Yogalates: A Blend of Exercises
Any way you spell it, yoga and Pilates benefit body and soul.
Yogalates. Yogilates. Yoga lattes? Don't let the name confuse
you. There's a new trend out there, and it's not on the Starbucks menu.
However you spell it, yoga and Pilates are now joined at the
hip. The trend is edging its way into health clubs and studios across
Yogilates was created in 1997 by certified Pilates instructor
and personal trainer Jonathan Urla. This year, Louise Solomon published her own
version, called Yogalates.
Everyone has an opinion about this new trend, pro or con.
Besides the books, there are videotapes, DVDs, and classes cropping up. To
figure out what's up, WebMD caught up with several fitness experts.
Ahead of the Curve
Yoga is an eastern Indian tradition that focuses on strength,
flexibility, and spirituality. Pilates was created by German-born Joseph
Pilates nearly a century ago. Pilates focuses on building strength in the deep
muscles of the abdominal region, the body's core.
Both practices involve attaining specific postures. Both
emphasize correct breathing. Both emphasize meditative mindfulness.
Despite the hybrid name, Yogalates "is not gimmicky -- it's
built on very tried and true, historically proven forms of exercise,"
explains Cherryl Leone, a certified yoga instructor at Gentle Strength Yoga in
Like many who teach it, Leone has developed her own blend of
yoga and Pilates. It's become so popular, she says she may transform a couple
of yoga classes to Yogalates. "I've had such positive, positive feedback on
Yogalates," she tells WebMD.
"There's so much synergy between the two," Leone
explains. "The philosophies of both make blending the two very natural.
You're not mindlessly on a treadmill or exercise machine. The mind is very
focused on the body, on breathing techniques. When I teach Yogalates, I want
students to feel their entire body was exercised in an integrated way."
When It's Not Yoga, You Know It
So what exactly happens in a yoga-Pilates class?
In Yogilates, Urla outlines no less than 40 poses --
including back lifts, sternum lifts, leg lifts, leg circles, plus such yoga
standards such as Downward-Facing Dog, Sun Salutation, The Warrior, and
Meditation Pose -- that can be used in a beginner's class. Of course, no one
class will cover them all, he says.
Urla's language emphasizes the spiritual: Make the
process of learning Yogilates your goal, he writes. "Learn to be
present in your thinking and to appreciate the simple fact that you are
breathing, moving, and enjoying the real beauty of your practice."
"I use a very classical approach -- floor work, stretching
for 20 minutes before going into the Sun Salutation series," Urla tells
WebMD. "At first, one might notice more yoga because we do pause in the
poses, we hold some stretches. I'm very much into fundamentals, into awareness
of alignment. But when we begin the very intensive abdominals -- you may not
know it's Pilates, but you'll know it's definitely not yoga."