Very few exercise systems address opening the chest in the same way that Pilates can do- or at least, I have yet to find one. Most of us sit at desks in offices for way too many hours per day- even those of us who are blessed to live in Colorad0- and we tend to crunch. Our head weighs a lot, and it kinda flops forward, in tiny little imperceptible moments, putting pressure on our spine, and over time....
Well, we know what happens. Swan on the ladder barrel, and other exercises on the small barrels, really helps to loosen up the spine and develop three dimensional mobility throughout the ribs. What I mean by that is we have ribs in the back of our bodies, too. When you lie over the barrel at the end of swan and breathe into those back ribs, it feels like heaven. The whole point of this exercise is opening everything up again, and creating space between your vertebra.
Some individuals will experience discomfort with their breast bone and this exercise at first- there's a little bone at the end of your big connector between your front ribs called the Xyphoid Process that can sometimes hurt a little when pushed upon. ("Process" is just a fancy anatomical word for a bony thing that sticks out.) This can be modified for comfort, depending on where we put you on the barrel.
If you've ever broken ribs, another great "barrel" is a hot river rock down at the springs. (If you happen to be in Pagosa.) After my accident, I spent hours down there with my butt in the sand and my back against a nice big hot rock, laying out backwards over the rock for support and using my abs to curl through my vertebra to bring myself back up. There are a million different ways to work this exercise, and it can also be worked on the barrels. But man did that hot rock feel GREAT!
Swan- you need this if you are a human being.
They say that sitting is the new smoking, and here I am, sitting in front of my computer right now! But what am I about to do? That's right. Swan.