What are yoga and Pilates?

Are they pretty much the same thing? Or, completely different?

Yoga and Pilates compliment each other beautifully!

Similarities:

Yoga and Pilates are very similar in regards to the benefits/ah-mazing results they offer. (Think: more tone & strengthen, less weight & pain, better posture, less stress, and more flexibility.) Both can be adapted to align with your fitness level and easily modified to meet your needs. Both workouts are based on very similar principles. For example, both promote:

  • Control: when you’re in control of your movement, you’re using muscle vs. momentum. Therefore, it’s safer and more effective.
  • Quality over quantity
  • Focus
  • Proper alignment
  • Full body integration
  • Breath

Differences:

In a yoga practice, you do a lot of standing, balancing, and holding. In a Pilates practice, you do more core exercises, down on the mat. Pilates is all about core stabilization. So, you do a variety of different things with your arms and legs, with the intention of keeping your torso still.

The breathing is a little different, between the two, as well. (I go over all the breathing details in my foundation classes.)

Finally, Pilates began in the early 20th century. A German-born man named, Joseph Pilates, developed the foundations of this form of movement. Yoga, on the other hand, has a much longer and less concrete history. In fact, there is much debate over its origins. Many people believe it has its roots in India and dates back to 500 BCE or before.

What’s yogalates? Fusion? PiYo?

These are all different names for workouts that combines principles, exercises, and entire movement sequences from both Pilates and yoga. (These types of workouts are my absolute favorite form of movement!)

Why are yoga and Pilates so effective?

Both forms of exercise promote quality movement (over speed or quantity). You’re not just going through a workout to get it done, but instead, you’re doing your best to make the most of each pose…make the most of the experience in its entirety. In other words, you’re mindful of the process and enjoying the “journey”.

Yoga and Pilates are both highly functional forms of movement. So, you’re not simply burning calories and toning up, but you’re also promoting body awareness, practicing how to hold yourself in proper alignment, and stretching and strengthening in ways that will reduce and eliminate pain.

The principles upon which these two forms of exercise are built, maximize efficiency and effectiveness. I’ve tried many forms of exercise. You truly get the most bang for your buck with these two.

Why is a workout sometimes called a “practice”?

When you show up for basketball practice, you’re intending to refine your skills of dribbling, shooting, agility, so and so forth. Some days you feel really “on” and some days you don’t.

Similarly, when you show up for a yoga or Pilates workout, you have the opportunity to refine skills. Maybe one day, you decide you want to focus on improving your control. So, throughout your workout, you take note of when your movement feels smooth and when it feels choppy. You begin to notice when your muscles are dictating what’s happening with your body vs. when momentum takes over. By the end of your workout, it’s clear that you’ve used your time on the mat to practice control. And, have therefore, refined that skill.

Yoga and Pilates are potent with opportunities to practice virtually anything (movement-wise or otherwise).

Furthermore, calling your workout a “practice” is a great reminder that there’s not a specific way it has to look or feel. Instead you show up, respect where you’re at and what you’ve brought to the mat (body-wise and otherwise), and go from there. How it looks and feels is going to change day-to-day. What would be most helpful for you to focus on practicing is going to change as well.

“It’s not a ‘yoga perfect’, it’s a ‘yoga practice’.”

-Unknown

Why do some instructors prompt me to set an intention at the beginning of a yoga practice? What does that even mean? Typically, I just close my eyes, act like I know what I’m doing, but I’m really just waiting for that part to be over.

That’s what I used to do too! :)

When an instructor prompts you to set an intention, they’re simply giving you the opportunity to get clear about what you want to practice. Is it control? Focus? Alignment? Talking to yourself nicely regardless of how you think you look in the mirror? Letting go of comparisons?

Here are some questions I ask myself to get clear on my intentions:

Why am I here? Why did I choose to spend this time on my mat? What do I most need? How would I love to feel at the end?

What the heck is Savasana? It seems pointless.

When I first started doing yoga on my own, I always skipped Savasana. Always. I was dedicated to the workout, but I wasn’t going to waste my precious time lying still for 5 minutes at the end.

Now, I’m just as committed to Savasana as I am to the rest of my yoga practice. Why? It feels so good to rest, relax, and soak up all the benefits of what I did. Also, I get so many good ideas in Savasana. Solutions to problems flow to me with ease and new creative projects bubble up into my awareness.

Savasana is the last pose in yoga. In English, it’s known as “Corpse Pose”. That freaks some people out. Here’s how I like to think about it: it’s an opportunity for me to let “old” parts of myself, that no longer serve me, “die”. This, of course, creates space for new ideas and solutions to flow in.

And, worst-case scenario: you spent 5 minutes enjoying feeling good. It’s worth it. I promise.

What’s “Namaste” mean?

This is a blessing typically said at the end of a yoga class. The instructor usually says it first. Participants are welcome to say it back, but you certainly don’t have to if it makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason.

To me, Namaste means: the good and the light within me, honors and appreciates that same good and light within you.

How does equipment, like the stability ball, work into all this? What do I need to get started?

You literally don’t need any equipment to do yoga or Pilates. However, I do suggest a few things to get started. Check them out…

toolstogetstarted

Joesph Pilates invented many different pieces of equipment, such as the Reformer, the Cadillac, and the Chair. These are awesome! However, they are very expensive, very hard to store, and require extensive instruction to utilize safely and effectively.

The good news: there are pieces of equipment that can be added to a yoga or Pilates workout that are inexpensive, easy to store, easy to use, extremely versatile, and extremely effective. Sometimes these apparatuses make things easier and sometime they make things more challenging, depending on how they’re utilized.

My top picks? Awesome at-home apparatuses: a stability ball, a foam roller, ankle & hand weights, and a yoga block.

Click here to start shopping for these tools!

When yoga and Pilates principles are utilized with these apparatuses, magic happens! (That’s why I include workout videos with all of these within my Yoga & Pilates Online Membership.)

What should I wear when I do yoga and Pilates?

You definitely want to maximize comfort. So, don’t get things that are too tight or feel too revealing. If you feel cute, comfy, and cozy, you’re on the right track!

Sometimes it’s nice to get clothes that “hug” you a little bit (vs. a really baggy sweatshirt). This keeps them out of your way during your practice. Give yourself permission to experiment. This will help you determine what feels best for you.

Don’t wear hooded sweatshirts or low ponytails. This will be uncomfortable and mess with your neck alignment when you’re lying on your back, on the mat.

Am I supposed to go barefoot?

Both yoga and Pilates are typically done barefoot. This helps with alignment and balance. Doing them barefoot also provides many opportunities to improve your foot health (strengthening your arches, etc.).

If doing them barefoot makes you uncomfortable, though, wear shoes. No big deal.

Wearing shoes when you first start using a stability ball is probably a good idea. It provides a little extra stability until you become comfortable with the ball.

Don’t wear just socks. (Unless, they’re yoga socks like the ones pictured here.) Socks make things slippery and, therefore, a bit unsafe.

Should I listen to music when I do yoga and Pilates?

There are some instructors who believe these forms of exercise should always be done silently. It’s been my experience, however, that on some days, music can really enhance my practice. Other days, it’s a distraction. I think it’s an individual choice: person-to-person, day-to-day. I also think it depends largely on the intention(s) you set for your practice.

So, in my opinion, it’s totally up to you.

I include fun and inspiring playlists within my Yoga & Pilates Online Membership to cater to you on the days that music would really help get you moving!

How often should I be doing yoga and Pilates?

Yoga and Pilates are both low-impact forms of exercise. Meaning, when you do them, you’re not jeopardizing your joint health.

An example of a high-impact form of exercise: running. It’s great for your cardiovascular health, weight loss, and muscle strength. However, with all that pounding on the pavement, there’s definitely potential to wear down your joints.

Thankfully, that’s not an issue with yoga or Pilates.

Additionally, both yoga and Pilates are very functional forms of exercise. In other words, the way a seasoned instructor prompts you to hold and move your body, is the way your body was intended to be held and moved. Both promote proper alignment and excellent body awareness habits vs. perpetuating improper, dysfunctional ones.

With all this being said, for most people, yoga and Pilates are safe to do as often as you’d like. If you’re sore from a workout, however, make sure to give your body a little break. (See more on that below.)

Give yourself permission to start small. In other words, keep in mind that a little yoga and Pilates is better than no yoga or Pilates at all. (If you’re looking for support to make movement a more consistent part of your life, join my Free 3-Day Gentle Jumpstart!)

What should I do if I’m sore?

Congratulations! If you’re sore that means you’ve pushed your body’s comfort zone and, as a result, your body is transforming!

When you’re sore, it’s like your body is saying, “Whoa, she’s never done that before (or she doesn’t do that very often). I guess she wants to be able to do that. We’re going to have to change things (tone up, strengthen, lengthen, etc.) so she’s able to do that with more ease in the future.”

Isn’t that fantastic?! Your body is extremely adaptable. In fact, it’s constantly adapting to what you’re doing. If you’re sitting all the time, it will adapt to that. (In a not-so-good way. Think: pain, stagnation, and weight gain.) If you’re doing yoga & Pilates consistently, it will adapt to that too. (In a great way! Think: tone, strength, and flexibility!)

With that in mind, here’s what you should do when you’re sore:

First, pat yourself on the back!

Secondly, give your body a little break. That doesn’t necessarily mean don’t exercise at all. In fact, movement is great for your body when it’s sore…it gets your blood pumping which will loosen things up and help you muscles “heal” (a.k.a. transform) more quickly. Just make sure to move with less intensity or with different muscles.

Examples:

You did one of my full-body, Level 3 (relatively intense) yoga practices yesterday. You’re sore all over today. Go on a little walk. Or, do one of my Level 1 or Level 2 practices instead. It will feel great!

You did one of my Targeted Twelve – Upper Body videos yesterday. Your arms, chest, back, and shoulders are feelin’ it today. Try one of my Targeted Twelve – Ab workouts today instead. And, give it all you’ve got!

How do I know if the discomfort I feel during my practice is doing me good or making things worse?

This is an excellent question! I really, really encourage you to check out my article, Why No Pain, No Gain is a Hoax, for a very thorough answer.

Here’s a brief summary:

You want to start noticing the difference between pain and discomfort. You’ll usually intensify dysfunction when you feel pain and you “push through”. Gently pushing your comfort zones, however, will result in positive transformation.

How does pain typically show up? In these forms:

  • Shooting sensations
  • Grinding
  • Cramping up
  • Feeling ill
  • Feeling extremely drained or fatigued

Discomfort, which will ultimately result in positive transformation, typically shows up differently:

  • Burning
  • Pulling
  • Aching
  • Worn out in an energized or excited sort of way

How do I adapt/modify yoga and Pilates moves?

Click here to check out my top tips for getting what you need from your practice.

What if I have an injury or specific issue?

Yoga and Pilates are wonderful forms of exercise for you if you have injuries or specific issues because they can be adapted to meet your needs, they’re low-impact, and, because they’re so functional, they’re amazing in regards to healing/rehabilitation.

First and foremost, I’d recommend you chat with your medical care professionals (your physician, physical therapist, etc.) to find out what they think about you doing yoga and Pilates. (Most will be thrilled!) Ask them if there are any movements or positions you should avoid.

From there, you may find it helpful to work 1-1 or in a small group with a seasoned instructor.

Finally, it’s extremely important that you listen to and trust your body throughout your practices. If your body is in pain when you’re doing a particular exercise, skip it (even if that exercise is one that your physician said would be fine for you to do or one you’ve done before, with ease). It’s very important to honor the messages you get from your body (whether they show up as physical sensations or gut hits) and to acknowledge that what you need and what you need to avoid may change, day-to-day.

I highly recommend you check out my article, Why No Pain, No Gain is a Hoax for more information on discerning messages from your body.

Is yoga a religion? Is it spiritual?

Some people use the Eight Limbs of Yoga as the cornerstone for their spiritual practices and beliefs. One of those Eight Limbs is known as the “Asanas”. These are the actual physical movements, done on the mat. (The asanas are what most people think of when they think of yoga.)

In my opinion, these asanas can be whatever you want them to be. If you want to connect them to your spiritual practices and beliefs, awesome! If not, awesome!

It’s been my experience, in my own life and as I observe my students, that aligning your practice on the mat with your faith and the particular rituals that make you feel most connected to something bigger than yourself can be extremely powerful.

For example, one of my YPO members told me she felt uncomfortable ending her practice with a bow and saying “Namaste”. (She’s a devout Christian and it just didn’t resonate with her.) So now, when she’s at the end of my videos, she raises her hands and says, “All glory to God.” It’s been an incredibly powerful shift for her!

In my mind yoga is neutral.

It’s a form and a ritual. And, just like all rituals, you get to decide the content behind them. In other words, you get to decide what they mean to you. So, if something I’m saying in my videos or another instructor is saying in his/her class doesn’t align what you believe, you can find a thought or a phrase that does.

You can set the intention that your time on the mat be a moving prayer. And, just like a prayer with your hands clasped and your eyes closed, yoga can be a beautiful way to worship or connect with whatever it is (God, spirit, universe, Mother Earth, so and so forth) that evokes your devotion.

If you’re interested in yoga solely for its physical benefits (weight loss, strength, flexibility, etc.), there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Why do some yoga instructors teach in a different language? What is Sanskrit?

Yoga has its roots in the Sanskrit language. Furthermore, Sanskrit is a vibrational language. Meaning, the sound of each word is believed to carry its essence/meaning. For these reasons, many instructors choose to teach in Sanskrit.

I was never trained in Sanskrit. So, all my cueing is in English. However, I encourage you to hold a really open and curious perspective if you ever encounter Sanskrit cueing…it’s beautiful. And, takes less time to decode, than you may expect.