roll down quite yet. And then go ahead and slide your feet forward.

So it's right to the place y'all wear just before her feet would start to lift up. Like if she slid her feet too much further forward, her toes would start to lift. So it's not, there's not like this specific magic spot but just a place where you feel like you're stable in the feet and there's quite a bit of distance between her hips and her heels so she's got a little bit of distance there. And then I'm going to just ask Julia to hold on to her shins or the backs of her thighs and sit right up on top of her sit bones for a moment. Whatever position lets you just sit up.

And then it's almost like you pull yourself up out of your waist. Like you use your hands on your shins or on your thighs to pick yourself up. And then I just start to walk the hands in between the thighs, in between the legs and start to walk your hands out on the mat. So she has this nice round of her spine. I'm looking for that round.

We, in yoga, we do a lot of flat back stretches for the spine and that's fine. But if you look back before alignment came in, you know, and before all the rules of alignment came into yoga and the old yogis, they rounded their spines a lot. So I've, I'm really interested in just keeping a little bit of roundness in the spine at times to stretch the spine. It doesn't mean that we're going to, we're, I mean, I know we're in flexion a lot but just allowing you to really have this release. Does this feel good, Julia?

Yeah. I would say that this feels really good. Also let go of the back of the neck here. Really relax the head. If it's too much, you always could bring a block or a pillow underneath your head if you needed to or a stack of pillows if you need a stack of pillows.

So just a couple more breaths here. What we've also done is we've taken the stretch out of the hamstrings. So we've taken the stretch out of the backs of the thighs and we're really, and if the hamstrings are tight, then they're going to sometimes limit your stretch of the spine. So we're really letting her stretch the spine, open up through the back of the body without having the hamstrings in the way. Last couple of breaths.

You might almost tuck the chin to the chest if that feels okay. Sometimes when I do that, it's way too much. It almost scares me. I'm really tight in the back of the neck. But just give yourself a few breaths there if you can handle it, if it feels productive.

Be brave but not stupid. All right. And then as you just start to slowly roll your spine back up to a seated position, just take your time. Don't sling yourself up there, right? And then we're going to bring the feet back together, so about hip distance apart or so.

And it's nice now because you can see that your feet are hip distance apart. You can see kind of where your pelvis is in relation to your feet. So you know, that's a good place. And then start to find the big toes. So hopefully keeping a little bit, and I'm not telling you to push your big toes in the mat, just a little stimulation to the big toes, you know, so that you feel like they're there and you're aware of them.

And when you find your big toe, maybe you start to feel a little bit of inner thigh. Yeah, good. I'm glad you nodded. That's great. So you could stay here with your hands on the backs of the thighs and lift yourself up again on top of the pelvis.

Beautiful. Looks great. You could stay here or if you want to bring your arms up, you could. So if you bring your arms up, so just parallel to the floor. If you bring your arms up, the main thing you want to think about is what she just did, keeping the upper arm bones in the joint.

So a lot of people will pull the arms forward and just collapse down and that's not what I'm getting you to do. So that's not it. Perfect. That's it. Draw the upper arm bones back into the joint.

Draw the shoulder blades down the back. Really nice. But I'm going to ask you to go ahead and put your hands on the backs of the thighs because I want her to demonstrate it this way. She obviously can do it with the arms up, but I'd love her to demonstrate it this way. So she's going to start to wrap the sit bones underneath the body just to smidge just a little bit.

It's like this secret curl down there. You just kind of wrap it underneath. Find the lower belly. Do you feel like that gives you a sense of your lower belly a little bit to tuck the sit bones under? Perfect.

And then that's what's going to lead her down. So start to slowly roll yourself down. Don't collapse in the chest. Keep the shoulder blades down the back. Perfect.

So we're not going down with a flat back and try to find those big toes. Beautiful. Slow, slow, slow. Good. Nice.

That was gorgeous. She made it look easy. If it wasn't that easy for you, it's okay. There's nothing wrong with you. So now at the bottom, just extend your arms overhead.

Extend your legs out long. She's adjusting, which is perfect. Give yourself a nice stretch in two directions. And this should feel good. It's like that wake up stretch, you know?

Nice. And then go ahead and bend your knees, if you would, for me. And bring the soles of the feet to the mat. And you could keep your arms up overhead. I don't mind if you do that at all.

Sometimes people like that. It feels like an opening in the chest. Or if you'd like, bring your arms down by your sides. So if you bring your arms down by your sides, I am going to cue your upper body a little bit. If you're up overhead, you might just ignore some of those cues.

So I'm going to do this a little different. We're going to come into a bridge pose. And I'm going to do this a little different than maybe most people might tell you how to do it. So if you walk your heels in too close, it starts to tilt the pelvis kind of up. So it makes you like press the low back into the mat.

So walk your heels a little bit further away, a little more, until I can feel that she can kind of let her... Do you feel like your pelvis settles a little bit more there? Good. So I want her pelvis... I want her pelvis to feel like your feet are far enough away from your hips where you feel like your pelvis can settle.

You can walk your heels back in, and you don't need to do this, but you can walk your heels in and feel how it changes the tilt of your pelvis. I want your pelvis to feel like it's able to settle onto the mat. And then you're just going to gently press into your feet, and I want to reiterate gently, don't like slingshot your body up there. Just press into the feet and start to lift the hips up off the mat. More than coming into like a rounding back bend, think of your knees reaching out over your toes.

So if you see if you can feel a stretch right here, like more of a stretch right there as opposed to a crimping. And then press into the tricep muscles, so y'all, these are the muscles at the back of the arm. It's fine to bend the elbows if you need to. That's great. Some people really need that.

So feel the triceps to bend the elbows. So you press into the muscles at the back of the arm and see if that gives you a little inflation of the breastbone, like you feel like you kind of are lifted by the triceps pressing down into the breastbone. Looks great. Nice. And then you're going to come up onto the balls of the feet if you want to.

You don't have to. And think of tucking your tailbone. So think of sit bones reaching towards the backs of the knees. Good. And roll your spine down slowly.

So the rectus abdominis is like the six pack that runs right here. And it's like she's trying to use that six pack to slowly roll the spine all the way down onto the mat. Nice. Relax at the bottom. We're just going to do one more.

So this time I'm going to ask her to peel her spine off the mat. So you're going to, let's actually just take a moment here. So just relax for a second. It's good. So you're just like, let yourself relax for a moment and maybe take a couple of breaths.

And as you breathe, this is one of my favorite cues that my Pilates instructor gives me because usually when I go to her, I'm kind of a freak show and I have been all over the place busy. And so she puts me on my back and says, you know, just let your front ribs settle into your back ribs. You see how she took a deeper breath and just let your front ribs settle into the back ribs. And there's almost a mere, a merry, it's like the front body and the back body marry each other. If that makes sense.

Like they were divorced. They were not working together. And now they're working together. Good, looks so beautiful because you want to go into these movements in a relaxed way. So let's do one more and we're just going to nicely roll the spine down.

So hands back down, if that feels okay, feel free to bend your elbows. Some people can't straighten their arms all the way based on their bones. And so you might need to bend your elbows. It might feel much better. So this time tuck your tailbone and go ahead and yes, perfect.

And start with your tailbone and pick yourself up with your butt, beautiful. And knees reach out over the toes. So sensation of almost stretching the thighs, reaching the knees out over the toes. Find your feet, shin bones almost move away from you if that makes any sense. Go long through the crown of the head, reach out through the knees, press into the triceps so the muscles at the back of the arm, press into the triceps a little bit and feel if that gives a support to the sternum, to the breastbone.

Gorgeous. And then we're going to come up onto the balls of the feet. You don't have to come up on the balls of the feet and slowly roll yourself down bone by bone. Slow. Keep working on it, slow, belly, belly.

Use the rectus abdominis, you also use the muscles at the front of the body to place the back spine down on the mat. Good. And then relax at the bottom. So you could let your feet go wide to the edge of the mat which looks like what she kind of did and let your knees fall in. You could also kind of windshield wiper your knees here.

She's being a good demonstrator. But some people might like to just stay with their knees falling in towards each other. Other people might like to gently pull their knees into the chest. Just give yourself the movement that your body's craving. So we're coming towards the end so I usually give my students after a bridge a moment to do exactly what she's doing.

Just to move and they know the kinks that they need to work out. And then you can just extend your legs out onto the mat. You just start to relax. Really nice. So thank you, Julia.



Judy S
I love that you brought subtle tones of pilates into this class. I really enjoyed it and you are a gifted teacher??
Judy S
Sorry, question marks were a mistake. You are a gifted teacher.??
Kate Smith
Thanks so much for your comments, Judy. So glad we got to share in a class together through the cosmos. Your words warm my heart. Much love coming to you, Kate
Laurie D
HI Kate, this really helps my pesky lower right back pain, which I think is a tight piriformis . Symptom is an achy it band. Is this the correct stretch ? I like that you make reference to specific muscles so I can refer to "yoga anatomy" for my issues. thank you again.
Kate Smith
Hey Laurie! I'm so glad this helped your lower back pain. Always glad to know how the movements affect people. ;) Feel free to email me about the question in terms of the correct
Cheers and much love
Silke S
2 people like this.
First of all ... I love your Y`ALL. This was the first word I learnt since we moved to Tuscaloosa two years ago. A wonderful rolling of the spine, my spine feels so good after your class. Also the Mermaid Pose will be one of my favorite poses, to use in my future class alternativ for the standing side bend or the lying one. Thank you so much.
Kate Smith
So glad the Mermaid pose was a hit! I actually "stole" it from Pilates. And especially glad you can appreciate the "y'all"!
David G-
1 person likes this.
Hey Kate, great class again. Will need to do a Savasana as soon as I finish; I released some serious soreness in the upper back with those seated bends. I looked up Paul Grilley's videos on YouTube. I perk up when you speak about him as Yin Yoga has done wonders with my body. So much to learn! The tricep connection in bridge (robot arms) was new and useful. And I have been using the tricep to upper back line of energy is really helpful. The argument you made about why to do pushups (bring blood to areas that need it) was a positive-spin. If I were coaching tennis still I would steal that for my athletes. I asked Lydia this yesterday, but do you stream classes? 
Kate Smith
1 person likes this.
David Goldstein I have loved your comments....very inspiring. And you are reminded me of all the old cues that I seem to have "forgotten" somehow. You're brining them back to life and making me re-ignite these little sparks into my daily life and routine. Yes, Paul Grilley is pretty amazing. I am grateful to have soaked up his teachers over the years... I do not currently stream a class. But I'm not entirely opposed to it. So perhaps you sparked something for me....sending you much LOVE

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