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Refined Pilates

WUNDA CHAIR

FOOT WORK 

VARIATION WITH THE LEGS IN PARALLEL IN “HIGH RELEVÉ” 

(ON THE TOES WITH VERY HIGH HEELS)

SPRINGS.

On my Wunda Chair, which is hand made, I use the combination of one spring up and one down. I have three positions to choose from. Look for a moderate amount of resistance on your Wundq chair. A resistance that gives you the support that you need but is not so strong that you cannot take care of the finer details of the movement.

LEVEL

The Wunda Chair Foot Work is more challenging than the Foot Work on the Reformer because you need to maintain the axis of the spine without the support of the carriage. For this reason I would class it as an intermediate level of exercise. I recommend you first try the exercise under the guidance of a good and experienced teacher.

REPETITIONS.

10 times in each position.

SUITABILITY.

The exercise is suitable for most students of all ages, including those with scoliosis, kyphosis and lordosis. It is a great way to do “Leg Work” when you are pregnant. You may need to open the feet, hip width apart, in the later stages of pregnancy. And, of course, the exercises are great for after you have given birth. Many people who have hip, knee and ankle problems can successfully do these exercises if they take good care of their leg alignment. Please refer to my blog…

BREATH IN.

Breath in feeling as if you fill the whole of the back of the lungs with air, every cell. Imagine that the air is expanding all of the area from the to of the shoulders down to the last ribs. If you think about how large the lungs are it gives you a great sense of support.

Start the in breath slightly before the movement, as if the breath initiates the movement and then have the breath accompany the movement, lasting as long as the movement.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TOES AND THE FEET AS SITES OF SUPPORT.

Spread and lengthen the toes and place them on the bar. Emphasise the opening of the space between the first and second toe. The feet are together. Lift the heels very high, relax the back of the ankle to allow the heel to lift and make sure that you keep the heels together. Sense all the toes against the bar. Press with all of the toes but press more with the big and the second toes This is your site of support. At the same time engage the muscles of the pelvic floor press the bar down. Take it down only as far as the spine remains in a state of balance, on it’s axis. Be careful you don’t move forward, at all towards the legs. It does not matter if the bar goes all the way down or not.

As you press the bar down, in this way, you will feel the spine lengthen automatically even more. Feel as though the crown of the head moves up in the opposite direction to the movement of the legs, to the ceiling.

BREATH OUT.

When you breath out, empty the air completely for the lungs. (There is no need to push as you do this.) During the out breath the abdomen naturally moves inward, take advantage of this natural impulse and relax the abdomen into the inside edge of the spine. If you are too tense it does not happen and you loose this support and a lot of energy unnecessarily. Match the speed of the out breath with the movement. The movement is slightly slower than the pushing down.

Let the the springs bring the bar up. In the meantime focus on softening very deeply infant of the hip joints and maintain the length in the spine. Make sure the ankles remain in the same position. 

THE THORAX AND THE DIAPHRAGM ARE RELAXED THROUGHOUT.

The thorax simply floats directly above the bowl of the pelvis. A very common correction is to put the ribs in but this simply creates tension in the diaphragm which in turn blocks the effortless, deep breathing which is such an essential part of each exercise. Looking from above you would see the head floating directly above the shoulder girdle, the shoulder girdle directly above the thorax and the thorax above the pelvis. One on top of the other. It is a state of balance.

The diaphragm is free to move fully creating free, full breathing and a beautiful massage for all the organs of the body and the spine.

WITH EACH REPETITION YOU GET TALLER. THIS IS SOMETHING CLEARLY VISIBLE AND NOT IMAGINED.

STARTING POSITION.

Themis Andreaoulaki: Dancer and Refined Pilates Teacher. I am proud to say one of my graduates!

Sit on the chair facing towards the bar. The spine is on it’s axis.  Sit in the middle of the seat. The closer you sit to the front edge of the chair the more challenging the exercise. You can try this as you get more advanced. 

PLEASE CONSULT THE NOTES ON THE FOOT AND LEG ALIGNMENT in my blog http://jennycolebourne.com/good-leg-alignment-is-essential-for-everyone/

The arms can be in the following positions:

1. Straight with soft elbows on either side of the body, forming a frame for the body.

2. Cossack arms.

3. Holding a stick, magic circle or ball in front of the chest.

The last two variations can be useful, in that your teacher can have a clearer view of what happens to the spine during the exercise. Or you can check yourself in a mirror.

“COSSACK ARMS” DETAILS

I have chosen “Cossack Arms” for the photographs. Here are some details of how to maintain this position with grace and ease.

Imagine that your collarbone is twice as wide as what you see. Very subtly send the shoulder joints slightly back of the collarbones. You may feel your shoulders blades glide a little closer. The arms are parallel to the floor, imagine they are supported by water and this should help you not to gather tension in the shoulders. The middle fingers hold on to the skin just above the opposite elbow.

Make sure that you feel the breast bone is wide. There is a sense of subtle opening between the breast bone and the ribs. At no point does the breast bone drop or close.

FINDING YOUR AXIS AND A LONG SPINE

Make sure you are sitting directly on your pelvic floor. If you find this hard you may wish to put a firm cushion under your sit bones. 

Imagine the pelvis from underneath, the pubic bone, the sit bones and the tip of the coccyx. Sit directly on top of this space. 

Imagine a line extending from they center of the pelvic floor down into the earth. This line also travels up and leaves out of the crown of the head. This is your axis. It is an imagined line of energy. The spine maintains it’s natural curves which touch this line at different points. The spine feels light and long almost as if it were hanging from the crown of the head.

SECOND POSITION OF THE SPINE

According to Jerome Andrews, Pilates referred to the straight spine as the second position of the spine. See my blog on the Second Position of the Spine.

Focus into the center of the spine.

If you think of the body as having three “slices”, front, middle and back.  Be in touch with the middle body.

THE PELVIC FLOOR AND THE INTERNAL ABDOMINAL MUSCLES.

Support your elongated spine by energising the pelvic floor. This is not a tightening but rather an almost archetypal energy which moves up through the body and which engages and connects with the internal abdominal muscles through a fascial connection. The abdomen is pulled into the inside edge of the spine. Each out breath helps us increase this sensation.

BREATH IN.

Breath in feeling as if you fill the whole of the back of the lungs with air, every cell. Imagine that the air is expanding all of the area from the to of the shoulders down to the last ribs. If you think about how large the lungs are it gives you a great sense of support.

Start the in breath slightly before the movement, as if the breath initiates the movement and then have the breath accompany the movement, lasting as long as the movement.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TOES AND THE FEET AS SITES OF SUPPORT.

Spread and lengthen the toes and place them on the bar. Emphasise the opening of the space between the first and second toe. The feet are together. Lift the heels very high, relax the back of the ankle to allow the heel to lift and make sure that you keep the heels together. Sense all the toes against the bar. Press with all of the toes but press more with the big and the second toes This is your site of support. At the same time engage the muscles of the pelvic floor press the bar down. Take it down only as far as the spine remains in a state of balance, on it’s axis. Be careful you don’t move forward, at all towards the legs. It does not matter if the bar goes all the way down or not.

As you press the bar down, in this way, you will feel the spine lengthen automatically even more. Feel as though the crown of the head moves up in the opposite direction to the movement of the legs, to the ceiling.

BREATH OUT.

When you breath out, empty the air completely for the lungs. (There is no need to push as you do this.) During the out breath the abdomen naturally moves inward, take advantage of this natural impulse and relax the abdomen into the inside edge of the spine. If you are too tense it does not happen and you loose this support and a lot of energy unnecessarily. Match the speed of the out breath with the movement. The movement is slightly slower than the pushing down.

Let the the springs bring the bar up. In the meantime focus on softening very deeply infant of the hip joints and maintain the length in the spine. Make sure the ankles remain in the same position. 

THE THORAX AND THE DIAPHRAGM ARE RELAXED THROUGHOUT.

The thorax simply floats directly above the bowl of the pelvis. A very common correction is to put the ribs in but this simply creates tension in the diaphragm which in turn blocks the effortless, deep breathing which is such an essential part of each exercise. Looking from above you would see the head floating directly above the shoulder girdle, the shoulder girdle directly above the thorax and the thorax above the pelvis. One on top of the other. It is a state of balance.

The diaphragm is free to move fully creating free, full breathing and a beautiful massage for all the organs of the body and the spine.

WITH EACH REPETITION YOU GET TALLER. THIS IS SOMETHING CLEARLY VISIBLE AND NOT IMAGINED.

VARIATIONS.

  1. Toes, heels and knees together with the ankles in a soft relieve 9 the heels slightly lifted.

2. The feet apart in parallel with the heels in a line with the sit bones. (In this version it is easier to maintain the spinal axis.) Small balls or cushions can be placed between the ankles or between both the ankles and the knees. These aids should be used with care. Make sure they do not, in any way, interfere with the alignment of the legs but help bring an awareness of  leg alignment, the inner edge of the leg and the connection with the pelvic floor. The purpose is not to squeeze them, just enough pressure should be used to not loose them.

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

Illium Center of Light, Online Classes, Pilates, Pilates Instructor Training, Zoom

STAND OUT AS A PILATES TEACHER

Ξεχώρισε ως δασκάλα/ος Pilates!Eκπαιδευτικό Πρόγραμμα Refined Pilates μέσω Ζoom από την Jenny Colebourne. Έτος 1. Mat work.Η Jenny Colebourne διδάσκει Pilates από το 1975 και εκπαιδεύει δασκάλους Pilates από το 1984.Με αφορμή τις νέες ανάγκες της εποχής και τις προσκλήσεις της πανδημίας, η διδασκαλία έχει προσαρμοστεί έτσι ώστε να γίνεται σε διαδικτυακή μορφή στα ελληνικά & στα αγγλικά.Αν ενδιαφέρεστε, αφήστε μας το mail σας για να λάβετε αναλυτική περιγραφή του εκπαιδευτικού προγράμματος.

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Stand out as a Pilates Teacher!Year 1. Mat Work. Refined Pilates Teacher Training on Zoom by Jenny Colebourne,Teaching Pilates since 1974. Teaching exceptional teachers since 1984.

Languages: English & Greek.

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