Saw: A Classic Pilates Spinal Rotation

Saw is a classic Pilates exercise. It is a hum-dinger of a multi-tasker! Spinal rotation, spinal flexion, ab work, shoulder opening, and coordination are all important components for successful execution.

With all of the work that goes on, it can be easy to ignore the SITs bones and the hip flexors. If you have issues with your lumbar spine (low back), sacrum (tailbone), or hip flexors, think very carefully about if you want to do this exercise. Truly, I believe that Saw is not for everyone. Only continue if your spine and hip flexors are in good health.


  1. SawBegin seated with your legs as wide as your mat. Take a moment to make sure you can feel your SITs bones pressing into the mat beneath you. If you can’t feel your SITs bones, it might be necessary to sit on something like a bolster or folded blanket. This will reduce the stress on the hamstrings and allow you to connect to the mat beneath you. Also, use your pointer fingers to press into the fronts of your hips to make sure that your hip flexors are soft. If your hip flexors are gripping and they won’t relax, please don’t do this exercise today.
  2. Press the backs of the heels into the mat. Feel the lift that happens through your spine.
  3. With broad collarbones, reach your arms out. Feel your fingertips reaching away from each other. You should be able to see your arms in your peripheral vision.
  4. We will use Pilates breathing.
  5. Inhale and rotate toward your right leg. Make sure that your SITs bones are still grounded and your hip flexors are still relaxed.
  6. SawExhale and roll down one vertebrae at a time so that your torso is parallel to your thigh. As you do this, your pinkie finger of your left hand reaches for the pinkie toe of the right foot, and the right arm reaches behind you with the thumb down.
  7. Inhale and reverse sequence to stack it back up. You are still facing your right leg.
  8. Exhale and rotate back to center.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 for the left side.
  10. Do 5 on each side as long as the SITs bones will stay grounded and hip flexors are relaxed. If you start to lose your form, even out your sides and stop for today.

Saw video

Here is a video of Saw for visual learners.

What is the most challenging part of Saw for you:  keeping the SITs bones down, keeping the hip flexors soft, or opening through the shoulders? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.