There is no shortage of reasons why people suffer from neck pain, but primarily, the root cause is due to improper posture of the spine. The lack of strength from core muscles not supporting the head correctly overtime wreaks havoc on the neck.
You probably guessed it, improper posture is no doubt an outcome of today’s reliance on technology. With the constant checking of smartphones, typing on computers, and driving, plus, the stressful pace of life, people’s posture have suffered and become what is known as a “forward leading head” syndrome. This leads to postures like rounded shoulders, or a kyphotic posture. These actions put way too much stress on the structure of the neck, consequentially leading to many issues like headaches, muscle soreness, pinched nerves and degenerating spinal discs.
These issues quickly become debilitating with pain, making everyday life very miserable.
If you suffer from neck pain, there can be a holistic answer to alleviating the symptoms. At Align, we believe that pilates and yoga can help prevent all of this from happening.
Both modalities of movement are grounded on the premise of correct spinal alignment and achieving a balanced posture. Joseph Pilates, the inventor of the pilates practice, believed that the spine was the key to physical and emotional well-being. He once said“Neutral spine alignment is everything. If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”
Starting with their first pilates session, one is taught how to put their spine into a neutral posture. From this point forward, the exercises are designed to strengthen and enhance correct posture. The belief is that when the stresses of everyday life are occurring, muscles have the strength and stamina to carry one’s head properly on the shoulders. Also, many yoga postures help align and strengthen the back to aid in correct posture.
“Without the accurate spine movement, one can’t exist dynamically,” said BKS Iyengar, the founder of the style of yoga known as “Iyengar Yoga”. He was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world before his passing in 2014.
When dealing with neck issues, strength is important but so is range of motion. Gentle yoga stretches and poses will help achieve suppleness throughout the torso and achieve correct posture. It’s not uncommon for the muscles surrounding the neck and shoulders to take on stress and tighten up. Fortunately, many studies have found that doing mindful breathing and meditation can dramatically reduce stress and tension in muscles. Both Pilates and yoga method address breathing and how it relates to posture. Yoga not only stretches muscles, but also contains a huge meditative component. Again, helping the neck, shoulders, and the mind to work with ease.
Pilates and yoga for the neck is a win-win. Come into Align today and get your head on straight.
If you want to get in shape, better your life, or just need help with finding the best Pilates and yoga experience, connect with Nicole or Cara by calling (949) 481-3577, stop by the studio at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite E-6 in San Juan Capistrano or visit www.alignpilatescenter.com
Pilates and yoga have many of the same goals in mind, especially the purpose to unite the mind, body and spirit.
And at first glance, these mind-body modalities seem nearly identical. Both use the body’s own resistance to build physical strength, flexibility, and help reduce stress. But the origins, intentions, and application of practicing yoga and Pilates are very different. At Align it’s these differences that give value to both activates, and is why we believe the combo of doing both yoga and Pilates Mat, compliment each other greatly. Together they truly help produce overall wellness!
Both practices are categorized as “mind-body” exercise, because they focus on the mind’s ability to control and guide the physical body. Allowing practitioners to gain self-confidence and poise in their movement, but also in their everyday life. Both yoga and Pilates concentrate on building physical strength, flexibility, and full-body coordination. Also, both apply methods of breath control, which in turn has a calming effect. Each practice provides a number of mind-body benefits, but the approaches differ. Let us explore these differences to gain deeper understanding as to why both are worth doing.
Yoga’s holistic approach to wellness is in a multi-part system and goes beyond just stretching. It’s a mental and physical practice originating in India around 5,000 years ago. It includes philosophy, meditation, breath work, lifestyle and behavior principles, plus exercises called poises. Yoga’s history is vast and complex, with hundreds of texts, teachers, and traditions. Today’s western yoga is a result of merging these philosophies over thousands of years. Allowing for many different styles and levels of yoga, making it suitable of all walks of life.
Joseph H. Pilates form Germany at the turn of the 19th century, created a movement system called Contrology. He developed the practice as a way to rehabilitate wounded soldiers. After relocated to the United States before World War II, dancers began to learn his techniques. They quickly adopted the Pilates system and used it to cross train, and prevent injuries. In the 1990’s is when Pilates really became mainstream, and hitting the fitness market.
Because Pilates is based on rehabilitation, the exercises strongly focus on core strength and stability, correct alignment of joints, an overall body posture and coordination. Making the method suitable for anyone to participate in. Additionally, there are principles to Pilates- Awareness, centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow. When these principles are applied to movement, major health benefits are achieved.
With the differences of application, Yoga and Pilates work well as complementary practices. This Ying and yang allows one to reap the benefits of both modalities, and truly enhance one’s mind, body and spirit. At Align we offer both methods of movement, plus special classes that combined the two. Look on the schedule this fall for Pilates and Yoga Fusion Mat classes.
If you want to get in shape, better your life, or just need help with finding the best Pilates and yoga experience, connect with Nicole or Cara by calling (949) 481-3577, stop by the studio at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite E-6 in San Juan Capistrano or visit www.alignpilatescenter.com
In the medical and science field, research is finding the act of meditating contains a multitude of health benefits.
These studies are discovering that the many forms of meditation drastically offset the effects of stress and aging at a cellular level. So much so that some doctors and scientist are proclaiming meditation could be the future of medicine.
For example, a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, looked at 201 people with coronary heart disease. And asked them to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise, or one on Transcendental Meditation. Researchers followed up with participants for the next five years and found that those who took the meditation class had a 48 percent reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.
Many more studies like these are being conducted and continue to prove the benefits of meditation. The best part is that mediation is easy! Anyone can do it. Any preconceived ideas about meditation should be forgotten. Meditation is a practice that helps us take a break from the hectic pace of everyday life. It doesn’t require a specific spiritual belief, even a few minutes of meditation helps, and you don’t even have to be sitting in an awkward lotus position to start soaking in the positive vibes.
There are many different forms of mediation backed by doctors and scientists like “Mindful Meditation” and “Transcendental Meditation”. These same doctors and scientists also recognize “mindful” movement like tai chi, Pilates, and yoga as a form of meditation. In the end, all types of meditation result in taking us beyond the noisy chatter of the mind into a place of stillness and silence. Meditation is where the brain and the body can connect, and begin to restore the body to create a better quality of life. Here are 3 simple ways to start meditating today...
1. Start the Day Slowly - Before jumping out of bed to frantically get on with your busy life, just a take a few minutes to calmly say or write 3 positive things that are happening in your life. Let this positivity guide you through the rest of your day.
2. Breathe! - At any point in the day just pause and notice how you are breathing. Focus on how your body reacts to inhaling and exhaling. Then go beyond noticing and start to breathe bigger. Take a full inhale, pause, then exhale all the air out and repeat this for a minute or so. Notice the difference and go on with your day.
3. Join a Class - Find a studio that offers meditation classes. An instructor will be able to help you learn techniques in meditation. Plus, you are dedicating time to learn the practice. The more you do it, the easier, and healthier you will be. So come and combat aging, release stress and meditate with us at Align Pilates and Yoga Center.
If you want to get in shape, better your life, or just need help with finding the best Pilates and yoga experience, connect with Nicole or Cara by calling (949) 481-3577, stop by the studio at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite E-6 in San Juan Capistrano or visit
NEW MEDITATION CLASS ON FRIDAYS AT 12 NOON
The Pilates Day mission is to foster the public’s appreciation, and awareness to the Pilates Method. Through a network of varied, innovative, and high quality grassroots Pilates events, that are taking place around the world and accessible and affordable for all.
Align Pilates and Yoga is excited to be participating in this world-recognized event. To be part of this exciting day, it’s paramount for Align to explain what the hoopla with Pilates is all about. Pilates is truly for any and everybody! In its simplest form it’s a resistance-based method of exercise that focuses on stability of the core, and mobility of the joints, all the while achieving a full body workout. Of course, like many other types of movement Pilates goes beyond just moving for movement sake, and is more complex with it’s own philosophy of breath to movement.
It all started in the late 1800’s with German-born man, Joseph Pilates. He created a form of exercise he dubbed “Contrology.” As a child, he was afflicted with asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. He quickly became determined to overcome his physical disadvantages. Therefore Joseph began to self-educate himself in anatomy, bodybuilding, wrestling, yoga, gymnastics, and martial arts. He was inspired by the classical Greek ideal of a man- who is balanced equally in body, mind, and spirit. Pilates believed that everyone should strive for this ideal, and that our modern lifestyle, bad posture, and inefficient breathing were the roots of society’s poor health.
His answer to these problems was to design a unique series of physical exercises to correct muscular imbalances and improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as to increase breathing capacity and organ function. He invented two separate ways to his method. First the mat portion, which uses body weight and gravity to help create resistance while doing exercises on the floor. The second, he invented a variety of machines based on spring-resistance, which could be used to perform these exercises. And the method also centered on the concept of mindfulness. The combination of all these qualities is what gives Pilates its depth and complexity.
Joseph Pilates died on October 9, 1967 in New York City at the age of 84. But his method still lives strong today. One can find Pilates studios all over the world, DVD’s, books and websites just dedicated to the method. Today, many famous athletes, dancers, models, and actors — as well as business professionals, housewives, and retirees have participated to only improve their lives with Pilates.
According to the America Academy of Pediatrics, all children ages two and older should participate in at least 60 minutes every day of enjoyable, moderate to intense physical activities, that are developmentally appropriate and varied.
As adults we understand exercise is an important part of our health and well-being. Unfortunately our understanding does nothing for school budgets that are forced to cut physical education from curriculums. An addition, the over reliance on technology is truly placing kids motionless in front of screens for hours at a time. This lack of exercise in our youth is creating a steady decline in physical health, and a rise in self-confidence issues. YIKES! Thus, creating the inspiration behind Align’s Teen and Kid Core program. The heart of the program is based on the principles of Pilates and yoga, to inspire and teach children about compassion for one’s self, and others. All the while being a fun, inviting, and positive environment.
Regular movement and exercise will help counter the current negative trends of self-confidence and health issues. Studies have proven exercise helps improve mood, reduces stress, increases blood flow to the brain, boost the immune system, and reduces the symptoms of depression. Physical exercise combined with a mindful practice, like yoga or Pilates is known to also have profound effects on one’s well being. Yoga and Pilates go beyond the basic physical aspect of exercise, and apply an element of mental awareness to how we stand, walk, and move in daily life. This builds strength, flexibility, balance, and teaches compassion and confidence for the whole self. Making both modalities amazing opportunities for our youth.
The philosophy of nurturing ones physical, emotional, and spiritual self through mindful movement is one of the core values at Align. This combined with our passion for the youth, the Teen/Kid Core program uses these principles to empower children, and improve their self worth. Align’s Kid Core is a mat style class, encompassing both Pilates and yoga for ages 5-11. Teaching children the foundations of core strength, body awareness, and the power of linking breath to movement. The Teen Core class for ages 12 to 18 incorporates the concepts of yoga, the strength of the Pilates equipment, and Pilates mat principles to help inspire adolescent to be confident in their everyday activities. Both programs use movement to help children to realize their individuality, strength, and compassion to help build self-esteem. The program believes every child can define who they want to be, rise above any challenge, and change the world for the better with mindful movement. This is a powerful message to give the youth...especially in our image, and overly techno driven society.
Help your child to be strong, confident, and independent. Give them the tools they need for a healthy and successful future, by encouraging them to participate in mindful movement classes today.
February is national Heart Health Awareness month and at Align we are excited to participate. According to the American Hearth Association, someone dies from heart disease, stroke or another type of cardiovascular disease every 43 seconds in this country!
Making heart disease the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. But the good news is, it’s one of the most preventable diseases. With a nutrient dense diet, exercise, and meditation a healthy heart is easy to achieve.
Heart Disease is actually a generic term for variety of issues that take place within the Cardiovascular System. The Cardiovascular System is comprised of our blood, the blood vessels, and the heart. The intricate coordination of these three components is truly the life force of the human body. A properly functioning cardiovascular system delivers oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body like the organs, muscles and bones. Making the health of this system crucial to the overall function of the human body, and its wellness.
Defects of the heart present at birth are known as congenital heart defects.
Coronary artery disease, also called coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease, is a condition in which plaque that is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood, builds up inside the coronary arteries. This plaque build-up is called “atherosclerosis”. Plaque can grow large enough to reduce, or completely block blood flow through an artery. This plaque may rupture causing a “blood clot” to form. When the blockage takes place in a blood vessel that feeds the heart, the result is a “heart attack” or depending on the severity, Sudden Cardiac Death. If the plaque build-up or blood clot rupture occurs in the carotid arteries on either side of the neck, this is called Carotid Artery Disease and can result in a “stroke”. Peripheral Arterial Disease is when the major arteries that supply blood to the legs, arms or pelvis are obstructed. If blood flow to any of these areas of the body is reduced or blocked, numbness, pain and sometimes dangerous, infections such as gangrene can occur.
Rest assured! By choosing a heart healthy lifestyle your chances of heart disease are greatly reduced. According to The Heart Foundation, engaging in moderate exercise for 30 minuets a day, 5 days a week is part of a heart healthy lifestyle. Pilates and yoga fit that prescription perfectly. Both Pilates and yoga are systems of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness. Also, chronic stress has been strongly linked as a contributor to heart disease. The enhanced mental awareness, mindfulness, and meditative qualities of Pilates and yoga have proven to offset the negative effects of stress. Thus making both forms of movement a great choice for a healthy heart.
Come and experience Pilates and yoga this month at Align and fill your heart not only with love, but with wellness too.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Scoliosis affects nearly six million people in the U.S. alone. Making it the most common spinal deformity in our society. Scoliosis is a generic term that refers to any imbalanced curvature in the spine due to a genetic predisposition, or habitual muscle patterning.
Either way, exercising has shown to be extremely beneficial in addressing issues associated with Scoliosis. Especially, exercise modalities known to emphasis core strength like Pilates and yoga.
Scoliosis in its simplest terms is a problem of asymmetry. Ideally the right and left sides of the body should be balanced equally with strength, flexibility, and alignment. Scoliosis is classified in two ways, structural or functional. Structural scoliosis is a genetic disturbance in the normal growth pattern of a healthy child.
Approximately 70% of those afflicted are girls, and higher rates of occurrence are evident in young athletes. The highest rates are among female dancers, gymnasts and swimmers. Nonstructural or functional scoliosis is due to imbalanced muscular loading on the spine. It is a reversible curvature that appears in a structurally normal spine. The causes for functional scoliosis can be due to lower limb discrepancy, poor posture, and chronic repetitive motion.
In structural scoliosis, there is generally a predominant C or S curve and several secondary or compensatory curves. The most common curve occurs in the upper part of the thoracic spine. The compensatory curves often develop in the opposite direction either above or below the major curve. The body compensates for these structural misalignments by creating a concave side of the trunk and a convex side of the trunk. The spine is not only curved to the right and left, but usually has rotation or a spiral also. Scoliosis is measured in degrees and is categorized as being mild under 20 degrees, moderate 20–40 degrees, and severe is over 40 degrees.
Surgery may be recommended for severe scoliosis, but only a very small percentage of cases are in this category.
“For the non-operative scoliosis patient there is nothing better than exercise,” says Dr. Ramin Bagheri of the San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders. “My main goal is to the have my patients keep their back muscles, core abdominal muscles and spinal musculature in tip top shape.” He highly recommends Pilates, Yoga, and swimming to his scoliosis patients regularly.
The principles and repertoire found in Pilates and yoga are very detailed in spinal alignment, balance, strength and flexibility. Making them the perfect option to help overcome issues associated with scoliosis. At Align, we strongly advise anyone who has scoliosis to attend private sessions first. Eventually joining classes once they have a clearer understanding of their curvature and the method of movement. Everyone is unique, and so to are the curves in scoliosis. Private sessions will allow one to learn and understand their own body’s curves and imbalances. Giving them the proper tools to combat scoliosis with movement, and produce the best results possible.
Everyday we are inundated with the buzzword “the core.” It’s used everywhere: articles in fitness magazines, segments on the Dr. Oz show, to the coolest personal trainers blasting out core-strengthening exercises. But let’s be honest, you may have a vague notion that your core is somewhere in the middle of your body.
Around your abs perhaps? Close, but it’s more complex than that. From your back, hips, ribs and shoulders, your core muscles make up your entire torso. It’s definitely more than another buzzword.
The muscles involved in the core are there to protect, stabilize and move the torso. The core is an intricate puzzle that gives one the ability to do everyday task like breathing, standing, sitting, twisting and transferring force. And when the entire core is strong and coordinated it allows one to do unbelievable tasks like dancing, surfing or slam dunking a basketball. This is why core strength is so important and has become such a buzzword within the athletic community.
If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old.
If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.
With a firm understanding of what encompasses the core, and how it works, you can stay forever young. The main job of the core is protection. The number one priority is to protect all of the vital organs within the body. The muscles help cushion the organs from getting bruised or damaged when met with force. They also help hold all the organs in place, providing a sound structural body.
The second main purpose of the core is stability. Without stability it would be very hard for one to stand or sit still. Stability aids in proper posture. When posture is jeopardized and deviations are produced major spinal problems like back pain, stenosis and herniation of the disk arise. The core “stabilizers” are designed to hold and put pressure on the spine and organs to keep the body from collapsing in on its self, making the body a sound structure.
The third major role of the core is to produce spinal movement. The muscles allow the spine to move in a three-dimension plane. They let the body bend forwards (flexion), backwards (extension), twist (looking right and left) and side bending (lateral flexion). If the core muscles are not doing their job equally, movement in the body and daily activates will be limited.
Knowing these three major rolls of the core offers a clearer picture of why it’s much more than your abs and belly button. Doing a bunch of sit-ups and crunches isn’t the answer for true core strength. For true core strength—and to reap the benefits of a youthful spine—exercises designed to move the body in all dimensions, create stability and a range of motion is required. Pilates and yoga are the perfect answer. A good quality session in both modalities will address the entire core and ultimately provide one with a long, fitful, happy, youthful life.
Let’s face it life can be pretty repetitive. People tend to be major creatures of habit. From the moment we wake to the time we go to bed, our bodies perform well over 1,000 receptive motions in a day.
Think about typing on the computer, walking the dog, carrying a purse, holding the phone, driving a car, physical labor at work, the list goes on and on. Add to this the fact that most of us do the same workout day in and day out. Over time these actions add up, generating habitual patterns within our muscles and joints leading to chronic pain, over use injuries and poor posture. All of this can make everyday life seem difficult.
But the answer is easy: cross-train! The concept behind cross training is simple. By doing different forms of modalities to counteract the repetitive actions of life. Thus strengthen and stretching the body to prevent injury and improve task performance.
At ALIGN we strongly believe Pilates and yoga is one of the best ways to cross train. Both forms of modalities are smart choices in address overuse injury, spinal deviations and burnout. Here are a few examples how cross training equates to a better quality of life…
• Combat muscle/joint imbalances
When repetitive actions are done without cross training, certain muscle groups become overly develop and others become week and undeveloped. This places undue strain on the skeletal system, generating spinal and joint deviations. Thus opening the door for a gambit of back and joint dysfunction, like Kyphosis (hunchback), Lordosis (swayback) and Scoliosis (sideways curve in the spine).
The concepts of both yoga and Pilates strongly focus on gaining and maintaining a strong core and balanced posture. “The core-strengthening perks of Pilates/yoga can ease pain, improve daily life for people suffering from chronic low-back pain, and offset major postural deviations,” says Cherie Wells, a senior lecturer in physical therapy at Australia’s Griffith University.
• Reduces the risk of injury
Overuse injuries happen when the same action is done repetitively putting major stressors on joints and muscles. Over time muscles and joints can’t sustain and thus leading to inflammation, wear and tear issues like arthritis, tendonitis and other osteopathic problems.
Coincidently with Pilates and yoga, by concentrating on overall symmetry and a balanced posture in the body the risk of overuse injury is minimized as well. Equally balanced muscles surrounding a joint are able to support a body easier. The body is then able to resist chronic issues that arise from repetitive joint motion like arthritis. Over-worked muscles that become tight and hold tension can cause injury as well. Pilates and yoga consists of therapeutic stretching and breathing, which is known to release tension and produce a greater range of motion within joints. Making body move with ease and avoiding inflammation.
• Creates life/exercise adherence
Doing the same activity over and over can lead to exercise burnout. The same can be said about life and everyday activities. When life becomes mundane our minds become less stimulated and boredom arises, leading to stress, depression and other mental health problems.
Both systems of movement possess a variety of approaches and repertoire. In most sessions or classes one won’t experience the same exercises twice, making it hard to get bored. The combination of keeping each session fresh and new, plus linking breathe to movement, one is forced to focus when executing an exercise. This mindful approach to movement is highly recognized for reducing exercise burnout, stress, and depression.
To experience all of the advantages of Pilates and yoga, and properly cross-train for life, it’s important to have quality instruction. Positive results come from a well-structured session taught by a highly qualified and certified instructor, and this can be found at ALIGN. We invite you to come cross train with us and beat the everyday repetitiveness of life.
It takes anywhere from 21 to 40 times to turn a new behavior into a persistent habit. In other words, you’re not going to change what you’re doing overnight. When trying to create a change in your overall health, consistency is the key, but may take some time.
Most of us have the best intentions to exercise, choose the right foods, and make better health decisions. But life happens and it’s hardly easy to maintain the regularity you so desire. Mornings can be slammed getting kids ready for school and yourself ready for work, and by the end of the day you barely have the energy to drag yourself to the dinner table, let alone workout. Before you know it, your good intentioned health plan is in trouble and your prospects for “sticking to it” are quickly fading.
Fear not. With few simple concepts and a little inspiration from Joseph Pilates you can succeed. First, hold yourself accountable to your new habit. Don’t fall in the trap of instant gratification. Trying something three times and saying it didn’t work is not the answer. For example the founder and visionary of the Pilates method, Joseph Pilates states in his book Return To Life Through Contrology,
“In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you’ll have a whole new you!”
This concept can be applied to anything. If you choose to try a new activity like yoga or a new way of eating, challenge yourself to make it happen 30 times. Don’t pressure yourself that you need to do all 30 session instantly or daily, that will only lead to burn out. Slowly build the habit one week at a time adding more as it gets easier. Overtime you will see the change and will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor,” said Pilates.
At Align Pilates Center we strongly believe your health and quality of life is a worthwhile endeavor. Take one small step at a time, be consistent and we are sure you will be successful in finding a new, healthy, happier you.