Saturday, January 28, 2017

How Pilates Helps Your Yoga Practice: Part 1

In college, I was introduced to several mind-body modalities including both Pilates and Yoga. I found that both methods together helped me find the flexibility and core strength that I needed to improve as a dancer.

Since my college years, I have continued to enjoy both Pilates and Yoga. While I might not dance as often now, I do Pilates and Yoga because it keeps my body happy and feeling good. Needless to say, I do not think one practice is better than the other. I believe Pilates and Yoga compliment one another. 

If you're looking to grow your Yoga practice or even feel a little stuck with Yoga, I would really suggest giving Pilates a try. Here's what you'll find if you do:

1. Boosted Stamina for Holding Yoga Poses Longer.
Ever been asked to hold High Plank for 5 deep breaths? Here's a hint: If you take Long Slow & Deep Yoga, you'll be holding poses for at least two minutes. In a recent Yoga class I took, I relied on my core, activating the deepest layers of the abdominals we often don't acknowledge- such as the transversus abdomininis. Think of the transversus abdominis as if you were putting on a corset (this layer of the abdominals wraps horizontally around the torso.) We often think of only activating the abdominals we can see- the rectus abdominis (think 6 pack abs). Pilates matwork will train you to engage all layers of your abdominals to fuel and power your body's movement. Pilates practice will give you the core strength you need to hold High Plank, Side Plank, and even Airplane to name a few.

Pictured above is Single Leg Stretch from the Abdominal Series. Learn the Pilates Abdominal Series and integrate it into your personal Yoga Practice. (Even if I do not get in a full workout everyday, I make sure to do the Abdominal Series daily. It takes less than 5 minutes!) I guarantee Pilates will feel help you feel stronger and less unstable in your Yoga practice. 

2. Increased Stability for Yoga Poses.
One of the lessons both Pilates and Yoga have taught me is finding my balance. I talked about this recently here. Pilates has helped me find what it means to "use my core." Pilates keeps you honest and shows rather if you a truly using the powerhouse muscles. There is no cheating!

 In the exercise pictured about- The Roll-Up- there is NO WAY you are going to be able to roll up to into a seated position while keeping your feet or heels (depending on the modification used) glued to the floor without relying on your core. I think about activating my core in this exercise by pulling my belly back as I stretch forward- this creates an opposition.

Stronger core helps you maintain your balance. It is as simple as that. By the way, did you know that your core or Powerhouse muscles as we refer to in Pilates includes your gluts! Tip: Next time you do Tree, think about activating and squeezing your glut muscles. So the real question is: do you ever feel wobbly in Yoga poses such as Airplane, Eagle, and Tree. If you do, then Pilates is most definitely for you.

3. Relieved Pressure in the Joints, such as the Wrists and Knees.
As we hold Yoga poses such as Plank, Pointer, Chaturanga sometimes the wrists can become aggrevated, especially if you have carpal tunnel syndrome.  For individuals with knee issues, Hero Pose or various versions of Pigeon might not feel the best on the knees. While there are numerous modifications to help relieve pressure in the joints, one thing I have found is by ultizing my core strength (Thank you Pilates!) I take tension out of the joints.

Pictured here is the first exercise in the Pilates Mat- The 100. This exercise is perfect for warming up the body (it really gets the blood flowing!) AND turning on the powerhouse (think abs, gluts, hips, pelvic floor). 

For example, in Heros Pose, I think about lifting up out of my Pelvis (using the abdominals of course!) to take pressure out of the knees. In Down Dog, I think about lifting the belly in and up to turn on the core muscles, deepen the stretch, and take the tension out of my wrists.

So my fellow Yogis, if you still are not convinced that Pilates will help you grow your Yoga practice- I'll be talking more about this tomorrow, as well. You'll especially want to join me back for this post if you are a hyperflexible Yogi. I'll be giving you some insight to help you grow your Yoga practice.

No comments:

Post a Comment