At Home, Winter 2007
They seem as different as night and day.
Pilates emphasizes body alignment and precise moves.
"It's all about how you are doing it, where you are working from," said Steamboat Pilates and Fitness Studio owner Wendy Puckett.
Yoga, in all its varieties, is more relaxed with an emphasis on proper breathing.
"In general, yoga is a little more of a destination pose and you flow to it," Puckett said.
Together, Pilates and yoga can bring out the best in each other, bucking the belief that they are opposite exercise methods that attract opposite personalities.
Pilates, created by Joseph Pilates, challenges a person from the core through moves that challenge the lower back and abdominal muscles while lengthening the body and aligning the spine.
Yoga is seen by many as calming, almost meditative, though regular performers of yoga will challenge their breath control, flexibility and balance.
In other words, the two seemingly opposite exercise methods can complement each other, engaging the muscles, the spine and the mind.
People may not leave in a sweat. Pilates and yoga aren't considered cardiovascular workouts, but that doesn't mean there is no value.
"Expect to leave with a total body shake, head to toe," Puckett said. "Pilates challenges the patterns of movement showing your body a new pattern of how to move."
Teaching the spine, and ultimately the body, how to properly move is arguably the most beneficial aspect of Pilates. The balance and flexibility gained through yoga is equally important.
"You build from the inside out," Puckett said.
Watching people strengthen their biceps, triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, but ignoring the core muscles, makes Puckett shudder a bit. Appearing strong and being strong are two very different things.
Core, Puckett believes, is the key muscle group to address, and Pilates and yoga are exercise methods for people of all ages and fitness levels. Modifications can be made in either exercise to help those with back or joint problems.
"I love the common sense of Pilates, but I'm learning yoga," Puckett said.
For feeling light and at ease
Push away from the floor, keeping your back straight and your shoulders over your wrists. Your legs are close together, and you are up on the balls of your feet. Disperse the work throughout your body. Imagine suction cups are on your back lifting you toward the ceiling. Make this a deep core move.
Drop your torso to a neutral spine position, which is the healthiest position for your spine. Focus on keeping the abdominal muscles tight and your shoulders down and relaxed.
Modify the Plank by sitting on the floor with knees lifted and together with your feet together and firmly on the floor. Place your hands beneath your knees. Lift through the core and inner thighs.
1. Kneel on the floor with your feet together, keeping your knees wide apart. Sit back on your heels with the tops of your feet on the floor. Arms can be at your side or extended out in front, but make sure your back and shoulders are relaxed. Bend forward from your waist over your knees.
2. Keep your forehead on the floor and extend your arms out in front with your palms face down on the floor. Melt into the Child's Pose. Fold at hips. Breathe into the back of your ribs, lengthening through the sides of your body.
To modify: place blankets under your head and chest or under your thighs.
to strengthen courage and wisdom
1. Sit down with knees bent but together and feet together and flat on floor. Lean back from the core until arms are straight and hands are behind knees. Keep your back straight and shoulders down and relaxed.
2. Lift legs together, keeping hands beneath your knees. Your arms will bend a bit, as your core holds your weight and you balance on your 'sitz' bone. Keep your shoulders down and pelvis open.
3. Sit up with your legs bent, arms reaching out in front of you. Tuck your tailbone to roll your pelvis back, making a 'C' curve with your spine. Keep your body lengthened. Keep your pelvis tucked. Lift one leg at a time so that you are balancing behind the 'sitz' bones. Roll back a little as your legs stretch out.