Exercise scientists tell us that stability and mobility are key to functional movement, that both are crucial to reducing the incidence of injury and improving athletic performance. With evidence showing that yoga is king when it comes to improving mobility, the crown for developing stability and motor control goes to Pilates. In fact, while yoga and Pilates are two very different practices, they go together like peas and carrots.
Many yoga styles require a lot of time bearing weight on the hands. Apart from getting the asana technique correct, a good way to improve your yoga practice is to focus on developing core strength, a strong and stable shoulder girdle, and upper body strength. Pilates specifically helps us to connect and activate deep stabilizer muscles. In yoga we refer to this as engaging our bandhas (body locks). When we're in motion, like a dynamic Vinyasa flow, and these locks are engaged, we can move in a safe and supported way.
These Pilates mat exercises will help you to strengthen your yoga practice. They are designed to flow together and to be completed as one set. Complete the set 3–4 times.
1. Front support preparation
Hold for 5 breaths, then step out to the next exercise, the plank.
Hold in plank for 5 breaths, then move on to the leg pull front.
3. Leg pull front
Complete 5 leg lifts on each side. Then with two feet on the floor, walk your hands back to your feet, bend the knees and roll up slowly, ready to start the next exercise.
4. Pilates mat push-up
Begin the roll down, walk the hands out 4 places and complete 3 push-ups, walk the hands back in, and roll up to standing. On the inhale, rise up on the tip-toes, sweep the hands to the ceiling, and exhale, lowering the heels and arms.