Turn on the High Beams – Editing Out Transverse Movement

Here’s an imagery cue that works well in so many situations.  Supine, standing, even during movement.  It’s so versatile that you can probably use it about 5 different ways in 1 class.

Photo by Mikes Photos from Pexels

Headlights.  When your aim is to edit out transverse movement, this is the cue for you.  Think of headlights on a car.  Both shine in the same direction, straight ahead of the car.  You can’t disassociate the car from the headlights.  Where the car points, the headlights point.  And vice versa.

Imagine that the hips bones are mounted with headlights and just like a car, those headlights must shine directly ahead of the body.  Hip disassociation exercises lend themselves particularly well to this cue.  Leg Circles I, Shoulder Bridge, Bridging w single leg variations, Standing Balance I/II and others enjoy improved form and more benefits are reaped when this cue is used.  In supine, headlights shine on the ceiling directly above; in Standing Balance I, towards the wall or mirror just ahead; and Standing Balance II, the floor just below.

Feel free to play with this one and see which exercises it improves for your clients.  Often times introducing it towards the start of a class is a good idea because you can refer back to it with other exercises you didn’t even realize it would be helpful for!


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Growing Taller From the Ground Up

Imagine…a woman puts one leg up to rest on a plush chair, then she begins pulling up her silk stockings, slowly and seductively, inch by inch, all the way to the top of her thigh.  We’ve all seen that scene in a movie.  What does this have to do with Pilates you ask?  Well, a lot.

It gets at the question: how do we stand taller and create length from the ground up?  Whether planting the foot firmly on the mat, or the foot bar or whatever surface we’re working on, we are working with more than just bones stacked neatly upon bones.  Our legs are literally stockings of muscle.

Source: tenor.com

Stand up.  Take a moment to bring awareness to the feet.  Focus that awareness on your toes, the blade and heel of your foot.  Feel them firmly pressing into the mat.  Now shift the awareness to the arches of your feet.  Begin the lift here.  Lift through your arches and feel the muscle engagement travel up the leg in slow motion.  Mentally “pull up” your stockings of muscle, inch by inch, just like the woman in the movie scene pulling up her stockings.  Continue all the way up the thigh to the pelvic floor.

This chain of engagement naturally continues from the pelvic floor to the TA, all the way up the spine to the crown of the head.  Until you just might actually be that elusive inch taller – not to mention properly aligned and ready to get the most out of the exercise.


Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All Rights Reserved.

Sit Up Taller – Axial Elongation is Key

Joseph Pilates said, “Good posture can be successfully acquired when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control.  Graceful carriage follows as a matter of course.”  In other words, when axial elongation is achieved, the body’s alignment allows for greater freedom and efficiency of movement.  The problem is, how do we get our clients to that point?  How do you explain that perfect posture isn’t just unhunching your shoulders?

Try this: Imagine someone holding a bunch of balloons on a string that is attached to the crown of your head.  Now imagine that the person lets go.  As the balloons float upwards, the string pulls your crown with it and forces you to sit up very straight – inches taller than you were.  You call upon your cervical, trunk and pelvic floor musculature in order to eek a bit more height out of your spine and pelvic skeletal structures.  This lengthening creates more space between your vertebra, also known as axial elongation, allowing for that increased freedom and efficiency of movement, or “graceful carriage.”

This cue can be used to correct positioning during specific exercises (spine twist, mermaid, standing balance, etc.) where the posture is meant to be maintained throughout, or we can use this to properly set up for other exercises that begin in or pass through this position (rollup, standing roll down, spine stretch, saw, and so many more!).

See if this cue doesn’t help your clients feel just a tad bit taller when they leave class!


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