Imagine you’ve been caught out in the rain without an umbrella. When you get home you will take off your sodden T-Shirt and wring it out. Each end moves in an opposite direction and the fabric seems to get longer. Joseph Pilates refers to ‘wringing every drop of water from a wet cloth’. Keep this image in mind when thinking about lengthening your spine.
Saw Prep Exercises
To start, sit with legs mat width apart and interlace your fingers behind your head with your elbows slightly forward.
Seated Spine Twist
Inhale to grow taller and spiral as far as there is no shift in your legs or pelvis, exhale to return to centre.
Seated Side Bends
Inhale to grow taller and tilt to the side as far as you feel that both your Sitz bones stay heavy on the mat, exhale to return to centre.
Seated Thoracic Circles
Exhale to glide your ribs towards your pelvis as though you’re doing a Pilates ‘chest lift’, start to inhale as you come around to a side bend and then continue to circle so you open your collar bones to the ceiling, start to exhale as you continue to circle into a side bend on the opposite side and then return to the centre. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Then continue the circles with more of a focus on the diagonals (as seen in the video) as you transition from position to position.
To start, sit with legs mat width apart, arms at ‘T’ position.
Inhale rotate the torso to one side, exhale and flex forward over opposite leg with back of the hand aiming towards the outside of the foot and lowering the back arm to the ground behind you. Inhale to stack the spine to sitting in rotation with arms lifted, exhale return to centre. Repeat 3 times to each side.
If you can stay equally seated on your Sitz bones, now you can add an arm variation. As you exhale and flex now lift the back arm with little finger pointing to the ceiling before completing this exercise as before. Repeat 3 times to each side.
Can you add an extra inhale and exhale in the rotated and flexed position? This will be an extra challenge.
Things to watch out for when you are not doing this exercise under supervision:
- Start with an upward lift from the hips, travelling along the spine and out through the top of the head
- Soften the chin to keep tailbone tucked under when moving
- Stay sitting evenly on both Sitz bones throughout the exercise
- Imagine you are slicing through the air with the front arm ensuring that you maintain a stable between arm and shoulder. It is the flexion and rotation that moves the arm forward.
- Sit on a rolled up towel or half foam roller if your hamstrings are tight. Take care to still lengthen your spine rather than leaning forward
What you will feel:
- An easing of feelings of tightness in your upper back
- All those deep back muscles working to maintain length in your spine
- A sense of feeling taller when you’ve finished ‘wringing every drop of water out of the fabric of your torso’
- As graceful as a swan with your head perfectly balanced on top of your long spine