Combining Pilates & Yoga For Balance with Tom McCook

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Center of Balance; (650) 967-6414; VHS and DVD; 60 minutes.

There seem to be two camps of yoga practitioners in this country: the traditionalists, who like their practice straight up, and the innovators, who feel that a little tinkering with tradition isn't such a bad thing. One popular way of tinkering with yoga is to combine it with Pilates mat exercises. Tom McCook's new video is a prime example. There's a short but informative introduction to the practice that covers four basic principles of breathing and movement. This is followed by a good 17-minute selection of Pilates mat exercises, most of them done supine on the floor (with a couple of concluding seated exercises): all the standard leg and spine stretches, sit-ups, and back-rolling you'd expect from this method. Finally, there's a well-sequenced 30-minute asana practice that includes a variety of backbends, Sun Salutation, standing poses, and a seated forward bend and twist.

McCook, a certified Pilates instructor and yoga teacher, is a competent instructor and an excellent model. This program is appropriate for experienced beginners and intermediate students who count themselves among the innovators and want to add some diversity to their everyday asana practice.

Contributing Editor Richard Rosen teaches public classes in Northern California. He is also the author of The Yoga of Breath.