Back in the heyday of my youth, when I first started studying pilates, it would be unheard of to find a pilates studio offering yoga and vice versa. As a student, you either practiced yoga OR pilates. Pilates and yoga were perceived as very different forms of movement, with very little cross over.
I was introduced to pilates through a physio who was treating me for moderate injuries after a car accident. Prior to the accident I had been taking yoga classes for 4 + years, having originally been introduced to it at university. After recovering enough to return to my yoga mat, what I noticed immediately was that my yoga practice felt so much better in my body. I felt like I owned my yoga practice, rather than it owning me. I felt grounded, I felt strong, I was more conscious of my movements, I moved more intentionally. My awareness of my body and the ability to focus breath by breath on my asana practice, grew exponentially. I felt more confident to create a practice that was suitable for my body, even in the space of a busy yoga class.
What I learned is how genuinely complementary these two disciplines are. Over time and many years of practice, weaving these two approached to movement together has given me a pilates practice that is more dynamic and playful and a yoga practice that is simpler, focused and grounded. At this stage of my practice, I can't differentiate between the two - the practices have become one; a beautiful blend of intentional movement.
My life informs my work so at the studio we offer our students both yoga AND pilates. In fact, we've even designed a class for it - aptly named, The Blend.
Why not throw in a bit of focused attention to axial elongation in your Virabhadrasana series? • Notice how good it feels to gently soften the front of your lower ribs toward your belly in Crescent Lunge. • When you stand tall in Tadasana, draw your pubic bone slightly toward your naval, breathe into the back and sides of your ribcage and broaden across your collarbones. • In your bridge pose, reach your kneecaps forward and imagine pulling your heels toward your shoulders, livening up the back line of your body.
I mean we could go on and on. At this stage we don’t even know where yoga ends and pilates begins, we just know that they work damn well together. Whatever you do, enjoy your practice, breathe fully, smile and shine on!