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Contemporary dance training – 03. Pilates 2
CHARLOTTE TWICHELL: Hello, ensemble dancers. My name is Charlotte Twichell, and I am a tutor with the primary dance ensemble for the contemporary dance programme. I am also a Pilates instructor, and I will be teaching you the second round of our Pilates workout for dancers. This means that it's more challenging, and I'm going to be going a little bit quicker through the exercises.
So if you don't know your basic principles of Pilates or you're unfamiliar with Pilates, it's best to watch the first video that I sent out. I run through all of the things you need to know in order to initiate your muscles properly. So it's best if you go back and look at that video first and then watch this video.
OK, for today's exercises, we are going to just need our mats. However, you are welcome to use any props or modifications that you deem are necessary for your body type. Of course, we all have different body types in this programme, so don't think that one glove fits all in this scenario. Yoga blocks, pillows, bands, whatever is necessary for you to complete this exercise in the best way possible for you. I will be calling out those modifications. So just kind of keep an ear open for those cues in case you are struggling a little bit.
Today's workout is going to be sort of a moderate, intermediate level of Pilates, so it's a little bit more challenging. And I recommend if you're not quite ready for this workout, you just repeat the last workout that I sent. But we will start on our backs laying down. Feet are going to be right underneath your sit bones. Our head is going to be lined up stacked right over the shoulders. So if this is really uncomfortable for you, you feel like you're like this, a little lift up of this head might be necessary.
Hands are going to go palms, flat palms, onto the hip bones, fingertips pointing down towards the pubic bone, and we're going to find our nice neutral spine here. So our pelvis should be nice and flat, and we're going to start with a nice deep inhale through the nose. On the exhale, you're drawing your obliques in to cinch up the ribs to the hips and flatten out the low back. And I'm pressing my breath out through my lips as we do. And again, inhale and exhale. And I'm trying to just use my tummy muscles here to warm up my core and really control my spine.
We're going to do about five or six of these, really getting deep into that abdominal wall. Good. And then we're going to cinch up the side. So think about the hip bone and the rib on the side body coming close in, and it's sort of semi-circle circle with the sit bones. And I'm going to go to the other side. So this is a lateral cinching instead of a frontal cinching. And I'm exhaling. And exhaling.
There's an inhale in between each movement, so as I'm going down and around with my pelvis, I'm inhaling. And then as I exhale, I'm cinching up the side body, just warming up the spine and the lateral. And we'll come back centre. Starting with our ab preps here, we're going to go elbows out 45 degrees. Thumb is going to go behind the jaw, fingertips behind the ear. I'm going to slightly nod my head down and exhale to lift up one piece. Inhale, control down, and exhale. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, and we're going to do five of these.
On the fifth one, we find our imprint spine. Now, you're going to either keep your hands here for a little extra challenge or hands down by your hips for a little support. Still going to be challenging keep that in mind. So you can do this one first, and then try to graduate to this one after a few rounds. I'll start here for you. And we're going to lift up one leg, lift up the other leg, and place the toes down, and toes down.
And then the other leg comes up first, and down first. And this is what it looks like without the hands pressing into the floor. I'm exhaling on the movement, inhaling on the hold. Now, after you've done about four sets of those ones, we're going to try two legs lifting at the same time, so really securing your abs, making sure the hips aren't rocking back and forth. I'm going up together and controlling down together. Yeah, and my hip bones are pulling back into this floor, so my long lower back is reaching towards the floor the whole time. There's not any extra movement.
Exhaling and inhaling, exhaling, control inhale. Hands can come behind the ears, if you feel ready. Exhale, inhale, last two, and then the last one, we're going to stay up. Staying up, long head reaching away, and I'm going to lift my upper body, as well. From here, we're going to try to extend one leg to the ceiling and lower down. We've got a bit of a flow. So the idea in Pilates is that eventually you get everything nice and smoothed out, and we go into a little flow sequence.
And you should be noticing that your abs are burning. Yeah? We're trying to get a nice deep burn in the abdominals. All right. Let's do one more, and then we're doing the double leg. Right? So it's the same sequence, just lifted off the floor. Two legs and down, and two legs and down. Exhale as you press away. Inhale and control in. Notice my tummy stay nice and scooped. A little bit of shaking happening, getting everything nice and warm. Exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, good. Place the feet down. Place the upper body down. Back to your neutral spine. Wiggle it all out.
So the next exercise is going to be for some coordination, opposite arm and leg, think cross-lateral. I'm going to have my arms over my chest. I'm going to scoop my tummy again. Yeah, or now taking the feet off the floor almost every time for abdominal work. And we're going to extend one arm back. Yeah. So my right arm is going to reach back towards my ears without popping my rib cage, and then my left leg is going to extend.
Now, this arm and this leg will want to move in towards one another, so don't let that happen, it's very isolated. And then we're going come back centre, and then I'm going to do my left arm, right leg. Yeah. And I go back as far as I can without letting my ribs or my hips pop and coming back in. Exhaling as you reach, inhaling as you return. Exhaling as you reach, inhaling as you return. And as you're doing this, you're also keeping in mind that your shoulders need to be nice and flat and neutral, so you're trying to keep and maintain your neutral shoulders.
Again, if you're not sure where that is, you can go back and watch the first video again. And that should be a good way of remembering or recalling those basic principles. Ooh. Getting a little shaky now. And out and in. Good. I'm going to go wide with my arms but not let them fall down. So think second position arms here. From here, I'm kicking both legs long. I'm going to try to touch them down, pull them back in, and tabletop.
So obviously, in the first view, I'm just giving my abs nice and warmed up. Yeah. So I'm not going to go super low. But as you start to feel really ready, you get to start to lower it. Right? So the challenge is, obviously, to get as low as possible. Again, hips are not moving. Good. And lower down. Good. Do about six of those, and then we'll come and take a break.
Now, I am not doing lots of forward folding while I'm doing my tabletop legs, and this is order to keep that back body nice and lined up. We need that stack to start to really happen. So this folding action tends to really shorten up these muscles here, even though we usually counter it with some extension. It's good to practise in that nice long position a little bit more often. All right. Let's move on to a little bit of seated work.
So for our seated work, we again need to make sure that we're sitting up on our sit bone. Remembering from the previous video, the modifications are knees bent or pillow. But ideally, we've gotten up. Right? And we're nice and tall, scooped tummy. We're going to go into a couple of hinges here. So hinges are from the hipline, not the waistline. So we want to make sure that we're kind of pulling the hips back and pushing them forward, but the rest of the body's staying nice and stacked.
Now for the first few, hands can stack right in front of you. Think I Dream of Jeannie, right? Because we don't want to any little extra body weight. You don't really want to have your hands up in this area for the first few. We're trying to stay long through the spine and isolate that movement just from the hips. So I'm going back and coming back up. And I don't actually want to get to the point where I'm shaking. I just want to have that nice smooth quality. So it's just before the shaky point, and this is to wake up your hip flexors and your abdominals and the back muscles a little bit, too.
So I'm exhaling as I go back, keeping my chest nice and wide, inhaling coming up. And remember to have a little squeeze between the shoulder blades. Exhale, inhale, heels are pressing forward. Exhale, inhale, and exhale, inhale, good. Let's take a little rest. Now, you can repeat that and go on from there after that with the same hands and everything like that. But the challenge position for this one is either hands behind the head, just like you're about to do a crunch, or hands up high. This is adding body weight to that lever.
So when you go back, you're a little bit more challenged because your arms are actually weighing your body down, and then coming up. So notice, I'm not going back quite as far this time. Yeah. So I'm keeping it nice and smooth, and I'm still trying to stay nice and straight on my back. And I'm pressing my heels away from my hip bones to kind of counterbalance. Yeah. I should really feel my inner thighs and my hip flexors turning on here. So once you complete about 10 of them altogether, five with the hands here, five with the hands here, you can move on to the next exercise. OK.
We're graduating to our four point kneelings. It's quicker, obviously, than we did in our first video because we should be able to warm up our bodies little quicker, but this is going to be our hip rotations. So in the first video, previously, I did this laying on the floor super gentle, which you're welcome to do as well before you watch this video. Totally good with waking up those small hip muscles. For this next variation of it, we're working against gravity.
So I'm having my hands underneath my shoulders, just checking to make sure it's stacked. Soft bend through the elbows, scooped tummy, but I'm nice and neutral so my head, shoulders, and hips are all in the same nice little line. Now, I'm going to try to push a little bit extra into the hand of the leg that's working so that I'm not shifting away from it. I also don't want my hips to start lifting in the direction that the leg is lifting, so I'm trying to keep it isolated to just the hip joint.
I'm going to lift up the whole legs, keeping it bent as it was, and I'm kicking it to the back. From here, I'm going to rotate to the side and down, back to the floor. And again, and we're doing about four or five in each direction. So I'm going to continue this cycle one more time, and then I'm going to reverse it. And as I'm going into my push, away from gravity or into gravity, I guess, I'm exhaling my breath. And then as I resist back down to the floor, I'm inhaling.
And I'm doing a little graze of my knee on the floor, but I'm not putting my full weight on to that knee. And as I finish this set, I want to make sure that my technique is even better by the end. So don't let things like that start happening yet. We go other side, same thing. Starting with the rotation of leg lifts first in the midline. So the reason we do this one is just because that initiation comes from the glute which is the bigger of the two muscles working here.
And then we have the glute med, so it's a glute max work from first and then glute median to control. When you've done your four in that direction, you can go into the extra modification first. Yeah. And it's a really good ab workout, too, if you're doing this correctly. So I'm really pushing into my left side here as my left leg is working, and that keeps my obliques really turned on. So you just warmed up on the floor, you got all these abs turning on, but now you're reconditioning your body to maintain that neutral spine while you're doing kind of complicated coordination challenges. All right.
Next exercise, balance. So you'll recognise this one I'm sure. It's very common. But this is a really good way of getting that cross-lateral coordination and balance through the spine. You're going to have right hand, left foot. You'll notice we did this on the floor with the arms pushing up towards the ceiling. This is just the reverse to get the back body turned on. So I'm lifting up, and I'm trying not to let my hips dip down or my shoulders sink down. Everything stays very long.
I'm going to flex my toes down to the floor, my palm's going to face in towards the midline, and I'm going to draw my head and my shoulder back in towards one another. From here, we're just going to hold as much and as long as you can. And then, I'm going to pull my elbow and my knee in towards one another and touch and try to hold here. And give it like 30 seconds for each position.
Then in motion, inhaling on the way out, finding that neutral spine. Exhaling to pull in. Inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, always find the attachment, exhaling, attach. Good. One more. Inhale and exhale. Again, this is a full body motion so you should be feeling back body as well as front body. Have a little reset before you do the other side. Give that wrist a little break. Deep breath. Slide your hand and foot out, lifting it up.
Don't go above your step because then you will notice my body is no longer in my neutral spine, so I really want to maintain my neutral spine so I'm very solid through my core here. My foot's going to flex, my palm's going to flip towards the midline, holding, holding, holding, a 30-second hold. Yeah? You'll have to time yourself. And then a 30-second hold here. And just trying to get those positions really solid. So I'm scooping up my tummy. I'm trying to keep my balance. Yeah? And then I go out, inhale breath, neutral spine. Exhale, you can do a little cat back through here.
Inhale breath and exhale breath. Once you've completed your set there, you can come back down, have a little reset in your child's pose, and roll your wrists out. It can get a little bit hard on the wrist after a certain amount of time. So take care to make sure that you're not overdoing it. OK.
Remembering what we did last time in my last video, the little knee hover here. Yeah? So we're going to come back to that position. We're going to do something slightly different for it. So most of us should be familiar with a down dog position. But if you're not, it's a piked position with the body, which means you're making a V. So I'm going to press into my mat, solid arms, bent elbow, so my wrists don't take the brunt of it. My fingertips are pulling in a little bit.
I'm going to lift my knees, and I'm just going to find this hover here. And again, if you're not familiar with this position, go back to the first video, rewatch. And I'm holding, holding, holding. Then my pike position, I'm scooping my tummy, I'm lengthening my legs and my back at the same time. And then I'm dropping my heels down. So we're going to flow between these two positions a few times just position to position, so nothing fancy. Making sure I have equal weight on my hands, equal weight on my feet, and I'm going through and through.
And for this position, you really want to make sure the top of your head is reaching towards your thumbs, your legs are lengthened, and your heels don't actually have to be down and your knees don't actually have to be straight. But the goal is a straight back, first, and then straight legs second. And I'm going between a little hover, and should be just a centimetre off the ground there, and my pike position.
Then, once you feel pretty comfortable with those two positions, we're going to do an articulation variation of this. So this is quite advanced. Keep that in mind. It's very challenging to get this articulation and the strength to do it properly. So we're going to go through it nice and slow. I'm going to show it just a few times, but you will, ideally, do it until you feel quite warm. So I will start, actually, in my pike position. Even though I started on my little hover before.
So from here, to do the articulation variation, I'm actually going to lift from my heels. I'm scooping my low tummy so this is like our imprint pelvis happening all over again. And it's rolling up from my pelvis all the way to my shoulders. And as it gets to my shoulders and I lengthen out to my neutral, my knees come down from here. I'm going to open my chest. I'm going to push back into a little crouch and then back into my down dog.
And it's advanced because you're going through the scooped version, yeah, that cat back and then into extension opening the chest. And you really want to make sure that the low tummy is on the whole time. So even when you go into it here, you're not letting the belly drop. It's the chest opening and releasing. Good. Once you felt relatively comfortable or you kind of clocked out with your body, have a little break again, roll those wrists out, and we'll finally make it to standing.
Now that we've stood up, finally, we need to really be aware of our stacked spine. So that's going to remain the same as it was when you were on the mat. But you don't have your references like you did. So even when you're on your all fours, you still can see where you're supposed to line up with. When you're standing, it's all that kinesthetic awareness. So it becomes much more about your mental ability to kind of visualise inside your head where you are in space, but also to feel certain body points. So I'll give you the stack sequence again.
So your ears over your shoulders, then you have your shoulders right through your ribs. And in the middle of your ribs and the middle of your hips just stack up. This one's a little bit tricky for dancers. It tends to be a little bit like this. So have a little watch to see if you have that tilt, and make sure that your knees aren't hyper-extended because that will exaggerate it, as well. So a little softness through the knees will give you a lot of stability.
So for our first exercise, it's going to seem really simple but it is a balance challenge. So we're going to be lifting up, hands on the hips, and you're going to make sure that you're not letting the hip drop down. So I'm going up with my knee, all the way to flexion, I'm going to rotate out, and rotate back in. Place it back down and transfer to the other leg. Very simple seaming, but quite tricky to do without too much wobbling.
So we're using our abdominals, as we have been, to maintain the spine so that that doesn't have to disrupt anything, so keeping everything nice and lined up. Good. Once you've done about five or six of these, we challenge those ankle and knee muscles, the small muscles around the ankle, knee, and sort of warm them up, we can start to get into some more complicated movements. Yeah? So you have about five or six on each side.
Next exercise, knees coming up. We're going to go back with a touch. So my toe is going to reach, lift up, back tall, nice and lifted, and then I'm going to go lunge reach out. So the first one, I'm actually going to put weight on this leg, and then I'm pushing up, I'm using the glute of my supporting leg to really restack. Pull tummy in and reach it back. And pull it up, and you can see how it's quite challenging especially when you're doing it slow. Six on this side, six on the other side.
Again, touching down when you come down and then scooping the tummy, making sure that the hips are not tilting out. Coming up. You don't want to tuck under, as well. We always want that nice stack. So the sit bone should be pointing straight down along the bottom leg, not locked into the hyper-extension, however. All right. Six on that side. And then, the second level of this exercise, no touching to the back. So you're lifting up and you're hovering to the back.
Now notice, I can't shift back as much as I did before. So I'm more aligned on the quads now of this leg. So I go hamstring and glute to stand, quadricep to fold forward. My knee wants to track somewhere crazy, but I'm trying to get it to go straight over my toes. So I'll show it to the front here. I don't want my knee to be wobbling, although it's going to and you'll watch it happen.
I want to go straight forward and straight back up. Straight over the knee-- you can see it wobbling-- and then coming back up. Pretty challenging, especially in parallel for most of us because we're very rotate oriented. So it's good to practise these parallel positions. And again, same as before, both sides get six reps or more if you can do more. And you're really trying to find that nice long position so my leg will peak to the back, long extended. Doesn't have to be pointed, but the leg should be extended and the knee should be long, and then I'm coming up. Yeah?
And that's all for today, very challenging, however. So give it a fair go, try your best. If you fall down, get back up and all that good jazz. And I will, hopefully, see you again in the studio soon.
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