Sunday, January 29, 2017

How Pilates Helps Your Yoga Practice: Part 2

Next up on the mat, Yoga with a side of Pilates. Downward Dog, Warrior Two, Crescent Lunge, followed by the Pilates 100 and 10 repetitions of each exercise in the Abdominal Series. That's what your Pilates teacher has ordered.

So if you didn't catch on yesterday I really believe adding Pilates to your workout can be a total game changer to your Yoga practice. (And if I'm being honest vice versa ... I found Pilates and then Yoga. I've found Yoga has helped increase my flexibility, which was hindering me in my Pilates practice, but that's another story for another day.)

4. Understand how to Engage Muscles While Stretching.
To the hyper flexible Yogis: this reason is for you! (Not this girl) All jokes aside, if you are hyper flexible, so many Yoga postures may seem really easy for your body to get into because you are so bendy. However, I assure you, there is even more you can get out of the pose by finding the strength coupled with the stretch. Pilates will help you find this. 

Pictured below is Single Straight Leg Stretch from the Pilates Abdominal Series done on the Mat. I like to think of this exercise as the "dessert" of the Abdominal Series. I love the stretch I get in the hamstrings while working on my core.

5. Increased Range of Motion for Backbends.
Pilates will certainly teach you where your powerhouse muscles are - which, by the way, if you do not feel your abdominals during the Abdominal Series then you'll be the first person I've heard say so (its a dozy!). So often to get into a backbend, Yogis will push their hips forward rather than lifting up out of the pelvis by turning on the core muscles. Maintaining length in the torso by activating your Pilates powerhouse and avoiding "crunching" into the back will help prevent low back injuries and pain as you go into a slight backbend in Peaceful Warrior for example. This same concept also applies to poses such as Cobra. 

Pictured below is Swan Dive on the Wunda Chair. Swan Dive is also found in the Pilates Mat Series. This exercise is very similar to Cobra. To begin this exercise, you start in a Cobra-like form then the arms lift up off of the mat and you rock back and forth between the arms lifting up overhead and the legs reaching towards the ceiling. 


6. Improved Body Alignment and Posture.
"Never slouch as doing so compresses the lungs, overcrowds vital organs, rounds the back, and throws you off balance"- Joseph Pilates. Every time I find myself slouching I imagine Joseph Pilates giving me the stink eye. Seriously though, if this doesn't give you reason to stop slouching then I don't know what will. 

A majority of the Pilates mat is done lying down on your back. By having a sensation of the spine pressed into the floor, you can easily become familiar with correct alignment. Are your shoulders open and pressed into the mat? Can you feel the back of your rib cage become wider? Is your chin relaxed into your chest? Is your navel sinking back into your spine? These are alignment cues that your Pilates teacher will help you to be mindful of and assist you with finding in your body. Take a Pilates mat class, and I'm sure you'll feel at least 5 inches taller when you walk out the door. An awareness of your alignment will help you take you further along in your Yoga journey because you will begin to initiate adjustments on your own, rather than solely relying on your Yoga teacher for feedback.

A Pilates Mat class is a great place for Yoga lovers to expand their mat practice. See you on the mat!

(For this post I am linking up with Ilkasblog and Marathons and Motivations for Sunday Fitness & Food Link-Up.)

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