If tearing up a treadmill or hefting weights are too mainstream, try yoga or Pilates to shake up your mind and body. These low-impact workouts can improve flexibility, balance and self-awareness. Inner Bliss Yoga Studio owner Tammy Lyons and BodyWave Pilates Studio co-owners Janice Jill and Emily Panza explain their core differences.
The Benefits: Pilates focuses on strengthening core muscles to improve balance, flexibility, posture and coordination through a structured series of exercises and reps. “I view Pilates as a foundational method for all other forms of movement or exercise,” says Jill. “Pilates focuses on posture and alignment. If your body’s out of alignment or not in a good posture, that’s where the body can run into problems.”
The Form: Pilates uses equipment to help the student have a full range of dynamic movement. “The exercises are rooted in moving your spine in four different directions,” Panza says. “There are hundreds of exercises to Pilates. One of the things people love about it is that they never get bored.”
Flexible Goals: Functional fitness like Pilates can grant small doses of daily satisfaction, from toning arms, going down in pants size, or developing the stamina for a three-mile walk. “We can take any person in their body and let them gradually progress on any piece of equipment,” Jill says.
The Benefits: Yoga is a diverse discipline that attunes mind and body, cultivating a really beautiful conversation between the two. “Over time, you can come to understand what things your body really thrives on,” Lyons says. “I hear from students on a regular basis that they feel stronger, they feel supple, they feel more focused.”
The Form: Inner Bliss focuses on the Vinyasa yoga style, a breath-initiated practice in which students sync their breathing to each movement with minimal props used beyond the mat. “The concentration on the breath allows the mind to quiet for moments at a time, and that elicits a relaxation response in the nervous system,” says Lyons.
Flexible Goals: People gravitate toward yoga for benefits such as concentration, relaxation and flexibility as well as strength and an increased range of motion. “Like anything in life, what you put into it is directly related to what you get out of it,” says Lyons. “If you can practice twice a week, you realize benefits.”