Slow Core Power with Sonjé

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At the age of 20, Sonjé Mayo was a student of Joseph Pilates. During the few years that she spent time in his studio, she focused on learning the mat work. In this slow and detailed mat session, Sonjé takes 2 students with different spines—one flexible and one stiff—through a deep workout aimed at building strength where they need it. Sonjé gives Melanie, whose spine is stiff, a pad under her middle back as a proprioceptive aid, while Jamie gets cues to rein in her flexibility. Join them and you’ll discover a world of power and control in your body that will change the way you feel for the rest of the day. For teacher training, lessons and Schroth work, visit Sonjé Mayo at http://Sonjé

What Others Are Saying


  1. Silke 4 months ago

    I love how you teach! Feel like I´m learning with every class! Thank you 🙂

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonjé Mayo 4 months ago

      Thank you! Good to hear that you are learning and growing. I strive to keep it simple and easy to comprehend.

  2. darien
    darien 2 years ago

    Sonje, are you teaching Shoulder Bridge with a neutral pelvis?

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 2 years ago

      Yes one aims for a neutral pelvis. Most students overstretch the front of the hips by arching the lower back to get more height.
      That is common with tight hip flexors.

  3. Madhavi Abuja 2 years ago

    When I try to keep my tailbone long and keep my sacrum on the floor, it does create a slight arch in my lower back. I plug the arch using a folded towel. Is this ok or am I doing somehting wrong ?

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 2 years ago

      That is quite correct….well done! It will give your ‘arched’ area some support and feed back and you will slowly lengthen your tight section.
      Best to use the small roll or ‘D’ roll. Contact me if you need more info’ on the rolls.

  4. lauralynnharry 3 years ago

    Hi Sonje. I just love your teaching and cueing…. I have a question regarding Neck Pull….. when you cue “Pull the Neck”… are you referring to a sort of lengthening/tractioning/lifting type of Pull? as opposed to (I’m assuming obviously) a pushing against the head…. (In hindsight, I suppose it could be a push/pull or press/resist type of ‘Pull’….?) I’m so hoping that you can clarify this for me. I am a huge fan of yours (and have only just begun to discover your wonderful teaching) — I will be seeking out trainings with you pronto.. 🙂 thank you for your time.

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

      Hello Laura,
      Yes your first description is correct ” a lengthening, traction, lifting type of pull”. This promotes elongation of the spine, even in the rounded position.
      People tend to collapse and compress the spine with this exercise because it is so difficult.
      Note that the hands are one on top of the other and behind the NECK and not the head, otherwise you would hurt your neck.
      Hope that helped….

  5. lccomsweetom 3 years ago

    What a divine treat to hear Sonje’s voice teaching! The fact I had a dance career injury free is due in great part to Sonje’s insight into bringing Pilates work to dance training. Thank you so much, looking forward to more classes.

  6. pilatesangel 3 years ago

    I had the fortune of attending a mat class and having a private lesson from Sonje very recently. I have a strong Pilates practice but did find I too was guilty of inadvertently tucking and pushing through my lumbar spine when in flexion. I have a history of sciatica from degenerative disc with a mobile lumbar spine and flat tight thoracic as a reference. My private session and Sonje’s hands on partnering allowed me to find where my spine could open and not compromise my low back. I have studied with wonderful teachers who have emphasized this same principal so it wasn’t new to me but her constant eye and detailed instruction provided many aha (sweaty) moments. Sonje’s classes and workshops shared here on Pilatesology prepared me for her mat class but her hands on adjustments set some muscle memory in motion. My back has felt amazing and I found a new freedom in the dreaded roll up (my nemesis). I am lucky to live a short 4 hour drive from her studio in Nashville TN. I strongly encourage anyone with an opportunity to study with her in any capacity to try and do so. I am planning to visit as often as I can. Thank you Sonje for allowing me to feel like a new student again in an amazing body of work with endless possibilities!

  7. patdlob 3 years ago

    Hello, Sonje. I am the front student (need length in my lower back and tend to tuck). Could you elaborate on your cues of “tailbone long” and “tailbone out”? Thank you! When I think I was following that cue, my roll down (teaser, jackknife, etc.) felt more supported by more core.

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

      I suggest you watch the video previously on Pilatesology regarding the Pre-Pilates exercises. That will explain a lot.
      With the ‘tailbone long’, I mean anchoring the whole sacrum on the mat. Sticking your ‘booty’ out or pressing your tailbone down into the mat, promotes that action and prevents tucking.
      If you felt more supported with the core doing what you think is correct, you have nailed it!! Bravo!

      • patdlob 3 years ago

        Thank you – yes, the video on pre-Pilates does an excellent job answering my question, as did you! I’ve really enjoyed the content of your classes and the focus on the pelvic alignment.

  8. Sonjé Mayo Author
    Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

    Joe was quick to plug with rolled towels, pads and whatever was available.
    I personally searched for the ideal props and found the full roll and the ‘D’ roll (half roll), which are squishy and can mold to the spine.
    If you would like to buy these rolls, contact me on my email address on my website and I will gladly give you the info’.

  9. Martin 3 years ago

    Wow, another great class, Sonje! As a student of Blossom’s, it’s so interesting to see you teach certain pre-pilates exercises or exercise variations. There are certain things I always thought of as Kathy Grant interpretations or varitiations of exercises, but in the few classes of yours that have been posted, I’ve realized that several were actually things Joe taught that weren’t passed down as much into mainstream classical Pilates. From what I’ve been told, Kathy always taught side legs with the legs in alignment with the spine unless there was a specific contraindication that prevented it. So fascinating! I do have a question though regarding the vertical pelvis. Just to make sure I’m understanding you correctly, when we do things like jack knife or roll over and begin descending back toward the mat, we do pass through a rounded lower back/tailbone before returning to neutral, correct? Also, when doing something like a roll up, at about what point does the pelvis have to begin to move in order for us to come up all the way? I just to be sure I’m understanding the mechanics properly. Thank you!

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

      Yes Martin, you do pass through a rounded lower back on the Roll Over and Jack Knife when descending until your sacrum finally ‘irons out’ on the Mat.
      As for the Roll Up, you start with an anchored sacrum for the first third of the exercise and then the pelvis has to move. You will understand this better with my workshop on the C-curve which is coming.

      • Martin 3 years ago

        I figured as much, but thank you so much for taking the time clarify for me! Looking forward to your upcoming classes!

  10. Jean Klein 3 years ago

    Thank you, Sonje for that excellent class with detailed instruction. `I have a tendency to tuck my pelvis posteriorly and I couldn’t understand how to really do some of the exercises without tucking. Did Joseph Pilates ever use a small pad or was that your idea? I think it’s a great tool to use if someone is so tight in their lumbar spine. Thank you again for sharing your expertise. I would love to see more from you.

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