Teaser is a pretty iconic exercise – the challenge immense, but the symmetry, really beautiful. Like Hundreds, it asks the body to defy gravity, and to do so, recruit the long muscles across whole body. From start to finish, this exercise hinges on both concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. On the way up, the anterior trunk muscles contract, along with the quads and the inner thigh muscles (and glutes if you’re really resourceful) to lift the body away from the floor. They remain contracted as the body holds the posture at the top and balances just behind the sit bones. Then, on the descent, we ask those same muscles to slow down the pull of gravity and to work (really hard!) in an elongated state as they gradually lengthen back to their resting place.
This exercise is just awesome and awe-inspiring, when done well. Teaser is one of those exercises where the instructor becomes cheerleader as well. Given the proper encouragement, modifications and progressions, students will feel a real sense of achievement when they finally master the Teaser.
To highlight the natural symmetry of this movement, I always think of one of the strangest, but coolest natural phenomena: the Venus Fly Trap. Really. It starts open, then upon trigger, both sides perfectly close into the middle and hold that shape before eventually releasing back to its resting state.
Every client loves the starting point for Roll Up – lying on the mat, heavy neutral spine. Clients know that the rolling up part is a challenge, but are in such a hurry to get back down to that lovely inhale at the bottom, that they forget that some of the best benefits of this exercise come from the eccentric use of the muscles during the descent. Maintaining the c-curve of the spine while slowly articulating each vertebrae individually into its place on the mat until, finally, the full length of the body is on the mat creates an incredibly challenging eccentric muscle contraction. Not only are you asking the muscles to contract while in an elongated state, but you are also fighting the force of gravity.
For some clients, focusing on slowing down the descent is so challenging that the c-curve is lost or the segmental spinal movement becomes a bit muddled and rushed. Try giving the clear, familiar image of slowly unrolling a long VIP red carpet (or yoga mat or other rolled up thing that comes to mind) to clients and see if the visualization of their spine as the unrolling carpet gives them a bit of perspective, helps maintain the c-curve and slows down the “rolling out” of the spine.
This cue can be useful anytime you have a client rolling down from a seated position and want them to both maintain a c-curve of the spine, and slow down the descent in order to achieve more length and control through the spine.