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Exercise of the Month- The Teaser

Posted May 01 2010 3:01am
This month is May... time for spring, time for flowers, time for sunshine- time to work on our teasers!

The teaser is one of the hardest exercises in pilates. Why? There are actually a number of reasons why many people find the teaser to be a real challenge. My hope is that this month, we will work from the ground up to find a version of teaser that works for everybody!

Purpose of The Teaser
Joe Pilates named this exercise "The Teaser" because it teases gravity. The body must be in balance in order to hold the teaser position. Once that position is found, we can further tease gravity by adding arm and leg movements while still mantaining our balance. The challenge of the teaser increases as we attempt it on each piece of equipment.

Benefits of the Teaser
-improved posture
-strengthens back and core muscles
-stretches hamstrings

Teaser can be done on the following pieces of equipment-Reformer
-The Mat
-Any prop can be added to challenge or modify the teaser

Relates to the Following Exercises:
-Stomach Massage
-Push Through
-Open Leg Rocker

Common challenges of the teaser that we will work on this month:
The Legs Won't Straigten
Are the legs supposed to be bent or straight in the teaser? The most advanced version of the teaser is with straight legs. However, the straight leg position does not work for every body. It usually takes lots and lots of practice to get to that point. People with low back issues may chose to always keep their legs bent and not work towards the goal of straight legs. Tight hamstrings also affect one's ability to straighten legs.

The Back's Position
Is the back rounded, or straight, in the teaser? There are pictures of Joe doing the teaser with a rounded back and leg straight. However, rounding the back in teaser often puts pressure in the low back. Therefore, we now teach teaser with a straight, or neutral, back. At the same time, most students with very long legs need to slightly round their backs, or lean back more, in order to straighten the legs completely.

Low Back Pain
If you have low back pain in general, certain positions of the teaser may affect you negatively. This is where the "mind-body" part of pilates comes in. Its so important to stay in tune with your body and be aware through an entire teaser series, especially as you near the end of the series and begin to grow tired. Your back can begin to do all the work in holding your legs up, or you could start slumping into your low back. If you do feel low back tension, pressure, or pain during the teaser, you could try any of the following modifications
-First, talk with your instructor and make sure you're in the correction position
-Make sure you're staying connected in your abs.
-Try bending the knees slightly, or come into Table Top position with your legs
-Place your feet on the mat, knees bent
-Look straight ahead at your toes
-Lift your chest up through your arms, keep the collar bones wide

-Bring your legs into external rotation, keep the heels together and knees apart, like a Frog Leg position. Slightly bend the knees.

Advancing in Teasers
The Teaser has a number of varitions, each becoming progressively harder
This month, we will work from Teaser Prep all the way up to the most advanced version of Teaser (Shaving the Head in Teaser on the Long Box, anyone?). Like I said, there is a teaser for everyone! This month our goal is to find it, and challenge it.

Here is a good example of Teaser on the Reformer with some added arm movements

Here's the teaser on the chair, quite challenging! He does some non-pilates arm movements, but you get the idea

Some advanced teaser work on the mat, with a transition into Hip Circles

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