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I’m Joy. And joining me today is Kristen Briody and Tiffany DeMartin. And today we are going to get to the heart of the matter. Okay, so what do I mean by get to the heart of the matter? So in Pilates, we are notorious for talking about the core.
And I don’t know about you, but I believe your real core is your heart. As a matter of fact, the word courage, the word courage, core, means your ability to access your heart. And that’s what we’re gonna do today. And we’re going to find ways of stimulating particularly the cardio-respiratory system, and how we do that through mindful movement. Now here’s the deal, mindful movement is not known for its cardiometabolic contributions, but I wanna tell you that research is showing that the more you can desensitize your nervous system, the more the heart responds to stimuli effectively and efficiently, which means that the work we’re going to do here, while some of it will absolutely stimulate heart rate, the work that you do every day in your studios or at home or in your mat classes, absolutely prepares you for the work that you need to do out in the world that has a cardio-respiratory component, okay.
So with that, let’s start with desensitizing, shall we? And that always starts with breathing and with breath. So I have Kristen on a roller. And the roller is really lovely cuz the roller really just gives her spine a sense of where it is in space and of elongation. And here, when she breathes, she can get a sense of the breath coming all the way into her pelvis, right?
And as she exhales, that breath travels up her spine, touches the soft palate, and out the nose and gently out the mouth. So I really want her to have this nice, long or vertical breath, if you will. Tiffany is here on a wedge. And for Tiffany, I actually want her to feel her body in the wedge, caressed by the wedge, and really finding the width across the body as she breathes. So breath can be anything and focused in any way you want it to be focused.
You have the ability to direct your breath. You can choose how long the inhalation and how long the exhalation, but just know that the breath becomes so important for tuning down the nervous system, right? And preparing the body for all that you want to ask of it. In many ways, it’s calming things down so that you can exceed your expectations and your potential. Okay, all right.
So with that, I wanna give you another breath pattern that is often very helpful especially as you start to stimulate the body and that’s called percussive breathing. So we’re all gonna do this together. It’s inhale, (inhales deeply) exhale. (exhales sharply) Inhale, (inhales deeply) exhale. (exhales sharply) Inhale, (inhales deeply) and please find your rhythm. I’m gonna stop counting and telling you when to inhale. And you guys find what works for you.
So I’m like five inhale, six exhales, right? It doesn’t matter. But I want you to feel that, (breathing sharply) that real percussive, almost like hard hit to your soft palate. And you’ll notice that your belly actually wants to respond. This is part of diaphragmatic training.
It becomes really important to train the diaphragm especially if you do wanna go out for a long walk or a run or a ride. Perfect, so by the way, I was a singer and I used to have to do this all the time. This diaphragmatic breathing was hugely helpful in increasing my lung capacity. So again, all this stuff, which seems really quiet, unlock such amazing potential. Okay, so now I wanna start tying the breath into the movements that we do.
So it’s inhale, arms come up, and overhead and exhale, arms come down. Inhale, arms come up, and exhale, arms come down. Inhale, arms up, and exhale, down. Now I would like to ask you to imagine your arms riding the breath so that the movement matches the breath, is timed with the breath, creates a rhythm with the breath. Good.
Now we’re gonna add to that an abdominal curl. So arms come up, inhale, (inhales deeply) exhale, as your arms come, curl up, and then back down. Inhale and exhale and curl. So now this abdominal curl is tied to the breathing. The more effectively you are pushing or exhaling the breath out, the more control you have through the abdominals, the less you’ll start to feel your head, neck, and shoulders in large part, because you’re not worried about your head, neck, and shoulders because you are so connected deeply into your core.
And in this case, I do mean you’re abdominals. Nice, super, and rest. Now I’m gonna ask Kristen to come off the roller, and I’m gonna take this, Kristen. But I’m gonna continue to give you this. And Tiffany is gonna use a band.
Okay. And you’re gonna just hold that band, keep it at the ready, okay. So now we started to prep with breathing and I wanna start to move you into the hundreds, which is really the starting point at many of our Pilates mat classes. First thing is arms up, and hold onto that band for now, Tiffany. You’re gonna keep holding onto that dowel.
And I want you to go a little wider with your dowel, okay? And both of you move your feet just a little bit away. Now, yep, as you exhale, curl up. Hold it. Now your right leg, just lift it up, touch the band, touch the dowel.
Tap it down for three, two, and one, bring it down. Left leg. Three, two, one. Everything down and reset. And again, curl up, right leg, and it’s up.
Ride your breath as you lift your legs. Go down and curl up. Exhale, up, exhale up. And down. Great, okay, I’m gonna come over here to Kristen.
So I was saying this to her when we were rehearsing. That if I were a World Wrestling Federation wrestler and I was on the edge of the ring and I jumped down on her midsection, what would happen to the two ends? Pop, they would come up. Boom. Oops.
Right? And then go back down. Bend your knees again. Arms, go up. Again, boom.
Right, and then down. Add those legs. Keep ’em bent. Whoa. Keep ’em bent, ready, go.
Boom, and down. Go again, and down. Go again, and down. Tiffany, let’s add you, ready? Come on, curl up and down.
Add your legs, curl up and down. Now, follow your breath, ready? (breathing sharply) There we go. There we go. Three, two, and one, rest. Okay, do you see how connected the breath is to them and how much energy that gave them?
How much energy it gave to the room, right? We went from, “What are we doing?” because I just threw this at them to, “Oh, yeah.” That’s what we’re looking for, right? When you get that, you’re starting to stimulate your nervous system in such a lovely way and your heart is saying, “Yeah, baby, I got this.” Okay, and it’s responding. All right, so now let’s take this to full hundreds. Tiffany, I’m gonna ask you to put that underneath you.
So I don’t want Tiffany to lengthen her levers out. I want her to maintain and control. I want her to use her breath. Kristen, we’re not gonna use the dowel. We’re gonna bend your knee still a little bit, right?
And arms are gonna go up and arms are just gonna press out wide. And Tiffany, you’re gonna go from there to legs up. Kristen, you’re gonna lower your arms and pop everything up, ready? Up. And now, everybody’s gonna pulse your arms.
Pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse. Tiffany is pulling out on the band. Kristen is pressing, pressing, pressing, pressing, pressing. The breath is… (breathing sharply) (Joan shushing) And I want you guys to make them hear that. You don’t have microphones, but you guys need to…
I want you to listen to the breath. Go, punch, punch, punch, punch. Come on. Come on. This is like music. (Kristen breathing sharply)
One more. (Kristen breathing sharply) And rest and rest and rest. Okay. Okay, you can’t… I don’t know if you can see, but there’s smiles all around and I don’t normally get smiles when I do hundreds in a class.
And the idea is really… Listen, we could pay a lot of attention to, oh, how stable you are with the pulsing of the arms. But the reality is, when you get into this and you have the breath and you’re working with the breath, you actually can get to the a hundred, can’t you? And it doesn’t matter if the legs are up, it doesn’t matter if you start from the floor. Super, okay.
So that’s energizing through your breath and the heart is going to respond, which it did beautifully. So let’s have you to tossed that to the side, Tiffany, the band. Let’s have you guys come on up. Now we’re gonna change our orientation a little. So we started with some breathing, really tuning down the body.
Then we started to build up with the breath. Now we’re gonna take you into how do you start to access and tap into the cardiometabolic system that we have. Notice, I’m not saying cardio-respiratory, I’m saying cardiometabolic cuz we’re really trying to get in on a cellular level. And we’re gonna use the larger muscle groups and we’re gonna heat them up in order to do that, okay. So I’m gonna use plank for upper body and upper body integration.
Now, in Pilates, we have an exercise called leg pull up. And we’re gonna use leg pull up as one of our ways of adding pulsing back in and generating a lot of energy and heat through the upper body. So first let’s get into plank and hold it. Right, and just hold. We could talk an awful lot about pushing up from the ground, lengthening out through the legs, lengthening out through the crown of your head, whatever it is you wanna think about at this point, but I you’re gonna hold.
You wanna feel a little bit of heat and then knees come down. So these isometric holds, A, will build strength; B, will heat up the body; and C, will get your heart going. Ready, and again. Let’s have you come on up. Hold.
Push away from the floor. Come up onto your toes and lengthen through the crown of your head. Stay connected to your set midsection and then lower down. Good, one more time. You’re gonna come into plank.
You’re gonna push up from the floor. You’re gonna be on those toes. You’re gonna reach out through the length of the crown of your head, and you’re gonna maintain the integrity between the pelvis and the ribs. Excellent. And rest.
Once you have that, then you can take the next step. And the next step is coming back into plank and point your right foot and you’re gonna lift for five, four, three, two, one, put that foot down. Okay, left and it’s pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse pulse. Bring it down. Now, make your pulses smaller and really give it a lot of energy.
Go, go, go, go, go, bring it down, smaller still. There you go. Bring it down and switch. Go, one more time, one more time. And then bend your knees and sit back into child’s pose.
Okay. Now, let’s add to that. Let’s come into plank and let’s think about the upper body taking one arm off and rotating. So we’ll start with your left. So pull that elbow back behind you, rotate, and bring it down.
Pull the right one up and rotate, bring it down. Now, give it more of a rhythm. Ready, pull up and down and up and down. Notice their bodies are turning, they’re pivoting on their toes all that is cool. One more, and down.
Bend your knees. Sit back. We’re getting some chuckles over here. You good, Tiffany? Uh-hmm. (Joan laughs)
So I’d like to do that one more time. Let me tell you why I wanna do that one more time. You guys did great with that. I want to hear the breath. I want you to pull that elbow back and really gimme a…
(breathing sharply) Okay, and again, you’ll notice organizing the breath around and coordinating it around a really fully integrated movement like this is gonna be hugely helpful. So let’s do that again. Ready so come into plank. let’s start with the left, pull it back and… (breathing sharply) There you go. Suddenly, they can do it forever and rest.
There you go, there you go. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (laughs) Awesome, okay, last one here is to go back into an isometric hold. Ready, come into your.
Hold, hold, hold, hold and rest. Child’s pose, super. Okay, planks are really hard and they’re really challenging, but they really can get you heated. Keep dynamic movement, don’t hold for too long. Yeah, okay.
So let’s come onto all fours. We’re going into… Just some basic all fours posture, right? Hands on the mat, knees on the mat. Now we’re not gonna go into our typical cat, instead, you’re gonna hover your knees up.
So just hover those knees, hold it there. Bring the knees down, good. Hover the knees, bring it down. Hover the knees. Now we’re gonna rock, go back and forward.
And yep, just rock, whatever that pacing is for you. This is really hard, really challenging. You notice Tiffany has more range of motion than Kristen does, all that is fine. Three, two, and one, knees down. Sit back into child’s pose.
Good. Okay, so we’re gonna take an isometric, and we’re gonna add some movement to it. So we’re gonna do that one more time, ready? You’re gonna hover, isometric. Now into a move.
Go, rock forward back. Forward back. We’re getting into nice deep hip flexion. They’re getting some shoulder action. They’re getting some pumping, and suddenly, I’m hearing (Kristen and Tiffany gasping) breath.
Two and one, super. Okay, so they did that with their legs parallel. We’re gonna take one more version of this and that’s a frog leg or a little externally rotated. So you’ll notice the repositioning. They’re opening their knees, their heels are together.
And here, hover, so just lift the knees and hover, and yes, I’m looking for integration of the core. I’m looking for the rib cage and the pelvis to stay nice and stable. I’m looking for that pushing away from the floor. All of that works here. Come on down.
And again, lift up. Come on down. Now, we add rocking, ready? Come on up, and back and forward. It’s like a frog jumping.
Notice, here in this external rotation, they both have more rocking motion available to them. Two and one and rest. They’re getting tired as they should, sit back into child’s pose. Good, and you can even here rock a little left and right. Good, now I just wanna give you an option for closing up here.
By the way, I’m feeling a lot of heat coming outta Tiffany. (Tiffany chuckles) That’s good. Okay, so let’s have you come back into plank. I just want you to move from your ankles, okay? So you’re gonna rock from your ankles forward and back.
Just rock from your ankles, so adding dynamic movement to plank. Good, now stay up on your toes. Can you soften your elbows? A little tricep press and push. Push, push, two more and one, bend your knees and sit back.
Okay, so these are really hard, and this is a progression. Did you feel the difference when you use your breath for some of these really challenging big, whole body movements? If you don’t have the breath and you’re not charging the movement with the breath, then this is when you start to see everything disintegrate. Don’t forget, do this at your pace. You don’t have to do it the way these guys are doing it.
You could put your knees down. You could really make these smaller movements. I’m showing you a big, large progression. Keep it small and contained. All right, so let’s now take this up to standing, shall we?
So we’re building. We started off, right? We started off, really, with breathing, trying to desensitize so that we can build up to some of these larger movements. Listen, our environment is not an aerobics environment, but we can integrate whole body movements to really get our heart rate going. I wanna work on muscles around the hip in standing with rhythm.
So if you can imagine a big clock around you, okay? And you are standing in the center of the dial. Now you’re gonna step forward to 12. Step back to your dial. Now, when I say step forward to 12, I want you to actually find the ball of your foot and soften your ankle.
And you’re gonna push yourself forward and back, forward and back, forward and back, forward and back. Find your rhythm. Push back, push forward, right? And you can have your arms go. Good, ready?
Now, a little faster, go. Go, go, stay together. Three, two, and one. Good, and now let’s do three and nine, side to side. Side to side, side to side.
Good, push off. Push, push, push. Three, two, one. Good, now, come to the center. Let’s find your right leg.
Find six o’clock. Now it’s back and forward. Come on, go, go, go, go. It doesn’t matter what your strategy is with your arms, but I really want you to feel that front and back. You’re pushing off.
Three, two, one. Find the center of your dial. Okay, left leg is forward. Now we’re gonna go backwards in time. So we’re gonna go 12 to 6, 12 to 6, 12 to 6, 12 to 6.
Go 11. (panting) Go 10. Go nine. Go eight. Oh no, sorry, eight, yeah. Seven. (panting) I’m feeling my hips.
You feeling your hips? Go six. Yeah. Good, stick to the center of your dial. Right leg forward.
We’re gonna go forward. You’re gonna go one, two, three, four, five, and six. And stick your landing, okay. So what you’re getting is you’re getting this pulling and pushing through your hips in all different angles using the ground forces to really come up and into the hips, also to stimulate your heart rate. Awesome, rise up onto the balls of your feet, and then come on down.
Spread your legs, just a little wider than your hips. Rise up to the balls of your feet and then down. So you’re gonna raise your heels, up and down. Now, add your arms, up and down, up and down. Now we’re gonna go into a deep squat.
So you’re gonna raise your arms up. Go down, go up. Go down, go up. Swing, go up, down, up. Deep into the hips as much as you are comfortable.
Three more. You’ll notice they have different ranges. And one, and then bring your legs together. Okay, you’ll notice they have different ranges. Some of that has to do with the fact that I asked you just to go a little bit wider than your hips.
And that means you might be limited by your ankle joint, but what both of them did beautifully was they actually went down into their hips as deep as they could that gave them the rise. Can we add the heel raises? Okay, so let’s go down and then go up and hold. And then go down, go up, and hold. Go down, up, and hold.
Down, up, and hold. Two more down, hold, down, hold, and then lower down to the ground. Beautiful, okay. So you can play with squats in any number of ways. Adding those heel raises really energizes the movement.
Adding the breath really will stop people from overthinking. “Where am I, what am I doing?” And really just get that movement going and energized in a beautiful way. Okay, so we did around the clock. We did some squats. Of course, it means lunges. (laughs) So I’d like to ask you both to turn, right leg forward, left leg back.
Come up onto the ball of your back foot. Bend that knee and come down, and I want you to hold it. Now again, notice all three of us were at different levels. I want you to hold it. What are we doing by holding?
What are we doing by holding? Isometric. I’m talking to you. You’re thinking to me, “I wish she would stop.” They’re thinking to me, “I wish she would stop,” right? But now in this, you’re gonna pulse.
Pulse, pulse, pulse. The energy of that pulse, the dynamic nature of that pulse is getting into that leg in a really interesting way. Four, three, two, step back. (whistles) Okay. Lunge, you’re gonna go forward to the other leg, okay?
Find your positioning that works for you. Come on down. I’d like that leg as much directly underneath you as you can manage. Now you here, hold it. Feel that quad.
That quad is definitely saying, “Whoo, eccentrically, what are you asking me to do?” And the other side, the leg that’s forward, the hamstring and the glutes are very active in this process. Now start to pulse. Pulse, pulse, pulse. Five, four, three, two, stand up and step back. Nice, we have one more of these to do.
So you’re gonna step forward, come into that lunge. You’re gonna hold it there. Now, instead of pulsing, I’m gonna ask you to shift your pelvis back. So you’re gonna bend this back knee a little bit, shift back, and then go forward. And shift back, go forward.
Sorry, Tiffany, I didn’t mean to throw you off balance. Three and two and one, and step back. Well done? (laughs) All right, let’s do the other side. So coming down. Now watch the pelvis, right?
You’re gonna scooch back towards your heel. Scooch back and then go forward, so you’re gonna rock back and forward. Back, forward, back, forward. These are really hard. Yes, they are. Two
and one, and then stand up and step backwards. So these are really hard. They are so beneficial in so many ways. Not only do they get the joints of the hips, the knees, and the ankles going, not only do they stimulate a lot of strength, but what are they doing in terms of your heart rate, in terms of the heat in your body, again, not just cardio-respiratory but cardiometabolic. We’re tapping into the cells to make change.
Regardless of where you are in the aging process, 15, 55, 65, 95, this kind of work at whatever and wherever you are is so important. So with that, let’s have you bring the arms up, big inhale, right? Big inhale. Now, bring the arms down and see if you can hug. Inhale, up, (inhales deeply) and exhale, down.
Good, inhale up and exhale, come on down and hold it there and breathe into that, all the spaces of your back, right? Use the folding of your body and your legs to really open up what’s happening through the whole spine, upper back, back of the neck, lower spine. Now inhale, swing the arms around, stand up nice and tall. Collect all that energy you created in this room today and pulled that down through your center.