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For this week, we polled the teachers. We asked them what are your three favorite Mat exercises and why? Read below and hey, you know you can use one or two of these in your home routine! Ask at the studio how to create a home routine next time you are in.

VIVIANA

1. Roll Up. Since my back is naturally over extended, I have struggled with this a lot and for a long time. It is still very challenging for me, but now I finally feel I get much out of it. I can feel the stretch in the back of my body, while I love the hard work my front body (particularly my pelvis and lower abdominals) has to do.

2. Rolling Like A Ball. This was a great challenge too — possibly even less achievable for me than the Roll Up. Then I was taught it correctly: Roll my pubic bone into a posterior pelvic tilt (of course while lengthening my spine) and roll it even more, in order to roll back. I used to think of throwing my back on the mat behind me, and I think this is what is most commonly done. Now I love it!!

3. Push Ups. I love the feeling of strength that this exercise gives me. I feel stronger, I feel the power it requires, and that makes me ready to face anything in my day!

SARAH Z.

1. Rolling like a Ball. A fav mostly because it is a bit silly and tons of fun to rock n roll like we did when we were toddlers!  But in all seriousness- it is an amazing exercise that does not let us lie about our head to tailbone spinal flexion and deep abdominal connection.  It’s a truth teller and let’s us know when we are not connected to our center or where we may be a bit stiff in our spine.  Again in a silly, fun way of course. I also love that with the oppositional press of shins into hands, we can activate the upper hamstrings near gluteal fold (often a tricky part to activate on many of us and helps us even more when we get to open leg rocker)  Rock and Roll on my friends- Such a good one!

2. Swan Prep. I love working the transverse abdominals here– engaging the lengthened connection of front body to back verses sinking into the lower lumber spine.  Love how this one certainly helps us stand taller and feel prouder by targeting the back extensors and hamstrings too.  Great cross training if sitting for a long time and really gets you warm from the inside out.  It is one of those simple, but difficult exercises that targets correct head alignment by working the extension in the spine verses craning the neck back or jutting the chin.  Of course the variations that lead into full swan dive are quite exciting too. 

3. Mermaid. Laterally bending-Yay!  I mean, how often in our everyday life do we move in the side to side plane.  Mostly it is just forward to pick something up or sit down.  But our sides want to lengthen, reach, work and stretch too.  This exercise really opens up our breathing as well.  Our intercostal muscles in the rib cage crave this movement and the more movement we can get there, the less often our lower back is cranky.  So yummy and feels so good.

LESLEY

1. The 100s. It just feels right. The emphasis on breathing well while supporting your Box(shoulders to hips) evenly and challenging the stability-always gets me going and able to feel if my hips or shoulders need a little tweaking. Also, I used to hate it, but now I love it. Funny how that works.

2. Single leg kick. This one is a love and hate for me. I need it, daily. My hip extensors can get lazy and my back and hips very tight. The exercise addresses both lengthening through my center and back and really getting my full pelvis active. Especially after 2 C sections and a third abdominal surgery I find this one challenging but necessary. Quality of movement in the lower body while supporting the upper body and opening the chest- really what’s better than that?

3. Shoulder bridge. Again a daily love of mine. I find myself doing this one in some form or another daily. It centers the weight of my body evenly, opens my chest, massages my back and turns on needed hip stability. Not to mention addresses the foot and entire shoulder girdle. Yes, to say I love this one is an under statement.

So which are your favorites? Which do you absolutely hate? Ask your teachers to help guide you and ensure you are getting the benefit, and hopefully the details here helps as well!

See you in the studio!