Mat Exercise - Swan

… true rhythm and control is observed both in domestic pets and wild animals – without exception.”

~Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates was intrigued with the movement of animals. The agility of a cat and the flexibility of a seal, have inspired exercises in the Pilates repertoire.  As we move into the next exercise of the Mat workout, we are introduced to the first extension exercise…Swan.

Repetitions: 3-5

Swan - Set up


From Saw lie back and roll over onto abdominals

  • Legs parallel together

  • Place hands under shoulders with elbows reaching for the floor


Lengthen on the Lift

  • Inhale push palms into the mat while lifting upper body off the mat keeping the abdominals in and up, until arms are straight

  • Exhale lower upper body to the mat


Reach Through the Inner Thighs

Press back into an active rest post to stretch the spine.

LOVA Tips:  

This exercise is great for those have the slouchy upper back and for those who have osteoporosis. However this and any exercise where lying on the stomach is not recommenced for those who are pregnant. Thoracic extension exercises are great for pregnant women because of the body changing. I advise working with a certified instructor for exercises that best suit your changing body.

If you have or experience issues with the lower spine, keep the navel to the mat or completely omit the exercise. As I teach this exercise to clients, I educate them on keeping the length through the lower back. To accomplish this, anchor the pubic bone to the mat and the higher your lift deepen that connection by using your Powerhouse.  Lift from your center and work the opposition through the spine, collarbone and neck. To do this reach out through the tailbone, draw the shoulders on the back and reach through the back of the head like turtle coming out of its shell.

Enjoy the stretch!

Click here for the next exercise in the Mat repertoire – Single Leg Kick Previous exercise – Saw

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