Yoga and Pilates differ in ways, yes, but as they say “good eyebrows are sisters, not twins”.
This is also true when is comes to Pilates and Yoga. Although they may not be twins they are most definitely sisters and greatly assist each other. Yoga and Pilates have many complimenting characteristics and Pilates has often been proven to enhance your Yoga practice.
Pilates can be used alongside your Yoga practice to help focus on breath work, strengthen your core, improve your balance and alignment and lengthen your side body. Through movements in Pilates, Joseph Pilates revealed in his book Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology, “a stint on any Pilates mat reveals similarities between Pilates exercises and asanas: Side Lift is much like Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose), Roll Over is reminiscent of Halasana (Plow Pose), and Swimming could be mistaken for Salabhasana (Locust Pose).”
As you may know, the way in which we breathe in Yoga differs than in Pilates. Yet, it is crucial, in both practices, to focus on your breath. Deep breathing and proper technique is essential when doing any movement in both Yoga and Pilates. Deep breathing helps you to find your focus and maintain balance, as well as, encourages you to be mindful. The importance of focusing on breathing throughout Pilates helps to remind you to also remember deep breathing and mindfulness in your Yoga practice.
Which leads us to our next example of how Pilates compliments a Yoga practice:
Engaging Your Core.
It is essential in both Pilates and Yoga to make sure you are engaging your core. The core, also known as the “powerhouse” of the body, is where the center of gravity stems from. Whether you are doing Pilates or Yoga, ensuring that your core is engaged is extremely important for integrating the movement of your body from front to back. In Pilates, the focus on your core is the pillar from which all other movements flow. This is similar in Yoga as well. In order to keep your body aligned and gravity on your side, you need to focus on engaging and strengthening your core. For example, Svarga Dvijasana (Birds of Paradise) is a pose in which balance and core strength go hand in hand. In order to ensure that you maintain your balance, you must have a strong and engaged core and a focused breath.
The next example is:
Lengthening Your Side Body
Your side body extends from the tops of your thighs all the way up to the armpits. Along with breathing and engaging your core comes the ability to lengthen your side body. This is where Pilates steps in and works to stretch and lengthen. YogaJournal.com states that “Many of us tend to shorten the side body in poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), and forward bends, leading us to stifle the full postures. Pilates can come to the rescue. “When you use the muscles in your center efficiently, you’re much more able to lengthen the side body,” Slovin explains. “It’s like a star. If the middle is burned out, the light doesn’t emanate outward.”
Being aware of your side body and working to really stretch and move your ribs and hips in poses like Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) and Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) stems from the awareness and lengthening of your side body, which Pilates plays a major role in. Being aware of your side body and alignment are vital in many poses in your Yoga practice. Finding length, focusing on breathing and engaging your core can ultimately be guiding factors when mastering advanced Yoga poses and transforming your practice.
The final, but not last, or least, compliment that Pilates gives to Yoga is:
Pilates focuses strongly on spine alignment. “Because Pilates focuses on balancing the musculature, it helps create symmetry between the left and right sides of the body,” Stacie Stukin of YogaJournal.com writes. If you find yourself being adjusted by your Yoga teacher often because your hips are not aligned, the focus on balancing the masculature in Pilates can transform your Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose), as well as help with the many twists and binds you are striving to master on the mat.
By incorporating Pilates into your Yoga practice you will find many of your poses and movements complimented and positively transformed.
If you are interested in beginning your Pilates practice and improving your Yoga practice, lucky for you- we offer mat classes, group circuit classes and private or duet sessions in our studio!
Book a session and learn more about the benefits of Pilates HERE!
If you have any questions about Pilates contact us or join Karen on the Mat every Tuesday night from 4:45-5:45 for a Pilates With Props class that is great for beginners! We also have circuit classes available weekly with Laura and Karen- check out the schedule here to join a class: https://omonyoga.com/class-schedule/