Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions on the Mat 9

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions on the Mat 9

Welcome to Episode 9 of Transitions on the Mat!

In this episode we'll pick up with Rocking – the 3rd and final time you'll transition to your stomach in the workout.

Post Rolling Extravaganza and into Rocking

Perfecting the transition to Rocking is another obsession project of mine.

Often we reach for our feet – especially if the Rocking position is a big stretch – by shifting side to side, grabbing one foot and then the other.

It can be a challenge to keep the initial set up as symmetrical as possible.

To that end, I begin on my stomach with my legs long on the mat and my arms long by my side, palms up. Now I can use all the length and reach in my body to my best advantage.

Once I have reached my toes long behind me I will start to bend my legs. Next I'll lift my chest and reach both arms back with the intent of placing both feet into my hands AT THE SAME TIME.

Give it a try.

You'll get some good intel on your body whether you're successful or not. It took me a while to be able to take both feet together. For a while I stayed symmetrical as long as possible and then wiggled a bit to get hold of my feet.

These things take time.

  • Finish your Crab.
  • In one swift maneuver turn onto your stomach, arms and legs long on the mat.
  • Reach and lift into your Rocking position and begin!

Post Rocking and into Control Balance

A word about arriving into position for Control Balance

My preference is to keep the arms down by the sides and lift the lower body overhead as you do in the Jackknife.

Once you are balanced in this position reach your arms out to the sides and then overhead. At the same time you'll bring one leg down to hold your ankle.

Focus on the lifting leg in this exercise. Try not to park your lower foot on the floor.

Balance, yes?

Worst case scenario, you'll roll down onto the mat.

Boy, this exercise really earns its name!

  • Finish your Rocking.
  • Sit back into our beloved counter stretch. Really milk it after this one:)
  • Efficiently turn onto your back for the Control Balance.
  • Lift yourself into the Control Balance and go!
  • Finish and roll down onto the mat and up to a standing position.

Options for Standing Up

I enjoy playing with different options for getting up and down to the mat.

1. Traditionally you'll stand with one foot crossed over the other. You can cross over either way, and of course we like to encourage you to choose whichever is most challenging. Your heels can be lifted which will test your balance further. You can also keep the heels down increasing the lift you'll need in your back to descend to the mat.

2. You can stand with both feet together for a deep aboriginal squat to the mat (my favorite).

3. If you've got a stronger/weaker side and you're up for a challenge you can descend in a 1 leg pistol squat and rise up on your other leg (also my favorite). It becomes a good test of your memory to remember which leg you used way back at the beginning of your workout.

4. Also, if your knees bother you – you may leave it out. It's still a great workout if you begin lying down.

Take care of yourselves. Don't be a hero… 🙂

Enjoy this short vlog!

Missed an episode? No prob.

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 9!

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 9!

Welcome to the 9th installation of Transitions! Transitions!

We’ve been working our way through the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

Post Snake/Twist and into the Corkscrew

As we discussed in an earlier post, immediately preceding the Corkscrew you'll need to set up your straps for the Long Spine Massage, which you'll do a bit later on.

Before you head off to the straps, scan your Reformer starting at the footbar end:

  • Add 1 spring. You now have 2 springs for Corkscrew.
  • As you walk to the back of the Reformer, put the headpiece down. VERY important!

Now let's review the strap set-up for the Long Spine Massage:

  • Leather straps and handles go together.
  • The long black extension strap goes through both the leather loop and the handle.
  • Be sure not to twist the black straps when clipping it up. #nomobiusinpilates
  • The clips should be free from any other straps and will face outward toward the sides of the Reformer. This way they will not be able to get caught up and potentially un-clip themselves.
  • Once you've finished your set up, place the black straps onto the pegs. They'll be ready when you are.

I have actually seen a clip come undone, take care to set up the straps neatly and safely.


Long Spine Straps?


Okay, now you're ready to lie down for the Corkscrew.

Roll down after your last Corkscrew and begin your Tic Toc.

Finish your Tic Toc and slide down the carriage into position for the Control Balance.


Post Control Balance and into the Long Spine Massage

  • Slide yourself back onto the carriage and against the shoulder blocks.
  • Reach for your straps and put them onto your feet for the Long Spine Massage.
  • Remember to lift your feet up into the straps – the carriage should not move!

Post Long Spine Massage

You've just done an amazing Long Spine Massage. Now we'll discuss how best to extricate yourself from the straps.

Here you've got some options:

1. Stretchfest 2015

A lovely ending I learned from Romana gives a nice stretch for the inner thighs and hips. Make it extra delicious by elongating the tailbone onto the mat and using your *gasp!* seat.


  • Let the legs open up and out to the side for the stretch. Your hands can hold onto the straps or your inner thighs to guide you. Try to let the legs be passive.
  • Now hold the straps in your hands and use them to bring the legs together and straight up to the ceiling. Keep the hips down and the tailbone long and on the mat.
  • Reach your heels to the ceiling and pull gently down on the straps for greater stretch of the back and back of legs.
  • Follow with either (2) Strap Disposal 2.0 or (3 ) My Personal Favorite.

2. Strap Disposal 2.0

If you didn't select this option earlier after Short Spine Massage, you can opt for it here.

  • Lift your lower body up and over a la Overhead.
  • When legs are parallel to the floor, reach the heels away (flexing your feet) and let the straps fall off. Voilà!
  • Roll back down with control and step off.

3. My Personal Favorite

Although I find the extra transition tidbits above to be enjoyable, I prefer to use my post-Long Spine-Massage-time to be extra nice to my back.

Here you can place the Frog and Circles.

  • You've already got the straps on.
  • Lift up the headpiece before you begin your Frog.
  • After the Circles, simply take one set of straps in each hand and take them off your feet.
  • Deposit straps into the well of the Reformer and step off.

I love to feel how deeply one can get into these 2 foundational exercises at this point in the workout. Do just a few Frog (3-5x) and the same amount of Circles.

A little nice-nice for your back and a moment of calm before the next vigorous bit, the Knee Stretch Series.

Enjoy this short video tutorial. 

Questions? Please leave them in a comment below.

Thank you so so much for watching!

In case you’ve missed one…

  • Check out the first Transitions! post to learn the purpose of an efficient Pilates transition.
  • Catch up on the 2nd post to move smoothly through the Rowing Series.
  • The 3rd installment will enhance your scoop and take you successfully into the Backstroke.
  • We hashed out the Big Transition into the Long Stretch Series in post 4.
  • Transitions! 5! took us deep into the rhythm of the Stomach Massage Series.
  • My favorite, the Short Box Series gets the royal treatment in post 6.
  • The hits just keep on coming in post 7…yum, the Short Spine Massage!
  • Transitions 8! keeps us moving from Chest Expansion to the strap set up for Long Spine Massage.
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