By Shannon Matson
We all have our favorites: favorite coffee mug, favorite song, favorite restaurant, favorite Pilates exercise. Currently, my favorite Pilates exercise is the Teaser. Who loves the Teaser? Come on now, don’t be shy. You can admit that you like it even if it’s just a little. Here’s why I love the Teaser and maybe I can convince you to love it too.
Teaser employs all the Pilates principles with just this one exercise: concentration, centering, control, breath, precision, flow. Concentration-focusing on the movement and the muscles being used. Centering – hugging the legs into your centerline as you move through the exercise. Control – I love how you have to maintain control as you roll up and roll back down. Breath – using your inhale to prepare and the exhale as you roll up. The exhale really helps at that sticking spot as the spine peels up off the mat. Precision – lifting the legs at the right time in your roll up and then trying to keep your feet at eye level as you roll back down. Flow – keeping the movement smooth and fluid. No dropping back down or docking the carriage with a crash. All these principles must be employed while performing the Teaser.
I also love how there are several variations of Teaser. Teaser on the mat, Teaser on the Reformer, Teaser on the Cadillac/Tower. Lots of Teaser options. Teaser Teaser Teaser Marsha Marsha Marsha. Many people are first introduced to Teaser on the mat. But did you know there are 4 types of Teaser just on the mat? One-leg Teaser is a fantastic stepping stone in that you get to keep one foot on the mat while the other leg is extended at a 45. I love how this one focuses on the abdominal control and spinal articulation. You really feel the exercise. Then there is Teaser I with both legs staying at the 45 as you roll up and then back down. In Teaser II you start in that famous V-position and with arms reaching towards the ceiling you lower and lift the legs three times. This is a great challenge for the lower abdominals and the hip flexors. Finally, with Teaser III you fully articulate off the mat up into the V-position and then keeping the toes at eye level you lower everything back down to the mat.
Teaser on the Reformer is another fantastic challenge of the abs and spinal articulation. This one however, has you starting in an extension. I love how you can go from extension to flexion and then back to an extension. The arms are out to the sides and your head is extended over the end of the box while your feet are on the footbar. You begin with abs drawn in and up, reaching into the straps, curling the chin to the chest and lift the hands as the feet lift to eye level you continue to roll up into that beautiful V-position. Concentration and precision are required as you lift and reach at the right time. The movement must flow in order to come up and to lower back down.
Finally, we come to my favorite – Teaser on the Cadillac. This time we employ the push-through bar. As with the previously mentioned versions of Teaser this one also is fantastic for strengthening the abs and works spinal articulation. Teaser on the Cadillac also stretches the shoulders and opens the chest. By starting on your back with the legs long while holding the push through bar in line with the uprights you get to bend the elbows and bring the bar towards your head. As you push the bar up to straight arms the feet lift keeping the toes in line with the eyes. I love the way the push through bar helps to lengthen my ribs off my hips. Once up you can add some elbow bends bringing the bar behind the head. You can also add some leg lower & lifts to challenge the low abs.
Rounding out my reasons why I love the Teaser is that it is short & sweet! Regardless if you do Teaser on the mat, reformer, or Cadillac you will usually do only about 3 repetitions. I feel so many muscles firing, especially my abs as I roll up into that v-position and then as I roll back down to the mat. You really feel the work right away. I love how accomplished I feel after doing the Teaser. I hope you feel the same.