Happy Halloween! Reach for Your Inner Witch!

At the end of a class, many Pilates instructors tout the line “feel that you’ve grown an inch taller today.”  What’s more accurate, probably, would be to say “feel that you’ve found and extra inch in your height today.”  And that might actually be possible for some.

Consider for a moment, sitting up straight, as tall as you can.  Could you possibly sit up any taller?  Most likely, you could.  If you were told to hug into your midline, lift your pelvic floor and create space between your vertebra.  All fine and good, but what about your clients?  Would that granular instruction work for them?  Where is the midline?  And how on Earth do we find the pelvic floor (more on that here)?

Today’s cue has the purpose of giving the client a goal when it comes to axial elongation; something they can reach for, quite literally.  Ask the client to imagine a witch’s black, pointy-tipped hat (still going with the season here, but a top hat works just as well) hovering just above his or her head when she’s seated.  Ask the client to sit up straight and reach the spine into length in order to fit the hat onto her head.

I find this is most effective at the end of a movement.  For instance, as the client comes to the top of Assisted Rollup and is meant to find a neutral spine and pause, give the cue as she is reaching for axial elongation and neutral spine.  You’ll find that the client will give you a little extra reach, possibly that elusive extra inch, if you give her a something to reach for!

 

Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

Cutting Out Momentum in Challenging Supine Exercises

When it comes to Pilates and results, momentum is not usually our friend.  Momentum allows us to more easily complete some movements without having to utilize our bodies in the proper way – in other words, to cheat.  With momentum, we can fight against gravity with more than just our muscular recruitment and skeletal positioning.

But cueing to discourage using momentum is difficult and can sometimes be disheartening to a client who feels that it’s the only way they can accomplish the movement.  So, use this cue with a grain of salt.  If your client is ready to execute more challenging, gravity defying supine exercises, specifically, Roll Up, Neck Pull, and Teaser, then go ahead and challenge them with this cue.  If your client is just starting to get to these exercises without modification, try adding this cue to applicable modifications or regressions (Assisted Rollup, Teaser with bent knees, etc) prior to asking them to do the full exercises in slow motion.

The cue is simple: sticky tape.  Imagine that your spine is lying on a track of very sticky tape on the floor.  You must peel your spine off the sticky tape, vertebrae by vertebrae.  Imagine struggling against the sticky tape to free each knob of the spine.  This cue works a little bit like my previous post about moving through honey: it creates an imaginary hindrance to the client’s movement.

See if that cue doesn’t cut out momentum, slow things down, enhance segmental spine movement – all the while creating a crazy burn in the process!

Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

Pilates Reference Cues – Using Bridging to Perfect More Challenging Exercises

One of the most pertinent reference points for Pilates students is Pilates itself.  So many of the exercises build on each other and it is a great tool to be able to refer back to some of the movements achieved in an exercise the client knows well, in order to set the stage for a new or more challenging sequence.

Let’s start the discussion today with a gimme.  Bridging.  It’s one of the first exercises we learn and a staple in class planning.  I’ve mentioned the escalator cue for bridging in an earlier article, so let’s build on that.  As a client becomes more familiar with the segmental spine movement inherent to bridging, it is an easy one to refer back to when we introduce a new exercise or help the client improve upon an exercise that they find more challenging.

Any time we want the client to move bone by bone through the spine, we can always refer back to bridging.  The examples are diverse and plentiful.  To start with, this referral cue translates for Roll Down and Roll Up.  It’s great for seated exercises such as Spine Stretch, Saw.  It’s great for exercises that require movement from seated to lying down: Assisted Roll Up, Teaser. It’s even key to getting the most out of the descent of inversion exercises: Roll Over, Corkscrew, Jack Knife.

I could probably go on and list most exercises in the whole of the Pilates repertoire, but you get the point.  Use the Bridge.

 

Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.