Foundation Pilates

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The mat is the foundation of Pilates and it was what Joe Pilates taught and created first. In this session, join Dorothee Vandewalle, one of the most highly regarded instructors in the world, as she takes her student Jed through the key exercises that establish a Pilates practice. These exercises are meant to be done every day to prepare the body for the demands of daily activity and they provide much more than a way to stay in shape—the basic Pilates mat is a prescription for lifelong vitality from childhood to old age. Without stopping the flow of the workout, Dorothee shares what the exercises are for and how to position your body for maximum benefit. Her hands on adjustments and specific cues bring a wealth of knowledge for both students and Pilates teachers to understand how these moves create the alignment, strength and control that Pilates is built on. Note that Dorothee uses a strap to stabilize Jed’s feet during several exercises, if you don’t have a strap at home, you can anchor your foot under a piece of furniture. This class was filmed at Dorothee Vandewalle’s studio and teacher training center, Metropolitain Pilates, in Seattle, WA.

What Others Are Saying

18 Comments

  1. Nick048 2 weeks ago

    I am learning the foundations and fundamentals of the pilates. I always wanted to ask the question in regard to the hollow body hold. So, when expanding the legs and hands, my belly starts to pop out but I can feel my core tight but there is no back pain, wanted to know the correct breathing technique here plus the neck position, and how to get the most out of it. Belly popping out is kind of hard to manage.

    Thanks for the tutorial!!

  2. danbeck 4 weeks ago

    Some instructors say to have a neutral spine, which has a slight gap between the low back and the mat, and then sometimes (like in this video at ~1:10) the instructor says to deliberately keep the low back pressed into the mat (without tilting the pelvis) for positions like the 100. Which is the correct/healthiest way to do things?

    • rian bush 4 weeks ago

      Hi Dan,
      Alisa is currently backpacking and I am sending all the comment/questions to her studio Partner Melanie. Here is Melanie’s response:

      Hi Dan- I am Alisa’s partner at the studio in Hermosa Beach and am answering some of her email while she is on holiday.
      Your question is a big one!!

      And the true answer is, “It depends on the body in front of you.”

      Some people with big curves in the lower back or big backsides can’t bring the low back into the mat without tucking the pelvis. For these people, I wouldn’t use the cure “press the back into the spine” or imprint.

      It’s also true that different teachers have different ways of teaching the pelvis and I think it is nice to ultimately be facile enough to follow the cue to the teacher you are following.

      I prefer to teach with a D shaped pillow for people with lordosis in the beginning to give them something to pull their abs into. It fills the gap without tucking the pelvis. You can see Sonje using this type of pillow in many of her videos.

      I hope this helps.

    • Alisa Wyatt

      Hi danbeck, There’s a lot of confusion about this topic because our spines are all different so the alignment can be different for everyone. At the basic level many instructors have everyone press the low back to the mat for safety and to build strength. Later the alignment of the pelvis is fine-tuned if necessary. Note that the term neutral should be referring to the alignment of the pelvis (neutral pelvis means the pelvis is flat and the spine follows it’s given shape from there) –it can be confusing to hear the term neutral spine since that’s not what we are trying to stabilize. Hope that helps but feel free to write to me directly if you have further questions: alisa@pilatesology.com

  3. LittleEngine 5 months ago

    wonderful reminder cues of the foundations! thank you. so wish I lived near one of these masters!

  4. AnnetteTigs 2 years ago

    Outstanding!! I just love pilatesology, thanks to all!

  5. tom oksner 3 years ago

    This is great teaching, great cues! Would love to see a basic reformer from Dorothee!
    Many thanks,

  6. janie jennings 5 years ago

    Such good cues, and pleasant.

  7. lili.viola

    OMG I’ve just fallen in love with Dorothee’s teaching! She is amazing. Clear cues, fabulous progressions, fabulous energy. She kept her student flowing and moving and I even heard a little huffing and puffing from him through this short but challenging foundational workout.

  8. Caroline Berry 7 years ago

    Great explanations and lovely energy to her teaching. thanks a lot!

  9. healthyone 8 years ago

    Excellent! I love her explanations! More Dorothee, please!

  10. DianaMoore

    Thank you! I am hopeful that more will come.

  11. aubergine22 8 years ago

    Would love to see more from Dorothee, please. Thank you!

  12. zacray 8 years ago

    AMAZING! She’s AMAZING!!!

  13. GAILE 8 years ago

    Great to see how much Jed has changed since we were in Seattle,I could listen and watch Dorothee all day,never fail to learn something from her

  14. joesmat 8 years ago

    I am a student of the mat, and enjoyed the opportunity of observing you teaching your foundation mat exercises.
    As a student I would like to ask you a few questions if I may please.
    The old videos I have had the privilege of seeing of Mr Pilates doing the mat or teaching it had no modifications.
    For example, you used bent knees in almost every exercise with the exception of Spine Stretch Forward, and it would be most interesting to learn your reasoning for doing so? Why were these modifications introduced into the Classical Methodology and who introduced them?
    Thanking you very much.

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