IF YOU LOVE YOGA (WHICH I REALLY DO), YOU’LL FIND EVERY VARIATION UNDER THE SUN IN THE NORTH WEST. AND IF YOU’RE FEELING LITERAL AND WOULD LIKE YOUR YOGA WITH ACTUAL ADDED SUNSHINE, THAT’S ON OFFER, TOO, ON A ROOFTOP NEAR YOU EVERY WEEK AT YIN YAN YOGA. HOT, COLD, FAST, SLOW AND EVEN, APPARENTLY, WITH ADDED BEER, YOGA IS EVERYWHERE. AND THAT MAKES ME HAPPY. BUT WHAT ABOUT PILATES?
You’ll have to search a little harder to get your Pilates fix up north, and classes might not draw the huge numbers that hot yoga can. However, there’s something to be said for smaller class sizes. For starters, your teacher will have a better chance to give feedback and make individual adjustments. Which, it transpires, can be the difference between: ‘I’m powering through this class like a young gazelle’ and ‘yeowch. What even is that muscle that I’ve apparently never used before?’ *The answer to which is probably your obliques.
Mine had an easy life until I tried my first ever Pilates class with the brilliant Jane Grogan of Oneself. Check her out if you’re ever in Brighton and want a class with someone whose love for yoga and Pilates is utterly infectious. She’s an incredible teacher and genuinely cares about the life changing potential of gently building strength and flexibility.
What’s the difference between yoga and Pilates?
I should probably be handing you over to the experts at this stage, for a really elegant description. However, in layman’s (ie, my simple) terms, you’ll basically notice a greater focus on strengthening your core and aligning your spine in Pilates. Yoga will also help with these things, but it has a much broader focus for your mind and body.
Pilates & Back Pain:
Yes, I know, back pain, and aligning your spine, probably aren’t the all-time sexiest of blog post topics. So let me turn this round by citing a scientific study. Because who doesn’t get excited by statistics? I’ll hold my hands up to doing the clickbait thing so very wrong here, but according to UK and US reports, a crazy 80% of workers will suffer with back problems at some point in their lives.
Clearly, if you’re employed and you’re reading this, they’re not great odds. But happily, Pilates can help. In fact it’s so helpful in mitigating back pain that the NHS now recommends it for treating chronic back pain. They even made this fun video about it. (* Disclaimer, the video, like my statistics, isn’t that fun, but try it anyway. Your back will thank you for it!)
Joseph Hubertus Pilates, the founder of Pilates, (who was born in 1880) was quoted at the age of 86, saying: “I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.”
He also famously emphasised the fact that you are only as young as your spine.
Pilates Classes in the North West:
Robyn McGlinchey, Balance & Movement Pilates
I’ve spent countless hours enjoying Pilates classes (and the occasional chat) with Robyn McGlinchey, the founder of Balance & Move. Robyn has used Pilates to transform her own fitness levels and flexibility and is a great teacher, with endless patience. Although she’s been known to do things like running marathons, which I personally found a tad intimidating as a non-gym-bunny, don’t count this against her, because she has a real talent for remembering what it was like to be starting out.
Therefore, Robyn’s perfect if you’re a Pilates newbie, and want someone who’ll take the time to talk you through the basics. Plus she also offers more advanced classes. Robyn also has a talent for helping you to remember that exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
She once casually mentioned the benefits of a quick yoga stretch before bed, which is one of those teeny tiny daily rituals that just might make you feel loads better. I personally love advice like this which you can integrate into your life without having to scale any mountains or do anything too drastic! Just tiny daily changes that eventually pay off in a big way.
Balance & Movement
Robin Ellis’s ‘Core Power’ Pilates / Yoga
Robin Ellis is the founder of Yin Yan Yoga, a pop-up yoga provider for the North West. I love what they do in terms of integrating yoga into the working day (with their pop-up sites in business districts) so much that I can often be found harping on about them on this site. They do offer plenty of dedicated Pilates classes, but I couldn’t resist recommending ‘Core Power’, which combines Pilates and yoga in one bracing yet ultimately very back-friendly session!
If you’re a yoga lover who’s contemplating giving Pilates a go, this is a great way to dip your toe into the water as it were (*no actual water is involved in these classes). Robin is on a mission to help us carve out time for exercise in even the busiest of days.
For class details, visit: http://www.yinyan.co.uk/liverpool.html
And finally, although I’ve yet to go to one of Nisha Srivastava’s classes, almost every Pilates teacher I’ve ever had has spoken of her in reverent terms. She’s basically the Pilates teacher’s Pilates teacher of choice. Her website’s: www.pilates4sport.com and she’s well worth following on social media for regular Pilates pics and tips.
I hope you got something out of this feature. If you did, here’s my love letter to yoga.