The teaser is one of the hardest exercises in pilates.
I wonder why I love it so much then? I’m usually the one you hear complaining in class when we’re ‘forced’ to do anything too challenging….(snake and twist, anyone?) But I do love it, and I was reminded again yesterday, as I lay down on my long box, atop my reformer. I love the awesome, zen-like stretch in the beginning…. and then I’m off. Yesterday, somehow, I managed to ace every part of it – (in my own mind, at least) – I’m pretty sure Joe would have been proud of me. 🙂
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, you can further tease gravity by adding arm and leg movements while still maintaining balance. The challenge of the teaser increases as you attempt it on each piece of equipment. It can be done on the reformer, tower, chair, barrels or mat, and you can modify it and make it more challenging by adding props.
There are some common challenges that people run into when attempting the teaser:
The Legs Won’t Straighten
The most advanced version of the teaser is with straight legs; however, the straight leg position does not work for everybody. It usually takes lots and lots of practice to get to that point. People with low back issues may choose 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
There are pictures of Joe doing the teaser with a rounded back and leg straight. However, rounding the back in teaser often puts pressure on the low back. Therefore, teaser is now taught 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. It’s 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 can 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 variations, each becoming progressively harder, some of which include arm circles, leg beats, teaser hip/twist combo (opposite torso/legs circling), or even shaving the head in teaser on the long box. (!!) There really is a teaser for everyone! Joe was such a thoughtful man…he certainly didn’t want to leave anyone out.
Now, who wants to claim this bad boy:
Brief Instructions: Seated in a C-curve with legs straight, one over the other. Roll back taking the legs overhead, switch the legs.
Roll up to teaser. Hold teaser, sweep the arms back, clasp hands and stretch. Take the legs down, bring the arms around to the front. Stretch over to the front. Begin the roll back. 6 Reps.
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