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How to Do the Open Leg Rocker in Pilates

Learn how to do the intermediate Pilates Mat exercise open leg rocker from Core Pilates NYC instructor Sarah Ruback in this Howcast workout video.


This is Open Leg Rocker, which is the first of the intermediate mat exercises. Now as you progress into intermediate work, be sure you've worked through the beginner system so that you feel confident in it. And also think of the six Pilates principles as guiding principles through that workout.

So once you've exhibited in the beginner work - the concepts of breath, concentration, centering, control, precision, and flow - once all those six are in place, then you can start to integrate these intermediate exercises. So the first intermediate exercise, Open Leg Rocker, actually occurs right after Spine Stretch Forward in the beginner series. So we'll pick it up from there.

So, scoot towards the front edge of the mat here, Madeline, and hold around the front of your ankles. Then tuck your tailbone, sit back behind your sitz bones, and extend your legs to a V-position, opening them shoulder distance apart. Like Rolling Like a Ball and Seal, this exercise also is a rolling exercise. It will massage the spine. It's just challenged because now you have to hold your legs in this outstretched, distal position.

So to begin, you'll curl the chin toward the chest, inhale, roll back to the tips of the shoulder blades. Then exhale, roll up. And begin. Inhale, rock back. Exhale, roll up here, and feel the chest open. So it's a challenge and if you get stuck, you might have to do a few for momentum. Again, inhale, curl the chin toward the chest. Exhale, roll up here.

Now what's a little different in this rolling exercise is it's not in the C-curve the whole time. When she comes out of the exercise, her chest will lift, and the tail bone tucks. Let's see it two more times. Inhale, roll back to the shoulder blades. Exhale, roll up and open the chest. One last time, Madeline. Inhale, on your back. Exhale, lift up here nice and tall. Then just bend your knees and bring your feet to the mat.

So if this is hard for you to do with straight legs, you can always revert back to some beginner strategies of modifying, and in this case you would hold behind the back of your thighs. So lift your feet up off the mat, lift your elbows, curl the chin toward the chest. Inhale, roll back to the shoulder blades, then exhale, roll up and widen the collar bones and gaze.

One last time here. Inhale, roll back. Exhale, roll up. Hold it here. Lower your feet back down to the mat. And there you have the Open Leg Rocker.

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