Mat, Meet Mat.
It seems there’s a divide – those that do yoga and those that do Pilates. I’ve always been peacefully on the yoga side. Yoga gets me through my week , helps me through my hard days, challenges me to handle life with grace and patience, and reminds me to respect my body. Until two months ago, I had never experienced a Pilates class. I knew it was about the core, but had no idea past that. Jumping in with both feet, I signed up for a month unlimited of Pilates classes and I carefully placed my yoga practice on hold. The Gemini in me apparently can’t balance two practices at once – one extreme to the other…or so I thought. Turns out the two go hand in hand quite nicely. A brief summary of how I feel when practicing:
Yoga – I feel free… enjoying the flow, the energy in the room, the way my body can fold and open. I like to listen to the words the teachers speak. And I like the practice beyond physical movement.
Pilates - I realize how much our bodies can strengthen, how our muscles are designed to function. I also learned how to shake really well. With my muscles fully exerted I’m still shaky during planks and…well, pretty much everything. But I’ve learned that I really am stronger than my mind gives me credit for.
Now that my month package of Pilates has come to an end, I am back into yoga. I can see a difference in my yoga practice. I am stronger, my core is engaged and it makes a world of difference in my backbends, side planks, and sun salutations.
Today’s Yoga Journal Daily Insight introduces this subject of the two practices in The Other Mat:
Many yogis are beginning to recognize that Pilates—an 85-year-old system of body conditioning designed by German émigré Joseph Pilates—is a rewarding complement to asana practice. And some are finding that Pilates’ focus on building and engaging a strong core can propel their yoga practice into new realms.
While yogis are instructed to either hold poses or flow quickly through them in vinyasas, Pilates is a rhythmic practice of precise movements repeated five to 10 times for each exercise. The aim is to engage and strengthen the transversus abdominis (the deepest layer of abs that wrap around the torso horizontally), the obliques, the lower back muscles, and the pelvic floor during complex movements. By doing so, you develop a strong, corset-like support system that protects your back from injury.
Yoga and Pilates are, of course, distinct practices, but there might be times—perhaps when you’ve hit a plateau in your asana practice or are in an experimental mood—when playing with some Pilates techniques on your mat might enhance your yoga practice.