Pilates Mat – Crab

This Pilates video shows an advanced Fletcher Pilates mat exercise called Crab. In this piece you will experience a dynamic stretch of the back of the body and also challenge your balance with the use of your abdominals. However I have to stress that this piece is not suitable if you are practicing Pilates for beginners but great if you are already skilled in the Seal and Rolling like a ball. If you are someone with knee or neck problems, I would recommend you not to do this piece as well as it may aggravate your condition.

Tips when doing this Pilates Mat piece

1. USe your abdominals to create a C-curve from the head to your tailbone.

2. Maintain the shape of this C so that the rolling will be smooth.

3. Lift the pelvis higher when rolling back down to the ground while maintaining control.

4. As you roll forward and onto your head, lift the pelvis up and over the knees.

5. As you roll onto the knees and back to the ground, engage the muscles on the back of your thighs to protect the knees.

Pilates Mat preparation for the Crab

1. Rolling like a ball

2. Seal

3. Open Leg Rocker

Potential risk to this Pilates Mat piece

I think this Pilates mat exercise is a fun piece but I rarely teach it in a group class setting. I personally feel it can be risky to the neck or the knee when a person does it mindlessly. This is especially so when the head lands on the floor. A lot of people are very eager to roll forward and to the extent that they roll with speed and cannot control the amount of force they land on their head which may be too much for the vertebrae of the neck. This piece requires a lot of core control to keep one safe and graceful. It is not about just creating the shape to look good but to move with control. Enjoy this mat Pilates exercise and be careful if you are practising Pilates at home or learning Pilates online.

After watching this video, please comment on your experience of this Pilates mat exercise.


Pilates Training – Leg Pull Back/Supine

In a Pilates training program, you would always find yourselves working the whole body and this mat Pilates exercise really does that for us. I am going to talk about the “MAGIC 3″ (Steve Jobs often emphasize the 3 main points in his presentations) areas this Pilates Mat exercises encompass. Practise this mat Pilates exercise with these 3 things in mind and most likely you would be doing it better than ever.

1. The core stabilizing muscles

2. The Leg muscles

3. The upper back muscles

Pilates Training has to involve the Core

Most people associate Pilates Training with core training and is evident in the Leg Pull Back/Supine. Our deep abdominals (transverse abdominis), the obliques and rectus abdominis all helps to stabilize the front of the spine, while the back muscles like the erector spinae stabilizes the back of the spine. Together they form the core of the body. Hence when doing this piece, Pilates breathing is really important. Please go to Pilates Breathing to revise before you attempt this piece. In that breathing video, I mentioned how the breathing allows us to form a brace around our body (that acts like a girdle or corset around our waist). It is this technique that can help you involve the core yet moving the limbs with ease. Most people who can’t keep their back straight in this exercise probably did not breathe to help make this exercise easier.

and Pilates Training does not neglect our legs

In any Pilates training, I always like to tell my students that our body is like a building and our legs are the foundation. Those that you see being constructed during the piling period of a construction. When there is misalignment in the legs, there is a high chance of a misalignment in the rest of the upper body. In this Pilates mat exercise, there are 2 things happening at the same time. The leg on the floor recruits the hip extensor muscles such as our butt (gluteus maximus) and back of the thigh (hamstrings). The leg in the air allows us to work our hip flexors. When you do this piece, please press your feet into the Pilates mat to emphasize the use of the hip extensors. It will really help your body stay in a straight line.

A good pair of arms will help with your Pilates Training

Finally having a good pair of arms really is essential if you want to eventually go on to more advanced Pilates mat exercises. When I talk about arms, I always like to bring the focus to our back muscles, specifically those that helps with stabilizing our shoulder blades. Without that, our shoulders will be shrug up in this exercise. While you focus on pressing the foot onto the mat, keep your shoulder blades down and back. This is especially important in this exercise because we have a tendency to elevate our shoulder blades when our arms goes behind our bodies (shoulder extension). If you are familiar with muscles, you would want to think about your lower trapezius and latissimus dorsi to help you. I would say the more you do these, the lesser you would feel in your wrist.

This piece is always challenging but I believe you have what it takes to do it well. Review the 3 areas above for BEST results!

Enjoy this Pilates training video and give us your comments on what you experience!


Pilates for Beginners – Roll Over

The next Pilates Mat exercise that I am excited to introduce to you is the Roll Over. If you look at the classical Pilates mat sequence, you would realise that this is the 3rd exercise in the repertoire. However I have taken some time to introduce other exercises in the Pilates mat sequence first before introducing this piece. This is not an easy piece if you do not have a flexible or articulate spine. In fact most people find this difficult for the first time, especially if you learn Pilates online without any guidance. I would encourage you to practise pieces such as the Roll Up, Spine Stretch, Rolling like a ball, Seal, Open Leg Rocker, Pelvic Press and Neck Pull first before practising this.

Pilates for Beginners does not mean you only practise easy Pilates Mat exercises

I think in any learning journey, in this case Pilates Mat, it is important to attempt more difficult exercises at some stage. It is when we practise more difficult exercises that we realise how important it is to have strong fundamentals. I noticed many people finding Pilates Mat exercises either too easy or too difficult and seldom in between. I suppose one reason could be lack of focus on fundamentals when starting out. Then again learning is a process and many people will start to refocus on their basics once they realise that is important to do the more advanced pieces well.

Learn your ABCs well when doing Pilates Mat

ABCs is something Pilates Elder, Master Teacher Ron Fletcher, always emphasized on us learning when I attended his workshops. This applies whether we are practising simple or difficult pieces. His insistence on us focusing on ABCs in any Pilates exercises is to help us get the most out of every exercise we do. This is the only way we can learn Pilates. Pilates is not just an exercise. It is a concept of movement to help us live our lives better and the more we focus our fundamentals/ABCs, the more we get out of our movement, the better we move and with grace.

Pilates Mat is really fantastic

Most people love the idea of convenience and that is why Pilates Mat is the most popular of all the different equipments in the Pilates repertoire. The Pilates repertoire includes other equipments like Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Magic Circle, Spine Corrector, High Barrel, Barre, and the signature Towelwork and Floorwork invented by Ron Fletcher. Since the Pilates Mat is most accessible, I urge you to keep watching the videos I post here and practising it!

I believe these Pilates videos are very helpful to you when you learn Pilates online. I would love to hear your feedback on this Pilates mat video, so please comment below to share your opinion and experiences.


Pilates for Beginners – Teaser

This Pilates for Beginners video introduces a Pilates mat exercise known as Teaser. If you have practiced this piece in your Pilates classes, you would agree with me this is a difficult piece to do. The difficulty comes from balancing the strength of your abdominals and back. With the right balance between both, you will be able to do this well. Flexible people have it easy with this piece as they can ‘fling’ their bodies into position. However, what you actually want to focus is to articulate the spine and curl one vertebrae at a time using your core.

My Pilates for Beginners advice for you is

FOCUS on how you FEEL, not how you LOOK in the exercise.

I must apologise for the long wait for this video. I’m sure some of you must be wondering day after day when the next Pilates video will be out. I just shifted to a new place and it took me a while to get settled down with everything working well. In the midst of my shifting, it reinforced my emphasis that our core is EXTREMELY important. I needed it when I carried really heavy boxes and I can understand how many can get back aches without engaging their core when carrying heavy stuff. Please use your core well!

and the 1st step is to watch Pilates for Beginners videos at

Pilates for Beginners

Watching Pilates for Beginners video is fun!

Pilates for Beginners videos beats just reading from books where images are static and movements can be difficult to visualise! Most importantly you can replay as many times as you want if you do not get it right the 1st time which often is the case. Repeating makes the changes that you are experience permanent anyway.

I feel this video is very helpful to beginners when they first learn Pilates online. I would love to hear your feedback on this Pilates for beginners video, so please comment below to share your opinion and experiences.


Pilates for Beginners – Side Kick

I started to appreciate side exercises a lot more in recent years. I think in our daily lives we do not do much to our sides often and neglect them. I like to think of it as we have eyes on the front of our bodies and so we tend to place more focus/emphasis on our front a lot more than our back or sides. With the side kicks, I think it is a good opportunity to establish some balance to our bodies and at the same time make your work out more varied. I think a balanced physical body translate to balance to the mental and emotional state. This makes your workout even more meaningful to know that your exercise can improve other aspects of your lives! Enjoy and practice more.


Pilates for Beginners – Pelvic Press

I personally think this is an exercise that all Pilates Beginners should learn and practise. This piece gives you an opportunity to learn how to articulate your spine (move 1 vertebrae at a time) which is so important for spinal health. Most people have jobs which require them to be in front of a computer for long hours and their spine becomes stiff as a result. I would highly recommend you watching this Pilates video and practising this to start getting a more flexible spine.

One of the most common things I see in this mat Pilates piece is that a lot of people do not start with their pelvis completely on the floor. They go into a slight tilt (also known as Posterior pelvic tilt). The problem is most people do not even realise they are tilted or they are supposed to have their pelvis completely grounded, unless you have a special condition and your physiotherapists or doctor ask you not to.

Also I think many people use their lower backs to lift themselves straight up which does nothing to articulate their spine and may even bring them backaches. If done well, this is a critical piece to add to any Pilates work out or Pilates at home routine. Enjoy practising it now!


Pilates for Beginners – Neck Pull

This is one of my favourite Pilates mat exercises. I like it that when done correctly, I really get a good backline stretch from the top of my neck all the way to the heels. In addition this Pilates mat piece is a good piece for people to differentiate using their abdominals in a straight and round back. If you are practising Pilates at home I would recommend you to do this piece for a good Pilates work out!


Pilates For Beginners – Is Your Posture Giving You Pain?

I came across this Pilates video and wanted you to watch it. When I first learnt Pilates years ago, my teacher said “Your age is in your SPINE”. This is really true from my perspective many years later. I have seen how young ones in the 20s has repeated spinal problems and have to cut down on their physical activities to reduce their exposure to pain. At the same time I have seen wiser ones in their 70s continue to exercise actively.

Our Spinal health is important and a very important element to this is our Posture. From young, my mum used to ask me to stand up straight and emphasized a lot on my posture. She never explained and I continued to slouch. It was until I started Pilates that I understood what it does for the body when emphasized and what it causes when we neglected it. If you have a child who is like this (1) Tell them about their posture (2) Tell them again (3) Tell them what you told them. In addition explain why they need to have good posture so that they can see the value in practising it.

If its hard to get started, even for yourself, start watching some Pilates online videos to stimulate your visual learning! You never know but you may just get started physically when you start to have fun watching them!


Pilates for Beginners – Double Leg Kick

This is a great piece in Mat Pilates to practise! However also a piece which we have to be careful about. One of the common things I see in class is students using just the head/neck to lift the body up. This can put a lot of strain on the neck and do little to strengthening the back. A good cue would be to “peel” the body off the ground starting from the head down the rest of the back/spine.

I think if you are someone who works a lot in front of the computer/laptop, this can be a bring many Pilates benefits to you. It will get you to stretch your front which can be really tight from long hours in front of the screen. In addition with a lot of bending forward especially in the upper back region, this Pilates mat exercise can help your upper back be upright again!

Enjoy this Pilates Online video and practise this more!


Pilates by Ear

My Thoughts:

What type of a learner are you? Visual, Audio or Kinestatic?  I noticed a large majority of my students are visual learners and in my opinion, it is a learning style of many people here in Singapore. While we are comfortable with a certain type of learning style, I personally feel it is important to develop various learning styles. When we fall into the habit of seeing things from the same perspective, we develop a condition in psychology called “Schetoma, also known as a blind spot.

One of the things I do in my group classes is to not demonstrate for certain period of time and start teaching verbally so that my students can take their eyes off me, and start bringing more awareness and attention to their own bodies. It may be challenging to listen to a commentary of instructions, but in doing so we start to question “Do I feel right?” rather than “Do I look right?”. Also, there can be a greater level of flow in the class especially when my students become more independent in movement. So if you are someone who always had to ‘copy’ the exercise, start taking the audio route and feel more in your bodies and amazing things may just happen for you!


Those of us who have been to Pilates classes know that Pilates teachers tend to keep up a running commentary of instructions, cues, and images through the whole class. It can be unnerving until you get used to it. But once you get the hang of learning/participating that way, it can be quite liberating — for both instructor and student. Taking the fixation of watching an instructor out of the equation can help bring the attention back to ones own body and experience, which is where it belongs.

When I first started teaching Pilates mat classes, I would do every exercise with the students. I’d get them started, then I’d jump up to look around the room and offer cues, corrections and encouragement. It was too much. I’d be worn out after each class. Then what happens when you have another class and then a private? It can’t be done. Not only that, but being able to verbally articulate not just the choreography but the dynamics of an exercise — with basic instruction, physical cues, and imagery — creates and demonstrates a high level of integration with an exercise for an instructor. I have heard that Romana Kryzanowska, the renowned Pilates Elder, said that a good Pilates teacher teaches by words alone (read: Romana on Teaching Pilates).

As a student, it requires a certain kind of receptivity to take instructions and translate those into ones body almost simultaneously. It’s quite amazing how well that can work. In fact, bypassing the thinking/judging mind, going straight through ear to body, can be very helpful. But the point is not to go unconscious and follow along like a sleepy sheep either. Just the opposite. When the process is at its best, both instructor and student are very present and there is a flow of information and receptivity between them. That can only happen when both parties are alert and committed to awareness, one of our Pilates principles.

As one matures as a student, there is also the opportunity to take more responsibility for what one is working on and how. Then the teacher has stay receptive and be aware of when to instruct and when to let go. For many years I was one of those students who tried to take in and apply every single cue that flew into the room. Now I give myself a break and do what I can — and better yet, what actually applies to me! I also say less when I teach. Being quiet can make room for the innate body intelligence to kick in.

I started thinking about the merits of verbal instruction because I recently reviewed a new Pilates workout podcast, a Basic Pilates Mat Class by Lynda Lippin. I’ve reviewed other Pilates podcasts as well. They work surprisingly well and I think part of the reason is that we do have this highly developed verbal tradition in Pilates.

I’m not advocating for no visuals, far from it. I just want to acknowledge the amazing quality of instruction we get verbally in Pilates. Sometimes, you just need a great visual. If you are getting mostly verbal instruction and you are not getting the exercise, you need to see it, and see it done well – not out of the corner of your eye. If you are in a class, ask to have the exercise demonstrated either by the instructor or another student. You can also look up just about any Pilates mat exercise, and many others small equipment exercises. right here at Pilates.about.com. I’ll have a picture for you. And, there are many wonderful DVDs, books, online videos and so forth.

It has happened that I’ve gone years not quite getting inside an exercise and then had one photo or demonstration, seen at just the right moment, clarify the whole thing for me. Of course, my first response is: Well, why didn’t you say so?! Which is why my instructors lose their hair early.