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The Pilates Teaser Exercise

30 Days to a Perfect Teaser

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Updated July 24, 2012

Pilates teaser exercise is part of the classical Pilates mat sequence. It has been notoriously challenging people for at least sixty years and probably more like eighty. So don't feel alone if you find this exercise difficult.

Nevertheless the teaser is an exercise worth learning. It takes a lot of strength, flexibility, control and balance -- all things we like to develop in Pilates. Teaser, when done properly is one of those Pilates exercises that falls into the category of flat stomach exercises as well.

Building a Pilates Teaser

Pilates Teaser Exercise
About.com

When Pilates exercises, like teaser, are difficult, it helps to look at them in terms of what directly related skills other Pilates exercises can teach you about the one you are working on.

In teaser, for example, we can easily find parts of the chest lift, the hundred, the roll up and double leg lower lift. We could find more but these will get you started. See tips and links to instructions for those exercises in the better teaser in 30 days program below. By putting these teaser-building exercises into your regular Pilates workout schedule you will steadily build the strength and skills it takes to do a full teaser.

Begin by Learning One-Leg Teaser

Kolesar Studios
Modifying the teaser by keeping one knee bent, foot flat on the ground is a very good way to practice teaser as you are building up to full teaser. It's a little bit easier, but you can practice all the critical parts of the teaser form. If you are unfamiliar with teaser or need a refresher, be sure to click on the full instructions.

Practice Chest Lift

Pilates Chest Lift
Chest lift is going to give you the upper ab strength you need in teaser. It will also let you practice the length of spine and breath that initiate the movement as well as the articulated roll down.

Practice the Pilates Hundred

Pilates Hundred
courtesy of Peak Pilates
The full teaser exercise starts lying down, just as the hundred does. You go right through the Pilates hundred position on your way up in a full teaser. Teaser just keeps scooping and rolling up... The hundred will also help you build a lot of strength for the teaser. Modifying the hundred by bending the knees to table-top will still be useful.

Practice the Roll Up

Pilates roll up
Steven Boschoff

Not many people consider the roll up any easier than the teaser. But the roll up is a wonderful exercise and teaser does have the same kind of upper body spinal articulations that the roll up has. Roll up will also help you practice keeping your shoulders down and shoulder blades settled in you back as you come up.

Note: One of the challenges for people in roll up is is that their feet fly up. Sorry to say this is not the belly-scooped-abdominal-muscle-powered leg lift we go for in teaser. If you have flying feet or other challenges with the roll up, please see Master the Roll Up. You can also practice a pre-roll up exercise, supported roll back, to get many skills for teaser and roll up.

Practice Double Leg Lower Lift

Pilates picture
Kolesar Studios
This is where you are going to go a long way in developing the upper ab endurance and the lower ab strength you need to scoop those legs up in teaser.

Put the Full Teaser Together

Pilates Teaser
About.com
You've been doing the one-leg teaser so you are most of the way there! Before you move into the full teaser, consider a few other qualities of the teaser.
  • The teaser coordinates breath and body
  • The teaser is a flowing exercise
  • The teaser rolls up and rolls down in a balanced way -- right to left and upper body lower body.
  • You can simplify teaser (and many exercises) immensely by thinking of moving from center and along the midline of the body.
  • Pilates teaser looks similar yoga boat pose but it is not boat pose. Explore teaser vs boat pose.

The Full Teaser Instructions

Pilates Teaser Exercise
About.com

Begin lying down, arms along your sides. (In Return to Life Through Contrology Joseph Pilates teaches this exercise as beginning sitting. I find the scoop easier to find starting lying down but if you know the sitting version, that's fine.)

  1. Extend your legs to a 45 degree angle (you can also start with legs outstretched for a more advanced version)
  2. Inhale
  3. Exhale: Lengthen your spine to nod your head slightly and begin scooping your abdominal muscles in and up so that your upper body begins to roll off the mat. Simultaneously your arms are coming up to parallel your legs. Fingertips reach past the toes but the shoulders stay down.
    This is a scooping move. The energy moves up the front and down the back with a feeling of support length along the backs of your legs.
  4. Inhale as you come to the top and open your chest, lifting your head slightly to express the length of your spine.
  5. Exhale to roll down. Start from the low abs and use control, rolling down sequentially along the spine. Keep the legs together. Think of rolling down your midline.
  6. Repeat 3 times.

Teaser is a classical Pilates mat exercise. Joseph Pilates teaches it slightly differently -- beginning sitting and inhale on the roll up -- in his book Return to Life Through Contrology. I find that slightly more difficult. It might be your next step...

Teaser is preceded by the side kick and followed by hip twist in the classical Pilates mat sequence.

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