A quick video showing us how to perform the Pilates Boxing exercise with small hand weights. The model is using small neoprene dumbbells, but you could also use the neoprene grip weights or soft-weight Pilates toning balls during this and many other Pilates arm exercises.
The following half-round foam roller exercises were provided by J/Fit – the manufacturer of our 12″ Half Round Roller and our 36″ Half Round Roller. The half-round rollers are made of a dense “open cell” foam and are available in either red or white (depending on availability). Our round foam rollers are a high-density closed cell foam.
When performing the following, place the half round roller lengthwise with your foot or hand and place the curved side of the roller to the floor. The rocking action, that you will counteract muscularly, will be side to side.
Exercise #1 : Standing Balance
Start by balancing one foot on a half-round foam roller. Lift opposite leg so that your toes barely touch the floor. As balance progresses, lift one leg higher taking the toes off the floor. Further progress into squats with one leg.
Exercise #2 : Reverse Lunges
Start in a standing position with left foot on half-round roller. Bend both knees at a 90-degree angle, keeping your hips towards the floor. Take a step backward and lower the knee towards the floor. Return to start. Do 8-12 reps and switch to right leg.
Exercise #3 : Push Ups
Get into a push-up position, placing one or both hands lengthwise on the half-round foam roller. (One hand at a time for beginners). With your head remaining neutral, slowly lower elbows out to 90-degrees and slowly lower yourself down to the floor.
Beginners: Keep knees touching the floor.
Advanced: Keep knees off the floor.
The following video shows us how to do two Pilates exercises using soft-weighted Toning Balls. The first is an arm extension and the second is a variation of the Hug a Tree exercise. Adding weights to your Pilates routine is a sure way to increase strength quickly.
The model in this video is using Toning Balls, but you could also use light-weight dumbbells or grip weights as well. The Toning Balls have a soft vinyl texture making them easy to grasp and hold throughout the exercises.
Here’s a quick fix to get that kink out of your neck. All you’ll need is a yoga blanket. We offer several for you to choose from:
- Mat size Mexican blanket
- Our Classic Mexican blanket
- The Premium Mexican blanket
- Premium Thunderbird Mexican blanket
Crick Fixes Asana Sequence – Yoga Journal
By Barbara Benagh
Neck Blanket Stretch
Roll a blanket into a firm, even cylinder large enough to wedge between the base of your skull and the tops of your shoulder blades. Lie back over the roll so it gently stretches your neck; the roll should wedge just under the occipital ridge at the back of your skull and support your neck and your first few upper back vertebrae. Keeping your knees bent, place both palms on your forehead, fingers pointing toward the crown of your head, and bring your elbows close to each other. Close your eyes and tune in to your breath, feeling how its rhythm creates subtle movement. Notice areas in your neck, shoulders, and upper back that seem dense, dull, and resistant to the breath’s wavelike action, and invite them to relax against the blanket roll. As your muscles begin to release, slide your shoulder blades away from your skull; you may want to repeat this movement several times as your muscles continue to relax. Remain on the roll for up to five minutes, then remove it and continue to lie on your back for a few breaths, tuning in to the sensations in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
We currently carry a large selection of Zafus by Bean Products. Each Zafu is customizable as to what type of shape, cover, and stuffing you would like. These Zafus are then made upon your order and shipped directly to you. Because they are customized for you, they can take a little longer to receive then pre-made meditation cushions.
First, consider the shape you would like. Zafus are available in Round or Crescent shapes. The choice is a personal decision, but some may find that the short crescent shape offers some extra support to the upper thighs. I consider Bean’s Crescent Zafus a “short Crescent”, because there are other zafus on the market that are more of a longer V-shape design. We will be adding some of these in the near future, so please check back again soon.
Second, you can choose which stuffing you’d like. Bean offers Buckwheat Hulls or Kapok. Both will shape to your body. Since Kapok is a very light fibrous material the Zafu stuffed with Kapok is noticeably lighter than the Zafu stuffed with the Buckwheat hulls. This could be important to those who will be carrying their Zafu to different locations.
All of the Zafus offer a convenient hidden zipper. The zipper offers two benefits:
- You can adjust the height and density by removing/adding more stuffing to suit your liking. Our recommendation is to store any stuffing removed in case you wish to add it back in at a future time.
- You can remove the stuffing in order to wash the outer cover. There is no inner liner, so the stuffing will need to be poured into a bucket or container (as in the Buckwheat), or you’ll need to pull out the Kapok (which is a very fine and light fiber, so it’ll need to be carefully bagged). After washing the cover, just pour or stuff the contents back into the Zafu.
And finally, you can choose your cover. You can choose from regular cotton, organic cotton, or hemp. Color selections vary, too.
So no more need to shop around looking for that “perfect” zafu – customize your own! Visit our Meditation Section to start creating your personal Zafu.
Develop your balance and stability skills by using a balance board or balance disc in your workout. Learn how to do the Side Step by watching the following video – it’s just a few seconds long, so you can start practicing right away!
Here’s a quick summary comparing the balance board and balance discs:
Our round balance board is constructed of Birch wood and offers a 16″ diameter surface. The flat wood top is perched on a round base that allows for a 14-degree angle of difficulty to your workouts. A sandpaper surface makes it easy to stand on without slipping.
We offer two inflatable balance discs. Both are 13″ diameter. One balance disc is by JFit and is textured on both sides – one is knobby, and the other slightly textured to reduce slippage. Our Natural Fitness balance disc is smooth on one side, knobby on the other, but this balance disc is made with a non-toxic, eco-friendly, phthalate-free PVC elasticizer. The soft, inflatable balance discs are also a great tool to use to improve your posture. Place on the seat of your office chair and get the same benefits of using a stability ball without the bulk.
The second in two posts teaching us how to use a Stability Ball/Pilates ball to open our hips and stretch our legs. Check out our selection of Pilates Balls and be sure to select the right size for your height.
What It Is:
In my last post, we explored some leg and hip openings using the stability ball. Today we are going to delve into the hips a bit deeper. You want to be warm before going into these so take a brisk walk, for example, and start with some of the lighter stretches from the last article—hamstring, inner thigh and IT band stretch, PSOAS stretch and quadricep stretch. Also remember the following precautions when going into your stretches:
- Stretching under your limit is much better than over your limit. Make each stretch fit your body type and limit. In other words, DO NOT ever force a stretch!
- Never bounce into a stretch or jerk out of a stretch.
- Be aware of your alignment as you stretch.
- Always use tension free, full breaths to keep tension out of other parts of the body and to help you ease deeper into the pose.
Exercise: Frog Stretch
This pose stretches into the hips and helps to lengthen and open the groin muscles. The muscles of the groin pull the upper inner thighs together. These muscles are often tight and sometimes torn if not warmed up or properly stretched.
- Lie on the mat on your back with the stability ball at your feet.
- Bring the feet onto the stability ball.
- Place the soles of the feet together and allow them to rest on the ball.
- Let the knees open to the sides of the room in a frog position.
- You may place the hands on the inner thighs to encourage the downward direction but do not force the knees and legs down.
- Using your breath, time in the pose and gravity will encourage the legs to soften and open.
- To go deeper you may inch the feet a bit closer to the groin area, closing the diamond shape a bit.
- Remember, you can stay in the stretch as log as you like. Just make sure everything is staying relaxed and the breath is flowing.
Exercise: Pigeon with the Ball
Ease into this stretch carefully. If you feel this stretch in the kneecap come out of it.
- Start on all fours on your mat with the stability ball in front of you.
- Bring the right shin forward so it is parallel to the front of your mat. Now most of us will not be able to hold this parallel position. This is very advanced and indicates that you have very open hips. If you are not able to hold this scoot the foot towards the groin area.
- The back left leg should be long and the front of the hip should be facing the floor.
- You can also place a folded towel or blanket under the right buttock to help square the hips and ease the tension.
- Place the hands on the stability ball and lift the eyes and sternum upwards as the ball comes into you.
- Hold here and cycle the breath.
- Push the ball out and allow the forehead to rest on the ball.
- Hold here and cycle the breath.
- Again, pull the ball back into you, arch the back and lift the eyes and sternum to the ceiling.
- Hold here and cycle the breath.
- Push the ball out so the arms are long.
- Allow the head to go in between the arms and (if possible) for the forehead to rest on the mat. This will help to open the chest and underarm area.
- Hold here and cycle the breath.
- Keep the left hand on the ball, rotate the torso as you reach the right arm back.
- Look towards the right hand.
- Try to keep the pelvis square to the front wall.
- Hold here and cycle the breath.
- Change sides.
Exercise: Backbend Into a Squat
Squatting is one of the best poses we can do to open the hips, strengthen and open the pelvic floor and create an overall flexibility in the lower body. Squatting also helps to reverse the tightness acquired from to much sitting in chairs and driving. If you have any neck issues or injuries do not attempt the backbend part of this exercise.
- Start seated on your stability ball with a mat under you and the ball.
- Slowly, walk your feet out one at a time until your head and shoulders are supported on the stability ball and the knees are aligned over the ankles.
- If you have neck issues, hold this position.
- If you wish to go further into the pose, stretch the legs long, reach the arms behind you and extend the head back.
- Hold here for a few moments enjoying the opening in the front of the body. Let the breath flow freely while you hold this pose.
- To come into the squat position, slide forward on the ball bending the knees, planting the feet and bringing the torso into an upright position.
- Your hands can be by your side helping you to balance or in prayer position in front of the chest.
- Make sure the sticky mat (yoga mat) is underneath the ball and your feet for safety.
- Hold the squat for 10 to 20 seconds and then push back into the backbend over the ball.
- You can alternate between the squat and the backbend a few times.
- When you are ready to come out of it, go into the backbend pose, roll the chin to the chest and start to walk the feet in towards the ball one at a time until you are sitting on top of your ball.
In the following 5-minute long video you’ll learn how to do a supported shoulder stand using a wall and the full pose. In both poses, she’ll show us how to do the shoulder stand using a yoga blanket under the shoulders.
You may wish to practice this by also wrapping your yoga mat over the top of the blanket as well. By doing this, your elbows will be on a non-slip surface and it may make it a little easier to hold your pose without your elbows sliding away from one another.
We offer several yoga blankets. The Classic Mexican Yoga blanket offers a looser weave, is a little lighter weight, and a few inches smaller then the Premiums. The Premium Mexican Yoga blanket and the Thunderbird blanket are a tighter weave, offering a slightly firmer support, in addition to be larger than the Classic. And, finally, the Mat Size Yoga blanket is the size of a standard yoga mat, which is great for someone who is looking for a little support or cushioning and a blanket that is easy to fit in a mat bag and carry to class.
Before listening and watching the following 8+ minute video, find a quiet spot to sit comfortably with an erect spine. This video is by an English Anusara yogi and would be a beautiful Savasana meditation to do as well at the end of your yoga practice.
If you will be sitting cross-legged on the floor or earth, and if your knees are higher than your hips, Bridget suggests tucking a blanket under both of your knees to allow you to fully and deeply relax your inner thighs during this meditation practice. Another option would be to sit higher. How high would depend on how high your knees are – you may just need to sit on a yoga blanket, or your may prefer to sit on a Zafu. We offer a large selection of Zafus: round or crescent-shaped; regular cotton covers or organic; and cotton, buckwheat or kapok stuffing.
In seconds you can quickly learn how to use a balance board or a balance disc to increase the difficulty level of doing a Plank pose with a Crunch. Adding an unstable base to any exercise or pose will force you to incorporate additional muscles and will also train your proprioceptors to reduce the risk of injury.