We caught up with Pilates and yoga teacher Ruby to find our more about Pilates can support and enhance your yoga practice.
''I have been a devote Pilates and Yoga practitioner most of my life, but never really realised how complimentary they are until I became a teacher and developed a deeper understanding of anatomy and movement.
To explain the complimentary benefits, we must first understand how they are different. To me, yoga is a very inward practice with the emphasise on personal journey from the spirit out - asanas are just a part of it. Pilates is more technical about the correct and conscious movement with focus on, postural alignment, stabilisation and mobilisation and is more about mastering the physical body as a whole as well as in part.
So here are my reasons why yogis should include a steady Pilates practice -
Your standing or moving posture can tell you a lot. Specifically highlighting the areas in your body as overly compensating and tightening when they should be lengthening and vice versa. Pilates provide exercises to correct those imbalances in a controlled manner. The most common postural issues are, elevated shoulders, tight hips, tight lower backs and tight hamstrings. In yoga you really need all these areas to function well so it does not restrict your practice. Not working on these areas can cause compensation in other parts of your body including the wrist, lower back, knees and neck resulting in possible strain or injury.
- Functional Movement
Functional movement is a very large part what Pilates is about. It is essentially learning to move from the right place in full range. Our daily postural habits and the human body’s natural ability to compensate imbalances in the body can create movement patterns that can cause pain in short and long term. I’ve seen many people who lift up in back bends from the lower back in order to compensate for tight hips and shoulders and a stiff upper back, which may not be an issue in the short term, but without correcting this from a perspective of alignment will cause some pain and other compensations in the body and will hinder the enjoyment of the practice and possibly turning a promising yogi enthusiast off the practice forever.
- Core strength
Core strength is not just about sit ups and abdominal curls. It’s about the deeper stabilising muscles, such as the Transverse abdominals (aka corset muscle), Internal Multifidis, the Diaphragm and the Pelvic Floor. In Pilates we focus on strengthening those deep muscles to assist with stabilisation and movement. An example where a strong core is required, is jumping the feet between the hands from downward facing dog – here you are stabilising the shoulders, and using the torso to assist in the lift of the hips to allow the legs spring lightly forward. In this example a weak core can cause overuse of the shoulders, lower back and hip flexors in trying to get there, resulting a heavy struggle. In Yoga we need core strength in all of the asanas to provide control, stability and that sense of lightness as you move with the breath.
Last but not least the breath! The Pilates breath is taught by breathing laterally (thoracic) and anterior/posterior breath (upper back and the upper chest). The muscles in breathing works with the core musculature and need to be worked purposefully like any other muscle in your body - with control and in full range. Consciously working the breathing muscles can help you improve your Ujjayi breath and ease the movement in your spine.''
Ruby is running a 6 week Pilates Foundation Course starting on Sunday 17th July. There are limited spaces left for our early bird offer of just £65 before the 17th June. Find out more and book here.
You can also join Ruby for her Pilates classes on Wednesdays from 6:45-7:45 pm and on Sundays from 11:45-1 pm. Book your place here.