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How to Practice Pilates Elephant Exercises on the Foam Roller

When I work out on the reformer, the Pilates Elephant exercises are my favorites. I was so excited to learn how to adapt this exercise to work with a foam roller. This makes these fun, core-challenging exercises available to more people! Here’s how to practice the Pilates Elephant exercises on the foam roller.

Elephant on the Foam Roller–Flat Back

I always like to practice the flat back version of Elephant before the round back version because having a flat back helps me wake up my core muscles. For some reason, if I practice the round back version first, it ends up being a crap shoot about whether I’m working my muscles correctly or to their full potential.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees with the foam roller under your shins.
  2. Place your hands in your desired place for Plank prep. Make sure your fingers are spread, palms flat on the mat. Send energy from your knees through the top of your head. Take a moment to practice this Plank prep before you lift your knees and move into the full version of Plank on an unstable surface.
  3. Press your shins firmly into the foam roller and lift your belly button toward your spine.
  4. With strong arms, push the floor away.
  5. flat back elephant on the foam rollerNow, use Pilates breathing and inhale to activate your core muscles.
  6. As you exhale, keep your spine straight and neutral as you bring your knees toward your chest. Make sure that you don’t bring your knees so close to your chest that your spine rounds or your pelvis tucks.
  7. Inhale to lengthen out.
  8. Exhale to fold.
  9. Practice 10 reps.

Elephant on the Foam Roller–Round Back

  1. Begin on your hands and knees with the foam roller under your shins.
  2. Place your hands in your desired place for Plank prep. Make sure your fingers are spread, palms flat on the mat. Send energy from your knees through the top of your head. Take a moment to practice this Plank prep before you lift your knees and move into the full version of Plank on an unstable surface.
  3. Press your shins firmly into the foam roller and lift your belly button toward your spine.
  4. With strong arms, push the floor away.
  5. round back elephant exerciseNow, use Pilates breathing and inhale to activate your core muscles.
  6. Exhale and press the floor away as you tilt your pelvis and round through your spine one vertebrae at a time to bring your knees toward your chest. Make sure you have completely hollowed out your abdominals. As you move, you may feel like your hips are lifting toward the ceiling. This is normal.
  7. Inhale to lengthen out.
  8. Exhale to round the spine and repeat.
  9. Practice 10 reps.

Finding a Foam Roller

If you want to order a foam roller, I recommend the OPTP brand foam roller. Their foam rollers are firm and don’t dent or bend easily. It’s crucial for your foam roller to be firm and stay the same shape throughout its use.

Foam rollers are a great tool to elevate your Pilates mat work, but they’re also wonderful self-massage tools. Here’s a link to some foam roller stretches.

Elephant Exercises on the Foam Roller Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What do you think of this challenging exercise? I love it on the foam roller as well as the reformer! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

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