The Complementary Power of Pilates and Yoga
The Complementary Power of Pilates and Yoga

By: Karolina Schmid NCPT, YA E-RYT500

It might surprise many to know that Joseph Pilates was a yoga practitioner. He was greatly influenced by the Pawanmutka Series of yoga. In fact, the moves Pilates laid down in his book, Return to Life Through Contrology, look suspiciously like this “wind releasing” series.

When used in tandem, yoga and Pilates are a powerful duo. The tension-releasing movement form alone of yoga Asana practice offers an immense opportunity to take the tension off a joint and better align your body. Combining this with the neutralizing and stabilizing properties of Pilates for the spine and joints holds great potential for solving a host of our clients’ alignment-rooted ailments. This is especially true for the hunched- over home office locked-down Zoom meeting postures so many are experiencing today.

Additionally, both Yoga and Pilates involve the use of breath.

Yogic Krias, such as Kapalabahti, Nadi Shodena, or Shitali, are all breathing exercises, but they are considered cleanses and are not intended as stability helpers the way a Pilates scoop might be used. In Pilates mat class repertoires, we encounter the percussive breath right at the start — and the 100s leads off the series with a breathing style that looks a lot like a yoga Kria.

The main difference between yoga Asana practice and mat Pilates is the dynamic delivery of Pilates. For example, the Plough in Yoga looks like our Pilates Roll Over on the mat, or even like Long Spine on the Reformer. Where one might use the breath to go deeper into the pose In the Plough, breath in the Pilates Roll Over could be used to support the movement of mobilization of the exercise. In either case, breath is critical and fundamental to both.

Joseph Pilates sampled and remixed practices that spoke to him, including yoga, ballet, and the sports of the day. We have him to thank for this experimentation that has so influenced the fitness world.

I encourage you to review the Pawanmutka Series and Joseph Pilates’ book and then consider how you might support your clients’ overall progress with a healthy combination of both yoga and Pilates.

Karolina Schmid NCPT, YA E-RYT500, is the owner of PILATESwiss Switzerland and the author of The Visceral Approach to Pilates. She serves on the PMA Board of Directors and is a former university lecturer in sociology.

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