Pilates Exercise of the Month: The Seal
Jocelyn Paoli, Stott Certified Pilates Instructor
Purpose: To massage the spinal muscles, work the powerhouse, test balance and coordination. It is often done at or near the end of a mat routine.
1. Sit at the front of your mat with knees bent to your chest and heels together. Open your knees to shoulder width. Hands reaching through the legs to hold outside of ankles.
2. Tip back and balance on your tailbone. Bring your feet just above the mat. Keep the knees within your frame; scoop the navel deeper.
3. Inhale, roll back, pulling your feet with you. Balance on the base of the shoulder blades. Allow your legs to extend slightly until your feet are over your head (head stays on mat). Clap the heels 3 times (like a seal clapping its’ flippers).
4. Exhale as you roll forward to the starting position, tucking your chin into your chest. Balance and clap the heels together 3 times. Your heels should not touch the mat.
5. Repeat 5-8 times; feeling the massage up and down the muscles of your back.
Maintain a constant C curve of the spine.
Never roll onto your head, neck or shoulders – only the base of the shoulder blade.
Initiate rolling back from the powerhouse not from the head.
Don’t use momentum when rolling up. Roll up slightly slower than you rolled back to challenge the abs.
Note: Omit this exercise if you have an acute back injury.
Modification: You can begin without the claps and add 1, 2, then 3 claps as balance improves.
Visualization: Imagine you are on a rocker, balancing on the edges of both the front and back; trying not to tip over in either direction.
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