Ultimately we aim to eliminate all other muscle groups from taking over the work of the powerhouse or core, but there are many stages to building up your teaser. Initially just ‘getting up there’ is an achievement, then one day it starts to feel easy. The one absolute rule of Pilates is that if anything feels easy then its time to reevaluate!
Achieving a strong Teaser undoubtedly marks a step change in capability and is recognised as a milestone in progression towards the Advanced Programme.
Stage 1: Getting There
Teaser 1 is a tough exercise in which the torso pulls up against gravity while the legs
remain still. To perform this requires a strong core connection together with sufficient
lower back and hamstring flexibility. It’s fair to say that many of the exercises performed in the run up to the Teaser are there to build up and prepare for the star of the show. So initially it’s a case of putting in time in class to start to build the strength and flexibility required for the Teaser, incorporating modifications and building blocks along the way.
A key exercise we need to master in order to have any chance of moving on to the Teaser is the Roll Up which is in essence the Teaser tipped on its side! Practice the Roll
Up regularly and this will improve many of the elements required to get there with the Teaser!
A strong back connection has a big part to play in the Teaser too. Make sure you connect your arms into your waist and build lower back strength from practicing the
Front Support and Push Ups. Very often however the problem is not one of insufficient core strength, but tight hamstrings or lower back and in this case it will be necessary to bend your legs when performing the Teaser. Performing targeted stretches will gradually help improve hamstring flexibility, which has a multitude of postural benefits as well as transforming your Teaser.
In summary the elements required to execute a teaser include:
- Core Strength
- Hamstring Flexibility
- Strong Lower Back
Stage 2: Refining
If you can get there and sit and balance without thinking too much about it then its
time to get into the nitty gritty of refining your Teaser. This is all about two things:
- Shape – finding rounding
- Opposition – finding the two-way stretch
You will inevitably be thinking about engaging your powerhouse as you lift into your
Teaser. However to transform the exercise to another level this engagement needs
to deepen into a rounding which is initiated on the way up, held through the
balance phase of the exercise and deepened on the way down. All the limbs will
reach out long as the stomach pulls back strongly in the other direction. A challenge
yes, but the result is a much smoother rollback and fantastic stretch through the length of the spine.
Finding the Two-way Stretch
It has been said that to truly master Pilates you must find the two way stretch in every
exercise! The two way stretch involves reaching in opposite directions to fully
activate your body and extend outwards from your centre. The more you can
lengthen out from the centre finding the opposing forces, the deeper your core can
work. Perhaps the easiest exercise in which to find the two way stretch is the Double Leg Stretch. When you extend your arms and legs you reach away from your centre
through your back, arms, legs and sides keeping an even and stable centre. When
you circle your arms you engage your back and bend your legs in from the strength
of your centre. Transform your Teaser by not only finding the opposing forces of your two way stretch as you lift into position but maintain and deepen it as you hold the exercise and then lower back down.
In the words of Pilates instructor Andrea Maida “A beautiful Teaser does not happen by accident. What appears to be effortless is in fact a boatload of sweaty work going on for days. Be sure to smile and enjoy it!”