Tao Porchon-Lynch, 98, and the world’s oldest yoga teacher, led a session in Bangalore, in India’s south

Tao Porchon-Lynch (born Täo Andrée Porchon, August 13, 1918) is a yoga master and award-winning author. She discovered yoga in 1926 when she was eight years old in India and studied with Sri Aurobindo, B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Swami Prabhavananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Dr. Roman Ostoja. She still teaches six to eight classes a week in New York, and leads programs across the globe. She is the author of two books, including her autobiography, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master[1], which won a 2016 IPPY Award and three 2016 International Book Awards. In the front matter endorsement, Dr. Deepak Chopra said: “One of the most acclaimed yoga teachers of our century, Tao Porchon-Lynch… is a mentor to me who embodies the spirit of yoga and is an example of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. Like yoga, she teaches us to let go and to have exquisite awareness in every moment.”

In May 2012, Guinness World Records recognized Porchon-Lynch as the world’s oldest yoga instructor at age 93; the previous record-holder was then-91-year-old Berniece Bates of Florida. Tao is also an activist, oenophilist and competitive ballroom dancer. In 2015, she appeared on Season 10 of America’s Got Talent. Over her 75-year professional life, she was a couture model, actress, film producer, international film distributor, television executive, publisher and a co-founder of the American Wine Society. She marched with Mahatma Gandhi twice[citation needed] and helped people escape the Nazis as a French Resistance fighter during World War II.[citation needed] Her mantra is: There Is Nothing You Cannot Do.

In a November 2015 ABC World News interview Porchon-Lynch was called the “Real-Life Forrest Gump” since she participated in so many historic events over almost a century. In her autobiography Dancing Light, she describes personal encounters with many notables including Mahatma Gandhi, General Charles de Gaulle, Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Marceau, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Wilding, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Burgess Meredith, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Lana Turner, Debbie Reynolds, Joan Davis, Jim Backus, Red Skelton, Vincent Price, Jack Cummings, Kathryn Grayson, Leslie Caron, Arlene Dahl, Richard Greene, Hugh O’Brian, David Sarnoff, Joan Crawford, Lucille Lortel, Duke Ellington, Katherine Dunham, Ilka Chase, Dr. Welthy Fisher, Jean Dessès, Jeanne Lanvin, Coco Chanel, Marcel Rochas, Jean Patou, Elsa Schiaparelli, Louis Vaudable, Robert Mondavi, and Dr. Konstantin Frank, among others.

Early life 

Pondicherry, the birthplace of Tao

Tao Porchon was born on August 13, 1918,[2] on a ship in the middle of the English Channel, two months too soon.[3] Her father was from France, while her mother was a native Indian (Manipuri).[4] Her mother died giving birth to Tao,[5] Porchon’s aunt and uncle raised her. Her uncle, who designed railroads, often brought her along for trips around Asia,[4] travelling to as far as Singapore. The family also owned a strip of vineyards in the wine region of the Rhône River Valley, located in Southern France.[5]

At age eight, Tao witnessed a group of youthful yoga practitioners exercising on a beach. This encounter got Porchon interested in yoga, who stated in an interview with Guinness World Records, “I wanted to do the amazing things that they were doing with their bodies.”[3] Going against the advice of her aunt, who remarked that yoga was meant predominantly for males, she started practising yoga, although she did not get involved in it professionally until much later in her life.[3] In her youth, Porchon met the Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi, who was her uncle’s close acquaintance,[5] even marching with him on two separate occasions.[4] She also participated in demonstrations with General Charles de Gaulle and Martin Luther King, Jr.[2]


In her early career, Porchon worked in the fashion industry. She found success in her modelling and gained many modelling titles, including “Best Legs in Europe”.[3] For a period of time she was signed under the Lever Brothers.[5] She travelled around the globe as a model, enjoying stints in places like Paris, among others. During the second World War, Porchon moved to London and became a cabaret performer[3] under the mentorship of Noël Coward. Notable journalist Quentin Reynolds took note of Porchon, writing that she made a “dark London brighter”.[5]

After the war died down, she relocated to the United States, where she got a job as an actress under Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,[4] appearing in various Hollywood motion pictures, including Show Boat (1951), also featuring Kathryn Grayson,[6] and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954), in which she co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor.[3] During her career as an actress, she frequently gave free yoga sessions to her fellow actors and actresses.[4]

Professional yoga 

Later on, Porchon-Lynch, now a married woman, found herself becoming more serious in yoga. Having studied with yoga greats Sri Aurobindo and Indra Devi,[7] she abandoned her acting job in 1967, deciding to become a full-time yogi.[3] Jack LaLanne was the first to hire her to teach yoga.[8] In 1976, she became one of the founders of the Yoga Teachers Alliance, now known as the Yoga Teachers Association.[5] She based her operations in New York and set up the Westchester Institute of Yoga in 1982, which now has a students from all over the world.[3] In 1995, with Indra Devi, she flew to Israel to attend the Yoga for Peace International Peace Conference.[7] Porchon-Lynch has also been one of B. K. S. Iyengar’s disciples in yoga and reportedly the first “foreign” student of his.[9]

Porchon-Lynch has embraced her age and carried her yoga with her. She has mentioned, “I’m going to teach yoga until I can’t breathe anymore.”[10] She received the Guinness World Records title of world’s oldest yoga teacher from Berniece Bates in May 2012. Porchon-Lynch was 93 when she broke the world record.[3] In 2013, in collaboration with Tara Stiles, she released a DVD on yoga, titled Yoga with Tao Porchon-Lynch.[7][11] In addition, she published a book about meditation, titled Reflections: The Yogic Journey of Life.[7]

Other endeavours

Outside of yoga, Porchon-Lynch has continued to involve herself in competitive dancing, particularly in ballroom tango.[12] She has several hundred first-place titles in competitive dancing. Her youngest dance partners are Hayk Balasanyan and Vard Margaryan and Anton Bilozorov.[4]

In 1967, Porchon-Lynch assisted in the establishment of the American Wine Society (AWS) with her spouse. When it split into different branches across the United States, she was selected in 1970 to be the Vice-President of the AWS in Southern New York. She also frequently appeared as part of the judging panel in various wine competitions.[5] She later became the publisher and editor-in-chief of the wine appreciation magazine, The Beverage Communicator, distributed by the AWS.[13] With her fellow yoga practitioners, Porchon-Lynch organises annual wine appreciation trips to France.[2]

Personal life

Porchon-Lynch grew up speaking French and Meiteilon. Thus, when she moved to North America, she experienced a language barrier, being unable to grasp the English language well, although she overcame the problem with sufficient practice. She was a close acquaintance of Hindi film actor Dev Anand. The duo were introduced to each other by Kamini Kaushal, who was also a friend of Porchon-Lynch’s. Porchon-Lynch married Bill Lynch around 1962 but became widowed after her husband died in 1982. The couple never had any children.  She has received three hip replacement surgeries.  A vegetarian, she is a fan of high heel shoes and would even hike with them.  In her spare time, Porchon-Lynch enjoys meditating. 

Summer is here: Best idea for Snorkeling! The H2O Ninja!!

Why the H2O NINJA MASK®?The H2O Ninja Mask®’s full-face design has many advantages over a traditional snorkeling mask.

Users can breathe using both nose and mouth under water. This is what our bodies are acclimatized to do on land.

Eliminates the need to put the mouthpiece directly in the mouth.

Increases the view angle up to 180 degrees.

Drastically reduced fogging (compared to a normal snorkeling mask).

Dry Top technology stops water from entering into the mask through the snorkel.

Built in safety valves, in case of water seeping into the mask.

As a result of a natural breathing action, people using the H2O Ninja Mask® reported up to a 50% increase in snorkeling time compared to a regular snorkel.

HOW DOES THE h2o ninja mask® work?

This is a surface snorkeling mask. As long as the snorkel (yellow part) is above water surface, breathing will be natural, as is on ground. You need to take deep breath before going under water. Depending on how long you can hold breathe, stay under water and start breathing normally once the snorkel is above water surface. As it has dry top technology, water does not seep when completely submerged. This mask is not meant for free diving or spearfishing.

does the h2o ninja mask® HOLD ANY AIR?

No, the H2O Ninja Mask® does not hold any air. The H2O Ninja Mask® has a sophisticated air transport system. As soon as the snorkel is submerged under water, the Dry Top system activates and seals off any air or water from entering.

can i free dive with THE H2O NINJA MASK®?

No, the H2O Ninja Mask® is not made for diving. The pressure sensitive mechanism does not work in a vertical position.

Users can breathe using both nose and mouth under water. This is what our bodies are acclimatized to do on land.

Eliminates the need to put the mouthpiece directly in the mouth.

Increases the view angle up to 180 degrees.

Drastically reduced fogging (compared to a normal snorkeling mask).

Dry Top technology stops water from entering into the mask through the snorkel.

Built in safety valves, in case of water seeping into the mask

As a result of a natural breathing action, people using the H2O Ninja Mask® reported up to a 50% increase in snorkeling time compared to a regular snorkel.

HOW DEEP CAN I GO WITH THE h2o ninja mask®?

The H2O Ninja Mask® is specifically designed for snorkeling. Pressure can build up in the H2O Ninja Mask® over depths of 8-10 feet. Since there is no built in mechanism to equalize pressure, we strongly recommend not going any deeper than 8-10 feet.

what mask size SHOULD I CHOOSE?

Step 1. Measure the distance from nose bridge to bottom of the chin. Step 2. If the distance is less than 12 cms or 4.8 inches, choose Small/Medium. Step 3. If the distance is more than 12 cms or 4.8 inches, choose Large/XL.

DOES MY BEARD EFFECT the h2o ninja mask®?

THE H2O Ninja Mask® can perform optimally when worn on up to a 2-day old beard and/or a fully grown mustache.

The Cadillac of Pilates

The word Cadillac conjures up big convertible cars with fins, electric windows and fancy hub caps. That is why this piece of Pilates equipment is named the Cadillac — it has all the bells and whistles you could possibly want.

There are so many elements to the machine: leg springs, arm springs, fuzzy loops to hang from, a push-through bar to stretch you out, and even a trapeze. The trapeze was the original add on accessory to the machine which is why it is also known as a “trap” table. As a piece of equipment it looks pretty intimidating – it is about 6 feet tall. When folks first see it they often laugh uncomfortably and joke that it looks like a medieval torture device or kinky sex playground – and the name trap table just feeds into those thoughts. So Cadillac it is.

Pilates lore has it that eponymous Joe created the prototype Cadillac to enable bed ridden patients to exercise. His design was simple – a hospital bed with mattress springs attached to the wall. The design has definitely evolved over the years and and so have the exercises and stretches one can do on the Cadillac.

You can isolate almost every muscle group on the machine – it is an excellent tool for breaking down motion into small pieces to restore correct motion patterns. Using the leg springs is one of the best ways to get runners to fully use their hamstrings. This little video is a leg springs exercise.

Because the Cadillac is such a large piece of equipment it is rarely used in group classes. So the best way to experience this machine is in a private Pilates session. Some studios offer “Wall Unit” classes. A Wall Unit has one side of the Cadillac mounted on a wall – good for home use too. 

The Liver: A ‘Blob’: That Runs the Body

The underrated, unloved liver performs more than 300 vital functions. 

No wonder the ancients believed it to be the home of the human soul. To the Mesopotamians, the liver was the body’s premier organ, the seat of the human soul and emotions. The ancient Greeks linked the liver to pleasure: The words hepatic and hedonic are thought to share the same root.

The Elizabethans referred to their monarch not as the head of state but as its liver, and woe to any people saddled with a lily-livered leader, whose bloodless cowardice would surely prove their undoing.

Yet even the most ardent liverati of history may have underestimated the scope and complexity of the organ. Its powers are so profound that the old toss-away line, “What am I, chopped liver?” can be seen as a kind of humblebrag.

After all, a healthy liver is the one organ in the adult body that, if chopped down to a fraction of its initial size, will rapidly regenerate and perform as if brand-new. Which is a lucky thing, for the liver’s to-do list is second only to that of the brain and numbers well over 300 items, including systematically reworking the food we eat into usable building blocks for our cells; neutralizing the many potentially harmful substances that we incidentally or deliberately ingest; generating a vast pharmacopoeia of hormones, enzymes, clotting factors and immune molecules; controlling blood chemistry; and really, we’re just getting started.

“We have mechanical ventilators to breathe for you if your lungs fail, dialysis machines if your kidneys fail, and the heart is mostly just a pump, so we have an artificial heart,” said Dr. Anna Lok, president of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and director of clinical hepatology at the University of Michigan.
“But if your liver fails, there’s no machine to replace all its different functions, and the best you can hope for is a transplant.”

And while scientists admit it hardly seems possible, the closer they look, the longer the liver’s inventory of talents and tasks becomes. In one recent study, researchers were astonished to discover that the liver grows and shrinks by up to 40 percent every 24 hours, while the organs around it barely budge.

Others have found that signals from the liver may help dictate our dietary choices, particularly our cravings for sweets, like a ripe peach or a tall glass of Newman’s Own Virgin Limeade — which our local supermarket chain has, to our personal devastation, suddenly stopped selling, so please, liver, get a grip.

Scientists have also discovered that hepatocytes, the metabolically active cells that constitute 80 percent of the liver, possess traits not seen in any other normal cells of the body. For example, whereas most cells have two sets of chromosomes — two sets of genetic instructions on how a cell should behave — hepatocytes can enfold and deftly manipulate up to eight sets of chromosomes, and all without falling apart or turning cancerous.

That sort of composed chromosomal excess, said Dr. Markus Grompe, who studies the phenomenon at Oregon Health and Science University, is “superunique,” and most likely helps account for the liver’s regenerative prowess.

Scientists hope that the new insights into liver development and performance will yield novel therapies for the more than 100 disorders that afflict the organ, many of which are on the rise worldwide, in concert with soaring rates of obesity and diabetes.

“It’s a funny thing,” said Valerie Gouon-Evans, a liver specialist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “The liver is not a very sexy organ. It doesn’t look important. It just looks like a big blob.

“But it is quietly vital, the control tower of the body,” and the hepatocytes that it is composed of “are astonishing.”

The liver is our largest internal organ, weighing three and a half-pounds and measuring six inches long. The reddish-brown mass of four unevenly sized lobes sprawls like a beached sea lion across the upper right side of the abdominal cavity, beneath the diaphragm and atop the stomach.

The organ is always flush with blood, holding about 13 percent of the body’s supply at any given time. Many of the liver’s unusual features are linked to its intimate association with blood.

During fetal development, blood cells are born in the liver, and though that task later migrates to the bone marrow, the liver never loses its taste for the bodywide biochemical gossip that only the circulatory system can bring.

Most organs have a single source of blood. The liver alone has two blood supplies, the hepatic artery conveying oxygen-rich blood from the heart, the hepatic portal vein dropping off blood drained from the intestines and spleen. That portal blood delivers semi-processed foodstuffs in need of hepatic massaging, conversion, detoxification, storage, secretion, elimination.

“Everything you put in your mouth must go through the liver before it does anything useful elsewhere in the body,” Dr. Lok said.

The liver likes its bloodlines leaky. In contrast to the well-sealed vessels that prevent direct contact between blood and most tissues of the body, the arteries and veins that snake through the liver are stippled with holes, which means they drizzle blood right onto the hepatocytes.

The liver cells in turn are covered with microvilli — fingerlike protrusions that “massively enlarge” the cell surface area in contact with blood, said Dr. Markus Heim, a liver researcher at the University of Basel.

“Hepatocytes are swimming in blood,” he said. “That’s what makes them so incredibly efficient at taking up substances from the blood.”

As the master sampler of circulating blood, the liver keeps track of the body’s moment-to-moment energy demands, releasing glucose as needed from its stash of stored glycogen, along with any vitamins, minerals, lipids, amino acids or other micronutrients that might be required.

New research suggests the liver may take a proactive, as well as a reactive, role in the control of appetite and food choice.

Humans are famously fond of sweets, for example, presumably a legacy of our fruit-eating primate ancestors. But to gorge on sugar-rich foods, even in the relatively healthy format of a bucketful of Rainier cherries, could mean neglecting other worthy menu items.

Reporting in the journal Cell Metabolism, Matthew Gillum of the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues showed that after exposure to a high-sugar drink, the liver seeks to dampen further sugar indulgence by releasing a signaling hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21, or FGF21.

The effort is not always successful. For reasons that remain unclear, the hormone comes in active and feeble varieties, and the researchers found that people with a mutant version of FGF21 confessed to a lifelong passion for sweets.

The scientists are searching for other liver-borne hormones that might influence the hunger for protein or fat.

“It makes sense that the liver could be a nexus of metabolic control,” Dr. Gillum said. “At some level it knows more than the brain does about energy availability, and whether you’re eating too many pears.”
The liver also keeps track of time. In a recent issue of the journal Cell, Ulrich Schibler of the University of Geneva and his colleagues described their studies of the oscillating liver, and how it swells and shrinks each day, depending on an animal’s normal circadian rhythms and feeding schedule.
The researchers found that in mice, which normally eat at night and sleep during the day, the size of the liver expands by nearly half after dark and then retrenches come daylight. The scientists also determined the cause of the changing dimensions.
“We wanted to know, is it just extra water or glycogen?” Dr. Schibler said. “Because that would be boring.”
It wasn’t boring. “The total gemish, the total soup of the liver turns out to be different,” he said. Protein production in mouse hepatocytes rises sharply at night, followed by equivalent protein destruction during the day.

Evidence suggests that a similar extravaganza of protein creation and destruction occurs in the human liver, too, but the timing is flipped to match our largely diurnal pattern.

The researchers do not yet know why the liver oscillates, but Dr. Schibler suggested it’s part of the organ’s fastidious maintenance program.

“The liver gets a lot of bad stuff coming through,” he said. “If you damage some of its components, you need to replace them.” By having a rhythm to that replacement, he said, “you keep the liver in a good state.”

Adding to the liver’s repair protocol, Dr. Grompe of Oregon Health and Science University said, is the extreme plasticity of hepatocytes.

He and others have shown that, through their extraordinary ability to handle multiple sets of chromosomes and still perform and divide normally, liver cells become almost like immune cells — genetically diverse enough to handle nearly any poison thrown at them.

“Our ancestors didn’t have healthy refrigerated food,” he said. “They ate a lot of crap, probably literally, and the liver in prehistoric times was continuously bombarded with toxins. You need every mechanism there is to adapt to that.”

The liver rose to the evolutionary challenge. So yes, I’m chopped liver — and proud.

Article in New York Times by Natalie Angier

The Mind-Body Practice That Can Help You Survive Any Loss Or Struggle

Growing up in a family of five girls, all born within eight years, I learned to act in ways that pleased others, which led to a pattern of storing anger and sadness in my body. It was an unconscious kind of pattern. I found exercise to be a helpful stress relief as I became a young adult. The younger me seemed to be always focused on doing, and I felt like I had to be moving, always.

My 40th year was not an easy one. I was going through a divorce when I learned that my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She later passed away. Facing such devastating losses in such a short period led to my feeling like I was standing in quicksand some days. The grief would overcome me, and I was not able to move.

Shortly after my mom died, I had started walking with some girlfriends. I thought I was slowing down my life, but this exercise outlet still had a competitive feel. I injured my back after our second half-marathon—to the point of being unable to walk on my right foot. Some days I wasn’t able to stand upright fully and other days I stayed in bed due to pain. I spent years in rehabilitation, all the while not being able to relieve my stress through my normal exercise routine.

One day, I got a call from my friend Stephie. She said she was coming to visit me in four days and asked me to find a Bikram yoga studio nearby for us to attend Saturday and Sunday.

Several times in my 30s, friends recommended I try yoga. The thought kind of made me laugh to myself. I couldn’t imagine standing still long enough to get through a yoga class. It seemed so slow to me. But, if you know Stephie, you know that it wasn’t really a request.

So, there I was, finally about to try yoga—something I’d laughed at for many years.

If you’re not familiar with Bikram yoga, it takes place in a 104-degree heated room with 26 postures over a 90-minute period. In my first class, I made it through the first few postures, wondering why everything was so slow. I quickly became very sick to my stomach and lay down on my mat, doing my best not to throw up. I wanted to leave, but the instructor recommended I stay in the room. It felt like Chinese water torture.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was starting a practice of stillness and inching my way toward mindfulness.

We went back the next morning, and I was able to complete a few more postures and felt less sick to my stomach. As I said goodbye to Stephie that afternoon, she directed me to go back to the class every day that week. She didn’t say why, just that it was what I needed. I willingly followed her recommendation because I was already starting to feel ever-so-slightly different.

After my fifth day of Bikram yoga, I became very emotional in the early afternoon. I felt a well of tears rising in my throat. I started crying and continued crying all afternoon and into the evening. I didn’t even know why I was crying. It was an uncontrollable release of something from my body.

I realize now that my practice of stuffing feelings down inside myself was giving way to something healthier for my body. I woke up the next day and my heart felt lighter and my step was a little more joyful—something I had not remembered feeling in a long time. While my back was a little stiff with some pain, it was minimal compared to what I had been experiencing.

I was drawn back to many more yoga classes from that day forward and added Vinyasa Power Flow to my practice. I’ve found that each type of yoga serves a different purpose, helping my body in different ways. Every type, however, requires mindfulness and stillness and served to bring me closer to healing.

As my teacher Josh says, yoga is measured in breaths. “No breath, no life, no breath, no yoga,” is his mantra. Yoga is not a competition, event, or destination; it is a practice. Through practice, one’s focus and agility is altered ever so slightly. As I have continued my yoga practice, I have expanded my ability to be fully present in the moment, not focused on time or what I need to get done that day.

My mind is quiet, as it is solely focused on each muscle holding the posture. The imperceptible movement of my leg in a posture I have been practicing for years fills my heart with a calming, peaceful warmth—a kind of gratitude that I did something for myself.

Nine months ago, my sister Susan (18 months my senior) died suddenly. It was another devastating loss that cut me to my core once again, leading me to question life. On my worst days, my children would tell me to go to yoga. They had watched me navigate difficult job changes and survive more losses of the heart by leaning on my yoga practice.

And while the grieving process continues, I heal more each day from her loss. The mindfulness that I achieve through yoga enables me to move through each day with a little more joy and grace.

KEEP READING: #healing #death #fitness #wellness 

Article by Rebecca Whitehead Munn

Rebecca Whitehead Munn, MBA is the general manager of a healthcare services business for an employee-owned boutique consulting firm. When she’s not at her day job, she enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her friends and family, practicing yoga, snow skiing, golfing and entertaining. She currently lives in Nashville.…

It’s Not About The Reformer: How Pilates Takes a 360 Degree Approach To Health and Wellness

In Lance Armstrong’s 2001 autobiography, It’s Not About The Bike, the pro cycler depicts his inspiring journey from cancer diagnosis to Tour De France champion. He helps us to understand how the miles on his bike led him to a state of enlightenment far more powerful than any victory ever had. His words resonated with me, particularly because throughout my many years of teaching Pilates to people of all ages and abilities, I continue to witness a similar kind of mind/body/spirit transformation in my Pilates clients.

Pilates founder Joseph Pilates believed that our physical and mental health are closely connected, and as a result, centered his method on principles that provided both internal and external benefits. Initially, such benefits are generally physical. We feel more toned, more flexible, stronger and leaner. Most people will admit that they started Pilates to develop a body like J-Lo but notice that as they continue to practice the method a transformation far more powerful takes place. We notice that stretching becomes less of a chore and more of a stimulating and relaxing experience. Pain and stiffness begins to ease and physical activity outside the studio increases. As physical activity increases so does our self-esteem and self-confidence. As we learn to control our bodies on the equipment we learn to control our minds off the equipment. We learn how to function more efficiently in the real world thus helping us achieve a positive life.

Pilates isn’t just about going through the motions of the exercises; it is about practicing the method through mindfulness and conscious movement. The more we learn how to fine-tune our movement on the reformer (a machine we use to help us develop good alignment, core strength and flexibility), the more we will gain self-awareness of our movements off the reformer. This awareness creates a better understanding of how our bodies function…how we sit, walk, bend, lift, run, as well as how to create a more efficient and effective way of moving thereby decreasing injury and improving quality of life.

When you ask your body to learn a new exercise or place your body in a posture that is foreign or outside your comfort zone, your body/fascia (the tissue enclosing a muscle) learns how to take a new shape. Learning new movements not only helps your physical body take new shape but it also helps your mind take a new shape. As you gain strength in your body you will find peace in your mind. As you release tension in your body you will learn to free your mind. You learn how to let go and allow yourself the opportunity to overcome obstacles, both physical and mental; that can limit us from thriving in our daily lives. This type of mental focus helps us become more mindful. Mindfulness allows us to pay attention to our feelings, perceptions and judgments…all of which help us tap into our inner truth and peace.

What most people try to get out of other exercise forms for decades, some can achieve with Pilates in just a few months. There is definitely a fitness activity of choice out there for everyone – one that’s enjoyable and that produces results – but what Pilates can do for you is so much more than getting you back in your skinny jeans (although it certainly helps with that too!). Knowing how to use your body and mind properly and efficiently is the basis for enjoying physical activity over the course of a lifetime and a key to loving your body no matter what.

If you ask me, Mr. Pilates knew what he was doing when he so appropriately named one of his apparatuses the “reformer.” And that’s because his method can truly reform you into YOUR BEST SELF – physically, mentally and spiritually. And what could be better than that?
In Health,

Christa Gurka, MSPT, PMA®-CPT

How Pilates Helps Athletes

Professional athletes of all kinds have discovered that adding Pilates to their training can improve performance, reduce injury, speed recovery and help their hardworking bodies stay balanced and healthy (Caple 2016; Knowlton 2016; Knowles 2016; Saxon 2016). For recreational athletes or simply athletic clients in general, Pilates can provide the same benefits professional athletes enjoy. A well-rounded program, particularly one offered in a fully equipped Pilates studio, can do wonders for athletic clients of almost any age, ability or sport. Let’s look more closely at the advantages.
Multiple Benefits for Recreational

Pilates is a whole-body exercise system that can develop strength, functional flexibility, coordination and balance in athletes wanting to improve their skills or in clients returning to an activity after an injury or a hiatus. Here’s how.
Builds a Good Foundation

According to Jonathan Hoffman, PT, developer of the CoreAlign® training system that categorizes exercise methods as foundation training, fix techniques or fun activities (Hoffman 2016), Pilates is a type of foundation training.

Foundation training denotes an exercise method that works to consciously improve movement quality in a safe, effective manner. It is distinct from the fix techniques used in rehabilitation and from fun activities performed with minimal conscious thought. As foundation training, Pilates helps clients improve their movement patterns by engaging the mind to change the body. Helping clients to feel their imbalances and teaching them how to improve them is a key element of Pilates and of mind-body training in general.

One good case study of effective foundation training involves a client of mine I’ll call Alice. She was moderately overweight and walked with her hips in external rotation. Alice decided to join Team in Training and work toward running a marathon. She had never been much of a runner or an athlete, and she was 38 years old. Through Pilates, she worked on aligning her legs in a more parallel position, stabilizing her core, and developing strength and endurance in her lower body. Pilates, combined with the coaching she received from her Team in Training mentor, allowed her to run a full marathon 8 months later without significant injuries.
Improves Core Strength and Lumbo-Pelvic Stability

Pilates teachers often use lumbar stabilization exercises and concepts in their sessions, and many Pilates exercises incorporate lumbar or lumbo-pelvic stabilization. In athletic clients, greater stability in the lumbo-pelvic and hip regions can increase flexibility, generate power for throwing or rotational sports, and decrease lower-back pain and injury. A comprehensive Pilates mat or studio-equipment program designed to strengthen the trunk in all planes of motion can improve dynamic stability in the core. The emphasis Pilates places on the core, or “powerhouse,” provides an environment for safely developing a base level of lumbo-pelvic stability (Kloubec 2010; Phrompaet et al. 2011). As athletic clients improve their skills, challenges such as standing exercises, plank-based exercises, free weights and unstable surfaces can be added to provide a higher level of difficulty.
Develops Sport Skills

Coaching in specific sport skills may be limited or nonexistent for recreational athletes. A good Pilates teacher with skills or experience in a client’s activity of choice can act as a coach to help the client develop particular skills and optimize movement patterns. For example, if a client who played baseball or softball in college decides to join a recreational league in his or her late 30s, a Pilates teacher can work on leg alignment, strength and balance for running and core support and can help to develop balance in rotation for throwing. A good teacher who understands the demands of an activity can analyze the strength, range of motion, coordination and movement patterns necessary for success and can use the flexibility of the Pilates environment to tailor exercises to the client’s sport. A Pilates expert can also address any physical limitations that may hamper the client’s chances of success.

Balances the Body; Counteracts the Effects of Training

Many recreational or occasional athletes develop muscle imbalances and poor posture from combining a sedentary occupation with their sport. For example, bicycling has become the sport of choice for many middle-aged men and women. Cycling has obvious cardiorespiratory, strength and endurance benefits, but as a repetitive activity it puts strain on the lumbar spine, neck, shoulders, arms and legs. Combining daily work sitting at a desk with hours on a bicycle in deep hip flexion can decrease flexibility in the hip flexors and lower back, leading to stress in these areas. An appropriate Pilates program would emphasize hip, lumbar and thoracic extension to counteract the effects of repetitive stress in a seated position.

The same principle applies to rotational athletes such as tennis players or golfers. The asymmetrical nature of their activities can lead to misalignments and strength imbalances on either side of the body. A specifically designed Pilates program could target the neglected side of the body or work on the opposite movement pattern to cross-train the body and improve symmetry.
For more information (including a segment on injury prevention), plus a full reference list, please see “Pilates for Athletic Clients” http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/pilates-for-athletic-clients in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2017 print edition of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

Teaser Position 

Joseph Pilates Teaser Position in Group

The Teaser is a very challenging original pilates exercise that involves abdominal strength, core strength, balance and coordination. To make learning the Teasers easier, this Teaser starts with the legs in the air, roll up to Teaser position using abdominal strength, balance at the top and roll down with control. 

Kate Bush in Teaser Position

The Teaser strengthens your core, flattens your abs and make you feel really great when you get it. Watch this fitness how to video and you’ll be toning your body with pilates in no time.

Pilates vs Yoga: Which One is the Best for You?

More and more people who are contemplating on getting into these workouts are also asking how to remove wrinkles with either yoga or pilates.

When choosing between these two workouts, you need to consider at least 7 major differences between the two. Here are 7 facts you need to consider to help you determine the better workout that will give you the results that you want to see:

1. Yoga integrates three elements in its poses — mind, body and spirit. On the other hand, pilates brings together your mind and body only. Nevertheless, both activities highlight the need to strike a balance in your life.

2. Both forms of workout train your mind and body different skills. In the case of yoga, the learning involves the mind too, that is, by learning meditation. Yoga has very ancient origins that is closely linked to the practices of two of the world’s oldest religions, Buddhism and Hinduism. With constant practice, yoga teaches you proper relaxation, balancing your health in all three aspects, enhances your optimism, and teaches you better ways to manage stress and your life as a whole.

Pilates, on the other hand, is focused on attaining core strength. Over time, you can expect to achieve better mind and body coordination, and better focus.

3. Yoga treats all parts of your body equally and trains all of it intensively. Yoga focuses on training you to support your own body weight and in strengthening all of your body parts using only your body as a tool. Pilates, on the contrary, is focused on strengthening the abdominal area, using your body but also crossing it with tools already widely used in the gym for stretching purposes like the balance ball and elastic restraints.

4. Both exercises build your strength. Except, yoga builds on your stamina, and we mean the full menu of it, that is, the power of your body, mind and spirit. On the other hand, pilates builds on your endurance as these movements involve raising your heart rate with rapid movement repetitions such as leg raising and crunches. An important question you need to ask yourself, therefore, is what will you be working out for? Obviously, you don’t have the energy to target them all.

5. Both workouts build on your balance. Yoga helps you achieve better control of your muscles. With every pose, yoga strengthens your muscles to enable you to achieve a proper center of gravity with every movement, and give you better confidence in your movements by strengthening each muscle group.

Pilates focuses on correcting bad posture and in attaining proper body coordination that will help you avoid possible injuries.

6. Yoga involves meditation. Yoga has a full set of philosophy attached to it, and that includes harnessing the power of the mind through meditation and mantras. It emphasizes the attainment of balance in your ch’i which can be achieved only by finding your true purpose in the universe and deliver what you came into this life to pursue.

Pilates, on the other hand, can be thought of more as the modern day equivalent of Jane Fonda’s aerobic exercises. The movements will deliberately push you to breathlessness.

7. Both exercises can help you relieve stress. If you spend your day sitting in tensed meetings and want to exercise to relax and de-stress then, yoga will be the more appropriate activity for you. The slow and gentle stretching movements help you achieve that. However, if you want raised intensity in your movements then, pilates is your better match. Don’t worry because both exercises will teach you how to remove wrinkles simply by staying active.


If you can’t choose between pilates and yoga, you can always make room for both, supermodel Behati Prinsloo does both to prepare for fashion shows. For the non-believers in the power of workout to improve your skin, Cameron Diaz writes in her second book, “The Longevity Book, “aging isn’t just about your face…it’s about your whole body. And how you take care of your whole body will affect each and every one of your parts, inside and out.”

The Amazing Pilates Reformer: An Intro to the Use and Benefits of the Pilates Reformer


By Marguerite Ogle

There is probably no piece of Pilates equipment more famous than the Pilates reformer and for good reasons. The reformer makes a dramatic impression when you first see one, and an even more dramatic change in the body when you use it.
Reformers are lined up in Pilates studios all over the world. Reformer classes are usually one of the main choices at Pilates studios. And portable reformers continue to grow as a home exercise equipment trend.

So what makes the reformer so special? First, let’s get an idea of what a reformer is and how it works, then we’ll look at the benefits a reformer might have for your body.
What Is a Pilates Reformer?

Invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates, the reformer is a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage, which rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the reformer by a set of springs. The springs provide choices of differing levels of resistance as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame. The carriage has shoulder blocks on it that keep a practitioner from sliding off the end of the reformer as they push or pull the carriage.
At the spring end of the reformer, there is an adjustable bar called a footbar. The footbar can be used by the feet or hands as a practitioner moves the carriage. The reformer also has long straps with handles on them that are attached to the top end of the frame.

They can be pulled with legs or arms to move the carriage as well. Body weight and resistance of the springs are what make the carriage more or less difficult to move. Reformers parts are adjustable for differing body sizes and differing levels of skill.
How Is a Reformer Used?

One of the best things about the reformer is its versatility. Exercises can be done lying down, sitting, standing, pulling the straps, pushing the footbar, perched on the footbar, perched on the shoulder blocks, with additional equipment, upside down, sideways and all kinds of variations. In other words, the reformer can train many parts and dynamics of the body in so many different ways with just one relatively sleek piece of equipment.
All kinds of exercises are done on the reformer to promote length, strength, flexibility, and balance. Most Pilates reformer exercises have to do with pushing or pulling the carriage or holding the carriage steady during an exercise as it is pulled on by the springs.

There are many, many reformer exercises, including those for first-time beginners to exercises that challenge the most advanced practitioners. For example, see a beginner Pilates reformer workout and an intermediate Pilates reformer rowing exercise workout.
What Are the Benefits of Pilates Reformer Exercises?

The reformer offers all the famous benefits of Pilates including overall strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. These things, in turn, lead to daily life improvements like better posture, graceful, efficient movement, and for many, relief from pain associated with physical imbalances such as back pain.

The Pilates powerhouse muscles, the muscles of the core, are paramount for building strength. Flat abs, strong backs, toned buttocks and thighs are all results of this emphasis. Other equipment and Pilates mat exercises do that too, but the reformer creates a unique and varied exercise environment.

The reformer is large enough to accommodate full-range motion which is wonderful for increasing flexibility while building strength. It seems to invite the length we want to create in the body, and it trains the body to sustain that length. Pushing and pulling with legs or arms against the resistance of the springs, carriage, and body weight is generally strength building. The exercises provide enough resistance and movement variety to help build strong bones. And there is a special feature, eccentric muscle contractions. This is when a muscle lengthens as it resists a force. The reformer is a set-up for eccentric contraction. That is one of the keys to achieving the long, strong muscles without bulk that Pilates is known for.

The instability of a rolling carriage with the springs set at different levels of resistance provides all kinds of stability challenges that develop core strength and promote better balance. For example, having less of the body on the carriage is one of the ways Pilates exercises get harder. It means more body weight has to be supported by the practitioner, and the body and machine have to be controlled even more from the core. Paradoxically, when the springs are on a lighter setting, some exercises are more challenging for the core because it has to work harder to control and stabilize the movement. The stronger core, the better the balance, posture, and overall well-being.

Exercising with the reformer is possible for anyone, at any level of fitness. It’s no wonder the full name of the reformer is the Universal Reformer.
How to Learn Pilates Reformer Exercises

The best way to learn Pilates reformer is in a class or through private instruction. Once you learn some exercises and begin to understand the foundations of Pilates exercise, it might make sense to buy a Pilates home reformer. Once you are taking a class, you can use our Pilates Beginner Reformer Workout Photo Guide to help you practice. See more about why you need a real, live instructor and your options for taking Pilates reformer classes online.