A dancer by profession, yoga came fairly easy to Rashmi Ramesh for whom movement is a part of who she is. And then yogalates just happened when she decided to put pilates and yoga together to create a holistic body workout. Today, she teaches this technique in Mumbai to people who come to her for a physical workout but end up enjoying the mind workout too. Here, in a brief chat, Rashmi shares all about yogalates with Pranav Desai. Excerpts from her interview:
Pranav: So what exactly is the idea behind yogalates?
Rashmi: It's just getting pilates into yoga or yoga into pilates. That is what yogalatesis. The whole idea behind combining the both is that it gives a complete workout. It helps strengthen and tone your body and even works on your breath and mind levels.
Yogalates is normally more focused on the core muscles. Let me give you an example. When we do Naukasana (Boat Pose), it helps tone our abdominal muscles. At the same time,we are focusing on our breath and the core muscles. So it would work both at the body level, when people want to really work out, and as we do pranayama and meditation, it works on the breath and mind levels also.
Pranav: This is amazing! So how did the idea of yogalates strike you?
Rashmi: I never thought I would be doing what I'm doing right now. After I finished college, I was very confused because I was exposed to so many things so I didn't know what to choose. Sometimes you feel like, "Oh I could be jack of all trades, master of none". So what are you going to be your master at (laughs)? Then yogalates just happened.
I learnt pilates at dance school and later when I came for my Sri Sri Yoga Teachers’ Training Course (TTC), I thought what if we combine the two to form something that gives a good holistic workout.
I googledyogalates and saw that there were a lot of people abroad who were already doing it.So I thought,“Why not start teaching yogalates in India?” Now I take formal yogalates classes in Mumbai but back then, when I first started my own practice, it had no name. I was just combining yoga and pilates and I used to think that this really works for my body, it helps me understand my body better, tone it better, works on my breath, on my mind, gives me an overall strength.So maybe I should also teach people because it works for me. That’s when I started taking classes and it still had no name!
Only as I kept doing it, I realized this is what I'm doing. So this is what I should call it. That's when I thought of the term ‘yogalates’.
I have seen it work for a lot of people. They love it and we do things right from pranayama to meditation to really working out.
Most people who come to me either want to lose weight or shed flab around the armor belly region, but nobody thinks,“Let me do a meditation.”Yogalates combines all of that. And it's a fun workout for your body and mind is what I would say.
Pranav: I’ve heard about a technique called zipping and hollowing in yogalates. Could you speak more about it?
Rashmi: Zipping is pulling in your pelvic muscles. Hollowing is pulling in your abdominal muscles. So you really hold everything tight with every exercise that you do.
For instance,normally in Surya Namaskar, you would just hold the asana and observe the breath and your mind. But when you apply the zipping and hollowing principle to this set of asanas, you do the same thing (the normal procedure of doing Surya Namaskar) along with taking attention to your core abdominal muscles and activating them.
Pranav: So what is your normal routine like and how much time do you practice yogalates?
Rashmi: I start my day at six in the morning, that's when I start taking yogalates classes - an hour-long session each -for about three hours in the morning. Most of the days, I take classes twice a day - morning and evening. And then at times, I have rehearsals for dance shows since I perform as well. I also work on productions for kids –four to eight-year-olds. I teach them dance, speech and drama for big productions. So it gives me that break from being with adults (laughs).It's fun!
Pranav: And where do you get the energy to deal with kids as small as these?
Rashmi: From my yogalates!
Pranav: I was wondering whether you have a 24-hour clock or a 48-hour clock? You are into so many things...
Rashmi: Sunday is my freeday! I don't do anything on Sunday, unless there's a show that I have to dance at. But I try and keep myself free on Sundays as much as I can.
Pranav: Do you see a craze for yogalatesin India? Is it picking up?
Rashmi:There is definitely a rise in people wanting to work out or start some sort of physical activity. They want to tone, they want to lose weight, so they will do anything. Right now, a lot of people don't understand what pilates is, which is why I thought of yogalates. I think we are slowly moving towards the traditional. I feel yoga is picking up very fast because stress level in the cities is on the rise.So lot of people are turning to yoga or to whatever makes them stay calm. It could be yoga or yogalates or pilates.
I have seen dancers who are getting into yoga or yogalates and they love it. They love being still, they love observing their breath, they love what it does to their bodyand mind. You really have to experience it to understand what it is.