Pilates vs. Yoga

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When I meet people and tell them I teach Yoga and Pilates, the number one question I get is always “Isn’t Pilates just stretching like Yoga?” That would be a big “NO!” If you have ever taken both a Yoga and Pilates mat class you might notice some similarities. In fact Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, was inspired by Yoga and practiced Yoga himself.

But the two are very different in many ways. It really is like apple to oranges.

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The Origin –

Yoga is thousands of years old and was created in India. Yoga was initially created as a spiritual practice, it’s only now in the modern, Western world that is become more about the physical fitness practice of yoga; with the focus being more on the postures and the physical practice.

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century as a form of strengthening and rehabilitation. It is first and foremost a physical fitness practice. Pilates focuses on a practice that brings together the mind and the body. Yoga adds in the element of spirituality and  focuses on unifying the body, mind and spirit.

The Benefits –

Both practices offer many great benefits including strength, flexibility, stress relief and awareness of the body and breath. Pilates focuses more on building strength, particularly in the core area.

Yoga benefits include relaxation, focus on breathing, and the addition of meditation.

Pilates benefits also include the guiding Principals: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath, and flow. Pilates also puts a great focus on building better posture and muscular balance.

A Typical Class – 

This is really where the two begin to differ. Yoga now has many different styles, so how the class is structured is based on the style of the teacher. Classes will focus on a flowing series of yoga poses, sometimes the poses may be held for a few breaths. Often the moment is coordinated with the breath, particularly in the Vinyasa style of Yoga.

Most classes will begin with some mediation and maybe even chanting. Pretty much every Yoga class will end in Savasana, a final resting pose. Yoga combines standing postures, seated postures, supine and prone postures.

In Pilates you can take mat or equipment classes. Mat Pilates classes most often feature the traditional order of exercises that Joseph Pilates created. When taking a Mat class with a traditional teacher, you can expect the same order of exercises and a structured class. This helps the student to learn the order and focus on working on proper alignment and progressing the exercises. The focus of the class is a great all over body workout, but mainly the work is on building a stronger core or Powerhouse.

In a Pilates class you will move the whole time. The Pilates exercises are not static, meaning you don’t hold poses like you would in Yoga. You are meant to keep the body moving both during the exercises as well as from one exercise to the next. Most of the Pilates exercises are done on a mat, in a supine (on the back) position.

So Which One is Right For You?

So which one is right for you? It really depends on your goal for starting your practice. As you can see there are some overlapping qualities of both. Give both a try and see which one you connect with the most. I highly recommend a practice that includes both and no I’m not talking about Yogalates or PiYo (which are neither Yoga or Pilates), but add both to your fitness routine. I recommend to my students 1 – 2 classes a week of both.

Some people will connect with one over the other. Maybe you want a kick ass workout that focuses on strength. Then Pilates might be for you. Maybe you need a calming class with time to just sit and silence and learn to breath again. Then Yoga is for you. Give each a try and see which one you resonate with the most. Yoga isn’t for everyone and Pilates isn’t for everyone. You’ll only know once you’ve tried both.

As one of my friends said “I’m more interested in learning Pilates, because Yoga doesn’t appeal to me. I have no desire to stand around like a tree” Personally, I love standing around like a tree.

Spring Cleaning

20130318_spring_buds_91Today is the first day where the temperatures are on the rise, the sun is shining brightly, and the snow is starting to melt. After our snowiest winter on record (over 7 feet of snow in one month if you are following) every little peek of the sun and clear blue skies are a welcome sight. I might be a just a tad over hopeful here, but it’s starting feel like maybe Spring is on it’s way.

Spring in my house, always means “spring cleaning”. You know, clearing out the closets, getting rid of the old to make room for the new. So my focus for this week is “spring cleaning”, but not of the house (although that will happen as well), but of my life: body and soul.

Over the past two weeks we’ve talked about finding “Balance” and “Inner Peace”. Now is really the time to get to the physical part of the work. We’ve determined where we need balance, where we need to let go and learn to say “NO”. Now is the time to let go of what is no longer serving us, to make room for the things we want to manifest into our lives that take us one step closer to living our dream life, one step closer to having and being in balance, and one step closer to finding and maintain Inner Peace.

Just as Spring is the time to plant seeds and watch life grow, it is also a time to plant the seeds of what we want in our lives, to tend to them, and watch them grow into the beauty of the life we yearn for. Now is the time to plant the seed and begin to manifest. As the days get longer, the sun shines ever more bright, we must also learn to let the light into our lives to dispel the darkness of the winter.

Learning to Say No

balancepostWe are continuing on this week’s theme of “balance”. Do you have a hard time saying no? Trust me when I say this, most of us do! Finding that balance you seek in your life is about saying NO to the things that don’t get you a step closer to the life you want to live.

As I mentioned in the last post on “balance” finding that balance in your life is about making the right decisions. Look at the life you are living and think about what areas you need to focus on and which ones are taking up your precious time. Have a deep think on the life you want to be living and only make decisions that will get you to that life. Learn to say NO to the things that don’t get you on the path to living your dream life.

Focus your time and energy on the things you enjoy doing and that will help you achieve your goals, and say a firm NO to the things that you do out of a feeling of commitment to or pressure from others.

Finding Life Balance

bigstock-all-in-balance-256888911Last week we focused on “self love”. This week’s focus is all about “balance”. Do you have it in your life? What areas are lacking balance? What do you need to do in order to find and maintain balance in your life?

Trying to find balance in your life? Think about the long term benefits of everything you do. For instance choosing between exercising and watching TV. Getting your body moving will be more beneficial to your health and happiness. Letting go of the things that are not beneficial to you now and in the long run makes it easier to focus on what you want in your life now.

Yoga of Self Love

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In an attempt to keep up my writing, I’ve decided to give myself weekly journaling prompts. Each week I will choose and focus on a theme that I will journal and blog about, as well as provide inspiration on the theme over social media. This week, given that it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ve chosen to focus on the (cue the Whitney Houston music) greatest love of all: SELF LOVE/SELF CARE.

I see so many of my friends constantly engaged in negative self talk. We all have those days where it’s a little hard to maybe remember how much we do love ourselves. When I think of self love I’m instantly reminded of the safety presentation on a flight before takeoff. When the flight attendants remind you to give yourself oxygen before administering it to others. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you are not able to properly take care of others. Or in the great words of RuPaul….

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Can I get an amen up in here?! I know that self love is hard for some people, but you have to take that time to tell yourself “I love you”. Do you tell yourself “I love you”? I challenge you right now, get up, go look at yourself in a mirror and say out loud “I love you”. Shout it from the rooftops even! Then stand there, without judgement, and tell yourself all the wonderful things that you love about yourself (including the physical ones). Your soul needs to hear it.

This may seem a little strange, or even woo-woo, to some people, but I don’t care. Every morning as I’m getting ready, part of my morning ritual is to say affirmations to myself in the mirror. Affirmations can be anything that you feel you need to hear, and must be stated in the positive. Some of mine include: “I am powerful and courageous”, ” I am receiving all that I desire”, “I am enough”, and of course “I love you” or “I love myself”. Think of some affirmations that you know deep down inside that you need to hear. Create a morning ritual where you take time for meditation, reflection, etc. and repeat your affirmations to yourself out loud.

Take time this week to practice self-love. Say your affirmations, take a long bath by candle light, go get a pedicure or a massage. Of course one of the best ways to practice self love is to take care of your body. Go to a yoga or Pilates class with the intention to connect to your body in a healthy way. Let go of expectations of how your body will perform. Let go of competition by comparing yourself to others in the room. Take the time on your mat to create a loving space for yourself. Let this be a space to connect to your heart, a space to breathe, and a space to say “I love myself and I am enough just as I am”.

Namaste and I LOVE YOU!

 

Attitude of Gratitude

gratitudeThis week is the holiday Thanksgiving. A time that we get together with family and friends, eat a big meal, and give thanks. I have always struggled with this holiday. Why do we wait until this one “special” day, surrounded by more food than we can eat, to allow ourselves to be grateful?  As I mentioned in my post “10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now” I strive every day to have an “Attitude of Gratitude”. Every morning, as part of my daily ritual, I take the time to acknowledge and be grateful for all that I have in my life to be thankful for. I then use this “Attitude of Gratitude” throughout the day to keep myself centered. I find taking the time to be grateful, even for the small things, can be like a mini meditation.

For instance when you are stuck in traffic, and feeling anxious that you may be running late, you can take the time to center yourself by connecting to your breath, and be thankful for the car that you are driving. If you feel overwhelmed at work, connect to the breath, and be thankful that unlike so many, you actually have a job. Within every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.

Within your practice of being grateful, remember to find self gratitude. Be thankful for the body you have, and all that it can do. Be thankful for the life sustaining breath that runs through your body, be thankful for the mind that is capable of thought, creativity and expression. Be thankful for your lips that are able to speak your truth, and be thankful for the freedom to do so. Be thankful for the courage and strength within you to go out into the world and be the amazing soul that you are meant to be. Be thankful that you can achieve whatever your heart desires through persistence and perseverance.

Take the time from today and for the rest of your life to express gratitude. Not just to or for others, or for things, but to and for yourself. Let an “Attitude of Gratitude” pervade your life everyday, not just on one special day a year. As I have done, make this a part of your daily ritual. As you prepare for the day ahead of you, make a list of all things you are grateful for. Remember to include yourself on that list. Be grateful! Namaste!

10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now

Be-Grateful

Having an “attitude of gratitude” is something that I strive for EVERY day. In fact, it’s part of my morning ritual. I like to use the word “ritual” instead of “routine”. A “routine” is tedious and calls to mind something that has to be done, but a “ritual” feeds the body, mind and soul. So when my good friend Coach Jennie wrote her latest blog post “10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now” I knew I had to write my own post. However, I hesitated; and then Jennie gave me one of her “cathartic shoves”, so here it is.

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1. My husband – Next week will be our 13 year Manniversary. In 13 years he has been my best friend and biggest supporter. I’m very lucky to have found someone who is (secretly) as crazy as I am. He backs me with every crazy thought I have, cheering me from the sideline, celebrating my wins, and picking me up and brushing me off when I fall. He’s the Yang to my Yin. We balance each other out in so many different ways. Sometimes it’s like we share a brain, we always fall in to sync with our thoughts and ideas for the future of our lives together. I’m very grateful for this generous, caring, handsome and intelligent man. I’m also grateful that his Disney addiction is almost as big as mine!

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2. My career – If you had told me five years ago that I would be teaching Yoga and Pilates full time I would have laughed. I’ve never been much for speaking in front of others. Even in small groups, I was silent and shared my thoughts only occasionally. I was never one for speaking out or standing up for myself. I never felt I had a voice of my own. But now, not only do I speak in front of large classes of students, but I’m there to hold a sacred space for them. I’m there to guide them to connect to their bodies and move in healthy ways. I’ve finally found my voice. In just over two years of teaching I’ve connected with some incredible students, making a positive impact on their lives and health, and I’ve watched them grow into their practice. As they have grown so have I as a teacher including the size of my classes and student following. One of my goals this year was to take my teaching out of gym settings and teach more at studios. I’ve been successful in doing so, adding four new studios to my teaching schedule. I’m so grateful that I get to teach what I love to practice, and that it is my “job”.

3. My Health – My own personal practice of Yoga and Pilates has brought me into a space of perfect love for my body.  My body may not be “perfect”, and it might never be, but for the first time in my life…I’m okay with that. I’ve struggled with some VERY unhealthy habits in relation to my body over the past 20+ years. I’m finally at a place where I am inspired to be healthy and not only that, but I’m inspired to inspire others to be healthy. I have created a deep and loving union with my body that I’m now able to constantly nourish in healthy ways.  I’m grateful for a body that is healthy, fit, and strong. I’m grateful for a body that is able to move through the activities I love: Yoga, Pilates, Running, Cycling, Dancing, etc.

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4. Meditation – My meditation practice has grown and this has been a life changing practice for me. Every meditation session that I’m able to do leaves me more connected to “god”, “the creator”, “higher consciousness” whatever you want to call it. Out of this I’ve had these amazing moments of clarity about who I am, where I am going, and how I can live my life to be in service to others. Every moment spent in meditation has helped me to detach from the ego, and learn to let go of things that are no longer serving me. I’ve found a deeper spiritual connection not only to myself but to the world around me through meditation. Meditation has given me peace, patience, love, compassion, and strength. I’m grateful for these moments of silence and stillness that allow me to connect to my true inner self.

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5. Writing – Meditation has given me some clarity on my writing as well. Ideas that were planted in my head that never came to fruition are now projects that I’m working on. I’m currently working on two yoga and spiritual related books that hopefully will be finished and published soon. I will be signing up for NaNoWriMo in November to further inspire me, and keep me on the track to finishing at least one of these two books. I’m grateful that I have an outlet, such as this blog, to share my experiences with others through my writing. I’m grateful for anyone who reads this blog (that’s YOU)!

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6. Hamlet – No, not that Hamlet! My dog Hamlet Beauregard, or Hammie as he is called. I know to some people this might sound weird, but he is one of my greatest teachers. That little dog is a great teacher of patience, love, joy and loyalty. It impossible to come home from a long hard day and not have your spirits lifted as he greets you at the door; toy in mouth and tail wagging. He is his own brand of therapy. He’s a cuddler, and nothing warms the heart more than being snuggled up with him. He is a constant reminder that you have to let go of the small stuff, and to make time to play.  I am grateful for his love and devotion every day.

7. Service – As I mentioned before, almost everything I do comes from this thought of “How can I help others?”, “How can I be of service to others?” or “How is this going to benefit those around me?”. I don’t teach Yoga and Pilates, write this blog or the upcoming books, or record videos or podcasts to be famous or anything. Everything I do comes from a place of being in service to others; from a place of sharing with others. I’m very grateful and honored to be taking part in my teacher, Jacqui Bonwell’s, upcoming Yoga Benefit for the Homebase Program. I am working on raising money and will be holding a donation based class next week to raise money for this amazing program that provides clinical care for veterans and their families to heal from the invisible wounds of war such as PTSD. Her event has raised over $36,000 for this cause over the past two years. For more information or to make a donation check out my fundraising page.

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8. Training – Okay, so this one is not happening RIGHT NOW! I thought by now I would have started or even finished with training, but it’s been pushed back a little. Hopefully, starting in January I will be continuing my Pilates education by taking a Comprehensive Pilates Training course. This will allow me to become certified to teach on all the Pilates apparatus such as the Reformer and Cadillac. Not only that, but I will be able to dig deeper into the history of Pilates and become a better and stronger teacher. 2015 is going to be all about PILATES for me. Through this training and workshops, I’m going to push myself to become the best and most well rounded Pilates teacher I can be. Stay tuned for more on this one. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to grow in this field and share this amazing form of movement with others.

Fall 29. Autumn – Every so often I think about moving back home to Florida, where I have so many friends and family. Not to mention being able to visit Disney anytime I want. But when Autumn kicks into high gear in New England, nothing is as beautiful. The landscape slowly changes colors and each day that spot you drive by looks a little different. The crispness in the air settles in, and you get to take out and wear your favorite hoody. Apple picking, fall festivals, pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING! The air is finally turned off and the windows are thrown open. In fact as I sit here writing this, the windows are open and a breeze rustles the multi hued leaves outside, as the air blows in and cools the room. This is my favorite time of the year! I’m very grateful that I get to experience this beautiful change happening all around me.

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10. Vacation (It’s all I ever wanted) – Again, this is not happening right now, but the planning and anticipation sure is. Since January, when I went to California to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland, I’ve been working six day weeks. The only day I ever have completely off is Sunday, and I’m usually too tired from work, and setting up for the week ahead, that I never get to really unwind and relax. My body, mind and soul is ready for a week’s worth of vacation. It will be the first time in over a year that we will be getting home to Florida. Our visit over Christmas week will include catching up with friends and family, and of course a few days at Walt Disney World. Disney is my truly our happy place, and Disney at Christmas time is just pure magic. I’m very grateful that we are able to travel when we can. And I’ll be VERY grateful for that first Fiesta Margarita at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my “10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now”, and I challenge you to write your own! Feel free to post them in the comments, email them to me, or post them on my Facebook page. Remember to take a few minutes every day to be grateful for the things that you do have in your life at this moment.