spine stretch

Already a full week down, and we are ON to Day 8 of March MATness. Today features The Spine Stretch — aka Spine Stretch Forward — from Joe Pilates’ book “A Return to Life Through Contrology.”

The Basics

  • Sit tall with your legs in a straddle pose. Joe says: draw legs as far apart as possible, plus draw your pointed toes up and back.
  • Scoop your stomach in and back as you reach forward.

Oh, this one is simply maddening, isn’t it? What’s happening???

Pilates Magic Happening Here:

  • The C-curve: this is where we really work on that Distributed Scoop. You’re pulling the stomach in and rounding your spine, but you’re also NOT collapsing forward. See how my spine is evenly rounded — no jagged edges. I think I could have tucked my chin a smidge more to make the curve of my neck better align with the curve of my spine.
  • Super Hero Shoulders: to help keep tension out of my neck, I’m drawing my armpits toward my hips. Say it in your head: pits toward hips, pits toward hips.
  • Control Freak: Press. Those. Legs. Down.  I know, I know, mine want to edge around and float up too. Push them down and you’ll feel more ooomph in your Powerhouse.
  • Two-way Reach: yes, it’s happening here too! The stomach pulls back, as the heels push forward.

Teaching Tips:

  • The #1 thing that goes amiss in Spine Stretch: jamming the chin down toward the chest. Yeah, I know, Joe says to do that. But it’s not doing you any favors. In my world, the neck curve follows the curve of the rest of the spine. Don’t lead with your head!
  • For those with tight hamstrings, try propping the hips up. Yay, you’ll find some movement in that pelvis.
  • If you have a tower or wall available, try pushing the feet into it.