The Teaser

A successful Teaser demonstrates the strength, balance, coordination, focus and anatomical beauty which embody the essence of Pilates. If you can perform this challenging exercise, you have achieved a level of greatness in your Pilates practice. Good work. However, when an instructor enthusiastically says “Lets do Teaser!”, or the daunting “Teaser prep” in class, I tend to make a face. My teaser is a work in progress.
Cheating is easy, but unrewarding. That is one of the things I love about Pilates; learning not to cheat. It is about the mental challenge to make your body work harder to accomplish a motion that could be performed with less effort. Pilates pushes your mind to focus, in order to recruit which muscles and you want to work while simultaneously balancing, breathing, and stretching. The Teaser exemplifies these skills. It is a tangible milestone demonstrating one’s level of competency.

Joe Pilates

Joe Pilates

Here are some of the common challenges that impede the perfect Teaser:

The Legs Won’t Straighten
Are the legs supposed to be bent or straight in the teaser? The most advanced version of the teaser is with straight legs. However, the straight leg position does not work for everyone. It usually takes lots and lots of practice to get to that point. People with low back issues may chose to always keep their legs bent and not work towards the goal of straight legs. Tight hamstrings also affect one’s ability to straighten legs.

The Back’s Position
Is the back rounded, or straight, in the teaser? There are pictures of Joe doing the teaser with a rounded back and leg straight. However, rounding the back in teaser often puts pressure in the low back. Therefore, we now teach teaser with a straight, or neutral, back. At the same time, most students with very long legs need to slightly round their backs, or lean back more, in order to straighten the legs completely.

Low Back Pain
If you have low back pain in general, certain positions of the teaser may affect you negatively. This is where the “mind-body” part of Pilates comes in. It’s so important to stay in tune with your body and be aware through an entire teaser series, especially as you near the end of the series and begin to grow tired. Your back can begin to do all the work in holding your legs up, or you could start slumping into your low back. If you do feel low back tension, pressure, or pain during the teaser, you could try any of the following modifications
-First, talk with your instructor and make sure you’re in the correction position
-Make sure you’re staying connected in your abs.
-Try bending the knees slightly, or come into Table Top position with your legs
-Place your feet on the mat, knees bent
-Look straight ahead at your toes
-Lift your chest up through your arms, keep the collar bones wide

From : http://www.wellsphere.com/pilates-article/exercise-of-the-month-the-teaser/1095224
Here is some motivation to push through the challenges: an intense video from back in the day of a Joseph Pilates student performing classical exercises! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32thJdJyK8I (Teaser is shown at minute 2:00.)

Where ever you are in your Teaser journey, keep pushing yourself! I haven’t performed the perfect Teaser yet, but when I do- when I feel my core quiver, my legs and arms come up simultaneous, my spine teased into both lumbar curve and thoracic flexion, reaching forward with all limbs, raising my sternum to the heavens, with a ray of sun beaming down, and climatic music hitting a crescendo- I will finally know the feeling of a true teaser.

By Katie Figura