Mermaid for Spinal Health

The spine moves in many directions. We bend to the front, extend behind us, twist right and left, but our least used spinal movement is called side flexion. Mermaid is a side flexion exercise.

Side flexion is when you bend to the side without rotating. Literally, I can think of zero times in my life when I use side flexion, but it’s essential for the health of the psoas and the spine. If you ignore side flexion, it will result in back pain and dysfunction.

Mermaid

Take a Seat

Before we begin Mermaid, I want you to experiment to find the most comfortable seated position. You have several options.

  • Sit with your legs crossed. This is like the yoga pose Sukhasana.
  • If your hips are tight and your knees are higher than your hips, sit on a bolster or folded blanket with your legs crossed. You want to make sure to position yourself so that you’re comfortable.
  • You can sit in “Z sit.” To get into this position, bring your legs to the right side. Bend your knees. Position your right knee so that it is in line with your right hip. Bring the left knee in front of your left hip. You should feel the outside of the left shin and the inside of the right thigh against the mat.
  • Another option is to sit with your legs folded to one side. The bottom foot hooks over the top leg’s ankle.

The Exercise with Crossed Legs

  1. mermaidTake a seat.
  2. Use Pilates breathing.
  3. Draw your belly button to your spine.
  4. Inhale as you raise an arm.
  5. Exhale as you bend to the side.
  6. Inhale to come up to center.
  7. Exhale to lower the arm.
  8. Raise the opposite arm, so you can go to the other side.
  9. Complete 3-5 reps.

The Exercise with Legs to One Side

  1. Take a seat. Start with your legs to the right side.
  2. Use Pilates breathing.
  3. Draw your belly button to your spine.
  4. Inhale as you raise the right arm.
  5. As you exhale, think of lifting your rib cage up and over as you bend to the left. Let your left hand gently support you on the mat.
  6. Inhale to come back to center, keeping your right arm lifted.
  7. Exhale to lower your right arm.
  8. Inhale to lift your left arm.
  9. mermaidAs you exhale, think of lifting your rib cage up and over as you bend to the right. Let your right hand grab onto your legs to help support you.
  10. Inhale to come back to center, keeping your left arm lifted.
  11. Exhale to lower your left arm.
  12. Complete 3-5 repetitions on this side.
  13. Switch your legs to switch sides.
  14. Complete 3-5 repetitions on this side.

Mermaid Video

Thank you so much for reading. If you find my information valuable, please consider supporting this website. With your support, I can gather and share more wonderful information about how to correctly and safely practice Pilates.

For visual learners, here’s a video. I think you’ll observe that I am, indeed, just like a mermaid.

If you named this exercise, what would you call it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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