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How-to: Yoga Poses and Pilates Exercises

How-to: Yoga Poses and Pilates Exercises

Yoga and Pilates, courses taught by KSU instructor Emily Berreth, are two exercise methods that merge physical and mental health. Emily has been teaching the courses for eight years and also has a course that combines yoga and Pilates into a challenging and fun workout.

The two exercise methods complement each other but different in many ways. Emily said, “Yoga emphasizes slower movement and holding poses. Pilates is designed for core strength and stability and is typically faster but can be modified for each person.”

First introduced in India, yoga has become a popular form of exercise that focuses on being in touch with your body, mind and soul. It can be used to gain strength, flexibility and balance or for relaxation. A yoga class most likely will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed, yet energized.

Pilates is an exercise method that develops muscular strength and flexibility.It was first introduced in New York City by Joseph Pilates and emphasizes good posture, core strength and muscle balance.

“All of this, it’s so good for you. And I feel the difference,” said Patricia Garvey, one of Emily’s students.

Here, Emily demonstrates a few yoga poses and Pilates exercises:

Roll Ups

Roll Ups are an amazing work out for the abdominal muscles. They promote correct, deep breathing, which increases blood flow and circulation. Roll Ups strengthen your spine by increasing its flexibility and improving alignment. Performing this exercise regularly will help your posture in everyday life. You can modify this exercise by bending your knees and keeping your feet on the floor when you roll up.

Pilates Push-up


This works every part of your body. It helps tone the hips, thighs, abdominal muscles and arms. You can also modify by simply holding a plank instead of completing the push-up to make it work for every student. It’s a wonderful combination of a push-up or plank and the Pilates Roll Down.

Single Leg Stretch and Criss Cross

The Single Leg Stretch develops the abdominal muscles, encourages core stabilization, and improves a student’s coordination. Doing the Single Leg Stretch correctly and slowly encourages correct breathing from one movement to the next and creates a healthy flow of movement. The Single Leg Stretch can be modified to make it more difficult by lifting the head. A student wanting to do less can simply keep their head on the mat.

The Single Leg Stretch flows well into Criss Cross. Criss Cross strengthens the oblique abdominal muscles as well as building pelvic stability and core strength. It’s important to note that the slower you go, the more core strength you can develop. Breathing correctly, and not holding your breath, while performing this exercise also increases the benefits and helps you avoid stress on the neck.

Warrior 1 and Warrior 2

Warrior 1 promotes awareness of your body in space through the development of the mind-body connection and engagement of many muscle groups at once, including the muscles of the legs, chest and shoulders. This pose encourages deep breathing and arm variations lead to a feeling of opening the chest. The benefits of Warrior 2 include a feeling of stability while you relax into the position, releasing tension in your upper body. Feelings of peace, renewed focus and better balance are often the result.

Pigeon/Proud Pigeon/King Pigeon

The pigeon pose is perfect for people with tight hips because it helps stretch the hip flexors and the hip rotators and will lead to a more open feeling in addition to better posture and flexibility. Holding this pose daily for at least 30 seconds will ultimately help you move more easily in your daily life. Less lower back pain and stiffness is another excellent benefit of the pigeon.

Variations of the pigeon pose include proud pigeon, with your head facing forward or up, and King Pigeon with your knee bent and foot pointed.

Downward Dog, Cobra/Child’s Pose/Dolphin

The benefits of Downward Dog include increased strength in your hands, wrists, back, legs and the Achilles tendon. It also elongates the spine and leads to a feeling of openness in your chest.

Downward Dog flows well into cobra, which increases flexibility in the shoulders, chest and abdominal muscles, and decreases stiffness in the low back. Going from Downward Dog to Cobra at your own pace is extremely beneficial and doesn’t need to be a fast transition.

Child’s Pose is a wonderful place to stretch and breathe in relaxation, and it helps stretch the hips and thighs. The muscles on the front of the body relax while you’re passively stretching the muscles of the back torso; breathe away stress in Child’s Pose. Transitioning to the Dolphin pose from Child’s Pose may feel natural since they usually feel good together.

The Dolphin pose helps to stretch your hamstrings and calves while opening your shoulders and chest. Dolphin is also wonderful for people who prefer not to do Downward Dog due to wrist issues.

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