Yoga and Pilates -Ashley Weber
Guest: Ashley Weber
Podcast Release Date: 9/12/2021
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Welcome to Trulyfit, the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software. Today we talk Yoga and Pilates.
Steve Washuta: Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast I am your host, Steve Washuta, co-founder of Trulyfit and author of Fitness Business 101. On today’s podcast, I speak with Ashley Weber, you can find Ashley at Ashley Weber yoga calm. She also has a podcast called, “Yoga And”. This is her podcast in which every episode she takes a topic and pairs it with yoga: it could be yoga and beer, or yoga and lifting, or yoga and mindfulness. She goes over those topics. So for anybody who is either interested in yoga, or in these other various topics, it’s really for anybody. She’s got a wide spectrum audience and I highly recommend listening to it.
But today specifically, Ashley and I are going to be talking about Pilates and yoga, and mostly the differences between the two. Ashley is going to make her case that you should do both and that they each hit in different areas. We’ll go over both mats versus form when talking about Pilates. In addition, we will discuss different types of yoga classes. Finally, we will go over the brief definition or background of where they were derived from and how they were derived.
What does one provide that the other doesn’t? What does yoga give you that Pilates doesn’t, and vice versa?
Ashley is also going to give some tips for those people who are teaching yoga and Pilates and are maybe new to group class settings or one-on-one settings and want some tips for those who are just thinking about joining in and haven’t taught it yet. She gives some great insights here. With no further ado, here’s Ashley. Ashley, thanks for joining the Trulyfit podcast. It’s great to have you here. Let’s give the audience a background on your professional bio of what got into what you do and what it is that you do in fitness.
Ashley Weber: Well, I absolutely love teaching yoga and pilates. I’ve done it for 14 years. I’m based out of Austin, Texas. I’m also a creator and host of the “Yoga and” podcast. It’s a podcast about yoga and everything related to yoga. I got into Pilates when I was 19. I wanted a strong upper body, and it gave me that.
Then that led to teaching yoga, I found yoga because I had the most unregulated Nervous System ever. My acupuncturist was like, Oh, you need some yoga. So I fell in love with yoga, and now I teach, specifically a really gentle, relaxing kind of yoga. I do that with a harpist. We do events around town, it’s called the Nova Harp. So that’s what I’m known for, in terms of my yoga. Yeah, that’s, that’s a little bit about me and my professional background.
Steve Washuta: Well, we’re gonna jump right into it here. Now that we know that’s what you do-you teach Pilates and yoga, and you’ve been involved in it for years, we’re going to have a bit more of a nuanced conversation. We will chat about the differences between Pilates and yoga if there are any, and why you should only do one or why you should do both.
We’re going to kind of break that conversation down and, and I’ll, I’ll certainly make sure that it’s not easy for you. I’ll poke at you a bit to make it a little bit more difficult. Let’s start right away; it could be your definition, it could be a textbook definition, it could just be descriptors described to somebody who has no idea what these are, which isn’t really this audience. But if we were just going to describe Pilates and yoga, how would you define them?
Ashley Weber: Alright, so Pilates is about 200 years old, it was invented by a man named Joseph Pilates. It’s based on vigorous, low-impact movement. There’s a lot of focus on the core, there is spring resistance, and then there’s mat work, which is just body resistance. It’s what I consider a mind-body practice. But it’s not a mind-body-spirit practice like yoga is. So yoga, on the other hand, was developed 5000 years ago based in Northern India. It’s actually based on these ancient texts called the Vedas. So there’s a whole thing about philosophy in yoga, and actually, if you look at the physical practice of yoga, that’s just one limb out of eight limbs of yoga, right?
There is a bit of a more philosophical spiritual element. There’s mythology, there’s code of conduct, there’s meta metaphysical anatomy, even. They’re both Mind Body practices. But they’re very, very different. In a nutshell, kind of an overview of how I see both yoga and pilates.
Steve Washuta: That makes sense, so they know the commonalities are obviously focused on breathing and core and postural alignment. They are both low impact and balanced. They both have the mind-body, but where you see the differences, they don’t have necessarily both have the spiritual aspect.
Maybe Pilates is just a little bit more focused on the body component. While yoga delves into maybe a little bit more of a psychological and spiritual area.
Ashley Weber: Yeah, and I know we’re gonna go deeper into it. But there’s also a rehabilitative element to Pilates that I’m sure we’ll talk about later.
Steve Washuta: Well, let’s first break down the difference for those who don’t know, you know, let’s say general personal trainers who don’t use Pilates the difference between mat Pilates also known as floor Pilates, and then reformer Pilates, can you describe that,
Ashley Weber: So the mat version is just your own body resistance. You might have a proper to in there that create a little bit of resistance, like a magic circle, if you’ve seen one, it’s a ring, and you press into it, and it creates resistant or Thera band so that you’re just working and you’re working with your own body and space, and you don’t necessarily have a machine putting your body into place for you.
Now you go over to the Pilates machines, you have blocks on the reformer blocks holding your shoulders in place, you have straps in your hands or straps in your feet, you have feedback from the machine. And what’s unique about Pilates machines, like no other machine: springs resistance. So it’s like, what do you think of spring is a big giant spring and there’s resistance in both directions. So as you move the machine out, so you have a strap on your hand and it’s attached to a spring, as you press into that strap, there’s resistance. But as you slowly bring your hand back in, there’s also resistance. That’s a very unique thing about the Pilates equipment is that spring resistance.
Steve Washuta: For those who only see or hear or imagine that that spring resistance is about strength, it’s quite the opposite. So when you lower the spring resistance, most of the exercises become more difficult, because it’s more of a controlling factor, where your breathing and your core and all these things come into play. You know, just to add to that, also it’s sort of counterintuitive a little bit, if you’re a great teacher, you could probably teach all ages and all different modifications in either of those realms.
But if you’re not a great teacher, I think it’s actually easier to teach on the reformer if you have somebody who is older, who has injuries and things of that nature because it’s just a numbers game, the more toys you have to play with, the more options you have, when you’re on the floor, you have fewer options. So there are not as many modifications so so it really is almost more difficult to be a really great floor instructor in my opinion.
Ashley Weber: Yes. Going back to just being the experience I have of being a Pilates teacher, machines are fun, you know like everyone wants to get on that reformer. Adding to your point, it is easier, in a sense, like you have a machine giving you feedback, so you know where you are in space, and then you get on the mat and it’s, it can feel less creative. It’s not you’re not on a big toy anymore, right? So, so yeah, there are people who love the machines really love the machines, and they stick to the machines. I rarely see people, like graduate from the machines and only do mat work, right? Because they love machines.
Steve Washuta: When I say easier, and I imagine you’ll agree here, it’s not easier insofar as the exercises, as the person doing it, you can make the exercises on the machine as hard as any exercise you could ever do in your life. I just mean for the instructor, you have way more options, right? So exactly on the ground on the floor. If you’re only using a Pilates ring and a Thera band and someone’s body and their body has issues, you’re going to be very limited. Exactly. If you’re creative, you have literally endless exercises you can do
Ashley Weber : To your point. Yes, I totally agree with that.
Steve Washuta: So let’s go into what Pilates maybe provides from a physical aspect that yoga doesn’t if anything at all.
Ashley Weber: What’s unique about Pilates is that there’s sometimes this misconception that Pilates is only core. It’s not that it’s not only core but specific cueing on how to engage your core and really almost this minutia of details and pelvic alignment and it’s almost like rehabilitative in that way. There’s a lot of like it’s kind of physical therapist esque Pilates, and so you get a lot of details on exactly how to engage your core.
I feel like yoga doesn’t really touch on or it’s not really the emphasis of your yoga necessarily. You get someone staring you down looking at your alignment and telling you to shift your body, usually in a group Pilates class and in a private Pilates class. There’s a lot of attention on you and your alignment in Pilates.
I think that’s really helpful for people. They also want to notice their alignment, if someone’s staring you down looking at your alignment, you want to also make sure you’re aligned, right? You don’t want to be that one that’s just completely off in the class. So there’s a little bit of that in Pilates, which I think is really unique and interesting. Yoga also has alignment-based practices as well, where there is a focus on alignment, but I think not to the level that Pilates is.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, that’s a great point. I think, you know, adding to that or just piggybacking off of that, in yoga, most of the time, a good instructor or any instructor really does the class with you, they kind of have to write, they have to show the movements, you can, you can verbally talk about the movements.
But really, people are visual in that sense. You don’t know if it’s someone’s first-class or not. You’re going to go through the movements, and in a lot of the Pilates-based teachings, you can go through the movement quickly, and then get out of it as an instructor starts walking around and correcting people, I think, in my opinion, a little bit easier than yoga. So like you said, even if you’re not doing a one on one, even if you’re in a class, you’re much more likely to really be picky about all the different forms and all the things going on. Where in a yoga class, sometimes that’s just too difficult for a yoga teacher to do.
Ashley Weber: You know, and it’s so funny because as somebody who teaches both yoga and pilates, like as a full-time profession, you’re right. I never really thought about it that much. But as a Pilates teacher, I’m rarely demoing, or I’m demoing, but I’m rarely doing the exercise with people. But in yoga, I do full sequences with my students. I don’t sweat as much when I teach Pilates, but I do sweat when I teach yoga.
Steve Washuta: Is there something that yoga provides outside of the spiritual aspect, which we already talked about? Pilates doesn’t whether it’s a purely a strength-based thing, if it’s like, oh, well, you work a little bit more legs there, or we have the ability to go faster or, or use heat in the practice, whatever that is, is there something that you think is important to point out that Yoga has the Pilates might not have
Ashley Weber: So what’s so interesting is that I was a horrible yoga student when I first started yoga, but I was a pretty established Pilates teacher, who had been doing Pilates for years. Why I initially sucked at yoga, is I didn’t do standing postures ever. I didn’t hold still in a warrior one or warrior two. My body wasn’t used to that- balancing on one leg. There’s not a whole lot of balancing poses standing poses or balancing poses in Pilates. There’s a bunch in yoga, and there’s a bunch of new, it’s interesting, they call it poses in yoga, and then they call it exercises in Pilates.
And yoga, it really you are really holding a pose, you’re staying put breathing for a few breaths, and then you move on to the next pose. So there’s this beautiful fluid kind of sequence that you develop, specifically, like in a vinyasa practice or a yoga flow practice, that is kind of like a dance. And in a bit, it’s a skill, it’s a skill, I think it’s something that you have to learn, you know, arm balances is another thing in yoga that Pilates does not have.
The other thing I want to say is, I get a little bit more of a nurturing vibe from yoga, you know, we’re taking time to pause and center before we even move. And then we move and we apply healthy stress to our body healthy postures, or healthy stress or the postures. And then at the end, you know, you always rest in Shavasana. It is a pose about surrender. And so you start with a regulated nervous system, you get a challenging nervous system, and then you end with a regulated nervous system. And I think that’s what’s unique about yoga is the narrative arc of the nervous system. So I think that’s a little different than Pilates.
Steve Washuta: Yeah. And that’s those are all great points. And again, just to add to that, I think, this might also go into that spiritual aspect. In yoga, you can Zen out a bit more than you can in Pilates. If you’re in classical Pilates, which I don’t really teach, I teach the sort of modified whole hobby, but in classical Pilates, the instructors don’t shut up. They’re cueing you every two seconds, right? “Ribs imprinted, point your toes, circle this way, inhale this way, big exhale through, come on up, feet up this way” so they don’t stop talking.
You can’t Zen out, right? You, you have to stay attentive. From a mind-body perspective, you can sort of get into your body, you can close your eyes and try to feel the movements that the instructor talks about, but you can’t totally zone out because you have to take in all those things were in yoga. You know, I’ve been in some yoga classes before, and we’ll talk about this next: the different types of yoga, where there’s one to two, maybe even three minutes where there’s no talking, and I can just kind of hold a movement or sort of getting into a movement. I think that’s a big difference for people who don’t otherwise know that.
Ashley Weber: Yeah, I agree I think what I like about Pilates cueing, where like you’re saying, is that it’s non-stop, you are in your mind because you have to process what they’re saying. But I think what’s so cool about it is you’re very, very, very present because you’re actively listening to it the whole time. And I think active listening is a skill that you develop, I think there are too many people who don’t listen in general. I think it’s a really cool thing, as it’s presented in a different way. Whereas in yoga, there’ll be silence, and in a way, you’re being really present with yourself. So I just like those two different approaches to being present.
The instructor is telling you to continue to move down. So you do have that, again, mind-body connection, much like you do in yoga, it’s just sometimes as silent. You’re a little bit more, like you said, active listening. Let’s go right to what I talked about before I quickly mentioned that. There are different types of yoga classes. Now in Pilates, of course, there are different types. And there’s, in the industry, it’s now become a fad to actually change up the reformer. There’s something called an X former. And they’re making HIT classes.
Ashley Weber: I’ve heard about that, but I haven’t heard about this X former though.
Steve Washuta: There’s been a few of them. There’s a guy named Kai Evans, who’s down in Miami, and he started this whole big thing and I think some funding or something fell through but he’s starting it back up. He’s got basically a reformer, not like a Cadillac, you know, there’s, there are no bars going up it but he, he’s turned it into a really fun hit class. And there’s music going on. He’s using, you know, most traditional movements, but he just uses them in different ways with the music and it’s exciting. But for the most part, in Pilates, there are not that many different kinds of Pilates.
Where in yoga, it seems like there are so many practices that, you know, you almost have to be wary, like I don’t want to join a yoga class unless I know what practice I’m going into. I’ll tell a quick story, here a quick anecdote. I was in Vietnam on my honeymoon, and was under the impression that Bikram yoga was just hot yoga, meaning it was just the yoga classes that I take in America, and heated, right? So, they asked me to have you have done Bikram yoga? I was like, Yeah, yeah, I’ve done Bikram yoga before? Well, no, I have not.
So Bikram yoga was a certain type of yoga where there’s a certain amount of movements, and they do those movements in a set order. It was exponentially harder than I thought. I don’t think I’m the only one that’s in that space. I’m in personal training, I’m in the fitness world, and I don’t even understand all the nuances to the different yoga. So can you just describe a few of them for us, the ones you teach, and maybe some subtle differences between the ones you teach?
Ashley Weber: Yeah, and I can do that. There’s like a couple that I don’t teach that. I think there’s three that are unique, and I might like to clarify them, as well. So yoga, which I touched on earlier, it’s a gentle, deep practice of yoga, where you hold postures for minutes at a time and you’re low to the ground, and it’s passive. The reason why you practice this style of yoga is it tracks tractions and lengthens the connective tissues of the body, the less elastic tissues of the body, the connective tissue, the tendons, and it is really meditative in nature. So, yeah, that’s one style of yoga, yin yoga.
Another style is the classic Hatha Yoga the one that is Kind of iconic like you see the people sitting in a cross-legged seat with their hand mudras you know making the okay signs and that’s the quintessential kind of like the classic hatha yoga. Hatha is Sanskrit for, I believe, I believe in Sanskrit for sun and moon are joining together the sun and moon, Hatha, I’m pretty sure.
Steve Washuta: Well luckily for you, I don’t read Sanskrit, so I can’t call you out.
Ashley Weber: Okay, perfect. It’s the sun and moon, meaning the yin and the yang, right. So, gentle stretches, and then every now and then some vigorous movement, but not a quick movement. Now moving from Hatha Yoga to quicker movement would be something called vinyasa. So vinyasa class would be, you would flow from if you happen to know the names down dog to playing to Chaturanga to up dog.
That is your typical vinyasa. It’s like you’re lowering down to your belly, then you do a little back then you come into a down dog like an upside-down V. Okay, that would be a vinyasa. You do that throughout the class, you do it you do some yoga postures, then you do a vinyasa sequence, then you do some yoga postures, then you do a vinyasa sequence. This is the type of yoga where you start to sweat.
Okay, so beyond that, there’s other types of yoga, there’s something called Ashtanga Yoga, which is heated to be like 200 degrees. Ashtanga is just slightly heated, I think, like 90 to 100 degrees. it’s also a set sequence. It is a set sequence where new Ashtanga students bring a little piece of like a, it’s like a book of the order. It’s very hands-on now, I don’t know if it’s hands-on right now due to the current times, but your Ashtanga teacher will take your arm and kind of pull it behind your back for you. Maybe they even sit on your body. I mean, you know, obviously, when you’re ready and in a respectful way, but it’s pretty hardcore. This one you sweat, even more, it’s usually 90 minutes.
Then Kundalini Yoga is called the kind of yoga that gets you high. It’s the yoga of light. Russell Brand loves Kundalini Yoga. If you know Russell Brand, it’s more energetic, you’re seated, you’re doing a lot of chants, a lot of mantras, and a lot of Sanskrit, repetitive chants. The idea is there’s a Kundalini snake within your body, and you’re kind of waking it up, more or less.
The last one I just want to mention, because I think it’s really interesting. It is actually really rare in Austin, we don’t have a whole lot of Ayungar yoga studios. But it’s the type of yoga with lots and lots of props. If you know what a yoga wall is, it’s a wall where their yoga straps are attached to it very much influenced by it. It is alignment-based yoga.
Steve Washuta: You know, I think you at least named six if not seven, or eight. I know there’s four or five or six or seven more. It’s unbelievable how many different yoga there are, and I can’t keep up. I know I do vinyasa, not often enough, but that’s really all I do. I think that it seems to be, you can correct me if I’m wrong, probably the most common, the most popular because you’re getting people who are, you know, relatively, I’ll call them the general population of fitness, who maybe take to that a little bit more, because you don’t necessarily need as much as the spiritual in that it could it can just be a workout, you can take components of it.
So you know, personal trainers will use yoga for a warm-up, essentially, right will go down dog up dog will come into warrior one warrior to go through that three or four times. That’s essentially our warm-up. Some of the other practices obviously involve the spiritual right from the outset. What’s more, it seems more tied to it. But I also want to mention, you know, for a lot of people starting a mat Pilates class or floor Pilates, versus starting a yoga class is much different than on a reformer because of price, too.
That’s a price point issue and your former’s can cost up to $8,000, maybe even more than that now. You can certainly get them on secondhand markets for two and three or $4,000. But they’re very expensive. So when you’re going to reformer classes and working with someone that is also going to be more expensive. You’re not only paying top dollar because of the equipment but because you’re typically working in one on one fashion. There are classes, but they’re not going to be as big right? You’re never you’re not going to walk into a lot of reformer classes that are 30 people in yoga, that’s, that’s more of the norm.
Any tips that you want to pass on to those who are teaching yoga and pilates in group settings? Or particular things that you’ve learned over the years that maybe you wish you would have done differently?
Ashley Weber: I think to connect to whatever it is you love about that type of work the most. So if you know be it Pilates or yoga, what is it specifically that you love about Pilates, what I learned I loved about Pilates, I loved the hands and feet, like working with the hands and feet. I do hands and feet workshops around town. It’s really you know, it’s really the whole body. There’s a lot of minutiae that’s around the hands and feet. That’s my specialty. Whatever it is that you gravitate to, and you love and you keep going back for it. In this profession, as you know, you need a niche you need, you need to be unique. Whatever it is about that exercise that lights you up is contagious.
When you teach that thing that you love in yoga or Pilates, people feel that and you’re going to attract the right people, you’re going to attract your dream clients when you just teach just to teach, and you don’t know why you’re teaching, you’ll you lose sight of why you’ve taught in the first place, and I’ve been there and you don’t attract the right people. So, you have to stop and decide, okay, why do I love doing this? Why have I chosen to teach this and then get back to what it is that you love?
Steve Washuta: Yeah, that’s fantastic information, you need to start out as a generalist so that you can get access to more people. Also, so that so you understand all of the areas, but eventually you need to niche down and get that clientele not only from a love standpoint, which is important. Because the more you gravitate towards it, the more time you’re going to spend researching it, the more people around you are going to notice, again, your energy towards that. That’s all great too. From a business perspective, from a financial perspective. If you have that expertise, you can now charge more in that area.
You might have a yoga class where you’re teaching 40 people. This is to a general yoga class. You’re charging $12 a head. However, you’re an expert in headstands. So, all those people who love to do have headstands you might say “Guess what? I have a separate class, I only take eight people, but I charge $25 ahead”. So you know, that’s, that’s just part of the business and all the fitness and we’re not ripping people off. It’s you know if you’re specialists and you’re dedicated, and you do have these extra tips, that’s it’s helping everybody.
Ashley Weber: Tt’s an energy exchange, you’re spending all this time and energy perfecting this specialty. You are valued at providing value. So that energy exchange is what they’re going to give you.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, and you can’t fake it. I mean, you can figure first class, but a word of mouth is always our best marketing tool. So if you’re if enough classes go wrong, it’s not going to work. So I will also just add a caveat to that. You don’t need to Nish immediately if you’re teaching. If you’re teaching your first yoga class, you’re a few years away from being able to do that. So take time to find out what you love. And then and then go about that. What about tips for teaching in private? Whether you’re doing a one on one with someone in yoga or Pilates? Do you have any advice to give a young trainer?
Ashley Weber: Experience teaches me much as you possibly can. You know there are awkward moments, but the more you flex that muscle, the better teacher you’ll become. And you just have to go through it. Read a room, read a room, read a room, read a room. It’s something you have to just constantly hone in if you’re intuitive at all, that’s going to be huge.
But intuition is a good skill to have or develop if you’re working one on one. You have to kind of figure out why they’re there, how you can retain them. Not in a manipulative way, just in a way that is like why are they truly here. They might say they want one thing but really you can tell they keep coming back because they really like this one stretch and they’re not alluding to it, right? There are all kinds of reasons people come one on one and they may not be as you know, direct. So deeply listening to what they’re wanting and using your intuition is a way to retain. So that’s my little tidbit.
Steve Washuta: I think that’s great advice, you have to be a good listener. If you’re just going to be a group fitness instructor and you don’t have the skill set or the yearning to work one on one. You do give a lot more of yourself when you’re one on one, it is a relationship of sorts. You will have to read people if you work six or seven hours, one on one with people, it’s more exhausting than maybe even teaching six or seven classes. Not from a physical perspective, but certainly psychologically, because, you know, you’ve, you’ve had to play that social chameleon role for all of those hours.
Whereas in a class, you know, you keep up or you get out essentially, right? I’m going to modify and tweak things, but there’s a reason you’re paying less. It’s because now I’m providing a sort of generalized experience in class. Let’s talk about your podcast a little bit more. What does an episode like in your podcast? Are they all different? How do you go about picking your podcast episodes?
Ashley Weber: Yeah, so my podcast is called yoga and podcast. It’s about the magic of yoga and Mind-Body practices, taking that down to earth for the everyday real person. So it’s called yoga. And because every week is a different topic related to yoga. So episodes will be like yoga and Buddhism, yoga and climbing, yoga and the helping profession. So the idea is, we relate, I mean, I do have an episode on yoga and stand-up comedy. Why? Because I used to be a stand-up comedian. So, that’s helped me learn how to teach a class, you know, like, just from those skills.
So we take unlikely sometimes likely and, and unlikely subjects. And we put them against yoga, and like, how is this related? So like, goat Yoga is really big now. So I want to do an episode on yoga and goats. And just talk about it, you know? That’s the podcast it’s fun. It’s for people who don’t know anything about yoga, and it’s for people who absolutely love you.
Steve Washuta: That’s an awesome concept. The first thing that came to mind, whether you’re like a yoga nut, or you know nothing about yoga, you have at least 50% of the podcast that has nothing necessarily to do with yoga, and you’re just comparing it to yoga. So it seems like that really, you know, broadens the audience a bit. And that’s a really great idea.
Ashley Weber: Yeah, thank you. I’ve learned so much like, I mean, I had no idea interviewing people how much I’d learn. It’s been like the best continuing education. Not only in my teaching but obviously in the skill set of podcasting. It is its own set of education, but I love it, and it’s on all major platforms,
Steve Washuta: On all major platforms. I will link to it and post it in all the descriptions. Ashley, thank you so much for joining the podcast and I hope to speak again down the road on another yoga-related topic.
Ashley Weber: Oh, thank you so much for having me. You’re such a good listener, and I really appreciate it.
Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.