In honor of Thanksgiving, which is fast approaching, I know that you’re all buzzing around and collecting your goods for the big feast. And while the feast itself can be delightful when spent in the right company, preparing for it can be very stressful.

I’m here to supply you with a pick-me-up that will get you ready for the fray!  Nothing like a good Pilates exercise to serve as the perfect outlet for some of that nervous holiday energy, right?! Can’t think of anything better than the Open Leg Rocker to remind you of your ability to literally “roll” with the punches while you’re doing battle in the lines at Whole Foods!

This little Pilates wonder not only strengthens your core the way every exercise in the Classical Pilates Mat work series does, but let’s talk turkey (couldn’t help myself) –it also sparks the baby monkey inside you, your kid self that just wants to roll around on the floor, go upside-down, scream and yell to your heart’s content and have someone else cook your Thanksgiving dinner!

In all seriousness, it’s a great reminder to have fun while you’re dealing with the grown-up stressors of life.

Adding to this burgeoning list of benefits,  in just a few repetitions, your entire spine and surrounding muscles get a deep massage, stimulating your cerebral spinal fluid, which calms your central nervous system. Add to this, that your will and determination, as well as patience and fortitude are all invited to this party, because the only way you can successfully rock back up to a balance is by calling upon a high-level focus of mind, and selectively recruiting the muscles you need to execute the movement.

But the very best part of the Open Leg Rocker? When you do it, you look like a harvest “Horn of Plenty!” And by virtue of the very shape you create with your body (like a human letter in the Erte alphabet) you feel grateful for all of the bounty you have in your life, and the gifts you are going to enjoy come this Thursday!


Bet you’ll never look at The Open Leg Rocker in quite the same way after this … and for that alone, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful.

Here’s what you do:


1. Sitting tall at the front edge of your Pilates mat, slide your hands underneath your knees and lift your legs up so that the lower legs are parallel to the floor in a bent-knee position with the feet long and energized.

2. Slightly round your spine underneath you as you draw your navel deeply to your spine and establish a solid balance. Create a lovely “C” shape with your body and pretend that you are the gravy boat, or a bowl of yummy, slightly spicy cranberry sauce–YUMMMMMM!

3. Inhale as you rock backwards with control only to the top of the shoulder blades (don’t even let your hair touch the mat when you rock back there)  maintaining the shape of your lovely “Horn of Plenty,” and then on your exhale, using the abdominals to initiate, rock up to a stellar balance, lifting the eyes above the horizon line to facilitate your balance, returning the legs to their starting position.

4. Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and not doing the work your abdominals should be doing. Practice one of Joseph Pilates’ favorite mantras, “Economy of Movement.” Maintain the pristine “Horn of Plenty” shape, deepen your abdominals, breathe and focus, and you’ll be rocking and rolling in no time.


5. Inhale rock back and deepen the abdominals to enhance the spinal massage effect of the exercise, and without lingering back there, exhale right away and roll up to that fancy balance once again, this time, feeling the fun, the freedom this action inspires in your belly (a feeling not dissimilar from a baby roller coaster ride on the  down-swing!(  And feel proud of yourself (even if you had trouble rocking up seamlessly) … it gets easier, believe me. But definitely not post-turkey. That’s why I suggest you try this before Thanksgiving :)

6. Repeat the exercise a total of 5 times, and if you really want a challenge when you rock and roll, try straightening the legs in the upright position, and keep your hands on that chosen spot on your ankles, both when you rock back and when you rock up. Warning: This variation is more advanced and will be more challenging. But I ask you, what is life, if it isn’t challenging?! Real change happens when you rise up in the face of adversity! Don’t cheat! Give it your all and then relish the rewards!

I promise that even after a few repetitions of this exercise, you will feel joyful, refreshed and most importantly, GRATEFUL-- Grateful that you took the time away from the holiday crush and gave yourself some very vital pre-turkey love, Grateful that you have a body that can to rock and roll!

Happy Thanksgiving, to all of you Horns of Plenty out there and remember it’s only when you ROCK AND ROLL that you fill your soul!


About Jennifer

Integrated fitness and wellness expert, yoga devotee, author and 2nd Generation Pilates Teacher, Jennifer Kries, is an internationally renowned mind-body-spirit innovator. The first to bring Pilates, and The Method, the groundbreaking synthesis of Pilates, Yoga and Dance to a mass audience, her award-winning videos, The Method Series, and Jennifer Kries DVDs, have sold over 15 million units worldwide. Along with her featured appearances on Fit TVs, The Method Show, her work revolutionized the fitness community, starting the explosive wave of enthusiasm for Pilates and mind-body exercise.

She is the creator and producer of several original DVD Series, including her Hot Body Cool Mind Life Force Power Workout, Waking Energy, New Body! Pilates and The Pilates Method Master Trainer Series, the definitive resource for Pilates professionals, teachers-in-training or Pilates devotees. Jennifer has inspired countless readers, practitioners, graduates of her programs, and viewers alike to embrace her all-encompassing philosophy of movement, art, health, life and energy. Her attention to detail, superb teaching style, artistry, and knowledge of Eastern healing techniques makes her one of the most highly sought-after mind-body teachers in the world today. www.jenniferkries.com

2 Responses to “Be Your Own Horn of Plenty”

It’s always important to have fun in whatever you’re doing. This pose could signify our want for a more prosperous year. Love the name “Horn of Plenty”!

February 24th, 2015

Great article! I have been searching for someone to instruct me in pilates. Las Vegas has so many pretenders; it is difficult to know who to choose.

March 27th, 2015