I want to set the record straight.
The choice is not yoga or Pilates. I’d like to have a Lindt chocolate for every time that someone says when asked if they do yoga, “No, I do Pilates.”
Don’t get me wrong, I like Pilates. Feeling the awakening of transverse abdominus (TA) after years of neglect or abuse is a wonderful experience. I think there’s plenty of evidence that strengthening TA can help heal all kinds of back problems.
But really…! Yoga is a holistic system that offers gifts on all the levels a human is comprised of. It even includes core muscle work through the exercise of bandhas (internal locks).
As you can see, one can use this kind of internal strength to lift one’s own weight in a pose like bakasana (crane pose) or adho mukha vrshkasana (handstand) or chaturanga dandasana (four-legged stick).
The above poses are not in my repetoire at the moment, and I’m not sure my hip hardware will allow me to practice them in the future either.
So, true confessions: I have gradually taken up weight lifting. I love it and I hate it. A couple of times a week I do a one hour workout with relatively light, free weights. What I love is how well my muscles respond, slowly becoming smoother and more striated.
Developing strong shoulders and arms leads to great support for poses like sirsasana (headstand) and sarvangasana (shoulderstand), and even for ranayama.
Sometimes I just like the idea of looking good. I admit that I puffed up a bit when our interior designer told her 16-year old daughter recently that my arms were beautifully buffed. (You might have heard of “Michelle Obama arms” – that could be where I’m heading!)
Yoga teachers are people too – perhaps a bit vain, a little egotistical, and ultimately human.