Pilates for Flexibility – Mermaid Side Stretch
Pilates is talked about more often for strength and correct posture than flexibility. Sarah shows us the Mermaid Side Stretch is a great opener and develops flexibility too.
Mermaid Side Stretch
This posture is demonstrated with a large ball by Pilates instructor Sarah Lockhart-Martin. This movement lengthens and opens the side body. Keep the breath flowing through the movement of stretch here; dynamically extending between breath and stretch. The mermaid can be used as a gentle warm up or as more intense stretch.
It can also be done seated on the mat by keeping the sit bones grounded as the arm extends in a long, up and over reach. Sarah here uses the large Pilates ball for an extra dynamic stretch. Both versions of this posture will connect the stretch through the centre of the body. Mermaid also helps the scapula settle into the back as the arm moves.
Sit on the floor with both legs folded to the left side. Or if using the ball, begin by rolling one side of the torso over the large ball, and then set your feet up by carefully balancing on the ball of one foot and the sole of the other.
Make a connection between your pelvis and your ribs so that you are flat in your back and sacrum, as if your torso was between two sheets of glass.
If seated, the right hand is on the floor providing some support as you sit upright. If on the ball, arms gently raise over your head to lightly stretch, clasp your wrist with one hand.
Like most Pilates exercises, the real support for the move comes from the abdominals and the pelvis being tucked under.
Keep your left shoulder down, away from your ear, as you extend your left arm straight up above your head. Bring the inside of the arm as close to your ear as you can without hiking up the shoulder.
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