The Dallas Girl’s Guide to Pilates & Yoga
You’ve heard about the mind and body benefits of these two popular workouts. Here’s a guide to the best in Dallas.
Because we have the inside scoop on how to make over your body without anything radical or ridiculously expensive, we thought we’d share it. What healthy, goal-oriented woman wouldn’t want that? Turns out, with Pilates and yoga, you can increase your strength, loosen up your limbs, tone up your tum and bum, and get centered from the inside out. Great bodies are contagious—and yours is guaranteed! Every Dallas girl definitely wants that.
THE FATHER OF THE CORE
We’d all love to tighten and tone our torsos. The secret is a 90-year-old method that works to gently stretch and strengthen abs and back muscles, or core muscles. Enter Pilates. To understand why we love Pilates, let’s travel back to Germany in 1880, when Joseph Pilates was born. He was a sickly child and believed that the way to better health was through physical fitness. In 1912, he left Germany for England and, when World War I broke out, the British authorities detained him as a German National. Inside the camp, while the war raged on, he taught a series of exercises to the healthy men while rehabilitating the sick and wounded on special equipment. In 1926, Joseph and his wife, Clara, moved to America to teach his methods, and he became known as a healer among the dance community.
Much of what is taught today has been passed down from master to student from disciples who trained under Pilates. After his death, first-generation teachers, or elders, settled in different parts of the country. These elders (some are still alive) were masters of how the body moved, so each developed a slightly different approach based on how Pilates felt in their own bodies and what worked for their clients. In the end, they’re the reason why this nearly century-old method is still breathing a new life into many a core and delivering a long, strong, fresh figure. In Dallas, you’ll find three lineages of Joseph Pilates: Romana Kryzanowska, Eve Gentry, and Ron Fletcher.
Overall Flavor: Powerful, precise, and a physical workout for the Pilates purist.
After Pilates’ death in 1967, Romana Kryzanowska took over his New York studio, keeping his methods alive and pure. Much of the Pilates revolution grew from her, as the majority of second-generation teachers trained in New York. Many second-generation teachers have created their own blends, while others passed down the classical method. In Pilates, you can work your body in two ways. A mat class is a physical workout that moves your body from exercise to exercise centered on posture and breathing. Or take a private session (around $75/hour) on one of the apparatuses Joseph Pilates invented: Cadillac, Reformer, Chair, and Barrel. Whichever you choose, exercises are the same ones that Pilates created and are done in the same order to work your body in harmony. So, teachers of the classical work focus on moving the body, giving you a spine-tingling, total-body workout. Joseph Pilates said it’s the “ideal fitness.”
Overall Flavor: A slightly offbeat, en-hanced approach to Pilates.
The contemporary approach is a full-spectrum method (mat and privates) with a slightly different beat. For example, the breath work, footwork, exercises, or order of the exercises may vary from the classical series. Depending on the contemporary method, teachers may move you at a much slower pace to focus on every detail, specifically body alignment. Privates are often based on the individuals, embracing the tenderfoot to the athlete. No other teacher has personalized Pilates more than Ron Fletcher. He studied with Pilates and in 1971 opened his studio in Los Angeles, so methods coming out of California can often be traced to him. His brand of Pilates is a mix of dance-like moves (based on his training with modern dance pioneer Martha Graham) and Pilates. In the end, the contemporary approach is a more modern-day variant to getting your core in shape, spine healthy, and body beautiful.
Overall Flavor: Subtle yet powerful and brings harmony and balance to your body.
Eve Gentry was a specialist in therapeutic movement and adapted a softer, less strenuous approach to Pilates, focusing on body mechanics. She studied under Joseph Pilates, but after years of living in the dance world, she moved to Santa Fe and opened a Pilates studio out of her garage (not uncommon today). She had a lighter touch and felt that you shouldn’t force the body into a position unless it’s ready to go. In class, for example, you may practice a series of modifications with proper spinal alignment before attempting the classic version, whereas classical methods feel that if you’re not ready for an exercise, you don’t do it. Privates may focus on rehabilitation or alleviate chronic conditions and have themes such as “Pilates for backaches” or “Pilates for pregnancy.”
BEAUTIFUL BODY WITH SOUL
With so many yogas—many with hard-to-pronounce names—how do you choose? The cardio-paced fat-blaster, the slow-paced blend of balance and blissful repose, or the sweat-it-out detox? The truth is there isn’t a single yoga that won’t adapt to your lifestyle. It’s just that flexible. To understand yoga, let’s wind back about 4,000 years. Yoga is a way to a higher purpose; its literal translation means “union” between the mind, body, and soul. Yoga’s essential message comes from the ancient sage Patanjali. Most respectable yoga instructors practice the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali because its message is the heart of yoga. In our time, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, one of the greatest yogis of this era, popularized these teachings and invented and influenced most of modern-day yoga practiced worldwide. Krishnamacharya’s yoga stems from one source: Hatha, which ties the mind and asana through the thread of the breath. Long before Pilates, disciples of Krishnamacharya passed down the virtues of yoga for its ability to expand your mind and tone your body.
Overall Flavor: Hot, sweaty, and a haven for traditionalists.
This ancient series strengthens and stretches the body and can take you deeper than any other yoga. Ashtanga, or eight-limbed yoga defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (moral codes, self-purification, asana, pranayma or breath, control over the senses, concentration, meditation, and contemplation or reaching a blissful state of self-realization), is the purist form developed by Krishnamacharya. Today’s guru, Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, keeps it pure as he leads his students through a series of poses, or asanas, that flow from one to the next, linked by your breath, or Ujai breathing, meaning “victorious breath.” These body-bending poses date back to the days when Krishnamacharya developed them for the young men of India. You, too, will move with yoga-style athleticism.
Overall Flavor: Hot, humid, healing.
In class, you’ll purge gallons of sweat, so your towel will likely weigh more than you. This series is done in a 99-plus-degree room, so you sweat and stretch it out. The heat draws out impurities in your body and helps relax your muscles into Gumby-like positions that you swore your body would never go. But, of course, Californians have been wringing out their mats for decades, thanks to hot yoga inventor Bikram Choudhury. From that point on, hot yogas have sprouted right here in our backyard. One such studio is Sunstone, which bases its practice on beginner postures, so no matter your fitness level, you can leave feeling good and (sweaty) about yourself. Don’t let the heat scare you; it’s part of the challenge.
Overall Flavor: No out-of-body experiences; work within the alignment of your body.
B.K.S. Iyengar, a disciple of Krishnamacharya and one of the world’s foremost experts on yoga, dedicated his life to teaching a yoga that focuses on proper muscular and skeletal alignment. In Iyengar, you’ll hold a pose to induce some form of repose and to integrate the mind, body, and emotion. Props such as blankets, chairs, bolsters, and straps are used to align the body correctly, so all students—no matter their flexibility—can achieve the pose, balance, and serenity without a break in the flow of energy from the inside out. In class, teachers may lead you through asanas that wake up sluggish organs or invigorate your soul. Other Iyengar-inspired yogas include Restorative yoga, meaning passive poses are held for several minutes to draw on the breath to calm the mind while opening the body to attain a deeper state of relaxation. Classes may alleviate chronic conditions and have themes such as “yoga for backaches,” “yoga for headaches,” or “yoga for pregnancy.”
Power Yoga: Vinyasa
Overall Flavor: Loosey-goosey, blended, and a rush for the active junkie.
Vinyasa flow, which in Sanskrit means “to move,” connects the body and breath and is a melting pot of Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram, so you get a medley of benefits: strength, cardio, flexibility, determination, mental toughness, agility, breath work. It is by far the most popular form of yoga (and a variant of Ashtanga) because it mixes oh-so-beautiful body results with soulful benefits. Here’s what you can expect: a balanced and fluid sequence of poses starting with sun salutations that flow in and out of poses, mixing in ab work for your tummy or backbends to awaken your spine—signing off with a blissful Corpse Pose. Other Vinyasa flow methods include Jivamukti and American Power Yoga.
Overall Flavor: Vigorous, liberating, and great for curious, spirit-seeking gals.
Jivamukti founders David Life and Sharon Gannon (both studied under Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois) developed a very powerful flow series, and somewhere along the way they made yoga cool in a downtown, incense-burning, Buddha Bar kind of way. Even though the New York studio is miles away, you can experience that funky flow with the only certified instructor in Dallas, deAnna Anderson at Dallas Yoga Center.
American Power Yoga
Overall Flavor: Challenging; East meets West in a kickass type of way.
How does a Texas-bred boy with a craving for the martial arts stay fit? He creates his own special brand of Vinyasa. Long before Budokon, Kurt Johnsen has been melding his two passions: kung fu and Vinyasa, aka American Power Yoga.
THE BEST STUDIOS IN DALLASExpert Karon Karter hit the mats to find the top yoga and Pilates studios in town. These are her recommendations.YOGA
AMERICAN POWER YOGA5400 E. Mockingbird Ln.469-232-9642
If you’re craving something powerful yet mindful, practice yoga with Kurt Johnsen, the creator of American Power Yoga. Kurt incorporates his martial arts experience to create a yoga-kickass hybrid. The end result is a beautiful sequence of flow poses that embrace the essence of both yoga and martial arts. Classes
: Vinyasa BIKRAM YOGA6333 E. Mockingbird Ln., Ste. 253214-824-9642
Husband-and-wife team David and Karen Buckner lead this studio, where students get hot and sweaty with the purest form of Bikram. “It’s very rewarding to watch my students grow while David and I grow as a couple, too,” Karen says. “We strive to create a connected and homey environment.” Classes
: Bikram BKS IYENGAR YOGA STUDIO OF DALLAS5539 Dyer St.214-365-9642
If you want a classic Iyengar experience along with a little piece of India, practice with Randy Just, owner and humble devotee of Guru Sri. BKS Iyengar. Randy travels to India each year to ensure that his students progress safely on their yoga path. This studio is great for beginners because teachers focus on technique and body form. Classes
: Iyengar (levels intro-3), Restorative, Meditation, Yoga at the Museum DALLAS YOGA CENTER4525 Lemmon Ave., Ste. 305214-443-9642
The Grand Poo-Bah of the Dallas yoga scene has been serving the yoga community for nearly two decades. If you want to find your yoga path, this studio offers it all. “Students learn in a friendly environment and can experience many diverse and eclectic styles of yoga and yet will remain true to the ancient teacher’s wisdom,” says owner David Sunshine. We agree.Classes
: Ashtanga, Iyengar (levels 1-3), Jivamukti, Vinyasa, Yoga for Women, Restorative, Prenatal, Yoga Core, Beginners Series EXHALE SPA 5670 N. Central Expwy.214-370-5800
Serenity, relaxation, and a much-deserved journey to a beautiful body can be yours at Exhale. The new kid on the block is making blissful yoga waves by combining some of the best yoga instruction with a beautiful full-service spa guaranteed to find every knot in your body. After an hour of body-enhancing yoga, relax with a facial or four-handed massage. What woman wouldn’t want that? Classes
: Vinyasa SUNSTONE YOGAMultiple locations214-764-2119
With a studio on just about every Dallas corner, you can experience hot yoga with a little Texas flair. But that’s not all. Students can take a variety of yoga classes: power, flow, and hot. Great news for suburbanites: Sunstone is sprouting up all over Texas, from Frisco to Flower Mound. Classes
: Hot yogaTSADA YOGA1409 S. Lamar St., Loft 745214-616-2450
Business partners Barb Totzke and Chinook Wusdhu have created a cool and underground feel for the urban yogi. “Yoga Underground” classes blend dance, yoga, martial arts, and so much more depending on the bona fide bohemian himself, Chinook. Taking classes in this loft-like environment is like taking a “90-minute mini vacation”—and you never had to board a plane. Classes
: Vinyasa, RestorativeYOGA ISLAND3301 Long Prairie Rd., Ste. 135Flower Mound972-724-9642
Go suburbia yoga-chic in this delightful studio. Husband and wife Chris and Sloane Park have put yoga on the map in the ’burbs by combining quality classes with a friends-and-family atmosphere. They really do know your name. Classes
: Vinyasa, Prenatal PILATES OASIS MIND-BODY CONDITIONING CENTER11661 Preston Rd., Ste. 184214-692-6613
When it comes to mind and body, nobody does it better than Oasis. Alice Ann Dailey was one of the first to bring Pilates to Dallas about two decades ago. She has created one of the best mind and body retreats, combining several Pilates disciplines along with intricate mind and body work.Mat and Privates
: RestorativePILATESBILT5555 E. Mockingbird Ln., Ste. 200214-336-5583
If you’re craving a quick recharge, this new studio delivers. Owner Nicole Kelley specializes in giving you a contemporary, West Coast-style workout with lots of attention to detail and, of course, a healthy body. Located conveniently near Mockingbird Station. Privates
: Contemporary PERSONAL PILATES PLUS11811 Preston Rd., Ste. 200972-702-0277
Owner Dorothy Stewart has been changing bodies at Personal Pilates Plus for nine years, and now her studio has developed into a full-fledged Pilates studio with several instructors trained in various methods. Depending on your needs, this studio can give you both the best of Pilates and a balanced body. Privates
: Restorative to Contemporary PARK CITY PILATES6131 Luther Ln., Ste. 222214-378-5228
This fresh and modern studio (equipped with metal Reformers just like the ones Joseph Pilates worked on) specializes in the classic work passed down by Romana Kryzanowska—the Grande Dame of Pilates. Husband and wife Ian Leson and Jennifer Holmes have created an atmosphere to recharge and refresh your body while staying true to the authentic work. Privates
: Classical PILATES UNLIMITED8530 Abrams Rd., Ste. 608214-553-8771
In this quaint East Dallas studio, owner and director Karen Sanzo merges her physical therapy background with various methods of Pilates. Karen offers a safe haven to heal or work out your body and addresses faulty postural patterns that could lead to stresses on the spine. Mat and Privates
: Restorative to Contemporary TELOS PILATES13701 Dallas Pkwy.972-200-1868
Hidden inside the world of fitness is a beautiful and tranquil Pilates studio equipped with several Reformers and so much more. Director Veronica Combs offers a classic approach to getting that Pilates body. Whether you take a mat class or private, you’ll move, smooth, and change your body for the beautiful while staying true to the method. Mat and Privates
: Classical PARKGATE PILATES2801 Wycliff Ave.214-559-9818
Tucked away in an upscale retirement community is a full-spectrum Pilates studio. Deborah Corcoran specializes in Pilates for all ages and body types while staying true to the classical work. Come as you are and don’t be afraid to wear your loose-fitting sweats in this casual studio. Privates
: ClassicalBEST OF BOTH GOODBODY’S WELLNESS CENTER 5301 W. Lovers Ln., Ste. 114 214-351-9931
Nobody changes bodies better than Goodbody’s. The queen of the ’80s aerobics scene has morphed into a modern mind and body center, offering Pilates and yoga. Instructors are highly experienced and often devote their lives to teaching. There isn’t a better place around to experience a variety of classes and enhance your body and soul.Classes
: Power, Iyengar, Restorative, Jivamukti, Luke’s Locker Runner’s Program Mat and Privates
: Classical to Contemporary MOVE STUDIO: PILATES & YOGA17062 Preston Rd., Ste. 108972-732-0206
Owner Robin Parker says, “Love the way you move.” And we agree! So if you’d like to move and get to know your body, you have lots of choices, including several disciplines of both yoga and Pilates, in this movement-inspiring studio. Classes
: Vinyasa, Restorative, and Prenatal and PostnatalMat and Privates
: Classical, Restorative, and ContemporaryPILATES SQUARED3122 Swiss Ave.214-828-0100
If you’re seeking a neighborhood boutique studio, then you’ll feel at home here. This studio specializes in the Ron Fletcher method, and instructors teach both mat and privates. If you feel like shaking your groove thing, ballroom dancing is the house specialty. Classes
: Yoga, Ballroom DancingMat and Privates