Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Intrepid exerciser 3- Pilates and Yoga -- Head to Head

Intrepid Exerciser 3

With all the superbowl hoopla the intrepid exerciser had to stage her own "physical challenge."

So she decided to do only yoga and pilates for a couple of weeks. IE took yoga at The Pad in Bon Aire's Greenbrae Center;


and Pilates at Mindful Pilates on 3rd street in San Rafael.

Lets start with yoga. My favorite challenge class was Cindy Fernandez's 9:30 Power Yoga.

Her rigorous technique class delivered an exquisite burn while still pulling us into the heated, sweaty, drama of listening to your body/mind. Cindy doesn't use music, so as you hold the pose, (forever) she guides your focus.  "HMM" she croons, as she walks through the room amidst the groans,"keep holding the pose, let your mind help you come inside yourself."  When we are done, she adds humorously, "you didn't think you could do that did you?"

Ed Levinson, by contrast, used the coolest music--think shavasana (corpse pose) to a metalish mix. Every track seemed to pulse and drive you deeper into focus. It reminded IE of a contact jam, but instead of everyone flying thru the room, the bodies are contained (gratefully) by individual yoga mats.

Ellie Bowman is a thorough Iyengar teacher who conducts an almost-flow class. She often had us doing shoulder openers, which even though IE detests, she needs desperately. She also shed some light how to gracefully gracefully glide thru the sun salutation's primer 


moves of down-dog-up-dog.

Then it was on to Pilates at Mindful Pilates with studio owner and teacher Angie Larson. I took three days in a row and was a bit sore and shaky in the final class. The upside was I am finally able to remember some of the exercises and can replicate a shadowy reformer workout on my own. 

As Angie says, "This is not your grandmothers Pilates."

The Mindful Pilates machines have a smoother, sleeker design but the work you do on them is essentially the same. There is a quick and strategic warm up, leg work in extension then rotation work, abdominal work, arms toning then stretching and 55 minutes later, you are done.

IE loved class with Alyssa and the jump board. The exercises are much the same except you do them with a box affixed to the end of the carriage so you can "jump." This is Pilates with an an aerobic component, especially when you do exercises like "peter pan," where you have one leg in bent and pointing to the knee in passe, and the other stretched a la seconde, you really get the sense of jumping high and flying, even if you are still horizontal. Strange I know, but true. 

In my final class with Angie we did a lot of the same exercises, but put a small squishy medicine ball under the sacrum to challenge the core's stability and to give the lower back some lift and allow more extension and hip rotation. 

At the end of the square off, IE felt taller and maybe even a little bit leaner. Both disciplines provide ample strength work but more importantly call for greater body awareness while moving. That's what IE really loves and what she keeps coming back for--no matter what the class!

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