As a personal trainer in pilates, yoga and gyrotonic for over 18 years, I have had the honor of working with a variety of students who have differing needs. Observing each individual and seeing what is happening in their physical, emotional and thinking states provides useful information for me to guide them into living, acting, and doing tasks more fully. It’s through our connection to our body that we experience life more fully whatever activity we choose to engage in. It’s the valuable feedback that a trained outside observer (me) can bring to each individual’s experience which makes a private training so meaningful and useful.
As your private instructor I work with you to create a program of exercise or physical therapy with your needs and goals in mind.
Seeing through observation your body’s movements and tendencies, I use personalized cues to help you achieve balance and symmetry.
I help you meet your goals whether it is to perform a sport or activity with skill and ease or to simply feel better in your body with a strong core and an elegant upright posture.
What students are saying
Don’t just take it from me, let the students do the talking!
Vairagya really is a great teacher. She takes the time to understand her students and what they need – structuring classes for the best results. She’s constantly learning more about yoga herself, and brings that knowledge to the classroom, along with a fun sense of humor and play. I’ve known Vairagya for years and hope to continue my practise with her for years to come.
She is helpful, engaging, encouraging, smart, patient, funny, fun, and good communicator!
Vairagya is a great pilates and yoga teacher. She is kind, patient, and highly trained. Many times I have shown up for my session with a pain or constriction. Vairagya guided me through stretches and asanas like a skilled physical therapist. I highly recommend her.Diane Gravenites
Vairagya’s knowledge, and clearand interesting explanations and instructions have been instrumental in my development. She is always able to offer an alternative or modification if I am uncomfortable or unable to experience a what she is teaching. Her clear and precise descriptions of how to adjust a to experience the exercise more deeply never cease to amaze me.Elizabeth Emory Mori
Frequently Asked Questions
Can yoga help me lose weight?
Practicing any type of yoga will build strength, but studies show that yoga does not raise your heart rate enough to make it the only form of exercise you need to shed pounds.
In order to lose weight, you must eat healthily and burn calories by doing exercise that raises your heart rate on a regular basis. More vigorous yoga styles can provide a better workout than gentle yoga, but if weight loss is your primary goal, you will want to combine yoga with running, walking, or any other aerobic exercise that you enjoy.
Still, yoga can play an important role in a weight loss program.
Is yoga just stretching?
Although yoga involves stretching your muscles, it is a whole different ballgame than the few warm-up stretches you might do at the gym. Let’s look at a few of the ways yoga is different:
Yoga places emphasis on alignment, meaning that how you are touching your toes is more important than whether you can actually touch them or not.
Attention to the breath and tuning in to the subtle sensations of the body introduce a mindfulness to even simple yoga poses that is missing from stretching.
Most yoga poses are not stretching an isolated area, but rather involve the whole body in both stretching and strengthening.
Asana, or the physical practice of postures, is only one aspect of a yoga practice, albeit the most well-known one these days. Even if you only engage in yoga through asana practice (an excellent place to start), be aware of the eight limbs of yoga.
What are the types of yoga?
There are many different types of yoga being taught and practiced today and it can be tough for a beginners to figure out the differences. Although almost all of these styles are based on the same physical postures (called poses), each has a particular emphasis. This quick guide to the most popular types of yoga will help you figure out which class is right for you.
Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical kinds of yoga.
If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses.
Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath.
A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that’s done at the end of class. Vinyasa is also called Flow, in reference to the continuous movement from one posture the the next.
Ashtanga, which means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. This practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next and the emphasis on daily practice.
In the mid 1990s, several prominent teacher who were well trained in traditional yoga were looking for ways to make flow yoga more accessible to more people.
The results came to be known as power yoga. It was heavily influenced by the intensity of Ashtanga, but allows for variation in the sequencing of poses.
Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is most concerned with bodily alignment. Iyengar practice usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods versus moving quickly from one pose to the next (flow).
Also, Iyengar practice encourages the use of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks and straps, in order to bring the body into alignment.
The emphasis in Kundalini is on the breath in conjunction with physical movement, with the purpose of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. All asana practices make use of controlling the breath, but in Kundalini, the exploration of the effects of the breath (also called prana, meaning energy) on the postures is essential. Kundalini exercises are also called kriyas.
Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, this style is more generally referred to as Hot Yoga. It is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.
Viniyoga is term used by T.K.V. Desikachar to describe the methodology that his father, revered teacher T. Krishnamacharya, developed late in his life. It is based on an individualized approach to each student, creating a practice that suits his or her unique stage of life, health, and needs.
Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy expressing the intrinsic goodness of all beings. Classes are usually light-hearted and accessible, often with a focus on heart opening. As of fall, 2012, Friend is no longer teaching Anusara following nearly a year of turmoil within the yoga system he founded over his personal indiscretions.
Anusara is now a teacher-led yoga school.
BAPTISTE POWER VINYASA
Baron Baptiste is a power yoga innovator who studies many different styles of yoga, martial arts, and meditation before coming up with his own unique way to teaching. His style is based on “5 Pilllars:” vinyasa, ujjayi pranayama, heat, uddiyana bandha, and drishti.
Practices are typically strong and sweaty.
This chain of hot yoga studios was founded in Denver in 2002 and is opening new studios throughout the United States. Expect quality instruction in a gym-like setting. A membership is good at any of their studios nationwide.
This style of yoga emerged from one of New York’s best-known yoga studios. Jivamukti founders David Life and Sharon Gannon were influenced by the rigor of Ashtanga yoga, in combination with chanting, meditation, and spiritual teachings. They have trained many teachers who have brought this style of yoga to studios and gyms, predominantly in the U.S. These classes are physically intense and often include an inspirational theme selected by the teacher.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and gaining popularity around the U.S., Forrest Yoga is the method taught by Ana Forrest. The performance of vigorous asana sequences is intended to strengthen and purify the body and release pent-up emotions and pain to encourage healing of physical and emotional wounds.
Expect an intense workout with an emphasis on abdominal strengthening, inversions, and deep breathing.
Kripalu is both a yoga style and a retreat center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Kripalu is a yoga practice with a compassionate approach and emphasis on meditation, physical healing and spiritual transformation that overflows into daily life. It also focuses on looking inward and moving at your own pace, making it a good practice for people with limited mobility due to age, weight, or injury.
Integral is a gentle hatha style of yoga based on the ideas and principals of Sri Swami Sachidananda, who sought to give followers guidelines on how to improve their lives. In an attempt to integrate mind, body and spirit, classes also include pranayama, chanting, and meditation.
Moksha hot yoga was founded in Canada in 2004. In 2013, they changed the name of their affiliated U.S. studios to Modo Yoga. Both styles are based on a series of 40 poses done in a heated room. The studios are expected to adhere to environmentally conscious building and cleaning standards.
Restorative yoga makes use of props to support the body as it relaxes into poses over the course of several minutes. The idea is to stay in each pose long enough to encourage passive stretching. Seated forward bends, gentle supine back-bends, and twists are examples of the type of poses that can be adapted to be restorative with the addition of props like blankets and bolsters.
The first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center was founded in 1959 by Swami Vishnu-devananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. There are now close to 80 locations worldwide, including several ashrams. Sivananda yoga is based upon five principles, including the practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation.
After leaving Anusara Yoga (see above), John Friend started Sridaiva with Desi Springer. This style introduces a new alignment system, which they call the bowspring. It’s pretty different from other types of yoga in that the knees stay bent in many poses and the pelvis is always tipping forward to maintain the spinal curves. Proponents say they find a new source of strength and power from this alignment.
Yin Yoga is a practice developed by teacher Paul Grilley to find a way to stretch the body’s connective tissue, particularly around the joints. In order to do this, specific poses are help over the course of several minutes. Grilley started this method as a way to find comfort during long seated meditations.
Chair yoga is a way to make yoga more accessible to people who have trouble standing for long periods or sitting on the floor. Many postures can be adapted to incorporate the support of a chair, as you can see in this series of ten chair yoga poses. Chair yoga is particularly popular with senior citizens but is a great resource for anyone with compromised mobility.
AcroYoga is based on the collaboration of Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein, who began practicing together in 2003.
The basic idea is that one person (called the base) acts at the support for a partner (called the flyer), usually by lying on his or her back and holding the flyer up with his or her legs. The flyer then does a series of poses while balanced atop the base. This practice lends itself to performance and group play.
Aerial yoga makes use of a sling of fabric suspended from the ceiling, which is used to support your body as you hang above the floor. This support allows you to avoid stressing or compressing your joints while you are stretching. It’s also a good way to improve core strength. Some poses are also done while standing on the floor using the sling like a ropes wall.
STAND-UP PADDLE YOGA
SUP yoga is done atop a paddle board while floating on a body of water. Keeping your balance makes for a fun, intense core and leg work-out, all while enjoying the surrounding natural world.
Should I do Pilates?
What is Pilates?
You may have heard a lot about Pilates. It is one of the fastest growing trends in fitness. You may even have come to the conclusion that you should do Pilates.
The first decision you will want to make about your Pilates training is how you are going to learn Pilates. Will you begin with a private lesson, a group class, or go it alone?
I always recommend taking a class or some individual sessions first; but if you can’t do that, there are many instructional DVDs and books to choose from.
Listed below are are a few basics about the Pilates approach to movement that will help you get the most out of Pilates exercises.
Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision, Breath and Flow These terms refer to the basic principles we apply to Pilates movement. Pilates exercises are done as whole body/mind events. Working with the Pilates Principles helps us bring our full attention to the moves that we do. This attention accelerates their effectiveness, and enables the body to learn more from each exercise than it would if the exercise were done mindlessly.
There are a few basics related to how you use your abdominal muscles, how to position the pelvis and spine, and how to increase your range of motion that are used repeatedly in Pilates exercises. If you understand what you are going for with these moves, you will have a solid foundation for getting maximum benefit from your Pilates workout.
Adjust Pilates for You
Pilates really is a beginner friendly fitness system. Indeed, the adaptability of Pilates exercises for different body types and fitness levels is one of its primary benefits. Virtually all Pilates exercises can be modified to meet differing needs. A good instructor will give you ideas for making modifications to the exercises they teach.
Who is Joseph Pilates? A: Founder of the Pilates Method of Exercise
German born Joseph Pilates was living in England, working as a circus performer and boxer, when he was placed in forced internment in England at the outbreak of WWI. While in the internment camp, he began to develop the floor exercises that evolved into what we now know as the Pilates mat work.
As time went by, Joseph Pilates began to work with rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from diseases and injuries.
It was invention born of necessity that inspired him to utilize items that were available to him, like bed springs and beer keg rings, to create resistance exercise equipment for his patients. These were the unlikely beginnings of the equipment we use today, like the reformer and the magic circle.
Joseph Pilates developed his work from a strong personal experience in fitness.
Unhealthy as a child, Joseph Pilates studied many kinds of self-improvement systems. He drew from Eastern practices and Zen Buddhism, and was inspired by the ancient Greek ideal of man perfected in development of body, mind and spirit. On his way to developing the Pilates Method, Joseph Pilates studied anatomy and developed himself as a body builder, a wrestler, gymnast, boxer, skier and diver.
After WWI, Joseph Pilates briefly returned to Germany where his reputation as a physical trainer/healer preceded him. In Germany, he worked briefly for the Hamburg Military Police in self-defense and physical training. In 1925, he was asked to train the German army. Instead, he packed his bags and took a boat to New York City.
On the boat to America, Joseph met Clara, a nurse, who would become his wife. He went on to establish his studio in New York and Clara worked with him as he evolved the Pilates method of exercise, invented the Pilates exercise equipment, and of course, trained students.
Joseph Pilates taught in New York from 1926 to 1966.
During that time, he trained a number of students who not only applied his work to their own lives but became teachers of the Pilates method themselves. This first generation of teachers who trained directly with Joseph Pilates is often referred to as the Pilates Elders. Some committed themselves to passing along Joseph Pilates work exactly as he taught it. This approach is called “classical style” Pilates. Other students went on to integrate what they learned with their own research in anatomy and exercise sciences.
Joseph Pilates’ New York studio put him in close proximity to a number of dance studios, which led to his “discovery” by the dance community. Many dancers and well-known persons of New York depended on Pilates method training for the strength and grace it developed in the practitioner, as well as for its rehabilitative effects. Until exercise science caught up with the Pilates exercise principles in the 1980s and the surge of interest in Pilates that we have today got underway, it was chiefly dancers and elite athletes who kept Joseph Pilates’ work alive.
Joseph Pilates passed away in 1967. He had maintained a fit physique throughout his life, and many photos show that he was in remarkable physical condition in his older years. He is also said to have had a flamboyant personality. He smoked cigars, liked to party, and wore his exercise briefs wherever he wanted (even on the streets of New York). It is said that he was an intimidating, though deeply committed, instructor. Clara Pilates continued to teach and run the studio for another 10 years after Joseph Pilates death. Today, Joseph Pilates legacy is carried on by the Pilates Elders, and by a large group of contemporary teachers.
What are some Pilates fundamental exercises I can do at home?
This is a set of deceptively easy exercises. They are exercises that teach the basic movement principles upon which Pilates exercises build. Pilates is a “functional fitness” method. That means that these principles translate directly into better posture and graceful, efficient movement in everyday life.
Use these Pilates fundamental moves to open any workout routine. They establish torso stability, pelvic stability, abdominal engagement, good alignment, and greater range of motion for the limbs.
1. Starting Position – Constructive Rest – Neutral Spine
The exercise we do to find neutral spine is a press of the lower back into the floor (creating a flat back), then a release of the spine into a small arch. Between these two points is a place where the 3 curves of the spine are in their natural position. This will be the start position from which we will do the rest of this set of fundamental exercises.
The Basic Move:
Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Your knees are bent and your legs and feet are parallel to each other, about hip distance apart.
Exhale and use your abs to press your lower spine into the floor.
Inhale to release.
Exhale and pull your lower spine up, creating a small arch of the low back.
Inhale to release.
2. Head Nod
Head nod is an extension of the lengthening of the spine that we go for in Pilates. It is an integral part of the many Pilates exercises that articulate the spine in forward bends and rolling exercises.
Begin in the start position.
Inhale to lengthen the spine and tilt the chin down toward the chest. Your head stays on the mat.
Exhale to return to the neutral position
Inhale to tip the head back a little bit
Exhale to return to the neutral position
3. Arms Over
Arms over is about keeping our alignment as the torso is challenged by the arms moving overhead. It also helps us increase our range of motion in the shoulders.
The Basic Move:
From the start position, inhale to bring the fingertips up to the ceiling.
Exhale to bring the arms down toward the floor behind you.
Inhale to bring the arms up again.
Exhale to release to the floor.
Keep the abs engaged.
Do not let the movement of the arms effect the alignment of your ribs.
4. Angel Arms
Though it engages some different muscles, angel arms, like arms over, helps you perfect your understanding of how how to use the arms and shoulders without losing the alignment of your back and ribcage.
The Basic Move:
From the basic position, on an in-breath, the arms sweep out to the sides along the floor.
Exhale to return the arms by your sides.
The abs stay engaged.
The ribs stay down.
The shoulders do not go up with the arms. Keep them away from your ears.
5. Pelvic Clock
A subtle yet deeply revealing move, pelvic clock increases awareness of pelvic position and strengthens the muscles we need for pelvic stability.
The Basic Move:
Imagine there is a clock placed flat on your lower abs. The 12 is at your bellybutton, the 3 is on your left hip, the 6 is at your pubic bone, and the 9 is on your right hip.
Using your abdominal muscles to initiate and control the movement, sequentially move around the clock pulling first the 12 down, then rotate to the 3, the 6, and nine.
This is a small move.
The hips do not pull up off the floor.
The idea is to move the pelvis without affecting the stability of the rest of the body.
6. Knee Folds
Being able to move your leg in the hip socket without effecting the the stability of the pelvis is one of the most important goals of knee folds. This kind of activity is important in all kinds of movements that we do in everyday life, such as sitting, walking and lifting.
The Basic Move:
From the start position, On an inhale, feel that you are using your abdominal muscles to lift one leg off the floor. Allow a deep fold at the hip.
Exhale and return your foot to the floor. As you do so, be sure to use abdominal control. Don’t let the thigh take over.
This is about getting a deep fold at the hip so don’t let your hip raise up with the leg.
Keep your tailbone anchored on the mat.
What is the strength of a Pilates workout?
Pilates is Strength Training. This is a fact. Pilates uses two types of resistance training to achieve strength. Body weight and spring-driven resistance. Yoga utilizes body weight effectively but does not make use of additional weight like the Pilates springs which serve to increase the muscle load and therefore build strength. Weight lifters do far less body weight exercise as compared to weights so they focus on the one skill set. Pilates combines the best of both and develops strength across both areas.
Pilates is Flexibility Training. Stretch is the other side of strength. A robust range of motion can determine how long your body stays healthy. Stiff muscles and brittle bones limit your mobility and make you prone to falls and injuries. Pilates employes full range of motion across all the joints to keep the body supple and mobile. Strength without mobility is pretty useless. You need both. Want to live longer? Maintaining range of motion is critical. Check that.
Pilates Develops Muscle Stability and Core Control. Centering is a Pilates industry term for starting movement from the core of the body. When you practice Pilates you learn that everything starts here. A strong center frees your limbs to operate without risk to the torso. If the trunk is stable, mobility, and agility come easily. Babies develop stability before mobility. Pilates works the same way.
Pilates Trains Body Awareness. Stand up straight. Hold your Abdominals strong. Pull your shoulders down and back. All Pilates mantras that work when you have left the studio. If your exercise isn’t working after your workout, then it isn’t working as well as it should. Pilates works 24 hours a day as you get smarter and smarter about your body and where it should be when you sit, stand, walk and move.
Pilates Works Out Your Mind and Breath. “Above all learn to breathe”, said Joe Pilates. We know that a properly oxygenated body performs better and that breathing techniques can increase metal clarity and emotional stability. The combination of breathing techniques and complex choreography require keen mental focus. You really can’t do Pilates without one hundred percent concentration. Working your mind is the single most effective way to work your body. Pilates therefore incorporates mental and physical conditioning. Package in your mindfulness and meditation into your Mat work? Yes, please.
Pilates Increases Stamina. If you don’t know this you should. Pilates beginners start with a finite number of moves done in a set period of time. The basic Mat may include 7-10 exercise and take just 15 minutes. But the complete advanced mat is 34 exercises and is intended to be done in a similar time frame. So if you are learning the true Pilates system you will be on a steady progressive track with each and every workout to move longer and faster. Rest times that may be included for the beginner level will vanish by the time you are intermediate. So endurance is also addressed with good old-fashioned Pilates training.
All exercise is good for you. Take some time to assess your current workout and see if you are covering all the fitness bases you can to be truly fit and healthy. If not, try Pilates.
Yoga vs. Pilates, which is better?
It seems that these days you can hardly turn on a television without hearing someone mention Pilates or Yoga. Articles on both of these movement therapies fill numerous magazines and it seems “everyone who is anyone” is doing one or the other. Why all the excitement? What is so special about these techniques?
Similarities and Differences between Pilates and Yoga
Yoga, as we all know it, is aimed to unite the mind, body, and spirit. Yogis view that the mind and the body are one, and that if it is given the right tools and taken to the right environment, it can find harmony and heal itself. Yoga therefore is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body’s posture, alignment and patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible and helps you relax even in the midst of a stress stricken environment. This is one of the foremost reasons why people want to start practicing Yoga – to feel more fit, to be more energetic, be happier and peaceful. The Yoga movements are performed, mostly, in a group setting on a special Yoga mat with an aid of a Yoga instructor.
The body’s own weight is used for resistance and a great deal of focus is accorded to the flow from one posture into the other. There are many different Yoga styles and they differ in their emphasis. No one style is better than the other. The Style you use is a matter of personal preference or a matter of need.
Iyengar yoga, for example makes use of modified yoga poses that are designed to meet the specific needs of an individual and to enhance healing, flexibility and strength of joints. The poses also intend to promote the feeling of well-being and strength. Practices may also include meditation, reflection, study and other classic elements. As you can imagine, given the scope of practice, the inherent therapeutic applications and the heritage of the lineage, the training requirements for teacher certification are extensive.
Pilates seek to reach much the same goals, also via a series of controlled movements. The major difference is that the Pilates technique not only has a full complement of matwork, but it incorporates work on the Pilates apparatus.
The emphasis of the exercises is to strengthen the abdominals, improve posture, stabilize and lengthen the spine, improve balance and overall strength. Pilates gives you a longer, leaner, dancer-like line.
Pilates Works the Whole Body
Unlike many other training programs, Pilates works the whole body, emphasizing control, precision and concentration in both the mind and the body. Movements are not performed rapidly or repeated excessively instead, the focus is on quality not quantity. The abdominal muscles, lower back and buttocks (“powerhouse”) serve as the center of all movement, allowing the rest of the body to move freely. This focus on core stabilization makes one stronger from the inside out and is critical for the advancement of the client. The low impact nature of Pilates makes it ideal for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Its six principles-concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow and precision-train the body to move efficiently with minimal impact on the body. The balance between strength and flexibility creates a healthy, vigorous and symmetrical workout for all muscle groups resulting in a leaner, more balanced, and stronger body.
Working With Yoga and Pilates in Conjunction
Do them both in conjunction! The nature of the techniques makes it easy for them to complement each other. Get the stretch from Yoga and keep it from Pilates. Strengthen your abdominals on the reformer and watch your poses improve. Join the breathing techniques of Pilates and meditative aspect of Yoga into your daily routine and see the stress of your everyday life, begin to dissipate. Both techniques are time-proven, established, and with the help of an experienced instructor, you will surely reach the goals you set up for yourself!
What are the strengths? Gyrotonic vs. Pilates
Gyrotonic is a three dimensional and circular form of movement that works the whole body efficiently and results in fluid grace, strength and mobility.
A training system focused on muscles, fascia, the skeletal system including your joints and spine, nervous system and energetics
Gyrotonic equipment is a weight and pulley system that gives the body both assistance and resistance promoting ease of movement and elongation.
Gyrotonic Movement style
Gyrotonic is a series of exercises performed with continual motion and fluidity. The use of rhythm, repetition and flow effects gents and gradual sustained change.
Gyrotonic and Pilates Both:
– Build core abdominal strength
– Increase flexibility, coordination and balance
– Have instructional flexibility to be taught with or without equipment, individually or in a class setting.
– Are adaptable for all skill levels and body needs, promoting injury-free and pain-free workouts
– Incorporate specialized equipment that allows every client to work at a self-appropriate pace and – Comfort zone while achieving new goals.
– Complement any other activity (cardio, dance, golf, skiing, swimming) increasing your performance and promoting longevity, injury prevention, quality of life and fun!
Pilates is a predominantly two dimensional, linear technique that focuses on the strength and stability of the spine.
Pilates is a training system focused on key alignment principles and how the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems work together to re-educate movement patterns.
Pilates equipment uses a spring resistance system which is able to challenge the body in every plane.
Pilates Movement Style
Pilates uses a prescribed number of repetitions with the idea that the more precise the form, the fewer repetitions are required to effect change.
Don't Be Shy
If we didn’t answer all of your questions, feel free to drop us a line anytime.