la playa pilates the beautiful and incredible equipment that whip your body into shape! pilates will change your life! while visiting santa barbara, california i stopped in la playa pilates in montecito and took my first official pilates lesson with one of my best, dearest, and oldest friends colleen ferguson! i knew pilates was going to be a tough workout, but man i was surprised at just how difficult it was! i really enjoyed myself though- i love working my body hard and in new ways :) **a little background info on pilates: these exercises were developed and created by joseph pilates in germany during the 1920's for veterans after world war 1 for rehabilitation. he turned hospital beds into amazing contraptions for exercises emphasizing control, concentration, precision, flowing movements, and correct breathing. he was a firm believer that one's mental health reflects his or her physical health. the central aim of pilates is to fuse the mind and the body, with much focus on the body's core, or powerhouse. (this last part is especially interesting to me as it's much like the foundation of yoga- to unite body and mind, minus all the mysticism.)** joseph pilates with a veteran working on some rehabilitation exercises colleen is a most excellent pilates instructor! she is awesome at explaining how to do a sequence or exercise in detail while challenging you to move and work your body in ways never before! this workout is way more intense than anything i've ever tried before! gym junkies should definitely head to a pilates studio pronto- you get a much more targeted work out. plus, you are stretching throughout the exercise and working with only your own body weight and spring resistance, so injuries in pilates are pretty much nonexistent. the graceful colleen demonstrating a sequence after 1 hour of working basically every muscle in my body; i felt stretched, relaxed, confidant, toned, and very content. if i lived in santa barbara i know i'd be taking at least one class a week with colleen! i'm going to begin searching for a studio in connecticut where i can continue my pilates practice! i'm also going to incorporate more pilates into my yoga practice, thanks to what i learned at la playa. i want to work on my strength in yoga, and build more muscle definition so i can improve in my back bends and inversions! this is going to be fun! another huge thing i learned from col is to breathe more through my chest, expanding through my ribs, while practicing. in yoga i have been doing mostly diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. this type of breathing is great for relaxation, but not as appropriate for working your core and supporting your spine in strengthening postures. i've noticed many yogis that are totally fit, except for a little pot belly, and i always wondered how could this be possible?! no one in that pilates studio had a trace of a belly- just rock hard abs- and this makes sense if one uses pilates breathing while practicing! i'm excited to integrate this into my daily workout! col again showing the beauty of pilates pilates is going to make me a better yogi :) i can't wait for my next class! anyone in the santa barbara area should take a class at la playa! check out their website here for the schedule! ---> la playa pilates california

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