Although very popular in the West, Pilates has yet to hit the Asian fitness market with a force. The concept of “the core,” and the importance of keeping this area of the body strong, is mostly an unknown idea in this part of the world. Of course this is unfortunate, since core strength is essential for maintaining good posture, having a healthy back, and supporting the entire body during movement.
So what about Pilates in Chiang Mai?
There’s quite a bit of yoga to be found in Chiang Mai, but when it comes to Pilates, the options are minimal. A couple Pilates studios have popped up recently in Chiang Mai, but they are Thai speaking and do not cater to the expat population and foreign tourists. Moreover, because these studios include the very expensive Pilates machines, the high fees for these classes often discourage many from giving Pilates a go.
This is where I come in! I offer affordable private and group Pilates mat lessons.
Joseph Pilates, the inventor of the Pilates method, created routines on the mat, as well as on machines, which he designed and built himself. The Pilates machines are great, but basically, you can accomplish everything on the mat that you can on the machines. And there is also something very rewarding about using only your body to build substantial strength and flexibility.
Give mat Pilates a try in Chiang Mai!
My yoga practice
I often get the question, “What is the difference between Pilates and yoga?” This is a difficult question to answer, firstly, because there are many different types of yoga, ranging from a gentle practice, to an incredibly physical “Oh my god, I’m going to die” Ashtanga practice, to a more spiritually focused practice. There are also different schools of Pilates, although the differences between them are less dramatic than in the yoga world.
Although not professionally certified in yoga, I have been intensely practicing yoga for a couple years, and have made it a core part of my life. Personally, I see yoga and Pilates as dramatically different from one another, although there are some shared principles between the two.
*Yoga and Pilates are mind/body exercises, combining body movement with mental focus. The result is that these practices add to an overall state of physical and mental wellbeing.
*Breath is essential to both yoga and Pilates, as it improves circulation and highly oxygenates the body. However, one breathes differently in each of the practices. In yoga, you inhale and exhale through the nose. In Pilates, you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Pilates also concentrates on lateral breathing—air is directed into the sides and back of the ribcage. Yogis, however, tend to concentrate on the chest and belly when breathing.
*The two practices aim to increase both flexibility and strength, so as to create a uniformly developed body that is less prone to pain and injury. However, yoga puts much more focus on deep, static stretching than Pilates.
*Movements: Many of the movements in yoga differ from those in Pilates. Yet there are some exercises in Pilates that were inspired by yoga postures.
*Origin: Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago. A German athlete, Joseph Pilates, started Pilates in the mid-twentieth century.
*Spirituality: The ultimate goal of yoga is spiritual, and the physical practice is meant to make the body strong and flexible so that it can sit comfortably in meditation for hours. Yoga can be an entire way of life that encompasses diet, meditation, breathing techniques, and a moral code.
Pilates, on the other hand, has no spiritual aspect. Its goal is to make the body strong and flexible so that it can move through this world, through daily life, with grace and ease.
*The Core: Pilates emphasizes strengthening the core, the deep abdominal and back muscles, which greatly improves posture and alignment, and stabilizes the entire body throughout movement.
*Mat vs. Machines: Yoga is done completely on a mat. Pilates has a full routine of mat work, but also incorporates machines.
*Length of postures: Yoga postures are held for a longer period of time than Pilates postures. In Pilates, you truly flow—moving from one position to the next quite quickly.
*Positioning: Pilates is done mostly lying down on the back. This defies gravity and works the body by engaging the deep abdominal and back muscles to lift off the ground. Yoga, in contrast, has many standing postures.
Yoga does not have the same emphasis on these muscles. Today, however, there is an increased awareness among yoga teachers on the importance of strengthening these muscles, and therefore it is becoming more common to have core-centered exercises in yoga classes.
Ultimately, after practicing both Pilates and yoga heavily, I believe their differences compliment each other in the best of ways. The two methods combine to create the ideal physical practice, making every part of your body strong and flexible, as well as improving your breathing patterns and overall state of mental wellbeing.
Private Pilates Lessons:
Pilates is truly done best one on one, where the instructor can closely watch the student’s movement and alignment. In teaching private Pilates lessons, I give full attention to my student. Because it’s one on one, I can focus entirely on how someone executes the exercises, so that I can assure he or she is moving effectively and safely.
I always advise those who are new to Pilates to start with at least a few private lessons. This will give beginners a foundation—a basic understanding of the Pilates principles, how to move through exercises, and the things on which to focus. Moreover, those who have injuries or special physical needs should do private lessons as opposed to group sessions.
Advanced students, and even professionally trained Pilates instructors, such as myself, benefit from private lessons from time to time as well. It is impossible to constantly see and be aware of our bodies through every movement and position, and therefore having a professional “eagle-eye” our Pilates practice is always advantageous.
Contact me for more information on Pilates in Chiang Mai, Thailand, including rates and location
Taking a group Pilates lesson as opposed to a private lesson is quite a different experience. As a student, you won’t get the one on one attention of a private class, but what you will gain is the collective, shared energy and experience that a group class gives, which can be so wonderful and special!
Although I am a certified Pilates instructor, I still attend group classes at times. I love my own self-practice—I can challenge myself, be creative and explore movements and sequences, and get into a very meditative state as I flow through my practice. Yet sometimes I need that energy and inspiration that only comes from doing Pilates alongside fellow instructors and students.
Ultimately, I think a combination of private and group Pilates classes is the ideal!
Contact me for the Pilates Chiang Mai group schedule and class location
I have been practicing Pilates on my own for years, but it wasn’t until the teacher training that I understood how marvelous this system of physical conditioning truly was. During the intense period of study, I delved deeply into the method—both physically and mentally—and experienced the profound benefits of Pilates.
Firstly, Pilates has the power to transform your body—to build substantial strength, increase flexibility, and greatly improve posture and alignment.
Secondly, Pilates teaches you about your body—it makes you aware of your strong and weak parts, your flexible and tight areas, bad habits (i.e.- slouching, tensing up shoulders); the way in which you sit, stand, and walk; your posture and alignment; basically, everything to do with your body and its movement.
One of the greatest rewards in practicing Pilates, however, goes beyond the physical, and that is the significant growth in mind-body awareness. Personally, Pilates has taught me to be fully conscious of how I move throughout the day. “Am I sitting tall? Are my shoulders relaxed? Am I leaning too far forward and gripping into my hip flexors as I walk?” Ultimately, Pilates is an entire system for intelligent and healthy movement, and truly knowing one’s body.
When people are greatly connected to their bodies, it positively affects other core parts of their being, and I genuinely believe that people feel their best both physically and mentally. It is thus my goal through Pilates Chiang Mai to help individuals discover a deep awareness of their bodies, all while vastly improving their strength, flexibility, and alignment.