5 Must-Moves You Can Do in a Living Room

I just ran into a friend as I walked my dog in the rain. 

MBB: “I’m writing a Stylebook post today and I want to share something useful. Any ideas?”

Sue Setliff: “How about something we can do while we are travelling for the holidays. What is one thing we can/should do over the holidays?”

MBB: “Are five things ok?”

Sue Setliff: “Sure, people are going to be on planes and in cars, what should they do to help with that? And what stretches?”


Here’s what Sue sent me:



Last year I posted on how to breathe your way through the stress of the holidays. This year I’ll outline how to move in order to counter the traveling stress on your body while you’re away from your favorite studio or gym. Follow me on instagram (@drmeganbrown) for the video version coming soon!


Warm Up-Cat/Cow

I like this yoga move for so many reasons–it prepares the stabilizers to engage, improves spinal range of motion, and alleviates neck pain. Truly focus on the shoulder blades moving while staying out of your ears. Time the movement with your breath: inhale to sink and extend the spine, exhale to arch up like a Halloween cat. Spend 30 to 60 seconds on this. Throw in a few good planks here if you want, but make sure you have a long spine and your abdominals are drawn up (bum down).



Hip Thrusts 

I’m a big fan of “the glute guy” on instagram. Although he lifts more weight than I do, we share a massive love for the glutes. Well..we’re likely going to be sitting on them these next few weeks. Just say no to flabby glutes!!! I’ve said it before, strong glutes will save your life.

Find an ottoman or a firm chair/sofa. Support your upper back on that surface, lower your tailbone down to the floor then squeeze your bum hard and lift full range up to the top (the crease in your groin should disappear, if it doesn’t you likely have tight hip flexors). Pull your abdominals down as you squeeze your hips up. Breathe the whole time. Repeat for 45 to 60 seconds of quality movement. If your knees hurt in the front, make an appointment with a physical therapist, we can knock that out in just a few visits.




This whole-body move targets the side bum (glute med), shoulders (stick your chest out!) and core (pull your abs back). Lower and lift slowly, up and down for 30 seconds. Build up your stamina to 60 seconds by the end of the holidays. Again, we’re focusing on quality movements and endurance here, that’s why I don’t count reps. Make sure the top leg stays bent in the knee and you squeeze your bum to bring your thigh back.



Straight Leg Criss Cross

Take this classical Pilates move to the next level by climbing on the furniture! Choose something supportive but slightly padded to support your spine. Straighten your knees (all the way please) and switch your legs like scissors. As you support your head with your hands, cross your chest toward the leg closer to you. If you can’t keep your knees completely straight, bend that knee as it comes toward you. It’s “all or none” when it comes to knee straightening, there is a major biomechanical reason for that. Pull your abs way down to make this Pilates. Oh yeah, and breathe…no trips to the E.R. please. Spend 30 to 60 seconds on this but rest for a few seconds when you lose your form.



Torso Twist Planks

You can use furniture for this one or take it to the floor, in fact, it’s best to switch it up every day! Hold a nicely aligned plank (please keep your elbows unlocked, I say “straight but soft”). Keep your feet completely still as you push through one hand to bring the opposite hand to that shoulder. You’re doing this push and hand placement to get a rotation in your torso. Again, keep your feet still, no shifting side to side, that’s what makes this a challenge. Complete this slowly at first for 30 seconds. Then vary the speed day to day. Do not go on your knees! Do a full plank, you can do this. If you can only do a few reps, that’s ok! You will build up your strength. If you just had a baby or at least within 6 months or so, contact me, I will give you a better version of this.



Quadruped Flip

Sounds fun huh? You need some space for this one, or, it’s really fun to do on a hotel bed (the long way)! I don’t recommend this if you have a shoulder injury (go see a PT). This one is tough, so take your time. Start in reverse table top (stick out your chest and unlock your elbows), lift one arm and flip over into table top (quadruped), hovering your knees low to the floor. Flip back the same way you came. Repeat for 10 to 20 seconds then repeat going the other direction. To modify, hold each position individually for 10 seconds instead of adding the flip. 



If you don’t want your relatives working out on your furniture, bring them to Mind the Mat over the holidays! We have tons of holiday-themed workshops and expert classes that will make your in-laws want to move in (ok, so maybe don’t bring them). See you on the mat!


  • The latest from Megan
Megan Brown, physical therapist, Pilates instructor, mother and co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga in Alexandria, VA, likes to goof around. Yet her commitment to her students and her skill set in the field is no joke. After graduating from University of Virginia with a degree in Sports Medicine, Megan went on to receive her Masters in Physical Therapy and eventually her Doctorate in the profession. Although Pilates was never part of the plan, the method changed the way she treated patients, positively re-directed her career path and enhanced her own active lifestyle. Customized Pilates instruction is her specialty–she designs classes based on clients needs: athletes, new moms, rehabilitation or just for fun (why be serious all the time?). Pilates + Yoga is the best of both worlds, hence the creation of Mind the Mat studios providing classes for all—in every walk of life.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.


2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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