The Mermaid

By Kristin McGee

Purpose: To stretch and strengthen the oblique muscles and intercostal muscles and expand breath capacity as well as stretch the shoulder girdle region and hips.

Muscles Targeted: Oblique muscles, hips, intercostals and erector spinae.mermaid

Instructions: Sit on your left hip with your knees bent and your feet to the outside of your right buttock. Inhale, walk your right hand out alongside the right foot as far as you can go then exhale as you take your left arm overhead and stretch to the right. Inhale back up to center then exhale out to the opposite side walking left hand away from left hip and stretching right arm overhead on the exhale to counter stretch. Inhale, back up to center and repeat right and then left 3 times before switching feet to the outside of the left hip and perform another set of 3 repetitions.

Total Repetitions: 6 (3 right and left then 3 left and right)

Modification: If you find it hard to keep your legs stacked over each other, you can open your legs wider to create a more solid base. You can also sit your bottom hip up on something like a rolled up towel to give you more leverage. Decrease the range of motion when you stretch from side to side to also make it easier.

Tip: Try not to let your ribs splay open as you hinge from side to side. Remember to keep your ribs tethered together and work from your entire core region focusing in on the oblique muscles (waist and sides) and keep your shoulder blades down especially as you stretch the top arm overhead. Remember to create space between the top of the shoulder and the ear and you’ll also get a great neck stretch and mini massage. I love the mermaid it makes me feel graceful and it massages and opens up my chest and collarbone region while strengthening toning my waist and hips and arms.


5 Responses to The Mermaid

  1. maryann Nigh says:

    Hi, Please let me know if I can buy a March/April 08 issue. I am looking for an article by Lynne Robinson on the PowerHouse. She has video’s on Pilates and is from England. She is so good.

  2. Shona says:

    HI from s.w.Scotland!!
    These tips are very welcome, they are giving me excellent hints for teaching and for executing moves. Look forward to more. Thank you! Shona

  3. Kathy Steel says:


    I just this exercise this morning. I was tranined in Power Pilates and we are taught to do 3 stretches, deepening each time and then do 1 Counter stretch. What do you think? Why is there so many versions of Pilates out there. It seems to me the muscles get a chance to warm up and one can get more of a stretch if done in a set of 3 before counter stretching.

    Kathy Steel

  4. kathy lee says:

    sounds logical. when i execute massage strokes and passive stretches I do it three times. I counter stretch on myself (and thus on others) primarily when the muscle is in spasm, or pain even after or moreso after a deep stretch as is often the case in whiplash. In Pilates I usually bring people in and out of eve’s lunge 2 or 3 times depending on how tight they are.

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