Pilates and Yoga for Balance

Tom McCook
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength , Yoga

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This DVD by Pilates/yoga instructor Tom McCook offers a Pilates mat workout which moves into a series of flowing yoga postures. The "for Balance" part of the title seems to refer to a balance between the two disciplines, as the practice does not focus on balance poses. The main menu is as follows: Introduction, 3 minutes (brief overview by Tom); Basics, 6 minutes (review of Pilates breathing and other principles); Flow Practice, 45 minutes.

Tom begins the practice with Pilates. Starting in a standing position, he performs several warm-ups, including roll downs and side bends. He then moves into a lunge with chest stretch and extends the lunge to a partial split. Transitioning to a lying position, he moves the knees from side to side and performs toe touches before beginning a more traditional Pilates mat series. Exercises here include the hundred, roll ups, leg circles, the series of five (skipping the double straight leg stretch), spine stretch forward, saw, open leg rocker, flight, swan, one leg bow stretch, elbow plank/side elbow plank, child's pose, and shoulder stretch (variation of dolphin pose). He then performs down dog as a transition into the yoga segment.

The yoga portion of the practice begins with sun salutations: Tom leads 3 repetitions of sun sal A and two rounds of sun sal B, emphasizing smoothing out the breath the entire time. He then moves into a standing series consisting of triangle, warrior 2, and extended side stretch, alternating sides for each posture. He completes the standing work with a wide leg forward bend (adding a shoulder stretch) and prayer twist (shown on the DVD cover). Next, he transitions to seated for head to knee pose (starting with a bended knee to keep the back straight, which was helpful), attempting a brief arm balance before going to the other side. After this is a half spinal twist, with Tom showing progressively more challenging options. Moving to supine, he performs bridge, offering the option of repeating this easy backbend or trying upward bow. He then stretches out the lower body with thread the needle and a seated side bend before moving into savasana, where he offers total silence for about 3 minutes.

I clocked the total time for the practice at about 46.5 minutes, which was evenly split between the Pilates and yoga portions (ie, approximately 23 minutes each). Occasionally throughout the workout, insets appear at the top of the screen showing modifications of the current movement. During the Pilates segment, Tom transitions rather quickly between the exercises, and since he provides little instructional information, prior familiarity with Pilates is definitely needed. However, Tom does offer preps for some of the exericses--eg, a seated cross-leg twist before moving into saw and prepatory balance work before doing the full open leg rocker. The yoga section flows at a more measured pace, but again, Tom gives almost no cueing on form, so prior knowledge of basic yoga postures is essential.

Overall, this is a nice practice for advanced beginner to intermediate practitioners who enjoy both Pilates and yoga and are interested in combining the two into a single session.

Instructor Comments:
Tom is pretty low-key and does a nice job with his voiceover cueing, although he moves a bit fast through the Pilates segment. There is no music in this workout.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Not bad! Some would find this drab. There is a dark background, the floor is a gym floor, and Tom McCook is working alone with the instruction being a voice-over. There is no music, which didnít bother me at all. You do Pilates moves first and then go into yoga. The workout is about 45 minutes. I liked this for lighter days Ė itís more or less intermediate level, but not for beginners because he assumes you know the poses.

Instructor Comments:

Annie S.