Whats the difference between Yoga and Pilates?

One of the questions I get asked a lot – What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?.  After all a lot of the moves are very similar and I find the two compliment each other well.  Both can help improve flexibility , build strength and help with mental  health, and lower stress levels.  Below are my takes on the differences between the two .

Yoga means the Union of the mind, body and spirit and originated in India , thousands of years ago.   Yoga helps us build strength and improve flexibility too, and also has a strong emphasis on our Spiritual wellbeing also.


I love the quote “Yoga is not about touching your toes, its about what you learn on the way down “. For me Yoga is about my own journey on my mat. Of course its fun being able to do some of those impressive Yoga poses – It was a proud day when I managed Crow pose for the very first time and if I’m honest any other time I am able to do it ! , though the Headstand still alludes me. I can hand stand against a wall though and take my legs off the  wall for 5 seconds haha , but its not about that, its about what we learn about our bodies as we try a pose , .there are days some poses will come more easily than other days and that’s ok. Its being aware of your body and how it moves day to day,  Stepping on my mat is about me  stepping away from the busy chaos of my everyday life and heading to my  mat  to help  find some calm, as I just focus on moving through the poses  , and  being present in that moment and not thinking about my ever growing to do list or feeling anxious about the worries and stresses of life

Pilates was originally known as Contrology , when Joseph Pilates first brought the concept to New York in the 1920’s , where he had his own studio . It was only after his death in 1967,  the name was changed to Pilates by his wife Clara. 

Joseph Pilates  was born in Germany in 1880 and was poorly as a child, suffering with rickets, asthma and Rheumatic fever.   As he grew up, he wanted to develop a health regime to make him stronger and healthier and tried various activities such as Yoga, gymnastics, skiing, boxing and karate, along with meditation.  

In 1912 he travelled to England , working as a boxer, Circus performer and Self defence instructor. However during World War 1, as a German living in England, he was interned as an enemy alien. During his time locked up, he worked on a training regime, which he would share with his camp mates and he also created programmes to help injured soldiers with rehabilitation exercises. 

After the war is over , he returned back to Germany, and through his friend Rudolph Laban was introduced to Dance. 

In 1926 , However he set off for America – New York, where he meets his future wife, Clara. Joseph opens a Studio in New York and primarily works with dancers to help keep them strong , reducing their risk of injury and if they did get injured , help them recover. 

Joseph Pilates trained dancers and apprentices in his Pilates method , and they would then go on to open their own studios. 

For Joseph Pilates , Pilates was the complete coordination of mind and Body. The main focus of  Pilates is about building core strength. The Core is seen as the Powerhouse of the body.  Pilates  moves can also help all those smaller muscles get stronger to help better support the bigger muscles in the body, lowering your risk of injury and is often used by athletes especially runners because it .  Having a strong Core, strengthens the Spine, reduces lower back pain  and bringing better alignment to the body and improving posture.it also helps keep the pelvis in alignment  Pilates helps build a long lean body. There is also a  focus on taking  deep, full breaths .This allows the muscles to be supplied with energizing oxygen and the old stale air to leave the body on each exhale. 

Pilates is often used in rehabilitation of those with injuries, health conditions and orthopaedic conditions , just like Joseph Pilates did all those years ago with the injured soldiers during WW1. I have clients with a wide range of health conditions  , some of whom I work with 1-1 as we can tailor the session specifically for them.  Even if you are generally fit and well though, including a Pilates/Yoga workout in your programme amongst those Higher impact workouts  is highly beneficial, it will stretch out tired muscles and help keep them strong, lower your risk of injury and bring balance to the mind and body . Modern living means we are a generation with poor posture from spending days hunched over computers, laptops, mobile phones etc, which means we are also all constantly “switched on” so stepping on to that mat will help you find a little oasis of calm. 

Both Yoga and Pilates are also brilliant for pre/post natal women. 

For me personally , I love the benefits of combining elements of both Yoga and Pilates  into my own practice and that of the classes I teach, and the majority of my Pilates classes will finish with a Savasana  / snooze  just like in Yoga . For some though this actually the hardest part of the class – relaxing!.  Those are the often the ones that need it the most! . 


What about you guys?, do you have a preference?


Joanne 💕

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!!.   

I hope you all have something special planned! . Maybe you have a hot date  , plans with a friend or maybe a date with yourself.  Which ever it is, Be sure to take a little time out to show yourself some love today!. Drink your tea out of your favourite cup, pour that wine/prosecco/gin into your favourite glass. Wear a favourite outfit and or lipstick!. Make a little time in the day to do something for yourself, aswell as the people in your life whom you love. 

I’m looking forward to a whole day off , I am so excited ! a day off mid week is a rare thing at the minute.  Actually up until last Summer , a full day off was rare for me full stop, however I now have Sundays off and I really treasure them.  January has been really hectic here at Mis-Fit HQ , so am looking forward to an extra day off today – I’m heading off to see my friend Lauren at the Little White Room and treating myself to a facial. And then home to get ready for date night :-).


I’ve popped some of my favourite heart opening Yoga poses below in honour of this day of love. So grab your yoga mat and let’s open up our hearts! . 

Bridge Pose – helps strengthen the Back, the butt and the hamstrings and those pelvic floor muscles, whilst stretching the Chest, neck , spine and hips.  

Lying on your back , you want a fist widths distance between your knees – you can also pop a block or pillow between the knees. Have all your toes pointing forward and hands by your side. bring your heels in toward your butt.  Breath in , and as you breath out lift the hips up toward the ceiling, lengthen through the lower back, squeezing the butt.  Lower down, slow and controlled, imagine bring your back down , vertabrae by vertabrae. 

Can help reduce stress.

A more advanced version of Bridge Pose is  Wheel Pose  –  Strengthens your arms,legs shoulders and Core and opens up the Chest and helps strengthen the lungs  It will also help increase flexibility in the spine . Wheel Pose can also help reduce stress and boost energy!.   As above but take your hands behind your shoulders and lift your chest up toward the ceiling.


Warrior 3 Pose – Helps strengthen the heart muscle , and  sends high speed blood to the heart cleaning out the Veins and arteries.  It will also help improve balance and strengthen the legs, ankles and Butt. It also help some tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles. 

Standing with feet hip width apart, take one leg behind you and reach your hands forward. Careful not to lock out the knee of the standing leg. Keep your hips square – easier said than done. I definitely need to work on that!. Don’t forget to do both sides!.


Chair Pose 

tones the leg muscles, strengthens the hip flexor ankles,calves and back.  Stretches the chest and shoulders and helps stimulate the heart  and diaphragm.

Stand Tall, feet Hip width apart , bend your knees and reach your arms up high. Careful not to hunch those shoulders round your ears!!



Cobra Pose 


invigorates the heart. Increases flexibility. Strengthens the shoulders and arms and stretches the Abdominals, chest and shoulders.

Lie on your tummy, placing your palms flat to the floor, next to your shoulders , lift your head,neck and shoulders off the floor .  An alternative is to keep your elbows down on the floor, depending on the flexibility in your lower spine. 

Legs up the wall Pose – One of my favourite Yoga poses. A total relaxing pose . Lie down, with your feet stretching up a wall or door. Rest your head on a block or a pillow and close your eyes. Maybe pop on a favourite chill out song or just enjoy being quiet for a few  minutes and just focus on taking long deep breathes in and out. This pose Will help improve circulation  and can help you sleep better!. 

Plus for fun, I keep trying to work on my handstands, which help strengthen and tone the core muscles, and the shoulder and arms – hello Toned arms for summer!!.   It also helps increase the flow of blood to your brain to calm the mind.  Hmmm it’s definitely a work in progress ha. 

However you spend pend your Valentines Day, I hope it’s full of love and laughter. 


Do let me know if you try any of the yoga poses! . Tag me in your photos! 


My Aeriel Yoga Adventure!




Every now and then, its good to step outside your comfort zone, no matter how scary it might be. I’ve often found its actually where all the best things happen. 

As an instructor, I get new people along to classes on a regular basis, so it is good to every so often try something new yourself, so you are reminded what its like to be a beginner and experience something for the first time.

I’ve been wanting to try Aeriel Yoga for ages, it just looked so much fun. I came across Tempest Dance studio in Durham City – http://tempestdancestudio.com/2016/  who offered classes. I followed them on Instagram @tempeststudio and the classes . Aeriel Yoga is Yoga moves performed using silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling. 

Looking at the class schedule, I could see it clashed a lot with my own timetable of classes and so I opted to book a 1 -1 session instead.   I arrived at the studio on a rainy Wednesday morning and met my instructor Rachel, who was so lovely and put me right at ease. 

She strung the Silks from the ceiling and we were ready to rock and roll. We started off with a warm up and Rachel advised me just to let go and trust in the silks ability to support me. One of the first moves was straddling the Silk and then getting my far leg back out, – hmmm I had forgot to warn poor Rachel, I can be a terrible klutz and so  as I stepped out , there was a cartoon comedy moment of me doing some crazy foot jumping as I tried to regain balance and an almost collision with a mirror but thankfully crisis was averted and I managed to steady myself just in time – phew!.  

Rachel took me through a series of Yoga moves – most of which were familiar to me on the floor , however adding in the Silks, created a whole new aspect and made my body work even harder. Up dog with the silks , really stretched the lower back and took a lot of upper body strength to hold on to the silks!.   my favourite part came when I was fully warmed up and we started on the inversions!.   Yoga inversions are any moves that bring your hips over your heart, and your heart above your head – basically you are pretty much upside down!.  This actually helps give your heart a little rest, as you reverse the blood flow in the body and encourages venous return – the return of blood back to the heart. As a result your heart does not have to work quite so hard.  Being upside down also takes some bravery and a lot of faith.   Rachel was there every step and when she could see I was hovering on the edge of can I really do this??? ,she walked me through it step by step.  I could feel myself hanging on to the silks for dear life at first , but she encouraged me to just let go and before I knew it, I felt like I was flying!.  Its a great metaphor for life –  Sometimes we hang on to what we feel is safe and comfortable , but often taking that step beyond the comfort zone is usually where the magic happens!, so next time you find yourself hovering , feeling a little scared at taking the leap – close your eyes, breathe in and as you breathe out, take that leap of faith!. 


We ended the class in Savasana pose, actually getting fully inside the silk – ok so my friend Emma did point out afterward it did look a lot like I had been kidnapped and held hostage, but honestly it was sooooooo comfortable and relaxing.  It was raining outside and the sound of the rain on the window combined with the relaxing music , Rachel had playing plus feeling all snug in my silk cocoon suspended from the ceiling , I could feel myself just drifting off into a relaxed state – it just felt so peaceful. 

I would definitely recommend giving it a whirl. Next on the list , My friend Joanne and I are already planning a Pole dancing lesson.


Have you guys tried anything new lately?. 





Benefits of Pilates


Pilates is one of my busiest classes on the timetable. More and more people are recognising the benefits, and with a host of celebrities showcasing their Pilates honed bodies,  its becoming ever more Popular, but aside from the aesthetic side – think long lean bodies, there is a whole host of benefits of Pilates that work the body  from the inside , out.

However I still get people who say, Ah I need to feel I’ve worked so I don’t think its for me . Haha I think the people who come to my Pilates class would beg to differ, especially if we do some PIIT – Pilates intense interval style training. Pilates maybe more low impact but its still provides a challenging workout, which works brilliantly alongside your HIIT, running and other cardio workouts. 


So Here are just a few  Benefits of  incorporating a regular Pilates session into your workouts:-


  1. Strengthens your Core .  A lot of people tend to think of their core as just their abdominals, but actually your  major Core muscles  consists of your Pelvic floor muscles, Transversus abdominus, Multifidus , internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, the Erector Spinae and your Diaphram . Also the Gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles are also classed as minor Core muscles. In actual fact , pretty much the whole trunk of the body. Joseph Pilates classed this as the powerhouse of your body and when strong , creates the foundation for all movement. 


  1. Improved Bone density – Bone like muscle responds to Resistance and weight bearing exercises. Pilates can help strengthen our bones , reducing the risk of Osteoporosis , a condition which causes bones to become brittle and weak. 


  1. Can ease Back pain . Pilates can help relieve pressure and stress on the lower back and increase  mobility in your spine, which can help reduce Back pain. The Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical therapy did a study and found that those with lower back pain, experienced a significant pain relief after a 4 week Pilates programme , kept up for a year long period.


4. Improves Flexibility, balance and increases strength. Pilates moves work to lengthen and strengthen muscles, improve Muscle elasticity and joint mobility. All of this combined helps lower the risk of injury . For example being able to improve Hamstring flexibility , lowers your risk of hurting your lower back, if you bend down to pick something up.

5. Its a fantastic cross training work out and will actually help condition the body and strengthen the Core to improve performance in higher impact workouts such as running and HIIT workouts.

  1. Low impact but no less effective .  Smaller moves and targeting some of the smaller muscles , which help support bigger muscles all help you see improvements in Strength . I find a lot of my class put more effort in to the Pilates class  then they do in the High impact classes, maybe because  they feel they can ,  you get out what you put in, so the greater the effort, the better the results!.


  1. Improves Posture . Good Posture will help you instantly stand taller which is turn helps boost confidence levels and  makes you look slimmer.  In this day and age of hunching over laptops/mobiles and tablets, we are defiantly more rounded through the shoulders , giving us a more hunch back appearance!.  We want to stand tall and proud!! . Good posture also leads us to the next benefit….



  1. Helps improve breathing – learning to take full deep breaths helps oxygenate the blood and dispel carbon Dioxide from the body. Deep breathing helps stimulate the internal organs and helps the heart circulate fresh oxygenated blood throughout the body  – a natural body cleanse!.   When we are stressed or panicked or angry/upset, you notice your breath gets much shallower.  Taking time out to just take deep breathes , will help calm your mind and deepen your breath to help you refocus and calm down.


  1. Want that 6 pack?? – Great abs are definatly made in the kitchen , however  Pilates will help to strengthen the Rectus Abdominis , the muscle responsible for that 6 pack.  So eating healthy and working your core properly will defiantly help with  defining those abs!.



  1. Helps you connect mind, body and soul . The mental focus and controlled Breathing , help lower stress levels and as you flow through the moves, it helps you clear your mind of everything bar what you are doing in the present moment.  When stressed , we are more likely to store fat around our tummies, so by doing a workout that helps us destress, can help shift that stress fat around our middles!. 


  1. Strengthens the pelvic floor muscles – (the muscles in your pelvis that support the bladder and uterus)  this can help reduce stress incontinence –  A lot  of new mammies suffer from  weak bladder  after giving birth.     and  Strong Pelvic floor muscles also  lead to more intense Orgasms leading to  even hotter sex!.    and for mammas to be – can defiantly help push that baby right out!   





My Top 5 Exercises


So these are my top 5 exercises – you can jazz them up and make them even harder. But just in their simple form these 5 moves  will give you an effective full body  workout!


1 Squats – make sure all the weight is in your heels, feeling nothing in your knees. Aim to get parallel to the floor, keep the length through spine. Knees in line with toes – don’t allow them to creep over!.   This will target legs, bum and stomach.


2. Press ups. Start on your knees , and build up to full press ups on your toes 😄. Hands wide, chest between your hands, aiming to get chest down to the floor.  This will target arms, shoulders, chest and abs.



3. Burpees. Start in a standing position, jump and then bring hands to the floor and jump the feet back  into a Plank position, wrists, elbows, shoulders all stacked, abs pulled in, keep hips level with the shoulders – never let that butt sink down or else you’ll hurt your lower back. also don’t let the bum stick up – we’re not doing down dog .  Jump the feet back uptoward the hands and come back up to standing.  One of the best all over body exercises!

imageburpee 2

4. Lunges .  Target the legs and bum. Step one foot  forward, and lunge  keeping knee in line with toes  – imagine a right angle , back leg as close to the floor as you can. Keep abs in, and back straight, . Chest and head up tall .  lunge

5. Plank hold.

Keep wrists, elbows and shoulders stacked, so weight is evenly distributed through the arms. keep abs pulled in – imagine pulling bellybutton through to spine. Keep the length through the crown of the head through to the tailbone, keeping hips level with shoulders. I should be able to balance a glass of Prosecco on your back without spilling a drop!!!.  This will target shoulders, arms, and abs.



Try this little workout :-

20seconds on , 10 seconds rest

Press ups
Plank Hold

x 4 rounds

I’d love to hear how you get on!, come follow me on Instagram @littlemisfitjojo   or visit me on facebook – www.facebook.com/lilmisfit1


Joanne xx




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