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Yoga And Pilates: The Perfect Complementary Practices

Yoga And Pilates: The Perfect Complementary Practices

Wendy Hassenpflug, owner of Vayu Yoga®, shares how yoga and Pilates are the perfect complementary practices.

By Wendy Hassenpflug, MS, E-RYT 

New students often ask me about what the main difference is between yoga and Pilates®. Pilates® and yoga have both helped me tremendously to create an awareness of my body imbalances through years of dance training and performing, and to work towards balance. 

Our bodies can develop postural imbalances that are caused by repetitive movements, and when my body hurt more frequently after hours of dancing, I realized that I had to do something. Pilates helped not only strengthen my core, but alleviated my back pain, and taught me to connect my dance technique to my core muscles. A few years after discovering Pilates, I added yoga to my life, and I discovered that yoga was so much more than a physical practice.

I had never experienced such astonishing affects from a practice, and was intrigued to learn more about the art and science of teaching yoga.  It took the experience of teaching yoga for me to see the connections that a yoga practice relates to everything in life.
Yoga and Pilates: The Perfect Complementary Practices

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My yoga practice fostered a life-changing transformation: I experienced profound healing that left a lasting impression and a desire for a simple and healthy lifestyle. Desikachar (1995) states that “we look deeper inside ourselves as we come to terms with the teachings”. In other words, our desire to better ourselves increases as behavior changes gradually and we progress along our yoga practice.

Related: Vibrant Living With Vayu Yoga Health Articles

My yoga and Pilates® journey has proven to be more than an activity, hobby, or career, it has become a vessel for life-changing transformations.  I continually learn how to overcome physical and mental challenges in my yoga and Pilates® practices.

The journey teaches me that life is truly about staying true to myself, overcoming obstacles, continually learning from each experience, and finding ways to stay inspired.

One of the best ways to understand yoga and Pilates® is of course to experience it for yourself. This is why I shared my personal story, however I would also like to share some shared benefits from each type of practice. There are numerous studies that show the benefits of Pilates® and yoga, here are a few of them:

  • Pilates®

Improved core strength and core stability

Improved posture and balance

Improved flexibility

Prevention of back pain

  • Yoga

Lowered levels of stress hormones

Increases flexibility

Improved sleep

Reduced blood pressure

Improved mood 

Yoga and Pilates® are both considered mind-body practices, they both help control weight, reduce blood pressure, ease stress and improve sleep. They both teach the practitioner how to connect their mind and body through breath and other concentration techniques. Exercises and poses from yoga and Pilates® are used in forms of physical rehabilitation and physical therapy. Nowadays, more and more doctors and physical therapists are referring patients to Pilates® yoga to continue their rehab. 

Perhaps describing some of the differences in the practices will help better define them as well. First, the origins of yoga and Pilates® are quite different.  Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and Pilates® began in the mid 20th century. Second, yoga can have a spiritual side to its practice, thus teaching practitioners how to connect their mind, body and spirit.  Pilates teaches mainly how to make mind-body connections. 

Third, the structure of the class will differ, depending on the style of yoga or Pilates® and on the way that it is taught. Yoga draws from thousands of poses and many various styles, whereas Pilates® is a little more structured, with less exercises in comparison. Fourth, the practice is performed differently, Pilates® tends to have a more fitness-structure, while yoga is more flowing, and includes periods of stillness.

Both yoga and Pilates® can be performed with or without props, but Pilates® also uses machines for certain types of practices.  Finally, breathing exercises are incorporated into both practices, however the techniques are quite different. Yoga uses breath on a very deep level, to not only connect the mind and body, but to change the body’s physiology and energy.  Pilates® uses breath as a cleansing mechanism and as a component of the core work.

Related: Vibrant Living With Vayu Yoga Podcasts

A mind-body practice should teach the practitioner how to tune out distractions, concentrate and stay focused, and create a state of being that is neither overly stimulated or overly lethargic at the end of the practice. Both types of practice are meant to be performed every day, however if either of them have left you so sore that you cannot practice the next day, then you should reconsider the style you are doing.

They are also both meant to be performed as a home practice and as a studio practice as an accompaniment.  This means that students should build their own home practice, even for just 15 minutes each day and be able to do it when they cannot make it to the studio. This is how to experience the most rewarding benefits from a mind-body practice.  Not all types of yoga or Pilates® are suitable for every body, it is important to find the styles that work best for your mind and your body.

Find a style of Pilates® that complements the perfect style of yoga for yourself and you will experience the best of both practices by overcoming physical and mental challenges. 

Vayu Yoga® provides a broad range of specialty instruction that pertain to training the body and mind via floor-based yoga, aerial yoga, YogaWall®, Pilates®, and other related stretching and therapeutic practices.  We offer many styles and levels of yoga, including Restorative, Gentle, and Therapeutic Yoga, as well as mat Pilates®, Pilates® Reformer, and Wall Pilates®.

Our experienced teachers provide personalized attention to our students through small group trainings (1-8 students).  Vayu Yoga® gives students the tools they need to perform a safe practice for their individual bodies, teaching how to listen to their bodies, and create a strong awareness in their practice.

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About  Santa Clarita Vayu Yoga® Owner Wendy Hassenpflug

Wendy Hassenpflug is an E-RYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), through Yoga Alliance, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Pilates Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance), Certified Personal Trainer (National College of Exercise Professionals).  She holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology and a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science, and has over 26 years of experience as an educator in secondary and higher education.

Wendy teaches private, duet, and small group trainings at her studio Vayu Yoga®, located at 24353 Main Street Newhall, CA 91321.  Visit for more information or to schedule an appointment or book a training. 

Wendy hosts “Vibrant Living with Vayu Yoga®” on AM 1220 KHTS radio in Santa Clarita, CA, Tuesdays from 11:00am till Noon.  Click here to listen to podcasts.

KHTS AM 1220 - Santa Clarita News - Santa Clarita Radio

Source: Santa Clarita News

Yoga And Pilates: The Perfect Complementary Practices

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