Pilates for Yogis: How Chair Can Help with Handstand
Fuse Pilates instructor Jen René joins the blog for a series of guest posts to explore the ways that Pilates enhances her yoga practice. Jen is the co-founder of Ashtanga Dispatch and the director of the Mysore Program at Flow Yoga Center in Washington, DC. Jen has also been a Pilates practitioner and teacher for more than 10 years and credits Pilates not only for her abs, but also for keeping her in line in yoga. She tells all of her yoga students that navasana just isn't enough. Wellness dominates Jen's life and she credits yoga and Pilates with the essence of her happiness - find out more in today's post! variety of apparatus. First up: practicing pushups on the chair to (finally!) press into a handstand on the mat. If you've never tried the chair class at Fuse, you're in for a treat. No, chairs aren't just for sitting. Chair is one of the most challenging offerings at the studio! See for yourself: Nothing beats the chair for mimicking the movements you need to nail arm balances. To find success with a handstand on the mat, the pushup exercise on the Wunda Chair was just what I needed to achieve a breakthrough. The move teaches you how to stabilize your scapula and round the trunk into a pike position. You can’t do this unless you scoop in your abs VERY deeply. The pedal on the chair makes it easier to float the feet up. Spring resistance eases the legs up, which makes it easier to move the pelvis towards the ceiling and allows you to shift your body weight into your hands. The chair helps to create the sensation that you are levitating upward. Yes, it’s true the springs are doing some of the work for you, but this work trains your body. Your muscles learn the movement and it can be translated onto your mat. Pilates emphasizes scapular stabilization, which helps you activate your upper back and shoulder muscles to avoid sinking through the shoulders. Your rhomboids and serratus will be engaged to achieve this - check out the flexion in my upper back. So, as it turns out, handstands actually don’t have a whole lot to do with the hands - or even the arms for that matter. Like most yoga and Pilates moves, the "secret" is full body integration. Core, back, arms, legs - all the muscles we focus on in our Pilates classes at Fuse - everything has to be coordinated to find the coveted handstand press up. Once you are able to integrate your body - your front side into your back side and pulling everything into your midline - finding a handstand become much easier.Next time we'll explore the reformer. Stay tuned! Check out more videos by Jen on her Instagram page. Ready to give chair a try? We have a 2 for $25 new student special! Sign up online.