Well known, Pilates and the Pilates Reformer has been established in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates as a new approach to exercise and new way of body-conditioning. His method included the use of equipment, exercising machines that look like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys.
It can be said that Pilates was inspired by Yoga asanas however there are major differences between both. Yoga is more complex, with a philosophy-based teaching while Pilates has more physical strength and flexibility purposes. Even though these two teachings have different methods and purposes, they are related like siblings and can be integrated together into one practice. Both Pilates and Yoga share the connection of body alignment, which has numerous health benefits such as stress relief, developing flexibility, strength, endurance, balance of mind and body.
Some of the Yoga asanas that can be performed on the Pilates reformer:
- Cat-Cow asana – placing shins on the sliding carriage and hands on both sides of machine – inhaling by arching the back and looking up, exhaling by rounding the back and bringing chin to the chest.
- Downward facing dog – placing arms on the bumps, stepping into the hole and stretching the arms, stepping on top of the machine’s frame, some reformers do not have long poles or they can be removed so that they will not get in the way.
- Safe variations with legs in downward facing dog and transitions to lunge with hands on the bumps and foot between them can be done. From low lunge slowly moving to safe and stable warrior one and warrior two.
- Side angle pose and Trikonasana can be done after the Warrior 2 or low lunge by placing hand next to the inner side of the front foot, opening the chest and lifting the opposite arm to the sky. Trikonasana requires the front leg to be straight, both feet on the surface, one hand on the shin while another to the sky.
- Utkatasana with pulling the handles. Sitting backwards into Utkatasana in between the frames of the reformer and repetitively moving sliding carriage towards and from yourself.
- Various stretching and other asanas can be performed on the Pilates reformer.
Reformer Pilates adds diversity to the Yoga practice. Most of the Yoga asanas can be done on the reformer in a creative way by replacing mat with machine’s surface and frame. Reformer has a moving surface and strings that are very useful for stretching and dynamic strengthening movements. By sometimes replacing the mat or including Pilates reformer into each class, Yoga practice can become fun and unusual.
”The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ― Socrates