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Illium Center of Light, Jerome Andrews, Refined Pilates

FOURTH SPINAL SUCCESSION. THE MERMAID.

I have shared with you that Jerome Andrews said that Joseph Pilates spoke about 4 spinal positions or successions. I have written blogs on the first 2. See my blog on the First Spinal succession here http://jennycolebourne.com/jerome-andrews-pilates-the-first-spinal-succession/(opens in a new tab), about the Second Spinal Succession http://jennycolebourne.com/second-spinal-succession-and-position-for-refined-pilates-and-yoga/(opens in a new tab) Here is the 4th.

The fourth spinal succession has to do with lateral bending.

The Mermaid is the perfect exercise to explore this.

MERMAID.

RECOMMENDED.

This exercise is good for everyone. The starting position may sometimes bother those with knee problems but you do have more than one starting position to choose from. Hopefully one will suit the student.

PREGNANCY 🙂

Pregnant women can do this exercise throughout their pregnancy.  At a certain point when the belly gets larger it is better to sit cross legged or in the second starting position.

LEVEL.

Intermediate.

REPETITIONS.

 3 – 5 on each side.

NOTES.

This exercise is performed  in smooth, continuous way, with flow. The breath is always just as important as the movement.

Jenny with Pilates student and dancer Ariadne Kitsou

STARTING POSITION.

Sit on the left hip with both legs bent. The knees are pointing forward and form a zig zag. Relax in the right hip and lower it to the floor. Have the spine long and proud. The pelvis is square to the front. The arms are at the sides of the body, gently rounded as if framing the body.

There is an alternative starting position which is called 4th position in contemporary dance. This is the position shown in the picture. Sit on the left hip. Both knees are bent but this time the front leg is bent at a  45% angle and the shin bone is parallel to the front of the mat. The right knee is bent inwards and goes behind the body. Once again relax in the right hip and has far as possible lower it to the mat. The pelvis is square to the front. The arms are at the sides of the body, gently rounded as if framing the body.

Your focus is in the *middle body.

The arm can come a little closer to the ear.

BREATHE IN.
Being careful not to hyper extend the elbow, feeling the support of the left lung and shoulder blade, raise the left arm to the side and above the head in a wide, graceful arc. Keep the shoulder soft, slide the shoulder blade downwards without strain and bring the arm as close as possible to the ear. Make sure the hand and fingers have shape but that they are not tense. Once there is tension in the hand and fingers there will be tension in the shoulder. Feel the fingers extending out into space.
Feel the sit bones rooted and the crown of the head lengthening to the sky.

The arm could come closer to the ear.

BREATHE OUT.
Lengthen the spine, keep the left hip rooted to the floor and lifting up and over, bent the spine to the right. Keep the body on one plane, this is just a lateral movement which means  both shoulders will be flat to the front. The head moves as a continuation of the spine. Think of the crown of the head as being the last vertebra. At the same time the right elbow comes to the mat directly under the shoulder joint. The forearm  and the palm of the hand are parallel to the front of the mat. Make sure the underneath arm does not block your stretch. Slide it further out if you need to. Feel as though the fingertips and the crown of the head are being drawn out into space. The side of the body facing the mat should soften and condense in order to allow the the stretch in the side of the body facing the ceiling.

BREATHE IN.
Stay in the stretch. Feel of the side of the ribs, facing the ceiling, filling with your breath.

BREATHE OUT.
Deepen into the stretch by relaxing where you feel a resistance or pulling and surrendering the torso and arm to gravity. Remember to keep the opposite hip grounded. Imagine the side of the spine facing the ceiling and how the spaces in between each the vertebrae will be open like a fan.

BREATHE IN.
Roll back up vertebra by vertebra, starting, truly, from the very base of the spine, the tip of the coccyx. You place one vertebra on the other as you move up. This is the fourth spinal succession. As you come up have a picture in your head of where you will return to. You will return to your axis feeling the sit bones like they have roots going deep into the earth and the crown of the head lengthening up into space.

BREATHE OUT

Open the arm to the side and bring it down beside you.

*Middle Body. Imagine your body as if it were in 3 slices. Front body, back body and between those is the middle body.

Refined Pilates

LEG OPENINGS ARE IMPORTANT FOR IMPROVING SCOLIOSIS KYPHOSIS AND BACK ACHE

Important Information for both Pilates and Yoga Instructors and Practitioners.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR LEG ALIGNMENT

There are many exercises and asanas which involve opening the legs with large and small equipment and without equipment. It is vitally important that good leg alignment is continuously maintained. You will never injure yourself if you are patient and respect this. You can find details in my blog on this site http://jennycolebourne.com/good-leg-alignment-is-essential-for-everyone/

TREAT YOUR BODY WITH LOVING KINDNESS

It is a golden rule that you should NEVER push, force or strain when you are exercising. Respect and love your body with kindness. The truth is if you co operate with your body and gently relax and surrender into a stretch your body will open like a flower. Moving or stretching, with harshness, will only lead to more body resistance and injury. Do you like to be pushed around? Probably not. Your body is the same.

THE BREATHING DIAPHRAGM HAS THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF FASCIA

When we think of diaphragms of the body, the first one we think of, is the breathing diaphragm. The breathing diaphragm is obviously, vitally, important. It plays a crucial role as to how much oxygen reaches the millions of cells of our body. It has the highest concentration of fascia in the body. Fascia can store psychological and physical trauma which can lead to postural dysfunction, strain and pain.

THE BODY’S DIAPHRAGMS

The breathing diaphragm is just one of a series of diaphragms in our body. The one diaphragm is balanced on top of the other. The one affects the other. 

The pelvic diaphragm is positively opened when we do leg openings and than in turn had helps the breathing diaphragm to release. You will notice that your own breath, and the breathing of your students, becomes deeper as you do leg openings. In turn, the thoracic inlet softens. Necks release. The positive wave of release continues up through the crown of the head, resulting in a longer spine and a happier human.

A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I remember many years ago, long before we had the knowledge of fascia that we do today, I was suffering from quite severe and debilitating back pain. In those days I had a shiatsu therapist at Illium Center. I asked her to give me a treatment. I remember I had intense pain as she applied pressure to points around my should blade. It was very painful. All of a sudden it was as if the the top of my head blew off or popped open. AND there it was, MAGIC, my back pain was gone!

LEG OPENINGS HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON SCOLIOSIS, KYPHOSIS AND BACK ACHE.

SOME EXAMPLES OF LEG OPENS IN THE PILATES TECHNIQUE AND YOGA.

(This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but just some examples.)

PILATES

Mat Work.

Spine Stretch

Saw

Open Leg Rocker.

Reformer

Second position using the full opening in the leg work series.

(See my video on You Tube.) https://youtu.be/zvWamobo9FI

Leg Openings with Assistance. (I will be releasing a new video on this shortly and teaching a special class about it.)

Leg springs. (These can also be done on the Cadillac.)

Standing Splits

Wunda Chair

Spine Stretch

Front and Side Lunges.

Baby Barrel and Spine Corrector.

Circles

Splits 

Helicopter

(This series can be done during mat work with a small soft ball under the sacrum.)

YOGA

Deep Forward Bends standing and seated.

Hanuman.

Enjoy exercising consciously. Enjoy your observations and the deep changes in your body.

Illium Center of Light

Jerome Andrews’ Pilates. THE FIRST SPINAL SUCCESSION.

PILATES USED FOUR POSITIONS OF THE SPINE

Jerome Andrews’ explained that Joseph Pilates referred to four positions of the spine.
The first position of the spine was a rounded back, or what is sometimes referred to as the “C” curve.
The easiest way to explore the first position of the spine is on all fours. it is important that the thigh bone and the arm bones are perpendicular to the floor. Imagine that you have roots extending from the knees going deep into the earth. The knees are in a straight line with the hip joints. The arms are straight. It is important that we avoid hyper extending or tensing the elbows. The palm of the hand is fully in touch with the floor and the fingers are are spread wide. The middle finger points directly forward. Make sure the whole length of the finger is in touch with the floor, especially the roots of the fingers. Making sure that we distribute the weight of the body through the whole hand out into the fingertips helps us to avoid pressure or tension in the wrists. Imagine that you have roots extending from the palms deep into the earth and that he wrist is directly in a line with the shoulder joints.

CONCENTRATION AND ACCURACY IS IMPORTANT

The palms of the hands and the knees are sites of support. Accuracy is important. If we have our knee, for example, just 1 cm more back of the hip joint, we will not have the as much support and as a result our attempts to articulate the spine will be less effective. We allow gravity to affect our sites of support because the more we feel our roots the more easy the exercise will be and the more subtle our movements can be.

The spine is in second position (straight and parallel to the floor) to start.

The student focuses on moving from the bones of the body, the skeleton, and leaves the muscles and fascia relaxed so that they follow the direction of the bones.

First spinal succession can start either at the top or the bottom of the spine depending on what is more appropriate for the movement.

The focus is extremely specific. The student concentrates on accessing the back edge of the spine, when moving into the first spinal succession . The spinal processes form the back edge of the spine and have a completely different quality to the front part of the spine. Let us say that the student is starting the movement from the tip of the coccyx. The student focuses on the back edge of each vertebra, moving one vertebra at a time into the rounded position. It is important to truly follow the spine one vertebra at a time, paying attention to each one until you reach the very last vertebra in the neck which is just behind the nose.

 It is important not to skip over a vertebra that might be a little more difficult to move individually. Those vertebrae are often the more important ones that we need to mobilise! When we are exploring and being curious about this process we can spend more time with a “stubborn” vertebra, soften and relax around it, and with our out breath achieve a movement.

MOVE THE SPINOUS PROCESSES ONE BY ONE.

You can think about the spinous processes like they are the quills of a porcupine that pop out of the skin one by one. An image that worked for me was to think about how a mother cat picks up her kittens. It is as if you delicately lift up the vertebra and it pops out of the skin.

It is important not to grip around any area of the spine. In order to mobilise the coccyx and the sacrum (the tail) the back of the pelvis needs to be soft and it is very important to avoid tension in the hip joints.

When we move into the neck area the shoulders need to be completely relaxed.

To achieve full articulation make sure the front of the body is totally relaxed. Soften the last rib and allow the breast bone to move gently inwards.

There is no need to think of engaging the pelvic floor or pulling the abdomen in. If we can articulate the spine our pelvic floor muscle will engage just enough and we will access the deep abdominals. This happens in a much more essential way, if we truly move from the bones of the spine, and allow the muscles and fascia to follow.

USE YOUR BREATH.

Use as many breaths as you need. Take as much time as you need to explore and be curious about this process. The body remembers deep work and will reward you. Just use your out breath to relax any holding patterns or pain.

Being able to move the spine bone by bone with such sensitivity is healing. It will relieve pain and sites of tension. As we learn to apply the spinal succession to all forms of movement and even advanced exercises we will never injure ourselves.

It is a process which is good for everyone.

Copyright: Jenny Colebourne

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