Throughout the Pilates repertoire there is perhaps no other exercise that instills in us as much dread, angst and raspberries as the Teaser.
(insert ominous sound effect here)
For sure there are more formidable exercises depending on who you are:
- Snake/Twist (Reformer)
- The Star (anywhere, really)
- Mountain Climb (Wunda Chair)
But for the most part, once you learn the Teaser it is relentless and it shows up everywhere.
The Teaser is infamous.
It’s got a reputation and the word on the street is not good.
My experience of this exercise in the last 12 years has been a different story. I must confess to you that I really didn’t see what all the fuss was about. I rather like the Teaser and there are other exercises that are for me, clearly more problematic.
I was terrified to receive my first Pilates diploma due to my inability to do the Neck Pull on the mat at all, really. I assumed if I were ever to run into criminals in a dark alley they would demand the Neck Pull in exchange for my life, and my odds of surviving said encounter were slim. And I am really out of luck if they also demand I twist.
But the Teaser by comparison felt fun and elegant and balancey up there…and as you might be suspecting, 12 years later…
I’m a Big. Cheater.
Once up in the Teaser, no big deal right? Now what do you think?
To reform my cheatin’ ways I focus on the 2-way stretch, or the oppositional forces that must be fiercely at work to execute the Teaser correctly: Stomach pulling in and up and limbs reaching endlessly out from this strong center. Sounds familiar, yes? It is also the same 2-way stretch that is in other exercises where you are in a similar shape: a lifted curve.
This lifted curve, also labeled the C-curve, the scoop, etc…, can be found throughout the Pilates system: the Roll Up, Rolling Like a Ball, Horseback and Open Leg Rocker to name a few. Recognizing and knowing this shape well in other exercises has helped me to retrain my Teaser and whip myself into shape.
Incidentally, I used to have a pretty good time in the Teaser on the Reformer doing the Shave variation (there’s your first clue…does anyone discuss their Teaser exercise and start with the words “I was having a pretty good time??). It was a stretch for my back I guess a little (clue #2).
Here is even further proof: With my lifted curve and therefore 2-way stretch in place I decided that despite it already being mega-challenging, why not try a little Shave anyway… I mean, while I’m here… Well, (a) I could not do it without getting stuck and (b) the degree to which I could barely do it gave me a small taste of the wonderful stretch that awaits me when I can do it for reals.
I can’t express it any other way except to say
It feels like the Truth
Years ago I was coerced into riding a roller coaster that had a really scary name. Afterwards I was reeling a bit, and another group of friends was returning from the same roller coaster clearly shaken and staggering. The sturdiest one looked at the others and finally spoke:
“Man, that is the TRUTH!”
This is how I feel about a well-executed Pilates exercise. It just feels like the Truth.
“The truth will prevail and that is why I know that my teachings will reach the masses and finally be adopted as universal.”
Joseph H. Pilates