In the next three posts I’m going to go over my basic warm up, including waking up the body with a modified roll down, voice warm up, then a voice and movement connection exercise.
The first part of my warm up is a modified roll down you’ll find very commonly in Pilates. This is a very good exercise for lengthening your spine and giving your central nervous system room to move, and a bit of a wake up call. This also is a process to see where your body is at physically in terms of tension, or anything else that may be interfering with your instrument.
“The best part of this exercise is really discovering your own body. You can really feel which areas of your spine are tight and need work… You can sense how you distribute your weight on your feet. Maybe you favour one foot over the other, or have your weight in your heels.”1
- Stand with your feet slightly closer than shoulder width apart.
- Next, we’re just going to loosen up the head, shoulders, and feet.
- Turn head to the right then to the left, do this twice.
- Next move your shoulders up and down, roll them backward and toward. Pick them up and drop them to release tension. do this twice.
- Next, move down to the feet, shake them out one at a time.
- Rock back and forth on the balls of your feet, finding your balance.
- We will always work this way head to toe.
- Next, imagine a string being pulled from the top of your head, and it runs through each vertebrae, but ensure you don’t lift your chin. This will help you stand up straight and align everything correctly. I still even grab the invisible string with my hand above my head and pull it tight. But if you just remember to do it, that’s enough.
- Make sure you do not lock out your knees, we want to keep them loose, and keep your stomach loose.
- Keep breathing throughout focusing on your diaphragm.
- Now we start the spinal roll. first drop you chin to your chest, keep your jaw relaxed, and your arms and shoulders lose.
- Now starting from the base of the spine where your head meets your neck, slowly start to roll down, vertebrae by vertebra. Trying to notice each vertebrae as you roll down. There are 33 bones in your spine, try to feel each one. Keep your knees soft, but not bent.
- I have not yet been able to feel every bone, but I’m trying to listen to my body and really focus on it, and even if you never feel each vertebrae, if you’re doing that, its perfect.
- We are going to roll until we feel our coccyx stretch. Then we’re going to just stay in this hanging position and take a few deep breaths. Feel your diaphragm expand and how it attaches to the base of your spine. Feel it stretch. Usually during this I’ll hear some cracks and pops from my lower back, as long as it doesn’t hurt, nothing to worry about. But please do remember, never move into pain.
- Now, while still bent over, move your weight to your toes and let your back hang loosely.
- Rock back to having the weight on the balls of your feet. Now give your arms a gentle swing and let them come to rest on their own.
- From here start to slowly roll back up. Feeling from your coccyx each vertebrae as you roll up. Bringing your head of last.
- Now let out a private “ha” sound. Don’t make it too loud, we’re just warming up the body, to me it sounds like a loud sigh.
- Now, we’ll do this sequence a few times before we move on.
- Once we’ve completed this a few times we’ll add the second part.
- When you are at the bottom of the roll down, slowly walk your hands forward until you are in a downward dog position. From here we do a calf stretch. I personally go right side, count to two thousand, switch to left side to two thousand and then repeat this stretch one more time.
- After stretching the calves we move down on to all fours, making sure that our hands are under our shoulders and our knees are under our hips.
- From here we breathe in as we bow our back. With this position you should attempt to touch your coccyx to the back of your head this will give you the correct shape (Only super humans can actually touch their coccyx to the back of their head, this is just to get you into the correct position). Then as we breathe out we shift to angry cat (arching your back). In this position try to bring your coccyx forward to your nose. Then we breathe in as we shift into the bowed back, then breathe out as go into angry cat, breath in to shift to bowed back, and finally breathe out into our last angry cat.
- From this position we bring our feet back so that our toes are on the mat, and then we shift up into downward dog.
- Slowly we walk our hands back until we come to the end of the roll down position where we start to slowly roll back up. Feeling from your coccyx each vertebrae as you roll up. Bringing your head of last.
- Now let out a private “ha” sound.
- Do this whole sequence a few times.
I hope these blogs are proving useful to people. Please let me know if they are or are not, so I can better tailor the content of the blog to meet people’s needs.
Its been a whirlwind few weeks for me, but opportunities are like buses, wait forever for one, and then BAM! My cup runneth over!
Never stop pushing. Never stop dreaming. Go get it.
- “Pilates 101 – The Roll Down,” Balanced Roots Pilates, [Available online:
https://balancedrootspilates.com/pilates-101-the-roll-down/ ] [Accessed 20 April 2019]