Pilates vs. Yoga: Similarities & Differences

Many of the exercises you’ll see in a Pilates workout are inspired by yoga, and the postures in yoga are incredibly similar to the shapes and positions used in Pilates exercises. At the same time, there are exercises that are completely unique to Pilates as well as those that are specific to yoga class alone. A major difference is that in yoga, one generally holds each pose for a longer period of time, while in Pilates, you move at a slightly faster pace. Rather than holding a pose longer the way you would in a typical yoga class, staying in one position and cajoling the body into stretching more deeply through the breath, in Pilates, the practitioner dynamically extends as far as possible within a limited amount of time using resistance, core awareness and breath.

Here are some additional similarities between yoga and Pilates.

  • Both are considered mind-body forms of exercise, intended to cultivate greater awareness and connection between the body and the mind.
  • Both tend to focus on the “journey” of moving, rather than the end goal, which can be anything from a stronger, well-toned body to peace of mind.
  • Both encourage you to focus on the present moment and the movement itself rather than the outcome.
  • Both mat-based programs tone and condition the muscles using body weight as a natural resistance tool. Pilates, however, does have the option to incorporate machines or “apparatus” to perform exercises.
  • Both need little more than a sticky mat to be performed. Yoga also incorporates simple props used to enhance comfort and form (such as blocks, cushions and straps). Some Pilates mat exercises use props that can either increase the challenge (by adding resistance) or aid in form, such as the magic circle (a resistance ring), inflated balls, or resistance bands.
  • Both improve circulation and highly oxygenate the system.

A Few Key Differences between Yoga & Pilates

  • Yoga concentrates mostly on increasing strength and flexibility of the spine and limbs; Pilates focuses on building abdominal strength first, and then symmetrical musculature as well as overall flexibility.
  • In Pilates, every movement emanates from the center (core) and extending through the limbs. In yoga, it is the concentration on the breath, first, then focusing on deepening a pose.
  • In yoga, the primary goal (aside from proper alignment in the poses), is to stay connected to the breath; in Pilates, the first order of business is the precision of movement, and then, the coordination of that movement with the breath.
  • The breathing patterns are different in both. In yoga, for the bulk of the asana practice, the breath is either ujjayi, a smooth, heat-inducing breath that sounds like the ocean, or kapalabhati, a rapid breath that creates greater internal heat. In Pilates, the breath for most exercises is a slow, controlled, diaphragmatic breath, but a few exercises use a rapid, staccato-like breath (similar to kapalabhati breathing in yoga).
  • In Pilates, most of the exercises are performed lying down, either prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), or side-lying. These movements aim to defy gravity the entire time, engaging the abdominal center in order to lift up from the ground to lengthen muscles. In yoga, most of the poses are done standing, and work with gravity by rooting down into the earth in order to lengthen the body away from the floor (with the exception of arm balances and inversions where one tries to defy gravity). Note that in yoga, there are a number of poses done on the floor as well, such as seated forward bends, twists, bow pose, and plow, and in Pilates, there is also standing series, such as the sculpting series or exercises that integrate the magic circle prop.

Excerpt from What’s the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger, – Jennifer Kries, Yoga and Pilates Expert


Paying it Forward

Literature, religions and fairy tales all trumpet the message that kindness will change our lives for the better—think of a transformed Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. But is this message just a sugar-coated platitude, or can altruism really create lasting satisfaction?

Last year, Stanford University psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky decided to put the kindness-fulfillment connection to the test. She asked students to carry out five weekly “random acts of kindness” of their choice, anything from buying a Big Mac for a homeless person to helping a younger sibling with schoolwork.

Her results indicate the Scrooge effect is no myth. The students reported higher levels of  happiness  than a control group, with students who performed all five kind acts in one day reaping the biggest rewards by the end of the six-week study period. Previous studies have found that altruistic people tend to be happy, but Lyubomirsky’s was the first to establish that good deeds are actually the direct cause of an increase in well-being.

Why is being generous such a mood-booster? While hard-and-fast answers are elusive, the main reason is that it gives people a strong sense they’re doing something that matters. “There are a lot of positive social consequences to being kind—other people appreciate you, they’re grateful and they might reciprocate,” Lyubomirsky says. All of these responses, she adds, are likely to make your happiness cup run over. In another study, she found that people who felt most strongly that others appreciated their efforts reported the biggest boost.

Need a Nudge?

Try one of these small acts to start your own kindness campaign:

  • Send a card to friend “just because.”
  • Buy the person inline behind you their coffee.
  • Call or visit an older family member.
  • Bake cookies for a neighbor.
  • Give an extra-large tip.


Excerpt from: Pay It Forward. Random acts of kindness really do make you feel happier and in control.

By Elizabeth Svoboda, published on July 01, 2006

The article can be read in its entirety at http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200607/pay-it-forward


Calcium and Your Foods

Both women and men need calcium, how much and should I take a supplement is a common question? I like to encourage clients to eat calcium rich foods when possible. Supplements are beneficial for those whom have been tested or have been advised by a doctor to take additional calcium. For those without a doctor prescribed supplement, eating a diet with calcium rich foods will not interact with medications and will, through whole foods, allow you to consume foods with a high bio-availability of calcium.  Women, in particular, lose calcium from the bone easily, due to metabolic and hormonal shifts, both during pregnancy and during and after menopause.  In addition, you must have vitamin D to absorb dietary calcium. Daily, one half hour of sun provides sufficient vitamin D precursor.

The problem with calcium is that it is more poorly absorbed when eating a high protein diet, or high phosphorus foods (such as soda and milk). A recent study compared the absorption of calcium from kale with the absorption from milk revealing absorption of calcium from kale was 40.9%, compared with 32.1% from milk. This is exceptionally good news for those who are watching their dairy intake.

In addition, many dark green leafy vegetables have relatively high calcium concentrations. Being aware of the best choices of greens is important. For example, the calcium in spinach is somewhat poorly absorbed, most likely due to the high concentration of oxalate. The study revealed that kale, a low-oxalate vegetable, is a better option for bio-available calcium. Kale is a member of the same family that includes broccoli, turnip greens, collard greens and mustard greens. These low-oxalate, calcium-rich vegetables are therefore also likely to be better sources of available calcium. Below you will find a list of additional foods with a high bio-available calcium.

Greens                                                                                                                 Grains

cooked turnip greens 450                                                             tapioca (dried) 300
cooked bok choy 330                                                                      brown rice, cooked 20
cooked collards 300                                                                         quinoa, cooked 80
cooked spinach 250                                                                         corn meal, whole grain 50
cooked kale 200                                                                                rye flour, dark 40
parsley 200                                                                                         oats 40
cooked mustard greens 180                                          tortillas, corn, calcium fortified (2) 120
dandelion greens 150                                                            tortillas, flour or unfortified (2) 23
romaine lettuce 40                                                                          whole wheat flour 50
head lettuce 10


almonds 750
sesame seeds (whole, unhulled) 2,100
hazelnuts (filbert) 450
sunflower seeds 260
walnuts 280

Foam Rollers- A workout tool not to be overlooked.

Foam rollers have become a common fixture in most gyms and exercise studios, however, most people are not totally sure how to use them correctly or why they are beneficial. Ultimately, with the many chronic injuries seen as a result of over use or poor posture, foam rollers should be a tool everyone implements into their workout as often as possible.

The health benefits a foam roller can offer are many. Here are three key benefits that will help anyone, regardless of fitness level, be more efficient in their work outs and free of pain.

1. Increase Blood Flow Through out Body

A foam roller will bring increased blood flow to muscles and joints, which is a great way to warm up before exercise. By using the foam roller on the legs, back, arms, and shoulders, you can have more oxygenated blood circulating throughout your body, which can help you perform your exercises better with increased stamina..

2. Can Help Prevent Injuries

Using a foam roller can lower the risk of injury. The effects of a foam roller can be likened to getting a sports massage. If you use a foam roller on a regular basis, you are helping the muscles become more flexible, which can help reduce the potential for serious injuries while also assisting in the healing of existing injuries. By using a foam roller, you will also become more balanced, coordinated, and have more energy.

3. Can Help Improve Spinal Alignment

A foam roller can also be helpful when working to improve spinal alignment. The foam roller helps stabilize the spine, and can help correct posture. If you slouch often, then using a foam roller can help correct this problem. Using a foam roller can also help to decrease back pain and muscle spasms, which are common problems associated with bad posture.


Don’t miss our Foam Roller Workshop starting March 5 @ 4:30.

For more information call 805-565-7591

You’ve rung in the New Year, now what?

You’ve enjoyed the holidays, toasted the New Year and set in motion your new exercise regime, now is the time to eat clean and give your body a rest which will, in turn encourage the effectiveness of toxin removal.  Our bodies naturally detoxify on a continuing basis; however, a constant exposure to toxins and stress can hinder us from doing it optimally, which can eventually affect other systems in the body. A cleanse aids our bodies by allowing the focus to be on self-healing, with that we can then begin to  stimulate digestive health, clear headaches, remove bloating, improve concentration and mood, and support our body in the aging process.

It is important to keep in mind that a cleanse might not be appropriate for everyone. It is intended to facilitate the body systems to run more competently while clearing obstacles which can be detrimental to balanced health. This program will not cure disease nor take the place of any medication prescribed by your physician.  A cleanse is a kick-start to healthier eating habits and a healthier you. For more information on this whole foods cleanse please contact Joanne at (805)637-6949.

willPower & grace® classes now offered at Simpatico!

willPower & grace® is a formatted fusion of postures and dills, it is a high-energy, cardiovascular solution that mind-body practitioners have been looking for, and the foot-fitness conditioning program that athletes need. This workout is as philosophical as it is physical; a full-body functional workout meets sports psychology. We integrate the smartest and safest barefoot training methods to strengthen your feet while progressively correcting imbalances in your ankles, knees and hips. This unique workout appeals to all fitness levels and must be experienced to be understood.

You will experience:

* the benefits of cardio-sculpt
* the intensity of boot-camp
* the self awareness of a yoga practice
* the discipline of Pilates
* the uplifting philosophy of a meditation session

Space is limited, please call to reserve your space, 805-565-7591.




Happy New Year Everyone!

We wanted to expand on our most recent Word of the Day post: Blessing. It’s a word that comes up a lot this time of year, as it should. Being together with loved ones reminds us of all our blessings.


With the New Year upon us, take a moment and ask yourself, “How often do you really take time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for?”


Counting your blessings can lead you to a happier life, literally.  Reflecting each day on a few things you’re grateful for can provide more positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy. Don’t wait for life’s milestones to give you reason to reflect. Take the time to notice those innumerable experiences that occur daily and be thankful.


The Daily Om expanded on this even more:


“While celebrations are intended to honor life’s more momentous occasions, much of real life tends to happen during the in-between times. While moving from one moment in time to the next is seldom considered a significant occurrence, it is during those in-between times that we are most in tune with life’s most profound, albeit simple joys. Between birth and death, triumph and sorrow, beginnings and endings, we enjoy innumerable experiences that often happen unnoticed. These times are just as worthy of celebration.”


Happy New Year everyone!

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips: Recipe substitutions

If you are the chef of the party or asked to bring a dish, try substitutions which create a lower-fat recipe to have at the festivities providing healthy and tasty meals to your loved ones without putting a damper on the holiday spirit. Substitutions are easy and flavorful. Try evaporated non-fat milk whipped up as a substitution for whipped cream or when serving mashed potatoes substitute half of the potatoes with cauliflower, mash both together well. Another suggestion is to forgo the cheese and crackers as hors d’oeuvres and serve a homemade vegetable soup before dinner. Roast carrots, cauliflower and celery on a cookie sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and herbs. Once softened, combine with a low-sodium (or home-made) broth and blend until smooth. This soup can be made with any types of vegetables and once cooked, freezes well.

6 Healthy Holiday Foods

  1. Pumpkin – Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A and also provides fiber the pumpkin seeds are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Pumpkin itself is quite low in calories and is a healthy holiday food. Pumpkin pie, however, becomes a high-calorie food because it’s made with eggs, sugar, evaporated milk and baked in a high-fat pie crust.
  2. Cranberries – Cranberries are packed with Vitamin C and also provide a fair amount of dietary fiber and manganese. Cranberries also contain proanthocyanidins, a type of antioxidant that can prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the urinary tract.
  3. Sweet Potato – Sweet Potato is a rich source of antioxidants such as Vitamin C and beta-carotene. Similar to the banana, it is also an excellent source of potassium. If you eat the skin, you will also reap the health benefits of fiber, making the sweet potato a healthy holiday food.
  4. Yams- Yams are another nutritious root vegetable popular on holiday dinner tables. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber, and a very good food source of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is necessary to break down a toxic substance in the body known as homocysteine. Potassium plays an important role in decreasing blood pressure (along with calcium and magnesium).


  1. Turkey – In addition to being an excellent source of protein, turkey offers the least amount of fat per serving, among all other meats. Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.


  1. Green Beans – Green beans are probably one of the healthiest holiday foods out there. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K (important in bone health) and manganese. They also contain a good amount of vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron.

Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.


Revival Therapy…for Our Website

Just like you, Simpatico is readying up for the New Year.  It’s getting down to the nitty gritty folks! We’ve been implementing all kinds of nice new changes at the studio to make your experience here even better!

We’d like to announce the re-launch of our website. It shouldn’t look too different at first glance, but we’ve gone through and really cleaned things up.  Everything has been re-organized! You’ll find new content about our offerings, great bios on each of our instructors, a brief history of Joseph Pilates, and a way to find us in all Social Media.

Please check it out at www.simpaticopilates.com.  We’d love to hear your feedback! And don’t forget to ask us about our current Holiday Specials and a New Year Pilates package that will blow your socks off!


Quiet time…

It’s funny that setting time aside for your self takes such skill and discipline. With our lives in constant motion, from showering to working to driving to cooking to exercising …even sleeping, it’s important to stop and simply reflect. Sitting down with your own thoughts will keep you connected to your authentic self. Having that connection puts the rest of the “noise” and movement in context.


As the Daily Om (www.dailyom.com) says, “Quite time each day is so important, but many are so out of practice that it’s almost unnerving to be in stillness. To begin the process of being more present and less absent in your life, set aside a few minutes each day to simply sit with yourself. This doesn’t mean watching a movie or reading a book, but taking time each day for self-examination to avoid the avoidance, to be with your self in an open way. After a while, you may start to enjoy this part of the day so much that you make less busy work for yourself, so that you can spend more time at the center of your own life, rather than hovering like a planet around the sun.”