Movements of The Spine

Flexion of Entire Spine

From Standing

  • Roll down as if your were Alice in Wonderland diving down your rabbit whole and you didn’t want to get your beautiful dress dirty. (Jessica Fudim – EHS Pilates)
  • With arms raised overhead, peel down from your fingertips as if you were trying to fold yourself inside your clothes. (Bibi Sillem)
  • Imagine yourself like a piece of tape stuck to the wall. Peel your spine off the wall one tiny increment at a time.
  • Imagine yourself like a bandaid. Slowly peel your spine away from the skin without causing any pain.
  • Roll down your spine toward the floor as if you were curling up and over a white picket fence. (Jessica Fudim)
  • Cascade your spine down over your legs one vertebrae at a time like a slow trickling waterfall. Keep your knees soft and arms and shoulders heavy. Allow your head to fully release from between your shoulder blades. (Chantill Lopez)

From Supine

  • Peel your spine off the mat like peeling a fruit sticker off an apple. (Jo Braden)
  • Start by imagining a pencil running through your ears. Nod your chin just enough to rotate a quarter turn around your pencil. Then continue to curl up as if you were a baby fern curling back into its self. (Pencil image taken from Marie Jose-Bloom variation.)
  • Imagine your spine is on a conveyor belt. As you peel your head and shoulders up off the mat feel each vertebrae being gently pulled backward before coming up off the floor. (Taken in part from Eric Franklin.)
  • Imagine each vertebra like a seat on a Ferris Wheel.  As you pick up one vertebra at a time feel it drop down toward the floor, slide back toward the wall behind you and then finally be picked up off the floor. (Chantill Lopez and others unknown).

From Sitting or Other Positions

  • Coming up and over a beach ball in your lap.
  • Curl your spine like you are trying to come up and over a barrel.
  • Imagine you are wearing a wedding dress with buttons all down the back. Peel your spine forward one button at a time. (Ellie Herman)
  • Imagine your spine like a sail that has caught a great gust of wind.
  • Draw the crown of your head toward your pubic bone and vise versa without…
    • loosing any space between the ribs and the hips
    • loosing any space between the vertebra
    • shortening the spine
    • loosing your since of height

Movements of The Spine

Flexion of Lumbar Spine

General

  • Imagine your pelvis like a wheel or gear. Turn your wheel in place moving the pubic bone toward your nose. Do not shorten the waist. (Marie Jose- Bloom)
  • Gently lengthen your tailbone forward toward your pubic bone letting the low back to lengthen.
  • Squish a grape under your low back.

From Supine

  • Reach your sit bones toward the back of your calves. (Chantill Lopez)
  • Imagine you had paintbrushes on your sit bones and you were going to paint a yellow line from your heel to the back of your knee. (Chantill  Lopez)
  • Gently press your low back into the mat until you feel your tailbone start to float off the floor.

From Sitting

  • Draw the point two fingers below your belly button back deeply until you feel your low back curl.
  • Keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips, curl your sit bones under you.
  • Imagine pressing your sacrum back into a wall while keeping the rest of the spine relatively still.
  • Slide your sit bones forward on the floor until you feel the low back round.

From Prone

  • Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
  • Gently lift the front hip points away from the floor allowing the pubic bone to drop into the mat. Do this without using your glutes.
  • Imagine an ice cube under your bellybutton and lift up away from it until you feel your low back lengthen.

Movements of The Spine

Flexion of Thoracic Spine

General

  • Imagine your pelvis like a wheel or gear. Turn your wheel in place moving the pubic bone toward your nose. Do not shorten the waist. (Marie Jose- Bloom)
  • Gently lengthen your tailbone forward toward your pubic bone letting the low back to lengthen.
  • Squish a grape under your low back.

From Supine

  • Reach your sit bones toward the back of your calves. (Chantill Lopez)
  • Imagine you had paintbrushes on your sit bones and you were going to paint a yellow line from your heel to the back of your knee. (Chantill  Lopez)
  • Gently press your low back into the mat until you feel your tailbone start to float off the floor.

From Sitting

  • Draw the point two fingers below your belly button back deeply until you feel your low back curl.
  • Keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips, curl your sit bones under you.
  • Imagine pressing your sacrum back into a wall while keeping the rest of the spine relatively still.
  • Slide your sit bones forward on the floor until you feel the low back round.

From Prone

  • Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
  • Gently lift the front hip points away from the floor allowing the pubic bone to drop into the mat. Do this without using your glutes.
  • Imagine an ice cube under your bellybutton and lift up away from it until you feel your low back lengthen.

Movements of The Spine

Flexion of Cervical Spine

General

  • Imagine a pencil through your ears. Gently spiral your head forward, chin down, a quarter turn around your pencil. (Maria Jose-Bloom variation.)
  • Draw the center of your throat back toward the wall letting your chin nod but not fall into the chest.
  • Think of lifting the hollow space where your head and neck meet up and back toward the ceiling while keeping a fist worth of distance between chin and chest.

Movements of The Spine

Extension of The Entire Spine

From Prone

  • As you float your head up draw the crown of your head away from your tail until you feel your chest begin to float off the floor.
  • Imagine yourself like a dart. As you lift your head and chest pretend that you are trying to pierce the wall in front of you with the top of your head. Legs reaching back behind you long in the wind. (Lindy Royer)
  • Think of yourself as a long canoe reaching out equally from the front and the back, creating a gentle elongated arch along the back body.
  • Initiate from the middle of the back by imagining a soft ball under your sternum. As you float your chin and gaze out try to let the sternum soften into the ball and then press the ball forward toward the wall in front of you until you feel the entire spine come into a gentle arch. (Chantill Lopez and unknown others.)

From Hook-lying or Bridge

  •  Keeping your low back long begin to press the sternum toward the ceiling, widening your collar bones and standing into your shoulder blades like they were feet. (Taken in part from Tiffany DeMartin.)
  • Blossom your chest open like a flower opening up to the sunshine.
  • Imagine a window in your chest that you could throw open wide to let a breeze pass through. (Chantill Lopez)
  • Roll your upper arm bones back and under you so your shoulder blades narrow. Press firmly into your upper arms to support the lift of the middle back gaining access to the deep middle back muscles.

Movements of The Spine

Extension of Lumbar Spine

From Supine

  • Create a small space under your low back just enough to allow a ladybug to crawl through.
  • Shift weight into your tailbone until you feel your low back slightly lift off the mat.
  • Imagine a weight on your tailbone pulling the tailbone down through the floor.
  • Imagine a $100 bill under your tailbone. Gently press down into the tailbone so you can make sure to secure that $100 bill if a gust of wind were to come by to snatch it.
  • Imagine a fine gold zipper, each half lining the sides of your sacrum. Zip up your zipper and feel the low back slightly arch and the deep low back muscles pulling the zipper up. (Variation on Marie Jose-Bloom cue.)
  • Imagine two tiny gold zippers lining the sides of your low back. Gently zip up your zippers toward your ribs until you feel the back gently begin to arch. (Variation on Marie Jose-Bloom cue.)

From Standing

  • Imagine 5 lb weights on each sit bone. Allow the weights to gently pull your sit bones toward the floor until you actively feel a curve in your low back.
  • Imagine a fine gold zipper, each half lining the sides of your sacrum. Zip up your zipper and feel the low back slightly arch and the deep low back muscles pulling the zipper up. (Variation on Marie Jose-Bloom cue.)
  • Imagine two tiny gold zippers lining the sides of your low back. Gently zip up your zippers toward your ribs until you feel the back gently begin to arch. (Variation on Marie Jose-Bloom cue.)