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Hi, I’m Jillian Hessel, and today we’re going to do a Pilates at the wall workout. I came up with this during the COVID when people didn’t have a lot of props, but today I’m going to ask you to have either a long Dyna-Band, Thera-Band or two shorter ones, a large exercise ball, and a pair of small hand weights. So we’re going to start today leaning against the wall, but I want you to take your stretchy band. If you have one, you can stand kind of in the middle, if you have two, you’re gonna put one under each foot and have your feet about hip with the part right under your pelvis. Find a way to get those bands under your feet and lean against the wall.
We’re not gonna use the band right away, but just hold the edges of the band. And I’m going to have you breathe for a moment and just focus the eyes straight ahead and find where you’re in contact with the wall. You don’t want your knees locked, right, so keep them just slightly soft, and maybe you need to back up or walk out just a little so that you are in a neutral spine position. So I’m just going to drop my band for a moment and show you. There’s a little bit of airspace between the small of the back and a little bit of airspace between the neck, the cervical spine, and the wall.
And check to see if both shoulder blades are in contact with the wall. I myself have scoliosis. So for me, I always have a little bit more of a challenge to breathe through the right side of my ribs. You might find you have it on the opposite side, if you’ve got a right C curve. So I’m just going to take a moment to breathe in through the nose (inhales deeply) and exhale out through the mouth and just do your best to balance yourself.
And this is gonna be your home position because we’re gonna do a roll up or a roll down, and we want to come back to that shape. So keeping the knees slightly soft, go ahead and hinge forward, and grab your band now, and have just a little bit of tension in it so that there are some feeds back there for you when you come to the upright position. And we’re going to do this as an old Kathy Grant exercise called peeling off the wall. So knees stay soft, and we’re going to begin inhaling very tall through the crown of the head, exhale, just let the back of the skull come off, and drop the chin down to the chest. So chin to the chest, little bit of neck flection, and then inhale, roll the head right back up, and focus the eyes.
Again, exhale just the head, and roll it back up. Now we’re going to add on. So we breathe in, exhale drop the head, and now the back of the shoulder blades peel off, just to the wing tips of the scapula. Breathe in, roll the wing tips back, the scapula, and then unfurl the back of the head. Repeat that breathe in up very tall, exhale head, drop the shoulder blades off the wall, inhale, roll the shoulders, and chest open first, and then place the head and focus the eyes adding on.
Breathe in, exhale, lift up to go over head, shoulders, now the back of the ribs peel off. So I’m just to the back of my waist. Breathe in and I’m drawing the back of the ribs. This is a challenge for me to get both sides of the ribs even, then the shoulder blades, and then the head unfurling. Once again, breathe in, get taller, (inhales deeply) exhale, drop the head, the shoulders, the back of the ribs.
Breathe in again, draw through the back of the thoracic spine. The rib cage comes in contact, the shoulder blades, and then the skull. Adding on again, breathe in and get taller, (inhales deeply) lift up head, shoulders, ribs. Now we’re going to appeal and the buttocks will start climbing a little bit up the wall. We’re going into a full roll up.
So I have lost tension on my band, but I’m going to hang all the way forward. Be sure your knees are not locked back. (inhales deeply) Breathe in there, keep the knees soft, and start curling your tailbone under using the lower abdominals. The sits bones will kind of curl against the wall and then somewhere in there you’ll start getting your tension back. Breathe in, draw the waist, the middle ribs, the shoulder blades, and the head or opening the chest.
Once again, get very tall, (inhales deeply) lift up to go overhead, shoulders, ribs. Now the waist and the buttocks start curling up the wall, hanging forward, soft knees, breathe in, (inhales deeply) draw the low abs and curl the tailbone under, and roll the spine slowly, slowly, slowly, imprinting one vertebrae at a time, back ribs, shoulder blades, back of the shoulders and the head. Now big test is can you take a breath and without changing anything, press away from the wall and stand up, and lean back, breath in, press, and come up right, and lean back. One more time breathe in, and press upright, hold, hold, hold, and step out of your band, carefully. And I’m going to turn around and show you an exercise that I learned from Mary Bowen, which I love because as I’ve aged, it feels like I’ve lost my waist.
So you’re going to turn around, and face the wall, and you’re going to take your fingertips to the wall, standing very tall without locking back in the knees. Once again, start creeping your fingers up the wall as high as you can reach, spread the palms wide, take a breathe and see in your mind, if you can float your rib cage, (inhales deeply) even higher as you in breathe, exhale and reach even higher up the wall, and again, breathe in, float the ribs away from the pelvis, reach, stretch, stretch, stretch through the size of the body, reach, reach, reach, and one more (inhales deeply) reach up, get even longer. And now keeping that length, we’re going to rise to the balls of the feet and the feet lift and the hands creep higher. And in this high lifted position, breathe in again, lift the ribs, and reach even higher. Don’t worry about your shoulders in this exercise, by the way, you may be wondering.
We’re just trying to get that link through the torso, reach through the sides of the body, reach, reach, reach, and keep your hands up on the wall like Spiderman, climbing the side of the building. See if you can keep them there. Keep the length slowly. I’m slipping just a little, but I’m still reaching up. I’m reaching and lowering my feet down.
You should feel nice and tall there. Let’s just repeat the part with the heels lifted. So breathe in, (inhales deeply) reach the hands higher, reach as high as you can with flat feet, lift your heels up, take another breathe in, really lift the ribs away from the pelvis. (inhales deeply) Reach high, high, high, suction cup your hands to the wall, breathe in, stay as tall as you can, and slowly, slowly, slowly lower those heels down. Keep reaching up, keep reaching up, keep reaching up.
And once again, press away from the wall, stay tall, and lower your arms. All right, so now we’re going to grab the large fitness ball and the hand weights. So I have two pounds here. You could go up to three or go down to one. So the trick here, depending on the circumference of your ball and your height is to place the ball against the wall, and I have it more or less at the small of my back.
And I’m going to stand in a Pilates V. You may find you need to walk your feet out or in. Feel free to adjust as you need. And we’re going to separate the weights and rise up into Pilates V, with the heels pressed together. So my arms are at my side.
Think reformer work. We’re going to breathe in keeping a neutral spine, pressing against the wall, reach out on an in breathe, exhale, bring the arms down right to the hips. So arms just a shoulder height, inhale, (inhales deeply) and exhale, focusing those eyes, keeping the neck long, three, and press up, and four in breath, exhale. Make sure you don’t raise those arms any higher than shoulder height. And this is six.
We’re just going for a eight, and seven. Any breathe out. And eight, we’re going to hold. Let’s stay in this little lifted position, and pulse, two, reaching wide through the arms. three, four, five, six, seven, and eight.
Squeeze and wrap the buttocks, bring the arms down, come up, and open your feet, hip width apart, and settle down. Now turn the weights so that the palms are facing backwards and let’s rise up on the toes with the feet hip width apart. This time, the arms come to shoulder height in front. I need to walk just a little bit out, you’ll find your balance. Inhale, reach down, there I am.
(inhales deeply) And exhale come back, and inhale, reach down. So the feet are slightly in front of me just as they are when I’m lying on the reformer with that foot bar and four, and see how low you can go, five. If you can get your hips level with your knees, you better than I am, six, but as you warm up, maybe a little deeper, seven, in breath, out and eight let’s hold it. Draw up in your belly and little pulses, two. Draws the base of your seat together, and four five, six, seven, eight.
squeeze your toes, come all the way up, and lower those heels down. All right, let’s bring the feet right together now. And once again, rising up on the toes, but let’s change the hands first. So turn the palms forward, do a little bicep curl, and then lift the elbow so that the elbows are out to the side and the weights are settled over your shoulders. Rise up on the toes, squeeze those thighs together, think reformer work, and arms we’re going to shoot overhead.
Ready, inhale up, squeeze those thighs, exhale comeback, and keep the heels lifted. See how low you can go, three, inhale down, exhale four, just like the reformer work, five, (inhales deeply) and six, (inhales deeply) and seven. (inhales deeply) Let’s stay up on a little pulses, ready? Two, go for that burn, draw the sit bones together, four, five, six, seven, last one, rise up, and open the arms to the side as you lower your heels. So now we’re going to tow out.
Pilates V, parallel, toe out once again, and pick your position. I think I’m gonna go just a little bit wider and my arms now are going to do bicep curl. So my arms are slightly in front of my hips. I’m going to keep my upper arm stable and I think I need to be just a little more in front. You’ll find out where you need to be.
Just play around with it. Take a breath in, exhale all the air out, and we’re going to bend and bicep curl, inhale, (inhales deeply) and exhale. So feet are flat here for the first time, two, (inhales deeply) and three in breathe, out breathe, four (inhales deeply) and five, (inhales deeply) and six, (inhales deeply) two more, seven, (inhale deeply) hold it on eight, and let’s lift the heels rise and lower. Stay steady, two, press the ball into the wall, three, (inhales deeply) and four, (inhales deeply) and five, (inhales deeply) and six, and seven, let’s stay up on eight, turn the elbows out to the side and pulse Two, three, neutral spine, four, five, six, two more hang in there, last set, rise up, bring the arms forward to hug a tree, way up overhead, and open around, lower your heels, and relax. Okay.
So before we go to the floor, I’m just gonna lower the ball one more time and do some full arm circles. So find your best flat back against the wall, arms are soft now. This is a Ramana exercise. So we’re going through all the elders here. We’re going to float the arms forward on an in breathe, (inhales deeply) stay against the wall, bring them up and around, open wide exhale, reach to the sides of the room, and circle down.
Let’s repeat that forward, inhale, (inhales deeply) up and around, reach wide, exhale. I have to really work to keep my right scapula against the wall. Let’s reverse that reach wide (inhales deeply) reach way overhead, and reach down. And once again, reach wide, inhale, (inhales deeply) reach way up like you’re inside a bubble, reach to the periphery, pull back against the wall, two-way energy, and relax. All right, so now we’re going to grab the mat and the ball, and come down onto the mat.
And we’re going to work through some of Kathy Grant’s spine extension into the swan. So I want you in Pilates V, kneeling, so my toes are against the wall like they would be on the high barrel, my knees are bent, they’re open a little bit in a diamond shape, and I’m going to pull the ball as close as I can really pressing my hips forward and pulling the ball back. And just like Mary’s exercise where we lifted the ribs away from the pelvis. I’m lifting my ribs up, out, and over the ball and I’m hanging down, which feels terrific. Brace those feet against the wall, and now lift the knees, and straighten them.
So depending on the size of your ball, more or less of your body will be hanging over the front. So I’m going to interlace my fingers, and I call this the flower. The elbows are in, I’m tweezing the base of the butt. So I’m really using the wall to help stabilize, and I’m in forward flection over the ball. I’m going to lift my ribs into my body with a flower bud, that’s the elbows in tight towards the head on an in breathe, (inhales deeply) I lift to just back extension, not hyperextension.
On the exhale, the bud opens, the head lifts, the elbows lift, and I’m in spine extension, but not hyperextension. I’ve come back in on an in breathe to the bud and I exhale down. So let’s do that again. (inhales deeply) Open the flower, close the flower. So it’s one of those flowers that opens in the day and closes at night.
(inhales deeply) Now open to extension and make a huge T, like pulling straps number two. Reach out to the periphery through the center of the body to the fingertips. Keep that T position and bring one hand over your head, right alongside your ear, the other hand to your hip, and reach out to the T, in breathe, (inhales deeply) exhale, turn the palm to face in overhead, and in breathe, don’t change the body, reach, in breathe, and reach, and one more set in breathe, exhale, shooting out like you shot out of a cannon, in her old fashioned circus. Bring the arms out to the side, bring them behind the head, folding to the bird, and hang down. Now we’re going to do both arms.
So repeat in breath, up in the bud (inhales deeply) exhale, open wide, reach the arms wide in the T, feel that periphery energy, and breathe in. Bring both hands shooting straight out over the head and exhale shoot them back to your hips, and inhale reach way forward, and exhale come back. And once again, reach way forward, all the way back, out to the side, back behind the head, elbows in, make the bud, and hang down, bend your knees, (inhales deeply) come back, and roll up, rest for a second. So now we’re going to go into the full swan. It’s a little less stable than the latter barrel, so make sure you use the feet against the wall to help stabilize you.
Once again, really lift up (inhales deeply) and come out over the ball, and stretch those knees. Hold one thumb with the other, and we’re going to start in the forward flection position we did before with the flower. I’ve dropped my heels down a little bit now. Just wanted to tell you to help brace myself more. If you’re able to stay up on your toes, fantastic.
So on an in breathe, I drive my feet into the wall, and I come to that neutral extension position. I’m going to add now bending the knees and lift higher, continue inhaling up, open the arms, exhale straight knees, you’re back to that T position, flat back, inhale, reach up, once again into like thumbs, breathe in, exhale shoot way out, all the way out from the wall and come down, hang. Once again, inhale, reach long, all the way up, exhale, stretch the knees, come out to that T position, balance on the wall, inhale, lift, bend the knees, reach up, exhale, shoot out long, and come down and relax. And let’s come up and we’ll do some situps before we go all the way to the mat. So here, you’re going to use the wall at your discretion at whatever height works for you.
You can have your foot just like you would on the reformer, down on the floor, side of the foot, or you can bring your leg higher, whatever works for you. Let’s start with a delicious stretch. So I’m going to lean all the way over the ball and really pull, once again, doing my best to open that area between the rib and the hip. Make sure your shoulder is well aligned so that you’re not rolling forward or back on the ball. Hands can be behind the head, or if that’s a challenge you can reach and punch the wall, your choice, breathe in and lift the body up, one, (inhales deeply) lengthen over, and two, lengthen it over and three, lengthen out of the head on the way down, four.
So we don’t fall out of it, five, (inhales deeply) and six lengthen, seven lengthen out, eight, (inhales deeply) and nine, (inhales deeply) and 10 stay there. 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Go all the way over and give yourself a reward, stretch, and let’s come all the way to the other side. So adjust your position if it didn’t feel quite right on the other side, let’s begin with that delicious stretch, reach all the way over, open up that area between the rib and the hip, and bring the hands behind the head. There down into the ball, pushing to the wall.
Ready, breathe in, exhale, lift, one (inhales deeply) and two, (inhales deeply) and three, (inhales deeply) and four (inhales deeply) and five, (inhales deeply) and six, and seven and eight, two more, nine, stay up on 10 little guys, ready? 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Lengthen out over the ball, stretch and pull on that wrist, enjoy the stretch, breathe, and relax. And let’s come now to the mat. So I’m going to roll the ball around, and sit.
And we’re going to take the feet to the wall, and we’re going to recreate an exercise. I was so missing my Cadillac during COVID. So I thought, what can I do to recreate? Well, here it goes. So I’m going to take the wall, push it into the wall.
Sorry, take the ball, push it into the wall, and press it up, hand over hand, into the wall, until I’ve, I’m imagining I’m on my Cadillac and I’m reaching up, and pressing. And I’m going to do my quick percussive breathe, eight sets. So exhale all your air out, flat back diagonal reaching up, (inhales deeply) two, (inhales deeply) three, lifting the ribs away from the hips, four, (inhales deeply) five get longer, (inhales deeply) without popping the ribs out, (inhales deeply) two more, (inhales deeply) eight, really lift the sides of the body. Now, if you need to widen your grip, you’re going to take the ball, keeping that length, and sit up away from the wall, and pitch your body forward, touch the wall lightly. Let’s do that four times.
That was one, two, stay tall, and hinge from the hips, and three. (inhales deeply) and let’s sit up tall, four. Now, small little overhead press with the ball, elbows wide, ready, bend, and press, and two, and press, and three (inhales deeply) press, and four, press it right up, really lift the ribs away from the waist, pitch forward long, touch the wall, and let it roll down, and take a little break. One breathe, breathe in, (inhales deeply) exhale, lift yourself taller as if there’s a marionette string pulling right up through the crown of the head. Once again, let’s add on.
So we’re going to roll the ball up the wall, lean into it, and four sets of quick breathing, ready? (inhales deeply) two, (inhales deeply) three, (inhales deeply) four. (inhales deeply) Widen your grip if you need to, take a breath, stay long, and press away from the wall, one, lean, inhale, exhale, two, don’t lose height, keep long through the sides of the body, one more, and four. Four overhead presses inhale, exhale, four, (inhales deeply) and three, (inhales deeply) and two, getting very tall, pull that marionette string out of the head. Now we’re going to go into a spine twist.
So exhale all your air out, stay very tall, and rotate to one side, I’ll rotate to you. (inhales deeply) Two, (inhales deeply) three, (inhales deeply) four. (inhales deeply) I inhale and exhale back to center. Lift up the other side. (inhales deeply) Come back, inhale, exhale, lean into the wall, and slowly roll it down, sit up tall.
breathe in, (inhales deeply) one cycle, exhale. And one more time roll the ball up the wall. Lean into it. We’re not gonna do the pulses this time. Just sit up away from the wall very tall and repeat the twist, the spine twist.
So we’re not doing overhead press, ready? Exhale all your air out, and rotate. (inhales deeply) Just two. (inhales deeply) Now, lean into the wall on a diagonal. It’s like our saw, lean in touch lightly and come back, and lean and touch lightly, and come back four times, lean and touch lightly, and tip back.
I’m not even hitting the wall quite, lean, where’s that wall, there it is, and come back. Inhale, come center, exhale. Lift up two sets of pulses to the other side, ready? (inhales deeply) Lean into the wall, see if you can touch, and keep the length, come back four times. Lean in, inhale, exhale, come back.
Two more, lean in, where’s that wall? There it is. And one more time, lean in, come back, take a breath, inhale, (inhales deeply) exhale, lean into the wall straight forward, and roll it down, and relax. Okay, so now we’re gonna have a little bit of a break with the ball, and turn sideline onto the mat. This is an exercise from Eve Gentry called snaking feet.
I don’t know if I’m doing it complete justice, but we’ll do our best. So I’m lying on my side, you may want a pillow here, feel free to put a pillow if you need it. I’m in kind of a fetal position and you’re going to adjust how far away from the wall you are as needed. So we’re going to keep the thighs more or less in the same alignment. I think I need to move just a little closer.
And I’ve got my thighs now separated with my foot, standing on the wall, straight ahead. And I’m gonna concentrate on the rotation, not just from the ankle and the foot, but from the glute. So I’m going to turn my toes up to the ceiling. My hip just pop, just so you know, and I turn it parallel, and then I rotate it up, and I turn it parallel. And I keep going.
You may be able to do more or less than me, right? And notice that when I get into a little bit of hip extension, my leg has straightened. So this feels really good. I’m pushing this top hip forward to keep it stacked, but I’ve got a nice stretch there. It’s really quite lovely.
And then I’m going to turn and come back, snake the foot down, turn it in, turn it out, turn it in, turn it out, turn it in, turn it out, and I’m back to the start. Let’s do that one more time. (inhales deeply) Open, and parallel, rotate, open. Feel the muscles right where they’re working from, not just the foot, but from the back of the glute, and this time, stay there. Lift your foot, just a little, your heel, I should say.
My toes were touching the wall, and I’m gonna do a windshield wiper, keeping my hips as level as I can. I reach up, reach out of the hip, and bring the leg down. You can over cross all the way down towards the floor, and push the hip forward as you lift back. And again, reaching out, lower slowly, don’t fall, and lift to reach behind you. Just a little bit of hip extension.
Two more, reach forward, and reach back, and one more, all the way forward, and reach back, lower the heel, and let’s snake the foot back down. Snake, snake, snake, snake, snake, snake, and snake. And now we can just reach that leg out, lift it up, and we’re gonna roll to the other side. I need to scoot back on my mat though, okay? So starting sideline, fetal position, knee to knee, and we’re going to take that top foot, and stretch it out onto the wall, toes facing front, and start rotating.
Knee open, close, open, close, open, close, and now my leg is in extension, feels really good, I’m pushing that top hip forward towards the ocean here at Pilates Anytime. Nice, nice stretch. And slowly coming back, toe, heel, toe, heel, toe. This hip doesn’t open as well for me. You may have one of those special sides.
And let’s push into the wall and go up one more time. Toe, heel, toe, heel, toe, heel, toe, heel, and reach a little bit behind you. This time lift that heel up, and windshield wipe the leg down towards the floor, keep reaching up the wall, reach behind you. And we did forward, reach forward, and stay strong. Push that hip open as you reach back.
Two more, reach forward, and reach, push into the wall, lift up and one more. All the way forward, big arch up against the wall, lower your heel, keep that stretch, really reach, and snake it back, all the way down, and all the way back to the start position. That’s a lovely exercise and a really nice hip opener. So now let’s go ahead and take the ball once again. And we’re going to– Right in the center of your mat, you’re going to have to play around with your position.
Everybody’s a little different, depending on how warmed up your back feels. We’re going to work the ball up the wall. Okay, so take your feet to the wall. I’m sorry, to the ball on the wall, and I’m just, I’m gonna start with my feet together. Just like we do a lot on the reformer.
So walk your feet up the ball and find where your toes are pointed, just barely touching, flex, point, and bend. Push into the wall, squeeze those thighs together. And I’m just noticing I’ve got one hip in front of the other, so I have to move my mic, I think. Okay. And push, flex, point, and bend.
A little faster, push, flex, point, and bend once again, push, flex, point. and bend. Now we are in the right position, so we’re going to just take our heels, and open the toes into Pilates V. Do the same thing. Press, squeeze those inner thighs, flex, point, and bend.
Just four times. Push, flex, point, and bend. This is three. (inhales deeply) Add some breathing, and four flex, point, and bend. Now, come back to where you started, but this time think Wunda chair.
We’re going to lift the hips slightly off the floor. So you can see I’m wobbling. See what you can do. Squeeze those thighs together. Same exact thing.
Press up, flex, point, draw the ball down, but keep your hips up, two, flex, point, relax, three, flex, point, relax. One more, four, flex, I’m sweating around like a drunken sailor. Roll your hips town for a moment, and climb your feet into Pilates V. Push the ball into the wall, help stabilize, press those shoulders down, ready? Lift the hips up, and extend up, flex, point, draw it down, keep the hips up, two, flex, point, and three, flex, point, one more (inhales deeply) four, flex, point, come back.
And roll the spine down, and relax for a minute. So of course you could do single leg here. I’m trying to keep my class short, so I’m not gonna show it, but if you’re creating this on your own, you could add that in. So we’re going to move now a little bit closer to the wall and work on our long spinals. So walk the ball a little bit more up the wall.
And this is experimental for me as well. Exactly where I need to be. So it’s a work in progress. Take a breath, push the ball into the wall, start lifting the hips with straight knees, roll all the way up, breathing, really push into the wall, and think of dropping first your back of your sternum, through the thoracic spine, the back of the ribs. Think of peeling off the wall that we did at the beginning and coming down steadily through the middle back, the waistline, the pelvis, the lower back, bend the knees, take a break, breathe in, (inhales deeply) once again, feet together, take a breath, curl the tailbone, roll the ball up the wall, hold it, hold it, hold it there, hold it there, breathe in, (inhales deeply) lengthen as you roll down, just don’t roll down, but length and keep the ball steady as you can, visualize one vertebrae at a time, coming down, and relax.
Bend the knees. Take the feet just a little bit apart. So this is the second half of long spinal. Take a breath in, bare into the ball, into the wall. Breathe in, (inhales deeply) extend your legs, curl up, one vertebrae at a time.
Hold it there, breathe in, lengthen as you roll down, one vertebrae at a time, all the way down, and bend and relax. One more time we’re going to do our best, not to fall. We’re gonna lift one leg. So breathe in, (inhales deeply) straighten your legs, exhale. Roll up, really pressing into the wall with one leg, and lift the leg, (inhales deeply) exhale, bring it back.
Other side, (inhales deeply) exhale, reach it long, and (inhales deeply) reach control, and one more, (inhales deeply) take a big breath in, visualize one vertebra at a time coming down, and roll those, roll all the ball back down, relax, all the way down, and just rest for a second, take a breath with your calves on the ball. Breathe in, (inhales deeply) exhale, relax your shoulders, relax your neck, roll your head from side to side, thank yourself for doing a workout with me today, and let’s roll to the side, and press up. Hope you enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun for me to share with you.