Pilates Mythbusters: It’s Just Another Yoga

Conscious breathing. Mental focus. Centering. Controlled movement. Energy flow. What are we talking about here — Pilates or yoga? Apart from the name, time and place of origin, is there even a difference between these exercise disciplines? The answer is yes, certainly!

Myth #4: The Pilates method is a Westernized, more modern form of yoga.

A short rebuff to this myth could be, “No. Pilates is Pilates.” Yoga is a school of Hindu philosophy that has been around for thousands of years. Hatha yoga — the poses, stretches and breathing exercises that have become popular in the Western world over the last several decades — are actually only one part of the spiritual discipline that is yoga.

Hatha yoga and Pilates can look very similar on the surface. While Joseph Pilates studied many different disciplines of physical, mental and spiritual wellness as he developed his fitness system, there is no evidence to confirm that Joe was a student of yoga or actively incorporated hatha yoga into his own methodology.

One basic difference between yoga and Pilates is that yoga emphasizes stretching poses that improve flexibility, and Pilates focuses on muscle exercises that build core strength and a strong, flexible body. The movements appear graceful and flowing in both fitness methods, but in reality the exercises themselves are very different. However, many people who practice both Pilates and yoga report that the progress they make in once discipline often complements their training in the other!

Breath is important to Pilates and yoga alike. In Pilates, the breath serves to connect the mind with the body as you concentrate on precise muscle control. The same can be said of yoga, but traditionally speaking, the yogic breath is a channel for physical and mental purification that prepares the practitioner for more advanced meditation techniques. As mentioned earlier, yoga exercises are just one aspect of a full mode of spirituality, and meditations on the breath alone also exist within the scope of yoga.

Ultimately, Pilates and yoga offer many of the same physical and mental benefits, but they are complex and unique systems that require experienced teachers and commitment to regular practice in order to reap those benefits. You can definitely practice both, but you should not make the mistake of assuming yoga and Pilates are one in the same.

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Pilates Mythbusters: Pilates Is for Wimps We're almost halfway through dispelling some of the most common misconceptions about the Pilates method. Now that we're clear on the fact that Pilates works out more than just the abdominal core, and that it's not just a women's workout, let's get another thing straight:Myth #3: The Pilates method is not a challenging workout.Pilates provides a workout in which anyone can participate. It's accessible by people in physical rehabilitation, by mothers-to-be and by the widest spectrum of age groups. This does not mean, however, that Pilates can't challenge, for instance, a marathon runner or a bodybuilder as well.Many practitioners of the Pilates method feel they get a meditative experience while working out.  That comes from the focus placed on conscious breath control and fluid movement. The method embraces moving with flow and an outwardly dynamic energy while performing the exercises. At times the qualities characteristic of the Pilates method may appear relaxed on the surface, but they are actually rooted in rigorous principles of muscular control and precision of motion. With intense mental concentration, each exercise activates every fiber of the muscles down to the deepest tissues, working in synergy to produce a perfectly engineered and highly effective workout. Seemingly simple modifications-for instance, placing a hand behind your head during side leg kicks, or hovering the legs close to the floor in mat exercises on your back-use your own body for leverage and make your muscles work harder. If you like a challenge, our trainers understand how to deepen your workout to push you to new levels of strength, endurance and flexibility.Let's remember that in the big picture, Pilates is a complete method of body conditioning.Pilates Mythbusters: Any Fitness Instructor Can Teach Pilates Just by Taking Classes Themselves In the last installment of our quest to dispel common misconceptions about Pilates, we're going to focus on the teachers who are out there working in studios and gyms.Over the past 20 years, the popularity of Pilates has escalated the demand for instructors; thus many "fast Eddie"-type certification programs have sprung up. These inadequate programs teach only the minimum of what one needs to know about the system, and after several weekend training sessions an instructor will emerge with a certificate in hand. Buyers beware! The result is that their future clients will get what the instructors paid for... and that isn't much!In order to be sufficiently trained to teach the classical method (as Joe intended it to be), an instructor will spend a minimum of 600 hours as an apprentice and pass rigorous written and practical exams. Romana Kryzanowska, who started studying with Joseph Pilates in 1941, had a direct hand in educating all of the classical Pilates master teachers, who now pass on Joe's knowledge and legacy to current apprentice instructors -- who will in turn pass it on. This certification process prepares the apprentice to understand the system and teach a classically-based, integrated, systematic workout that utilizes both the mat exercises and the full range of advanced apparatuses. Furthermore, a certified Pilates instructor will be able to advance their clients and challenge them as appropriate to each individual. To that end, apprentices study the history of the method, basic anatomy, and modifications for clients who have special needs. This encompasses the needs of women working out during and after pregnancy, to physical therapy patients who are returning to a regular workout regimen. When taught by a knowledgeable teacher, all clients of all ages and fitness levels will benefit equally.When Pilates is taught as its creator Joseph Pilates intended, the results are dramatic. Satisfied clients delight in their newfound energy, improved posture and leaner, stronger, and even taller bodies. The best part is that it's challenging and fun, so it is anything but mindless and boringAt Dynamic Fitness, Sarasota's Original Pilates Studio, all of the instructors have received classical certification through the guidelines passed on by Romana, and they rejuvenate their knowledge and teaching skills by taking continued education courses with internationally recognized master teachers such as Bob Liekens, who worked personally with Romana. Romana is now retired, but Bob still teaches under her inspiration.Please understand that when you train at Dynamic Fitness, you can be confident you will receive authentic, comprehensive and challenging training in the Pilates method.