The movement of the spine is a complex process. One goal of Pilates is to achieve precise and sequential movement of one vertebra to the next vertebra, which we called the spinal articulation. To enforce that idea, I had my students do a standing roll down while facing the wall, with a Roller standing near their sitz bones:
This is to prevent them from shifting their weight backwards as they roll down, bringing the focus to the lifting of the abdominal muscles, rolling and lengthening of their necks and spines.
The spine is also meant to be moved in all directions. We worked on lateral flexion with side bends against the wall to ensure a straight back:
instead of arching or leaning forward:
We then flex diagonally downwards before coming up to a side bend in the opposite direction and lifting up to a standing position:
A spine extension is then included to stretch the sternum away from the ribs. Of course, we can’t possible neglect spine rotation. After our usual lunges to stretch our hamstrings, we straighten our spines at that position to do a spine twist.
To restore flexibility to the lower back through spinal flexion, we did Rolling Like a Ball followed by increasingly difficulty pieces such as Seal and Open Leg Rocker.
We then move on to spinal extension to maintain muscle balance. Baby Swan was carried out with focus on retracting shoulder to raise the upper trunk further. We then lift all the limbs and hold in that position for a minute to strengthen our back muscles. We tried a modification of Swan Dive with hands supported for each dive.
We then ended the class with our first exercise, Standing Roll down to let them feel the difference after an entire lesson of spine articulation, flexibility and strengthening.
Written by Jasmine Lee