Both Sides Now

These days, yoga is firing up the exercise circuit. Now that studios are open, whether it’s yoga sculpt, Vinyasa or hot, everyone’s heading out for more.

But there’s plenty of reasons for fans on both sides to consider expanding their repertoire.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, yoga delivers top notch mental health benefits. With a little help from a great teacher, you really can leave most of your stress and tension on the mat.

Pilates, on the other hand, develops the core strength you need to stay steady in a 105 degree Warrior II or nail balance poses in and outside the studio where you might be zooming for hours on end. Pilates “rights” the body and makes it easier to stretch in yoga.

At Elmhurst University, I had my Pilates students write what they gained in seven weeks of class. “Pilates has helped me open up and strengthen parts of my body that I never thought would recover from injury,” said Mari, a former dancer. “For that, I will be forever grateful.”

The aspiring hospital administrator was once marooned in a leg cast for months as a teenager. The cast finally came off, but her dance wasn’t quite the same. As she explained, it was one thing after another, a tweaked knee leading to a tweaked foot that had her spinning in circles for several years.  

Single leg circles showed Mari how tightly coiled her hips were and gave her the support to let go a step at a time.  As the hips began unwinding, hamstrings, knees and feet began finding symmetry and she was ready to open the door to the dance studio.

Mari wasn’t alone in finding Pilates bringing movement back to life. Many students find it gives you a great tool to resist the tech-heavy pull on the spinal column. And if you hang in there, you’ll find yourself learning effective body mechanics to balance the challenge of yoga class and modern life.


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