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How to Do the Mermaid in Pilates

Learn how to do the mermaid, an intermediate Pilates Mat exercise, from Core Pilates NYC instructor Sarah Ruback in this Howcast workout video.


The last intermediate mat exercise is the mermaid which kind of speaks for itself once you see what it looks like. THe mermaid does however work a great deal of lateral flection. Lateral flection is side bending. And lateral flection is hard on your lower back and your lumbar spine if you're not supported through the abdominals. So it's a good idea that you've waited this long through the mat series near the send so that you can accomplish this in a healthy, safe way. And it's also just a really great stretch after a pretty challenging workout. So for the mermaid, you'll turn to the side of your mat and start in the little kind of cheerleader position. You try to keep the knees and shins stacked as much as possible but you'll separate them enough so that both your hips and your shoulders are squared. And then reach your arms right up to a T position here. OK, you'll lean over toward your left side and then lower your hand and forearm toward the mat, lengthen your arm up by your head and side bend. From here you're lifting the underside of the waist, so this is cinched and this waistline is very long. Then come back up to seated, wrap your right hand around your right knee, and then take a counter stretch to the other side. Now with a breath, inhale come to the center, continue to inhale as you lean over to the side, exhale as you bend here finding a deep stretch. Inhale, pinwheel yourself up to seated, exhale take your counter stretch. One last time. Inhale come to a T position with the arms, exhale side bend. From here, feel the ribs soften. So you're stretched but you're working efficiently. So no strain in pilates. Take an inhale, then exhale come up to seated, wrap your hand to the knee and side bend your counter stretch. All right, come back up to the starting position, and with your arms in a T. And then we'll switch to the other side. So bring your hands behind you, extend the legs, and fold them underneath you to the other side. Take an inhale, then exhale side bend to the right, lower your hand and forearm over. That's it, breathe in, then breathe out, come back up to seated and take your counter stretch here. Nice. Two more times. Take a deep inhale, then exhale side bend over. Try to keep your hips anchored and equal to the mat. Inhale to seated, exhale side bend. And soften here. Last time. Inhale come to the center, exhale side bend. Deep breath in, then exhale come back up towards to sitting, take your counter stretch, and then come all the way back up to your seated starting position. So that's mermaid, and then you would end your mat class by doing front support.

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