Yoga or Pilates?

For many people , Yoga and Pilates look very similar – there are no power or cardio loads, exercises are performed slowly and consciously , with calm music. Pilates and yoga are wellness systems that include exercises to develop flexibility, endurance, and concentration. Regular exercises tidy up the body, allow you to find harmony with yourself. In this, both areas of fitness are similar.

But, having examined   these   practice closely, we  can find a lot of differences between them

    What is yoga?

     Yoga is the ancient Indian system of human self-development, which originated long before our era. This is a spiritual tradition, experience and wisdom of many generations that millions of people around the world have followed to this day.

Translated from Sanskrit, yoga means “union, communication, harmony.” Those. the unity of the physical and mental state of a person, the harmony of health and spiritual beauty. The purpose of classes is to achieve and maintain this unity.

It is impossible to imagine yoga without performing various asanas (static postures) that help improve the body. But physical practice is only part of the philosophy of yoga, one of the tools for working on consciousness. It also includes:

  • rules of personal and social behavior;
  • breathing exercises;
  • meditation
  • singing mantras;
  • body cleansing;
  • concentration of attention;
  • desire for complete control over the senses.

Therefore, yoga is a way of life aimed at achieving a balance of physical and psychological health, and not just a set of static exercises that develop flexibility and endurance.

What is pilates?

   Pilates is a system of healing the body, based on the dynamic performance of exercises that are performed in a specific technique and sequence. Their goal is to develop flexibility, improve the condition of joints and spine, posture and coordination of movements.

Pilates, unlike yoga, is a young trend in fitness. The German trainer Joseph Pilates developed gymnastic exercises for the rehabilitation of patients suffering from diseases of the musculature system at the beginning of the 20th century.

6 fundamental differences between Pilates and Yoga.

  • Yoga is the oldest system of self-development, philosophy, lifestyle. Pilates is a relatively young wellness system for the body, one of the types of fitness.
  • Pilates training is aimed at creating a healthy body, practicing yoga – at achieving harmony of the body, spirit and mind.
  • Many exercises and asanas are similar, but have a significant difference in technique. If in classical yoga you need to enter a pose and fix it for a long time (static load), then in Pilates the main thing is movement. All exercises are dynamic, repeated several times. Important consistent articulation of the spine and body muscles when entering and exiting the position.
  • Pilates breathing control helps to concentrate on doing the exercise and working muscles. Ancient practice provides breathing, as one of the steps to self-improvement (pranayama).
  • In Pilates, the muscles of the back and cortex are mainly worked out, in yoga – all muscle groups.
  • In classical hatha yoga additional equipment is not used. In Pilates classes  fitball, rings, rollers are actively used.

In my opinion, you should try both this practice and chose which is most suitable for you. However, if  you want to get a little more than just a beautiful and healthy body, then you may want choose yoga. After all, ancient practice is also aimed at working with the mind, includes methods of spiritual development and self-improvement. Practice will show what is right for you.

Taking YTT 200 with an injury

Eight years ago, I injured my left knee. I can’t recall what exactly I was doing but I’m certain it was nothing important or strenuous. I felt a sharp pain every time I landed my foot on the floor of whenever I bent my left knee. It felt like someone was driving a thin metal-cold knife right under the knee bone. But a few months passed and my knee was back to normal.

Two years ago, the same thing happened. On a random day, I bent down from a standing position into a squat to pick up some things on the floor, and the same sharp pain came back. I couldn’t bend my knee without feeling the invisible thin knife slicing through the joint. And this time, my entire knee began to swell. Climbing a flight of stairs was a struggle. Lifting heavy luggage was a struggle.

By this second bout of injury, I was already active in my Yoga practice. But the injury made it excruciating to do simple poses like chair pose. And after every practice, my knee would swell and I had to take a few days rest so it could partially (no fully) recover.

Unlike the first time, the pain had no plans of leaving me. Three, four months had passed and the trauma on my left knee remained. My movements had severely been limited.

When I attended Yoga classes, I couldn’t perform any asana that involved kneeling or the lotus position. Doing cat and cow and then moving into a low lunge was a NIGHTMARE.

My knee was stiff but its insides felt so tender. Whenever I pushed my knee beyond its limit, at the end of the class I always got the feeling that my lower leg was about to fall off – like when you lift the drumstick off a whole roasted chicken, and the cartilage and skin begin to tear. All you need is to pull it towards you and the chicken leg comes right off.

And my Yoga teachers gave different pieces of advice like strengthen my thigh and avoid placing weight on my left leg. They also suggested Pilates to help strengthen my leg.

But, rather than strengthening my left leg, I developed uneven legs. I could barely stand on my left leg without support or without the pain searing through. So, I would place most of my weight on my right leg to compensate — my right leg basically became more macho than my left leg.

When I visited the rheumatologist, he said I had early onset osteoarthritis. Because of two prior injuries, my knee has decided to have an accelerated “wear and tear.” He also told me there was nothing I could do about it other than to ensure I didn’t add to the progression. I wasn’t supposed to do any running, jumping and mountain climbing.

I was only 29 then and I had an old person knee problem. I was horrified. And one of my biggest fears in that moment was that my knee condition would require me to take a step back from doing Yoga.

But instead of slowing down, I decided this was a push towards the right direction. I took the diagnosis as a sign that I needed to find a place and time where someone would teach me, specifically and properly, how I could continue with my Yoga practice without my knee holding me back. I wanted to find a way to excel in my practice despite having a chronically injured body part.

That was when I decided to take the Yoga Teacher Training 200 course.

I had apprehensions; I was afraid my knee would act up and I would have to give up the course half way. Giving up the course was not a practical option for me since I was flying all the way from Philippines.

But lo and behold, our batch is in our last week of training and I am still in one piece. My left leg has gained strength over three weeks, which was possible because of three key aspects in the training:

  • Daily asanas that were heavy on technique (which were really challenging on certain days but beneficial every step of the way)
  • Knowledge of the muscular and joint system (I understood which thigh muscles to pull so that I could relieve the left knee of stress, pain and overextension)
  • Awareness of the fact that Yoga can really be used for therapy.

An injury will come in different shapes and forms. It might be inevitable, especially as our physical bodies get older. But it should not stop you. Instead, it should inspire you to want to get better. An injury does not mean you have to stop Yoga; rather, it means you need to take a new approach to your practice. It might also mean the current way you treat your body is not proper or optimal, and that you need to seriously make a change; and giving more attention and taking on an educated approach to your Yoga practice is a great way to start.


Analysis of the pilates push-up (the lowering and pushing phases) (JT)

The push-up is a classic exercise to strengthen the upper body. If you break down and observe the complex movements in a push up,  you will see that it activates many muscles in the upper body both concentrically and eccentrically.
Starting position:
You start by lying down in prone position on the floor with feet together. Your hands are  placed under your shoulders, palms facing down. From here, you will tuck your toes under and push your body away from the floor until your arms are straight, ensuring that your shoulders, hips, knees and feet are in one straight line.
The up/pushing phase:
In this phase, the motions are in your elbow, shoulder and scapulae. The triceps brachii muscle contracts to extend the elbow. The pectoralis major, deltoids, biceps, and coracobrachialis muscles contract to allow the shoulder joint to horizontally adduct, which occurs when your upper arms move horizontally toward the midline of your body. Your scapulae are abducted (i.e. they move horizontally away the midline of your body) and protracted, moving forward as they round the back of your ribcage. For this, the serratus anterior and pectoralis minor are activated.
The down/lowering phase:
In this phase, the same muscles that are activated in the pushing phase remain active, but now working eccentrically. For instance, your triceps now work eccentrically to allow flexion in the elbow. The pectoralis major, deltoids, biceps, and coracobrachialis muscles work eccentrically to allow the shoulder joint to horizontally abduct. This will control the lowering of your body and prevent it from falling to the floor. At the scapula, the serratus anterior and pectoralis minor eccentrically contract to allow for scapula adduction. Note that for the pilates push-up, we keep the elbows close to the body and pointing to wards your legs as you lower yourself.
Note on  scapula stabilisation:
The combination of gravity and body weight may make the scapulae “over-retract/adduct”. Engagement of the scapula abductor muscles (i.e. serratus anterior and pec major/minor) will help to keep the scapulae stable and “wide”.
( with reference from
Clippinger, K. (2007). Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology: Principles and exercises for improving technique and avoiding common injuries. Champaign, IL.: Human Kinetics)

How to do the Pilates Hundred Exercise for Beginners (JT)

The Pilates Hundred is a classic Pilates warm up routine. It is called The Hundred because we do 10 cycles of breath (5 counts of inhale and 5 counts of exhale each cycle for 10 cycles). In addition to getting us warmed up, it also helps to train the endurance of the deep core muscles.
1. In starting position, lie on the back, arms by your side, palms facing down.
2. Gently tuck your tailbone under you as you draw your pelvis up and into the spine. This action will imprint your lower back to the mat and provide the stability and support needed to keep your legs raised.
3. Bend your knees and raise them so that your knees and hips form 90 degrees.
4. Straighten your legs with knees and heels together with toes pointing to the ceiling.
5. Inhale, gently tuck your chin towards your chest.
6. Exhale, lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the mat, reaching the arms forward. Think of holding a kiwi fruit under your chin.
7. Inhale rhythmically for 5 beats, keeping the rhythm with arms pulsing up and down with each count. Keep your elbow and wrists locked, initiating the movement from your shoulders.
8. Exhale for 5 beats, maintaining the same position and pulsing of the arms.
9. Hold the position and continue for 10 breath cycles.
10. Inhale, hold the position.
11. Exhale, return to starting position.

A re-education for my body….

I’ve been dancing since the age of four which led to me pursuing a career in the field as an educator. What draws me to dance is that it can never be fully perfected – you are always working harder and always becoming stronger, but you never reach perfection. Some of the best ballerinas in the world attend technique classes daily as they always look to improve their technique further.
I find myself drawn to Pilates the same sort of way. my dance background has given me body awareness and sensitivity, however, no matter how much I practice at an exercise, I always find something new to improve on. I am still at the Beginner level series moving on into the Intermediate series but I still find every exercise which I’ve practiced since Day 1 equally challenging today. I kind of love this about pilates… It has re-educated my body to be more sensitive to movement, to change, to articulation and most importantly taught me to be more sensitive to breath. I enjoy the challenge it presents to me.
I see myself in the practice of pilates for a long long time… I enjoy the challenge that it presents my body, although closely related to dance, it feels like movement in unchartered territory.
By: S.G.

Article 2 – Pilates Roll Up and Down – Instructions for a beginner

The roll up and roll down
Step 1:
Lie back on the floor in a neutral pelvic position.
Keep both your knees bent with your feet planted on the floor
Your arms sit beside your body with your palms facing down to the floor.
Step 2:
With an inhale, gentle nod your head off the floor and raise your arms up
with fingertips pointing to the ceiling.
Bring your eye focus to your belly button.
(*Check that your rectus abdominals do not bunch up engage from the transverse abdominals)
Step 3:
On your exhale, with a strong engagement of your core, start rolling up through your
spine vertebrae by vertebrae. This articulates your spine from your upper back, middle
back to lower back.
(*Check to ensure your shoulder do not round forward and your scapula is kept depressed)
Step 4:
On the completion of your roll up, inhale and stack up the spine seating upright.
Hands are held in the front of you.
Step 5:
Exhale and scoop the belly in and stretch forward. Maintain your C-curve of your spine
(*Ensure a strong engaged abdominal core)
Step 6:
Inhale and stack up the spine seating upright again
Step 7:
Exhale, scoop in the belly, forming a C-curve, bring the eye focus to the belly button and roll down
one vertebrae at a time in a controlled manner till you return to your starting position.
(*Ensure this is a controlled movement, try your best not to jerk down through the position)
By: S.G.

Article 1 – Technical Anatomical Detail of a Single Leg Stretch

Today I will discuss the Pilates mat exercise: The Single Leg Stretch.
The single leg stretch exercise is done in supine position and is an exercise suitable for beginners. This exercise targets the abdominal muscles and helps to improve co-ordination of movement of the body.
This exercise is first in a series of five that belong to the Stomach Series. As such it is important to begin this exercise with the pelvis/lower back in an imprint position.
Preparing in chair position
In an imprint position, an active contraction of the muscles in the abdominal wall, namely the transverse abdominals along with the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles both help produce the posterior pelvic tilt needed for imprinting. The imprint position is done with an exhalation.
The legs are then taken into the chair position, which is a flexion at the hip joint and the knee joint. The muscles that assist in the flexion of the hip & knee are the iliopsoas, the muscles of the quadriceps, the rectus femoris, the sartorius, pectineus, the tensor fascia latae and gracilis. The illipsoas is responsible for the flexion at the hip.
Movement of the upper body
Thereafter, the upper body raises off the floor with an inhalation. In this position it is important that the scapula is stabilised (depressed) with the simultaneous contraction of the lower trapezius and the lower serratus anterior muscles.
The neck is kept long and the chin is slightly tucked, contracting bilaterally, the longus colli flexes the head and straightens the cervical spine assisting in the flexion of the head. The head is kept fixed in its position and the sternocleidomastoid helps elevate the sternum and clavicle assisting in the inspiration necessary for this exercise.
Movement and co-ordination of the legs
The flexion of the spine is assisted by the flexing of the spine is assisted by the muscles of the abdominal region, rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, however the primary focus should be on the transversus abdominis which also acts as an anterior spinal stabiliser.
The arms are held in flexion by the side of the legs through the use of the active contraction of the anterior deltoid and the pectoralis major.
As the movement of the exercise begins, one leg stretches out to the front of the body with the foot in plantar flexion and is kept off the floor. This is an extension of both the knee and the hip joint with the muscles working in opposition to the flexion. The hip extensors are the gluteus maximus and the hamstring group, the knee extensors is the biceps femoris. As the foot is in plantarflexion, the gastrocnemius and soleus are contracted to produce the movement of the ankle joint forward.
The other leg is drawn in to the body bringing the knee in towards the chest with further flexion at the hip joint. The arms hold on to this leg drawn in and the arms aid in maintaining the proper alignment of the leg. With the use of the arms, the biceps brachii, teres major and the latissimus dorsi are engaged.
As the movement is done with a switch of sides the active muscle groups take an interchange on each side.
Prepared By: S.G.

Double Leg Kick demonstration

Double Leg Kick
This exercise strengthens the extensor muscles of the back and hamstrings and at the same time stretches the abdominal, chest and shoulder muscles.
Starting Position:
Lie down on the tummy with face on the side or looking down. You can choose to keep the legs together or slightly apart and place both hands on the back. Make sure elbows are off the floor. Tuck the tailbone under and keep the hips stable.
1. Inhale to prepare
2. Exhale with two short pulses as you bend the knees and bring the heels closer to the bum
3. Inhale as you stretch both legs out, lengthen the spine as you lift the chest off the mat and extend both hands to the side of the body
This is 1 repetition
by DJL

Stomach Series: Single Leg Stretch

Stomach Series: Single Leg Stretch in technical terms
This is the first exercise of the stomach series that strengthens the transversus abdominis and the oblique muscles.
Starting Position:
1. Lie down on the back. Tilt the pelvis posteriorly with flexion on the hip and knees to 90 degrees.
2. Slightly create flexion on cervical vertebrae 1, 2 and the upper thoracic region, with depression on the scapulae and flexion of the shoulders so hands are close to the ankles.
3. Pull the navel close to the spine. Engage transversus abdominis & oblique muscles
1. Inhale to prepare
2. Exhale with extension on left knee and more flexion on the right knee closer to the body. Bring the left hand on the right knee and the right hand on the right ankle.
3. Inhale, prepare to switch
4. Exhale, switch
This is 1 repetition
by DJL

You Got My Back!

I was 13 when I was diagnosed with juvenile dextro scoliosis. I went for therapy for most of my teenage years, and then on my last session the doctor’s last words were, “you’re good to go! Just continue doing your exercises and just watch out when you get pregnant.”
I didn’t realize that he was serious until the supposed-to-be wonderful day came. The then-not-painful scoliosis was hurting like crazy. It deprived me from enjoying the joy of pregnancy. My obstetrician advised me that I see a physiotherapist and do Pilates and that was one of the best advise I took. Pilates helped me strengthen my body specially my back and be able to manage the pain. It made me enjoy my pregnancies, childbirth and motherhood.
I truly believe that being healthy is the key to enjoy what really matters in life. Now, I’m an aspiring Pilates instructor and an awesome mom of two. Enjoying life and loving it.
Pilates, you got my back!