Yoga and Pilates are for EVERYONE!


Fit, unfit, flexible, inflexible, overweight, underweight, old, and young and the list goes on.

A tiny bit of history about Mr Joseph Pilates. He was a very sickly child with asthma, rickets, rheumatic fever, born in 1884 and died in 1967 at the age of 83.  Mr Pilates designed most of his equipment from a hospital bed, for those of you familiar with the Reformer and the Cadillac think of the resemblance to a hospital bed.  The Pilates Wunda chair was for those who needed assistance to sit or stand and hold handles.  The springs with all of his equipment assist those that need assistance and eventually teach us resistance.  Absolutely amazing equipment for that era.  Mr Pilates must have been way ahead of his time in my opinion.  He was obviously a man with compassion and the determination to help people who needed it.

Mr Iyengar also a very unhealthy person as a child as I mentioned in my first article.  Only by physically doing Yoga was he able to overcome his illness and both physically and mentally became a stronger person.  With his 70 or more years of teaching and experience we understand that it was his compassion for people wishing to do Yoga that he brought in the use of props.  If we cannot do it by ourselves then why not use a wooden block or a belt etc.  This does not mean that the props become a crutch, by no means, but our bodies need to imprint what is correct and if the props can do this then we avoid “samskara” which is bad imprintation.

Mr Joseph Pilates and Mr BKS Iyengar practiced, experienced, taught and spent their entire lives committed to their practice.  Both of these amazing men mention similar principles in their books.  Maybe using different words or different analogies but they mention them and they were both, again my opinion, remarkable! Dedicating their entire life’s experiences for the benefit of other peoples wellbeing. I am so passionate about both, although both are different in so many ways; they are also both very similar disciplines. The breath, alignment, stretch, strength, stability, mobility, mental & physical concentration, movement, flow and precision.

The benefits of both are similar too:

  • Utilising the breath correctly
  • Lengthening muscles which create strength, different to weight training but enables us to hold our own body weight which is sufficient weight, through planks, handstands, downward dogs etc, too name a few (length brings strength)
  • Flexibility and mobility to all joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons etc
  • Contracting muscle to bone prevents osteoporosis and atrophy (loss of muscle mass as we age)
  • Articulation of the spine
  • Abdominal strength / spinal strength
  • Awareness, to everything, posture, alignment, balance, imbalance, stability, concentration
  • Cardio, once we progress, both of these disciplines have a “cardio” heart raising aspect to them which is a challenge most are not aware of
  • And again the list goes on but what I can say about both is they are disciplines that can be maintained for life because even though we may be unaware, we do Yoga & Pilates everyday of our life’s off our mat

There was a slight misprint in my last article for Life&Style.  I am internationally qualified for Pilates.  I am an Advanced Teacher and Teacher Trainer with Classical Pilates which took me approximately 6 years in total. I am not an international BKS Iyengar teacher – as yet.  I am however a qualified Yoga teacher with the Young Yoga Institute of South Africa (YYI), that took me a number of years being a student and 3 years of teacher training.  Once I qualified with the YYI I decided I wanted to continue my studies of Yoga and pursued with the Iyengar system.  I unfortunately lost a year or more of the teacher training whilst living in Australia, but in a sense I gained much more by physically attending 2 Senior Iyengar teacher’s 2hr classes 3-4 times a week.  I will continue with my 3rd year teacher training with BKS Iyengar next year. I will then be qualified under that system which takes 3 long years of studies before they grant you any certification. But being an Iyengar teacher never ends, to become a Senior Iyengar teacher can take up to 12 years so it will be a life long journey.

The reason I mentioned the above is that the YYI was founded by Winnie Young from Durban. Actually at the young age of 54 Winnie started Yoga and travelled in 1969 to Mauritius to attend Mr Iyengar’s workshop and continued to study under him for many years travelling to Poone in India.  Winnie Young died in 2008 at the age of 96.  She wrote a number of books. One of which she became more known for was – Yoga for Christians.  A quote from Winnie Young “ Adapt & Accommodate”.

The purpose of my article this week………………….Everyone can do Yoga and Pilates.

I am quoting a paragraph from Dr Geeta S. Iyengar, Mr Iyengar’s daughter who turns 70yrs old this December and has also dedicated her life alongside her father to the practice of Yoga.

“Yoga is meant for everyone.  Nobody is excluded from it.  Whether they are men, women or children, elderly or aged people, diseased or disabled, the path of yoga is open to everyone.  However you have to practise according to your physical, mental and spiritual capacity.  Yoga is meant to give us a way to discover or rediscover ourselves.  It teaches us how to find the great margin of maximum capacity that we have inside us so that we are able to expose ourselves to ourselves and find out what we really are.  When I say that you have to adapt according to your capacity, I mean that you have to find out the potentiality, or the potential energy, that you all have inside and how to bring it to the surface in order to utilise it properly.  Yoga exposes inner hidden potentialities.  In fact, there is nothing in yoga which dictates who has to do what.  Yoga is universal in this sense.  It is inappropriate to say, “Do and do not do”.  We do not say that this is not to be done or that is to be done.  To make such differentiation there has to be some cause.  Patañjali says that we have to find out what stage we are at and what our level is.  We need to know what our energy is, what our potency is, what we can do and so on.  As we proceed further, we have to see that we achieve every step gradually.”

I received a number of calls after my first article in the Life&Style and I realised that there are a lot of “unconditioned” bodies/people out there who don’t know where to start.  Elderly, young & unfit, inflexible, complete beginner, overweight, certain medical problems, etc.  Most felt intimidated to attend a general class where they know they will not be able to cope.  I am therefore trying out 2 extra classes for this category “unconditioned body”.  Pilates on a Tues at 9am-10am and Yoga on a Thursday 9am – 10am.

For anyone who feels that they fit in this category rather than a general class please contact me.  There is limited space.  The first class for each will be free of charge to see if there is a need.  Starting on the Tues 7th October and Thurs 9th October.

For any information regarding this article please call me.  Thanks for reading.  Namaste, Tracy Sue.

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