Yoga & Pilates...tell me about your experiences.

I just recently started doing Pilates on a daily basis (I have a beginner’s DVD from Giaim, hosted by Ana Caban), and I also just got two yoga DVDs in the mail from yesterday. The yoga videos are Beginning Yoga for Dummies and Yoga for Inflexible People.

My initial thoughts on the Pilates routine were rather ambivalent. I was having difficulty with the balancing moves, as they really hurt my tailbone. That went away after the first few days, though…I think I just needed to get used to it, the same way that I’m always saddle-sore after the first few times I ride my bike in the spring. The first time I did the routine, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything at all…but dang, did I hobble around the next day!

Now that I’ve done Pilates every day for the better part of two weeks, I almost feel as if I’m ready to move on to the intermediate routine. I know that I still have room for improvement in the beginner’s routine, but the only move I’m still doing in the modified position is the Teaser.

I decided yesterday to try the Yoga for Dummies DVD, which covers a series of poses that the host calls the Daily Dozen. The hardest one for me is the Downward Facing Dog. I don’t seem to have any trouble with any of the others, and I generally liked the routine except for one thing. I can’t concentrate on the moves because the lady won’t SHUT UP!! Not only that, but the whole Blahblahblah for Dummies format has these “tips and tricks” things that pop up occasionally to remind you of things to focus on or tips to help you out, and I find them terribly distracting. I’m thinking that this DVD is a good instruction for how to do the poses, but if I’m going to continue to do the Daily Dozen as a regular regimen, I’m going to have to do it with the sound off.

So, anyone out there have experience with Pilates and/or yoga? Have any recommendations for me, things you found useful while you were learning? I’m really not all that fit, so I know that I’m going to be working up slowly (hence the choices of yoga DVD’s), but I think that so far, I’m happy with the concepts of both methods.

What do y’all think?

I took yoga classes (B.C. - before children - I don’t have time for two hours of yoga classes out of the house anymore) for a while and still do a yoga stretching routine.

I’d recommend taking a class - but do some calling around and talk to instructors. Body alignment is all important in yoga - and having an instructor to lift and tilt your hipbones until the pose is right will really help. The reason you want to call around is that you want to find a yoga class and instructor that is going to give you want you want. Some are very spiritually oriented - if you want to “breathe through you chakras” they may be for you. Some will lecture you on vegetarianism as the only healthy lifestyle. Some will skip the lifestyle crap - but be more an aerobics routine - others will focus on stretching and relaxation.

I’ve never found yoga DVDs to be that helpful - in part because you can’t keep you head and spine in alignment while watching the TV. If you are going to use them - don’t use them like an aerobics tape. Watch the pose. Stop the DVD. Do the pose. Watch the next pose.

Hey, that’s the yoga tape I started out with too! The downward dog is a bitch, isn’t it? ooohh, feel the stretch through the hamstrings… Aaaaggghhh, pain! :smiley:
Seriously though, I can see how you might find the tips and definitions distracting–especially if you’ve got enough experience that it’s mostly redundant. I personally found them helpful, mainly because I was a total newbie to it when I began. After getting into the routine, I moved on to other more intermediate videos (I’m a library junkie, so I tried pretty much all of the yoga tapes they offered on a rotating basis). For a good workout–with actual exertion–there is a move called Salutation to the Sun that involves pretty much all of the daily dozen but performed one after another in a flowing series. This was presented in varying styles on a lot of the intermediate tapes I used. I really liked starting out with that, and then moving on to the slower stretching and relaxation set of poses.
I’m all akward and pregnant now, so I’ve slacked on pretty much any exercise, but overall I LOVED yoga. Like you, I’m really not that fit, but after just a month or so of regular sessions, I was feeling much more flexible and even a little stronger. But even more than that, it seemed to really help me clear my mind at the end of a hectic day. And that it was something I could do at home, without a bunch of equipment or expense was a big bonus. I miss it, and will definitely be starting up again once I’m able.

I’m having great experiences with both. Downward Dog is one of my favorites! I find that if I hold the pose for a while, then just concentrate on breathing slowly, I can sort of sink deeper into each pose without pain. Don’t worry if you can’t do them all at first, each week you can do a little more. Also, I have found that sometimes I can do a pose better at the end of the workout when I am stretched and warmed up. Pilates is really whipping my abs into shape (ugh, the teaser!).

Stick with it, you will start to see results and improvement. If you don’t like your video there are plenty out there (I use Denise Austin, but she can be annoying sometimes too.) Now I’ve done the tape so many times I work out on my own without her, adding some other moves I have learned elsewhere. It’s good to go with a video at first to learn how to do the moves correctly.

I was really sore at first too, but now I feel good after workouts. It really helped strengthen my back, I don’t wake up with back pain anymore, and it’s nice after a day of sitting at a computer to have a good stretch.

The more I do yoga and pilates, the more I like it.

slight hijack

Speaking of chakras, that reminds me of something very strange. I like bellydance workout videos, and I recently checked one out of the library. The Goddess Workout with Dolphina. She yammered a lot about chakras, which I am not interested in hearing about, but I struggled on, because I liked the moves she was demonstrating. Everything was fine, she was dancing and yakking, I was flailing about in an attempt to emulate her and making sarcastic remarks, when she said something so off the wall, I had to stop everything right there. She said, “Aren’t I fabulous? You can’t have me.” Direct quote. I couldn’t watch the rest of the tape.

More on-topic, I try to do yoga while watching tapes, too. Thanks for the tip about stopping the tape to do the poses correctly.

I just started doing Pilates tapes (I’ve got Winsor) and it’s quite a workout for my abs. I’ve also realized I’ve got crap posture.

I’ve only done the tape twice so far (just got it this week), but I do enjoy the challenge. It’s also a nice change of pace to add something like this into my exercise routine.

I’ve taken yoga classes before at night school, and always enjoyed it. Mostly the relaxational/stretching stuff. I found I felt a little more mellow afterwards. I didn’t really consider it “working out”, though.

Downward Dog isn’t difficult for me so much because of the hamstring stretches, it’s that I don’t have the strength to hold my body up on my hands and feet for that long. My arms get too tired…I think I’m simply too heavy (and arms too weak) to do it. I’m sure it’ll get better, but as it is right now, I can barely make it through 2 breaths in that pose. And it doesn’t help that the woman gets you into that pose and then starts yammering on instead of getting into the breathing part. It doesn’t do much for my relaxation when I’m in the pose and chanting to myself “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!” :smiley:

I love Yoga!

I been actively attending classes for almost a year now and have seen great improvement in my flexibility and overall muscle tone.

As for downward dog, my instructor used to say “Downward dog can be a restful, restorative pose.”

I thought (at first) “Yeah, right. Restorative. Sure. Maybe for you!”

I was wrong. As I practiced more and gained strength I was surprised to find that it truly WAS restorative. And restful. Basically, as you continue your practice it will become easier and easier. (Also, gotta love how it tones those upper arms right up!)

I would recommend taking a few classes. I found that it was much easier to follow my DVDs with some training on how to correctly do the poses.

I’ve used those Ana Caban tapes (with MrsB), and just renewed my membership at a yoga studio I like. We do mostly Hatha, but I’ve done some Kundalini in the past. Ashtanga is pretty different, as is Bikram’s.

I’ve found that being in a class is pretty good, because the instructor wanders around and pushes you into the correct pose if you’re slightly off. And I’ve realized that while almost every woman in the class can beat me on all around flexibility, there are some poses where I’ve got them beat thanks to strength.

OK, I can’t possibly be the only one who’s giggling at the thought of a Barbarian doing yoga. :smiley:

Barbarian, what are the essential differences between the types of yoga you’re talking about? I haven’t read anything about the philosophy of yoga, and I suppose that I should…I was just going on the premise of stretching/toning/relaxing is a good thing for one’s body.

Try this.

Give you some idea of the schools of yoga and which one you might want to try.

If you all are interested in yoga, Pilates, and other fitness tapes, you might be interested in I’ve ordered tapes from this company for years and I’ve been very happy with the service. They seek out new and interesting fitness trends, with people you might not have heard of. Give it a try, I think you’ll like them.

I took yoga classes all through high school.

I love it. I don’t take classes anymore… I do it at home at my leisure.

Makes me feel strong, balanced and focussed.

I can only echo the others (Dangerosa, nobrainer) who have suggested taking a few yoga classes. Check out several instructors til you find one you’re comfortable with–a good teacher will help you with the poses. Someone as inflexible as me (I used to be way more flexible, seriously :)) benefits more with a real teacher–a good teacher will make adjustments for students, i.e., those who have problems being on their hands and/or knees can do poses sitting in a chair.

Good luck with the Pilates–I’ve seen some of the infomercials and it really looks hard to me!


I started yoga last August at a college fitness center and all the instructors are quite good. I have a mat so I can do it at home too. I have a Pilates book but I want to start taking a class in that as well.
I have found both to be very helpful in increasing strength, flexibility, reducing pain, relaxing stress and tension, etc.

**Og SMASH!!!.. but first, must finish Salutation to the Sun.

I started attending yoga classes about a month ago, I can’t remember the style I’m learning but it’s not one of the more strenuous types. I’m hoping that practising yoga can compliment my taiji studies & practice. So far certain similarities have struck me about the two disciplines
The idea of balancing & so harmonizing opposites.
Body allignment, body mechanics/physics etc.
Self healing aspects.
The meditation part of things is an interesting one though, mainly as in taiji the meditation is more of an awareness that expands outwith as well as internally, in yoga it appears to be very insular, but I’ve only just started with the yoga so maybe it’s just me. I’d be interested in reading what you guyz think on this.
Also are there any other taiji players on the board?

I’ve been doing yoga for a little while now for stretching mostly. I have several Living Arts videos: Yoga for relaxation (what I started with for, well, relaxation), Yoga for flexibility (can’t do most of it), Yoga for back (ok, but moved on from that), Yoga for strength.

The Yoga for Strength is my favorite and I’ve been doing it semi-consistently for a while. I rarely if ever do the other ones. It sounds daunting, “for strength,” but the first part of the tape is a 20-minute “vinyasa,” moving from pose to pose and breathing, and none of the poses is more difficult than downward dog (which I love! I especially love going from upward dog straight into downward dog, it feels really good), especially if you use a block. (They have told you about using blocks on your DVDS, I hope?) Of course, a block doesn’t help with downward dog. Triangle pose and side stretch pose were kind of challenging but are easy now. The rest of the Yoga for Strength is pretty hard, with headstands and stuff, and I rarely attempt to do it, although it has Proud Warrior which is cool.

I got a new one, Power Strength Yoga, that was OK, but I keep going back to the 20-minute vinyasa in Yoga for Strength. I know it by heart now and don’t really even need the tape anymore.

Yoga is a wonderful way to start the day!

I just looked at my collection and I also have Yoga for Meditation and I don’t think I’ve even tried it yet! Must do so. I really like the Living Arts videos, especially the instructor on the strength and meditation ones, Rodney Yee. He’s not annoying at all and is very easy on the eyes!

I just looked and they’re not Living Arts anymore, they’re GAIAM (website I got my videos at Amazon for a reasonable price.

Haven’t tried Pilates except one or two moves I picked up off a web site. I like the slow movement and holding, which really seems to do the trick.

I just posted this to my Live Journal, but I thought I’d share it here for anyone who drops into this thread:

I am thrilled…THRILLED!! I tell you…with my new yoga DVD. I bought Yoga for Inflexible People so that I’d have an option if I didn’t feel like doing Pilates on any given day, and so far, the programs are fabulous. They have a ton of different poses, and the DVD is set up so that you can choose a workout category (such as Energizing, Relaxation, Shoulders & Arms, Hips & Legs, etc.) and it has poses that fit whatever category arranged into workouts of various lengths.

Today I did a 45 minute Energizing practice and I feel great. The poses are challenging, but not impossible, and the modifications they’ve made so that inflexible and not very fit people like me can do them without being frustrated are sensible and don’t seem to take away from the overall goals of the pose.

I give it an A+, and highly recommend it to anyone who’s ever thought of trying yoga but didn’t because they thought they were too out of shape.

Oh! And for you WW peeps out there…45 minutes of yoga is worth 3 exercise points. :wink:

I’ve been thinking about trying Pilates for awhile now, but I’m worried about my back – having three degenerative disks kind of limits my choice of exercise programs. Does anyone know of any Pilates videos I should try (or avoid)?