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Nicole Howard
February 6, 2017

Self Love

yogaheart_copy        “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection”
― Sharon Salzberg

A great way to connect inwards to the emotional and spiritual self, the highest self, is to start first with the physical self — the body. As your vessel, your physical body carries the rest of you around each day. Your thoughts, your feelings, your desires, your experiences, your pain, and your joy, are all housed in your tissues and cells.  

It makes sense then that caring for your body would be of utmost priority. Yet often it is not. Our bodies, by the most incredible design, can operate at high levels with minimal care for long periods of time. We are able to sustain energy, produce results, and meet the needs of those around us while offering ourselves very little. Eventually though, without attention and restoration we become depleted. Things start to break and become painful, disease sets in, we feel run down and weak, and our ability to care for others diminish.

The solution is self love through the form of self care; to fill up so we can offer more of ourselves to ourselves, and to the world. Caring for the physical body allows for the cultivation of strength, endurance, energy within, and offers us access to forgiveness, gratitude, confidence and love for others.

A practice like Pilates or yoga, which connects body, mind, and spirit, is not only a beautiful way to experience growth it is a powerful way! Movement to breath, done skillfully with purposeful placement of the muscles and skeletal system, creates a unique experience in the body, and offers benefits unlike those found in other forms of movement. And on a more practical level, it’s one of the most efficient ways to care for your self. In just an hour, the entire body is nourished, strengthened, and expressed.

Start loving your self with your foundation — the body. Caring for your body is essential, and loving yourself first, is most essential to a healthy and happy life. So, this Valentine’s Day take care of you, give yourself a little love, and join us at Align Pilates and Yoga Center.

Nicole Howard
January 3, 2017

A Healthy Successful New Year…


“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

 -Abraham Lincoln

Many people at the beginning of the year have great intentions of getting in shape. But sadly, by mid February so many of them fall way. At Align we want that to change, we want you to succeed. We want to help you achieve your goals and instill a long lasting  love for movement, that will serve you the rest of your life.

Below you will find five reasons why you need Pilates and yoga in your life. These reasons go beyond losing weight to look good in your jeans. These are real reasons why you need to be moving every day. Plus, a few tips to help you stay true to your intentions.

  1. You will be smarter: Not only is your brain getting more energy and oxygen when doing mindful movement, but many studies show that it boost your memory and helps you learn better
  2. You will have better posture: Deviations in one’s posture is a cause for a large number of health issues today. Both Pilates and yoga directly address posture for the better and the result can create less pain in the body.
  3. More confident: Exercise can also help you feel more accomplished and give you the power to overcome obstacles. When the workout gets tough, just like life, you know you can get through it.
  4. Relieve Stress: It has been proven that mindful movement helps minimize stress and brings the mind into a state of calm.
  5.  Live longer/better: It's no secret that healthy living will keep you alive longer, but you might be surprised at how much longer. One study found that exercise improves life expectancy as much as quitting smoking. And with proper strength, aging will be easy.  

To keep yourself honest and committed, don’t overestimate your ability. Take small steps to your goals and add more as you go. Understand that it takes at least 90 days to see true change within the body. Nothing happens overnight. Plus, no one is perfect! Setbacks will happen and it’s okay because at Align Pilates and Yoga will always be here for you. Cheers to a healthier 2017!

Nicole Howard
September 6, 2016

Teen Core

Event-Teen    Nearly half of Americans ages 12 to 21 years are not vigorously active enough. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that participation in all types of physical activity declines strikingly as age and grade in school increases. According to their study, inactivity is more common among females than males, and worse among black adolescent females compared to white females.

As physical activity is cut from school budgets and fingertip technology takes the place of actually getting outside and playing, it’s more important than ever to promote exercise for the youth. This is the inspiration behind Align’s Teen Core program. The American Heart Association recommends that children ages two to 18 should participate in at least 60 minutes moderate to intense physical activity every day. It should be developmentally appropriate, varied and enjoyable. A majority of American kids are exposed to mainstream sports such as soccer, basketball and baseball, which is great, but mindful types of movement like Pilates and yoga have been proven to create an even more positive impact on a child’s wellbeing.

The main principles of Pilates and yoga go beyond just moving. They provide teenagers with effective, life-changing tools that set them up for a highly successful and healthy life. Both methods of movement promote balance, control, concentration, breath, precision, awareness and harmony of the “mind and the body.” These attributes are what make Pilates and yoga such amazing activities. By simply adding Pilates or yoga twice a week to your child’s schedule has proven to help provide them with the tools to combat the negative effects of inactivity. Benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, better stress management, correction of postural deviations and much more.

At Align we believe in using the Pilates and yoga methodology as the heart of our Teen Core program. Our goal is to help guide teenagers to use mindful movement to establish quality, lasting habits that promote a positive physical experience. Along with health benefits, psychological wellbeing is also a huge piece of the puzzle, and mindful exercise in teens establishes more self-confidence and higher self-esteem. Pilates and yoga is a win-win for the youth of today, look for new Teen Core classes this fall at Align.

Nicole Howard
June 23, 2016

Sitting- The New Smoking!

images            Health professionals are finding that sitting for long periods of time, day in - day out is surprisingly more harmful then smoking. The combination of commuting to work, sitting at a computer, and coming home to watch TV, the average person is spending way too much time on their bums. It‘s this sedentary lifestyle that is contributing to today’s chronic health issues and is slowly killing more people than smoking.

Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University of Obesity Solutions states -

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people then HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death”. 
He also is credited with coining that mantra “sitting is the new smoking”. He’s not the only one who believes it. Researchers have found major supporting evidence that a sedentary lifestyle puts one at a much high risk for developing cancer, heart disease, type two diabetes, muscular and joint problems, LPL enzyme disruption, and depression.

For example, just one of many studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found men and women who sat more than six hours a day died, earlier than their counterparts who only sat 3 hours or less. The study surveyed 53,440 men and 69,776 women who were healthy at the start and after a 14-year follow-up they saw a higher rate of mortality among the longer sitters. These associations of mortality were mostly due to cardiovascular disease. YIKES!

Sitting like smoking is clearly bad for our health. Luckily, we can minimize the risk by simply limiting the time spent on our butts each day, standing more and being active. That’s right, the simple action of standing has been found in many studies to offset the effects of sitting. So, a standing desk could be a simple solution for the work environment. But more importantly living an active lifestyle should be the priority, just like brushing your teeth twice a day.

To create a successful active lifestyle, at Align we highly suggest choosing activities that you find fulfilling, enjoyable and want to do daily, like Pilates and yoga. Begin today by saying no to sitting and start moving for a better quality of life!

Nicole Howard
May 31, 2016

Know Your Body Inside Out- 5 reasons to get the My Body Stat Scan

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 6.20.42 AM   

1. Body Indexing- The scan helps you understand what your body is made out of. By providing a service that accurately and safely measures your body composition. From the amount of water weight, and muscle you have to the distribution of your fat in each part of your body. Allowing you to see how that contributes to your overall weight, and health.  

Segmental Comparison
The scan evaluates whether the muscles are adequately developed in the body, showing how much lean muscle mass is in each segment of the body, from the trunk including the chest, abdomen, back, lower back, and right to left side of limbs.

3. Muscle to Fat Mass Comparison- The scan will also tell you your Skeletal Muscle Mass (also known as SMM), which is the mount of muscle attached to the bones. Plus it will tell you what your Body Fat Mass is. Body Fat Mass is the sum of Subcutaneous Fat, Visceral Fat, and fat surrounding the muscles. The Subcutaneous Fat is fat found beneath the skin, and Visceral Fat is fat found surrounding the internal organs in the abdomen. The purpose of the scan is to compare the Skeletal Muscle Mass with Body Fat Mass to get a true maker of strength and health.

4. Real Numbers- My Body Stats uses the most technologically advanced, medical grade Bioelectrical Analysis product, Inbody 570. This patented technology is the only one of its kind to accurately measure your limbs and torso composition without the risk of radiation exposure or the inconvenience of holding your breath underwater.  My Body Stats provides you with the safest and quickest way to know everything. No more estimation or assumptions only real accurate numbers.

5. Meet Your Health Goals- With the detailed information, you and/or a health care professional can provide a tailored plan to meet your specific goals and achieve a healthy state. If you have been working out? Find out if your fitness program is efficient. If you have been sedentary, and are ready to make a change? Find out your baseline, and start your metamorphosis today.

My Body Stat Scan will be at Align Pilates Center  
Saturday, June 4th from 9am to 3pm- $45.  
Schedule your appointment Here.
For even more details  on the scan Click Here.

Nicole Howard
May 10, 2016

Say No To The Six-Pack

This isn’t about a six-pack of beer from the store, this is about saying no to six-pack abs. Today’s media has led us to believe that a strong, healthy, and in shape person must have a stomach like an old-fashion washboard, a.k.a. a six-pack. The idea of this being the poster child for strength, health and beauty is scary and misleading. And in most cases the images seen have been digitally enhanced to make the abdominals appear chiseled. To truly achieve this look is unrealistic to the average person, and is definitely not a marker of health. 
Having a strong, stable core is definitely necessary to supporting the body, but it doesn’t have to be visible. The actual muscles of the six-pack are called the rectus abdominis, and are a small superficial fraction of all the muscles comprising the stomach and core. For the core to properly support the body it needs every muscle surrounding the spine to be equally balanced in strength and flexibility. Consequently, when the rectus muscles are overly defined it is a sure sign of muscle imbalance and week core. The training involved to achieve a six-pack is at the expense of overall core strength and leads to back and neck pain, rounded shoulders, bad posture, and pelvic misalignment.

 Perfectly defined abdominal muscles are usually the result of extreme leanness, not increased functionality and strength. A six-pack becomes visible at about 10 to 14 percent body fat for women, and 6 to 12 percent for men. Unless you are an Olympian or professional athlete, these percentages are very hard to reach and sustain. Body fat this low results in issues such as depression, eating disorders, infertility and an interrupted menstrual cycle in women. According to the American Council of Exercise, 17 to 24 percent body fat is a healthy range for men and women.

So let the guilty feeling go for not having picture-perfect defined abs, and feel empowered to know strength and health lie in a balanced body. Choose a fitness program like Pilates and yoga that emphasizes a balance of mind, body and spirit and you may start to feel better…not just look better. Plus, you can still enjoy a beer here and there.     

Nicole Howard
May 5, 2016

10 Heath Benefits from Aerial Yoga

images              Align Aerial Yoga defies gravity and allows you to perform various yoga poses that may be difficult to do on the ground, but easier in mid-air. It’s fun and acrobatic, so for those of you who dreamed of being a trapeze artist as a kid, this can give you a taste of what it is like.

Here are the Top 10 Health Benefits of Aerial Yoga: 
1.   Total body workout: Due to the nature of aerial yoga movements, almost all the body parts are forced to move and stretch. Muscles are toned and redefined, and joints are regenerated and strengthened due to these movements.

2.   Psychologically beneficial: Just like almost any other workout, aerial yoga helps rebuild your emotional system because it clears the mind and relieves stress due to its meditative state. It also helps you combat stress throughout the day and increases your creativity, which leads you to develop your own artistic skills.

3.   Improves flexibility: Aerial yoga helps you to move more freely, with less effort, by counteracting gravity. Suspension in the air releases tension on the bones and muscles, increasing flexibility and deepening your practice. Suspended yoga strengthens core muscles and increases spinal and shoulder flexibility.

4.   Heals back problems: It gives you the chance to hang freely, allowing your spine to lengthen. With less strain on your back while doing the exercises, it eases tension in the spinal cord and hip joint, helping you feel better.

5.   Increases strength: Aerial yoga improves strength and flexibility, which carries over into other daily activities. The core workout is a beneficial cross-training, as it helps runners increase stamina and be able recover faster.

6.   Mood changer: Another key benefit of doing aerial yoga is that it gets your adrenaline going while going against gravity. It also releases “happy” hormones like serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, which boost your mood and help you feel more energetic.

7.   Improves balance: While going against gravity can be exciting, aerial yoga also helps with balance and stability in daily activities. Balance is a key component in daily activities, and aerial yoga helps maintain a good balance both inside and out.

8.    Aids digestion: The different types of stretches and movements help improve the digestive system, thus helping in healing various digestion-related issues, including constipation and indigestion.

9.   Old age and heart disease: Aerial yoga improves the circulation of blood, thus combating aging and its symptoms. Aerial yoga also helps detoxify the circulatory and lymphatic systems, which lowers the onset of various cardiovascular issues.

10.  Improves memory: Aerial yoga fortifies your neural connections, thereby, rendering better memory power. In a way, practicing aerial yoga can make you smarter!

Nicole Howard
April 20, 2016

Plank Power! 5 Reasons to Plank Everyday-

images_copy1 One of the best things you can do to create overall strength, balance and posture is a simple exercise known as a plank. To plank, one holds their torso off the ground via hands, feet or knees depending on fitness level. While holding this position the ultimate goal is to maintain a straight line from head to heal. It’s this simple action that packs a powerful punch of health benefits. Here are five reasons why one should plank on a daily basis:

1.     Easy to Modify- Depending on your fitness level a plank can be adapted to any ability. For example, a beginning variation would be to hold the position on the elbows and knees. More advanced option would be to balance on one leg or arm. This versatility allows anybody to reap the benefits of planking.

2.     Overall Core Strength- The action of having the torso horizontal to gravity creates a co-contraction in the core muscles. Meaning that the spinal muscles and the abdominals have to contract at the same time to achieve the straight line desired when in a plank position. When executed well, this action has been proven in many health studies to reduces back pain and improve overall spinal strength.

3.     Better Posture- Not only the core, but the whole shoulder girdle, hips and legs are working very hard to maintain the position. Resulting in correct “whole- body” alignment; where the ears, shoulders, ribs, hips, knees, and heals all line up when standing.

4.      Increase Flexibility- Planks are a great way to stretch the backside of the body, especially the hamstrings, feet, toes, and muscle groups that are often stiff from prolonged sitting. It’s a simple move that provides the best of both worlds, stretching and strengthening.

5.     Balance- Since planks can be done in so many different ways, makes it’s an excellent option to improve balance.  Such as doing a plank on the physio ball small intrinsic muscles that stabilize joints are triggered to engage and strengthen. In the end overall better balance and stability are established in the body.

Come in to Align Pilates and Yoga Center today to learn, feel and see the power of a plank.

Nicole Howard
February 11, 2016

Fitness is Caring!

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 3.48.42 PM    What is the point of exercise? This seems to be a pretty easy answer, but it can get skewed quickly. Especially when the old adage of no-pain, no-gain, go-hard or go–home mentality still thrives. But let’s be honest, is this really the point of exercise? NO!

One of our goals at Align Pilates Center is to shift that way of thinking. Exercise is CARING! Caring for your mind, body and spirit.  Not beating it up, not punishing it, or scolding it for not going fast enough, flexible enough, strong enough, or as thin as you would like it to be. If that’s the approach then exercising quickly becomes a numbers game—a constantly growing list of dissatisfactions.  When does the concept of “no pain, no gain” stop? And what is the real end goal? It is definitely not meant for you to critique and over scrutinize yourself, or even injure yourself striving for some arbitrary goal.  Exercise should feel good. It should give you the tools to take care of yourself for the rest of your life.

Feeling good through movement is at the heart of Align. We strongly believe that exercise is meant to be corrective, not corporal punishment. When guiding principles such as mindfulness, awareness, precision, control, efficiency, balance, breathing and concentration are applied to session, the workout becomes about caring. And ultimately having the intention to create better self, not killing it. In the end the same benefits are gained; strength, flexibility, stress reduction, heart health, and less injuries just to name a few. Don’t worry, you will still get a great workout that includes a little sweat and that feel good burn.

As the nitty gritty of your New Year’s resolutions sets in, consider digging deeper to understand the real the reasons you’re exercising. Are you truly caring for your body? If not consider adding Pilates and yoga to your fitness regime. Both are fun, feel good and are full of substance. They’ll give you ample self-care tools to gain a higher quality of living that will last a lifetime, not just another New Year’s resolution.   

Nicole Howard
December 29, 2015

Happy “Healthy” New Year! 5 Easy Steps to Success...

happy2016      The ushering in of the New Year comes with big hopes and dreams. According to, getting healthy ranks among the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, there’s only about a six-percent success rate for all resolutions. Maybe that’s because people are approaching it the wrong way. A News Years resolution shouldn’t be something you have to slave over. And when it comes to getting healthier a few good habits go a long way. The key to success in 2016 is creating good habits one small step at a time. Anybody can do it. Here are five simple steps to successfully get you started:
1.      Announce your plan: Make it loud and clear. Throw yourself a New Year’s Resolution party and celebrate the good habits you are starting. Invite those who will be your strongest advocates, because they will help you when it is difficult.

2.      Choose an eating habit: Health comes from the inside out. Consider a “no white food diet” or “no sugar diet.” Start small. Don’t eliminate everything at once (i.e. eliminate one sugar source for a week and then slowly eliminate another and week by week have less sugar).

3.     Choose a mindful exercise: Try a new activity that gets your mind and body working together, such as pilates or yoga. Again, start small, these are habits you’re developing for a lifetime. No need to feel like you need to go everyday, that just adds more stress and pressure. Commit to one class a week, adding more as your habits change.

4.    Everyday activity habit: Set ten minuets to move on your own. No gym required. Come up with something you can do first thing when you wake, or during a lunch break, or when needed to reconnect physically. An example would be to create a sit-up challenge, or push-up challenge followed by a few stretches.

5.     Be accountable: When it does get hard, check in with your intentions. Remember you set these goals to make a better you.

 At Align Pilates Center we strongly believe your health and quality of life is a worthwhile endeavor. Take one small step at a time and be consistent, in turn we believe it will be a happier and healthier year.

Nicole Howard
November 24, 2015

Yoga Tune Up®- Learn to Self Massage


Throughout Orange County and across the globe, there’s a buzz in the yoga, fitness, and wellness communities. The excitement is surrounding Yoga Tune Up®, a refreshing movement-based method. Part of the enthusiasm rests on a specialized two and a half inch rubber ball with the sole function of massaging the entire body.
The Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls have been featured on, the Today Show and even better, it’s being embraced by the medical community. Due to the physical and mental benefits, strong emphasis on anatomy and movement-based therapy, the method is revolutionizing the concept of self-care. Through self-guided deep tissue massage, Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball rolling relieves pain, improves posture and enhances body function, leading to a higher quality of life.

Applying the body’s weight against the therapy balls, and using various rolling techniques on the floor or at a wall unearths and unwinds tangled, knotted regions of the body. By rolling the therapy balls over the body’s tissues - from the soles of the feet, to the crown of the head and everywhere in between, the action relieves strain and stress from joints, muscles and connective tissue. Designed to stimulate multiple layers of muscles as they target and unravel tension from high-charged areas like the neck, upper back, lower back, hips, iliotibial band, and feet. In turn, this helps improve muscle strength, flexibility, while preventing injury and bringing the body back into balance. 

Beyond the abundant physical benefits, employing the therapy balls also has a significant tranquilizing effect on the nervous system. They stimulate specialized nerve endings called “Ruffini endings,” which are found in the deepest layers of tissue. This helps to down-regulate the nervous system and create a deep state of relaxation.

Give yourself a massage, tune up the body and feel better. It’s no wonder Yoga Tune Up® is creating such a stir! Promoting health and wellness in an incredible number of ways, the method is great for all walks of life. Classes can be found at various studios like Align Pilates Center. So… get rolling and massage your way into a whole new body, mind and spirit today!   

Nicole Howard
April 14, 2015

Consistency is Key

10sessions_copy        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 that 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, 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.

Nicole Howard
March 26, 2015

The Point of Pilates

images-10 When it comes to feeling good there’s no shortage of information and options out there. Filtering through it all to figure out what’s best for you can be overwhelming. Over the last year we’ve had a lot of clients come into Align Pilates Center and confided in us that their physicians had recommended they avoid pilates as a form of exercises or rehabilitation from an injury. 

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. A longtime client of APC recently injured their knee, making it unstable and weak. She expressed to her doctor that she felt that her pilates sessions were helping immensely. Unfortunately, the doctor said, “Pilates won’t help your knee.” Another client was told by his doctor that he could partake in yoga but not pilates due to his back issue. The reality is, pilates can be as gentle as yoga, and it definitely addresses issues in both the spine and knee.

For some pilates remains a mystery. Had both of the doctors in the above instances experienced a one-on-one pilates session, they may have a change of heart. Various stigmas are associated to pilates creating the wrong impression. The most common misconception is that it’s an exercises system that only addresses the “core.” Another common one is that it is difficult and dangerous. In reality, the ultimate goal of a pilates session is to address the entire body in a balanced way. For the body to feel great it needs stability, strength and mobility in all muscles and joints.

To achieve this balance a quality pilates session focus on all the muscle groups with specialized and targeted repertoire done on a mat or various pilates apparatuses. For example, a series of leg presses called “Foot Work” activates the leg muscles. The result is proper foot, knee and hip function. Or another common goal of a session is to loosen tight muscles pulling on the spine and pelvis that create back issues. Pilates then correspondingly strengthens the weak muscles to assist the overworked tight muscles.Creating a much more balance, pain-free body.

As a new year begins come and see what pilates is all about. You’ll be convinced it goes beyond the core and is a safe way move.

Nicole Howard
October 29, 2014

Yoga, Pilates and Pregnancy

prenatal yoga, prenatal pilatesPilates and yoga are one of the best things for a healthy mind and body, and for moms to be it doesn’t have to stop during pregnancy. Mindful exercise has been proved to contribute to an overall healthier pregnancy and birth experience. By using gentle exercises and poses that are designed to strengthen, add flexibility, plus stamina pilates and yoga can work wonders.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a 2012 study found that prenatal yoga can help to prevent complications during pregnancy, and those who practiced for one hour, three times a week were less likely to have low birth weight babies, pregnancy related diabetes and high blood pressure. The benefits are endless, so get that baby bump on the mat for an overall healthier pregnancy experience.

Due to changes in posture and weight distribution, as pregnancy continues women can experience a loss of balance, low back/pelvis pain, fluid retention, leg cramps, and varicose veins. Yoga and pilates naturally address these issues. Strengthening the core combats low back pain, and the movement of legs and hips helps alleviate many of the not-so-fun side effects of pregnancy. Additionally, a strong core is crucial in pushing during delivery.

 Breathing is a key focus when practicing pilates and yoga, and those same patterns can be highly beneficial for pregnancy and labor. Good air exchange is important for the health of the mom and the baby as it grows. And as the baby develops stiffness in the upper back and ribs can result in shallow breaths for the mom. Many exercises help open up this area, releasing tension. Controlled breathing is also a very important aid during labor.

The anticipation of becoming a parent and the every day stresses can affect the overall pregnancy experience. When pregnant it’s important to carve out a few hours a week for self-care. Pilates and yoga are great ways to relax and reflect on the present moment and the physiological changes in the body. 

 By staying in shape during pregnancy the recovery time of childbirth and post-partum side effects are highly reduced. At Align Pilates Center you will find quality classes to only enhance the pregnancy experience, ease in childbirth and recovery, creating an overall healthy mom and baby.

Nicole Howard
October 2, 2014

Hot or Not?

Recently hot yoga, or heated yoga, has hit the fitness scene like a major heat wave. Here in South Orange County it seems as though a “hot yoga” studio has appeared on almost every corner. So much so it has become difficult to find a studio offering non-heated or more traditional yoga classes. This has pushed a belief that hotter must be better. The benefits of yoga are countless from improved flexibility, strength, posture, and even stress reduction. These attributes have been known for centuries, but is hotter really better?

A study conducted by The American Council on Exercise compared the effects of heated vs. non- heated yoga. The results were clear … not much! They looked at two key points of interest- core body temperature and heart rate.  The participants did not burn more calories as a result of increasing their core temperature nor did they raise their maximum cardiovascular capacity by doing yoga in a heated room. The average heart rate was 56% for non-heated yoga and 57% for heated yoga.

Heated yoga does offer the practitioner a greater range of motion for obvious reasons- warm muscles respond with less discomfort while stretching. This can, however, give a false sense of flexibility causing overstretched tendons and pulled muscles. Practitioners may be inclined to push harder because their body awareness is decreased while battling the sensations of heat instead of mindfulness and alignment.

Hot yoga devotees praise the benefits of detoxification of the body during a hot practice. Detoxification of the body, however, does not occur through the skin. Our sweat consists of water, salt, and some trace minerals.  The bodies’ filtration systems, ie- detoxifiers, are the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. We sweat simply to cool down ensuring that our body temperature does not go to dangerous levels. According to the ACE study, heated yoga in the range of 80-95 degrees did not appear to present any dangers for a healthy individual. There is no industry standard of heat levels, and practitioners with health issues should be cautious.

 A non- heated practice is a viable and effective form of exercise. Get your "burn" on naturally, and reap the benefits of a quality non-heated yoga practice at Align Pilates Center.