Yoga, pilates
& mediation

Are you doing it right?

Hannah Pownall
The Guide Editor

Hannah is our resident Editor of The Guide. Having worked across various beauty brands, as well as 7 years experience as a makeup artist, she brings a mix of journalism with real beauty knowledge.

"Sammy prides herself on fusing both ancient therapies with the science-based knowledge she’s gained from Physiotherapy."

The lowdown on why these practices are changing both physical and mental wellbeing.

Whether you’re a professional athlete, or someone just trying to get your fitness on-track, you’re bound to have seen the rise of the wellness movement, and dabbled in some yoga, pilates or even meditation. Some swear by these practices, and others have just passed it off. However, wherever you sit on the spectrum, there is a huge amount of science in these therapies on both injury recovery, mental wellbeing and cardiovascular health.

We had a chat with, Sammy Wilson, who has recently opened wellness space, Universal Practice, based in Melbourne. Not only is Sammy a qualified physiotherapist who works with the elite Victorian Gymnastics program, but she is also a fully qualified clinical pilates and yoga instructor, and prides herself on fusing both ancient therapies with the science-based knowledge she’s gained from Physiotherapy.

Hannah: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into Physiotherapy?

Sammy: Growing up, I had a real passion for sports and they came naturally to me. I still believe they can teach you so much – how to believe in yourself, teamwork, leadership, the tests of adversity, discipline, creativity and joy. It was obvious for me to then explore a career within an industry that had offered me so much, so I went on to study a Bachelor of Science and a post-graduate Doctorate of Physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy is a highly specialised industry that is under represented in the wellness movement. I have also trained as a clinical Pilates and yoga instructor, and after attending many studios throughout Melbourne and overseas, I could see an opportunity to represent these disciplines within a clinical framework.

The intrinsic relationship between mind and body has become a real passion, alongside biomechanical retraining, elite sports injury management and exercise-based rehabilitation.

Hannah: Why do you feel the need to fuse both physiotherapy and ancient practices such as yoga into one?

Sammy: As physiotherapists, we are trained in understanding peoples physical and mental limitations and therefore can see their potential to move forward. I wanted to create a space that celebrated healing and growing on all levels; grounded in the evidenced based knowledge of science, with respect and appreciation for the ancient philosophies of yoga and meditation that have been practiced for centuries.

To me, it is crucial that people feel calm, safe and expansive when entering a wellness space, and practicing any sport or rehabilitation.

Hannah: We hear common comments on Yoga and Pilates being ‘easy’ and ‘sweat-proof’, and frowned upon as not being ‘enough’ for your cardiovascular health. Is this true?

Sammy: Yoga and Pilates are philosophies that can embody many forms and styles of practice. A physical practice that addresses your personal needs - whether they are cardiovascular, strength or release based can always be accounted for.

As a beginner the correct technique and skill acquisition of the poses and exercises in yoga and Pilates can be challenging. And it is important that you spend time addressing the foundations of these movements – to decrease your risk of injury and maximise your capacity to heal and create desired shifts in the body. Because of this, the physical practice can be slower and more thought-out to begin with. It’s important you identify with these physical and mental challenges, as from these limitations will come your greatest capacity for change and growth.

Hannah: How do I know if my technique is right? i.e. if I’m engaging my core correctly etc. And why is this so important?

Sammy: In the simplest sense you should always be able to breath without the feeling of strain or bracing through any exercise. Movement is always a blend of stability and mobility, accompanied by the breath. Being aware of the principles and purpose of the exercise will also help guide your attention to parts of the body you should be activating or stretching. Ideally the guidance of a qualified instructor will assist you in finding the correct technique and alignment.

Yoga and Pilates can be so beneficial, however it is so important it is done properly to ensure we are moving intelligently and receiving the intended mental and physical benefits of the exercise or pose.

Hannah: What’s the difference between the mat Pilates I see at my local gym, and Pilates performed on a reformer bed?

Sammy: Pilates at the gym lends itself to being based around physical fitness, with the majority of the clients partaking in the same exercise. Clinical Pilates (which includes the use of the mat, reformer beds, trapeze table, ladder barrel and wonder chair) uses an individualised approach, ensuring correct exercise prescription, muscle activation and biomechanics. This allows for modifications and variations allowing the individual to get the most from their practice.

Hannah: Why is physical wellbeing so important for mental wellbeing?

Sammy: The mind and body have more connections that stars in the galaxy. You can’t maintain the health of one without encouraging the health of the other. Most of us spend a lot of our days in our heads – the opportunity to exercise and listen to and perceive the physical body through movement directly corresponds to decreased stress, improved vitality and an overall sense of euphoria.

Hannah: How does 5 minutes of meditation actually help me?

Sammy: There is a mountain of evidence supporting the mental benefits of meditation, and the flow on effect this has to your body’s physical health. The mind, like the body, responds to training and repetition. The more often you repeat your meditation practice, even if it is only for 5 minutes, the more familiar your mind will become with the process of tuning into the present moment and becoming free from thought.

*Images by Joey Corcoran

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