Guest Contributor: Nichole L’vov, Pilates Instructor
Teaser is one of the most challenging exercises in the Pilates mat repertoire. It requires a complex series of movements and rapid firing of multiple muscles in order to accomplish. Many Pilates enthusiasts find that they are not able to perform the exercise at all or if they can, their form is nowhere near perfect. Besides the necessary abdominal strength to lift oneself into the pose, the second most important physical requirement is proper muscle balance and length. That is where Soma System comes in. Reducing muscles tightness and tension, lengthening and restoring the balance to muscle groups is a goal of Pilates and it can be helped along more quickly with Soma System. With the help of the Soma System tools, we can target muscles that tend to hold us back from performing a perfect teaser. Follow along belong to see how you can improve your teaser within just a few minutes thanks to Soma System.
Tight hamstrings (muscles on the back of the thigh) are the number one issue I see in my clients. If you have tight hamstrings, performing a perfect teaser is nearly impossible! Take this technique from Soma System to improve your hamstring length and you’ll find getting those legs in the air feels a lot less stressful.
Tame Tension in your Hammies
It is always a good idea to take note of what your body feels like before you perform Soma System. Bend forward and try to touch your toes. Take note of how tight your legs feel or if one side is tighter than the other. Take a yoga block and place it on the floor vertically in front of you.
Place your right foot on the edge of the block with metatarsals lined up as best you can on the top edge. Drop toes onto the block and make sure your heel is firmly planted into the floor. Square your hips to the block, placing hands on hips. Inhale and lengthen spine, drawing top of head to the ceiling.Exhale and fold at the hips, keeping back straight and belly drawn in to support the spine.
Lean as far forward from the hips until you feel a stretch in the right hamstring. Hold for one breath and then with a big exhale, allow your back to round and your head to hang.
Place fingertips on the block, or hold hands on front of shins. If you have particularly tight hamstrings and cannot get near the floor at all, use another yoga block (or two) to prop up your hands so you are not hanging in space. Allow the head, neck and shoulders to be completely relaxed and breathe deeply. Maintain a scoop in your belly to support your spine and try not to lock out your knees. Even a slight bend in the knee is okay. Hold for at least 30 seconds and then take hands and place them to the big toe side of the block. Try to keep hips square even though the upper body will be at a slight angle. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply. Return to center with the hands for one breath. Then take hands to pinky toe side of block and breathe for another 30 seconds. Return to center. Take one last deep breath releasing any tension in the head, neck and shoulders. Bend both knees, place hands on hips and, lifting and drawing in your abdominals, roll your spine back up to a standing position.
Check In and Repeat:
Bend forward and try to touch your toes. Feel the difference between your right and left side. Then repeat entire sequence on other leg.
Release Quad Tension
Many times when you are holding yourself in a Teaser, you feel your quadriceps (muscles on the front of your thighs) start to grip and tighten up. This immediately takes you out of your powerhouse and puts the work into the legs. Legs should feel “weightless” and many times that just doesn’t happen. It really helps to use the Soma System to release any trigger points, tightness and restriction in the quadriceps before you perform a Teaser. Here’s how to do it:
Take the Big Orange (large inflatable ball) and lay down in a prone position on your stomach. Place the Big Orange on the front of the right thigh just above the kneecap (never roll on your kneecap). Come up onto the elbows and take the left leg out to the side in a frog position.
Controlling the amount of pressure down into the Big Orange by using the elbows and left knee, begin to roll the ball up and down the lower half of the quad several times. Then internally rotate the leg and roll along that outer edge of the quads and then externally rotate the leg and roll along the inside edge of the quad. Try to sense any lumps, bumps or particularly sore areas of the quad. When you find one you’d like to work on, stop on that area and lower your body onto the floor, returning the left leg back underneath your body and long on the mat.
Slowly, bend the right knee slowly and lower to the floor several times. Make sure to inhale and exhale deeply to encourage relaxation. Shoulders should be completely relaxed. Then, keeping the knee bent, windshield wiper the shin side to side while keeping constant pressure into the ball. After 3 or 4 times, return the leg to the floor and curl the toes under, placing pressure down into the floor. Hold for two breaths and then release completely. Flush the area by rolling along the length of the quads 2-3 more times. Repeat process from mid thigh to just at the groin.
Check in and Repeat:
Come up to a high kneeling position with hands on hips. Maintaining a neutral pelvis, hinge back from the knee and feel the difference between the right and left quad. (Do not do this if you have knee problems) Repeat entire process on left leg.
Now you are ready to perform your Teaser!