Yoga, Pilates – and an Opinion from a Friend

I have had the wonderful experience of meeting a new friend who teaches kickboxing! While this old, out-of-shape granny isn’t quite up to kickboxing just yet, I have been doing a few Pilates moves with my yoga practice. I asked my new friend, Roxanne Jacobson, about the differences between yoga and Pilates – and if a person should do one or the other or if they can be combined successfully. Imagine my delight when she offered to use her beautiful writing talents to tell us all a bit about her thoughts on the topic! Here’s what she had to say:

Yoga, in my opinion, is essential to a person’s overall well-being. It helps a person mentally, physically, and spiritually.  Mixed with the Pilates, it offers such a wonderful overall body workout.  Flexibility is one of the five core concepts of being physically fit, yet some people neglect this important ingredient of fitness.  In doing so, they deprive their bodies of an attribute that will help them in every day life.  

When I initially began taking a Yoga/Pilates class, I was a bit apprehensive. What if I couldn’t do all the poses?  What if I got stuck doing one of the poses?  What if someone could do all the poses better than I?  These fears were quickly laid to the side when I took my first in-through-the-nose, out-through-the-nose breath, and I felt the warmth penetrating through my body- reaching to the areas that needed it the most.  I cleared my mind of the “wreckage” that the day had put upon me, and I deliberately concentrated and focused on my breathing: in and out, in and out. 

Allowing my mind to relax and let go of all the stresses associated with work, family, friends, finances, I soon found my body was also beginning to relax.  As I calmly moved from one pose to the next, I welcomed the release.  The saying is true:  where the mind goes, the body truly will follow!

I let go of my prejudices of the class and continued to focus on what my body could do- I no longer felt like I was in competition with the other ladies and gentlemen that had gathered in the inspiration filled room.  They were there for the same reason I was- to find a release.  These people also were steadfast in their desires to enlarge their physical well being by entering a world that combines the ancient techniques taught by the calm, understanding yoga teacher with the strength and conditioning offered through the added endurance of Pilates.

My first class was not my last, and I could not even conjecture how many classes I have been to since the first time I was bold enough to walk through the doors of the room.  It is something which I have never regretted.  When I allow myself the indulgence of partaking in the utmost care of my body, I like to go back. 

Each time I step foot into the room, I feel the same uplifting, exhilarating feeling I had experienced so many classes ago.  Because I have endeavored to persevere, I have become quite comfortable (and with this came a confidence) with many of the poses.  Each instructor with whom I have had the privilege of working with to advance my flexibility and fitness level has been amazing.  Of course not all of them do the exact same poses or instruct the class in the exact same way.  The unique techniques and transitions which each brings to his/her class allows my body and mind to experience yoga and Pilates in a way different and interesting way, and I am always so grateful that done of them do teach their classes exactly alike.

I believe that each person- young, old, male, female- should take it upon themselves to experience the benefits that only a yoga/Pilates class can offer.  The longer one does it, the more comfortable one becomes with his/her body; thus allowing him/her to grow mentally, physically, and spiritually.

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