So, why do Yogalates?

My Thoughts, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you will have seen my flyers:

Yogalates is a fusion class, one that blends the ancient eastern discipline of yoga with the modern western teachings of Joseph Pilates; Yogalates combines the core strength and fitness training of Pilates and the stretching, flexibility and mindfulness of yoga in one session.

  • Increased core muscle strength and body toning
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Helps with stress relief
  • Significantly improves balance and supports great posture
  • Improves bone health (especially important for seniors)
  • Significantly improves pelvic floor strength (especially important postpartum)
  • Injury prevention / Rehabilitation / Helps with back pain
  • Classes accommodate all ages and levels of practice

But here’s some additional reasons for doing Yogalates: It can improve your yoga practice; it can improve your Pilates practice. This fusion of disciplines gives you the best of both worlds. Pilates will not only help you strengthen your core and improve your fitness, it will teach you how to consciously tap into the power there to create greater stability and better alignment. And by focusing on targeted movements that develop core strength, Pilates can help yogis build a stable and stronger centre, increase awareness of alignment (more on this to come in later blogs) and allow students of yoga to work deeper into their asanas. Many of my clients over the years have recognised that Pilates is a rewarding complement to their yoga practice, which is one of the reasons I have started teaching Yogalates.

But while the discipline of Pilates is a mindful workout in itself, with its focus on control and breathing, yoga offers a greater degree of mindfulness with classes usually beginning and ending with a form of breathing, mini-meditation or shavasana. It is rare to find a mindfulness section in a Pilates class. Yoga has a strong balancing effect on the nervous system through the use of deeper yoga breathing techniques (Yoga Journal 2017). But, moreover, the focus and concentration required in some of the postures / asanas keeps you very anchored in the moment and out of the distractions of the day, which in turn helps to quieten the mind, be less stressed, be fully present in the here and now. And the more you practice, the more it becomes a natural habit to be in a mindful state of mind. This assists your Pilates workouts (or whatever your sporting endeavour may be) significantly (once again, the science behind this to come in future blogs).

But science can be really boring unless you’re a science nerd like me, so I make a solemn promise to try and be super-interesting in what I have to say in future blogs. And for all you sceptics out there (and I’m the biggest one of them all), mindfulness is not some new-age nonsense, it is not pseudo-profound bollocks! There is considerable scientific research on the benefits of mindfulness. Note that I refer to scientific research, published in peer-reviewed journals, not pseudo-science! (more to come on the science in later blogs).

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) (Harpers Bazaar, December 2018). Pilates can also give yogis greater awareness of their centre, which comes in handy in poses like Sirsasana (Headstand) (Yoga Journal 2018).

Interestingly, much of Joseph Pilates’s technique was derived from his study of Eastern philosophy, and many say this included yoga. In his book Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology, he wrote that age is gauged not by years but by the suppleness of the spine; and it is around this concept that Pilates developed. He also noted that full, deep breathing is a key component to efficient movement. But the similarities stop there. While yogis are instructed to either hold poses in disciples such as Iyengar and Yin or flow quickly through them in Vinyasas, Pilates is a rhythmic practice of precise movements repeated approximately five to 12 times for each exercise.

Furthermore, yoga as a discipline is so much more than just the asanas you do in class. The physical components of a yoga class are a mere fraction of this ancient discipline. In fact the biggest difference between yoga and Pilates is the emphasis on the spiritual side in a yoga class. But this may not be what you want. As much as any devoted yogi may have tears in their eyes at the thought of yoga being used purely as a fitness regime, the fact remains that most people are doing it for this reason. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; we are all individuals with our own spiritual path. Yogalates does mindfulness, Yogalates also does Yoga Nidra – Yogalates lets clients follow their own spiritual path.

And on an entirely different, and somewhat more trivial note, you could do both separately……but how much time do you have in a week?

Exercise + Mindfulness
Because punching people is frowned upon.