Located just a few blocks from downtown Arlington Heights is Viva-Ki Yoga Studio, voted the #1 Yoga studio in the North/Northwest suburbs by Chicago Daily Herald readers. Viva-Ki offers yoga for every body and while yoga is the studio’s strongest draw, one of their best kept secrets is their amazing PiYo class.
I had the pleasure and privilege to interview Viva-Ki’s owner/instructor, Gail Muszynski to learn more about PiYo and gain insights into her knowledge and opinions about this unique method.
YB: How would you define PiYo to a first time participant?
GM: The PiYo (Pilates’ /Yoga combination class) poses/exercises incorporates the lengthening of muscles from yoga and the toning and strengthening of muscles from Pilates’ and creates a class that allows you to tone, sculpt, stretch and strengthen your muscles in one fluid movement. The class allows you to achieve this without stressing the joints, as most of the postures are completed on the mat. It works along with your breath turning a yoga class into a toning class.
YB: What distinguishes PiYo from regular Yoga?
GM: The only difference I feel in my PiYo classes is the toning aspect. Meaning that we use 1 lb. weights or just make a fist to create resistance when moving the muscles. You are still working with the breath (like yoga), the core stability (like yoga), and the stretching/lengthening of muscles (like yoga); yet we add the contraction/isolation of the muscle/joint with each different movement to tone and sculpt.
YB: What are the origins of this exercise method?
GM: My training stems from “The Winsor Pilates’” method. Mari Winsor is an amazing international instructor and her principles have uniquely incorporated yoga and Pilates’. Yet I’ve taken it a bit further by adding hand weights (1, 2, and 3 lbs.) along with the traditional yoga poses (i.e., down dog, child’s pose, plank, side plank, etc.)
YB: What are some of the benefits of a PiYo workout?
GM: A toned and strengthened core. My guess is that my clients truly enjoy the core aspect of PiYo. Increasing your core strength not only relieves low back pain, but it helps to increase balance. This helps to eliminate future injuries from falling or from strenuous work we all do around our homes.
Another great benefit is having tone, lean muscles and healthy joints. As we age it is important to keep the joints fluid and healthy, while also building muscle mass to protect the joints and bones. It also increases bone density, which is extremely important as we age.
YB: Is there a specific segment of the population that will benefit more from a PiYo class than a regular Yoga Class? Why or why not?
GM: Working a PiYo class into your regular exercise routine (i.e., cardio, stretching, yoga, etc.) is very beneficial to each segment of the population. There are always modifications for those who have an injury or are just returning to their mat. Done regularly you will see results in improved muscle tone of even if you just add one PiYo class a week. You will see a significant difference in your yoga practice, your cardio workouts, and your everyday life.
YB: What made you decide to add PiYo to your exercise class repertoire?
GM: Mostly, I added PiYo to my class repertoire after studying Pilates’. I learned that many individuals have used Pilates’ machines and Pilates exercises to recover from spinal injuries/surgeries; broken bones, pelvic fractures, etc. I have the benefit of having a son, in the orthopedic surgical implant industry, who spends countless hours in the OR and from him I’ve learned a lot about the body’s bones and its structure. While modern medicine continues to finds ways to help sustain our bones from aging, injury, etc. We need to become our own advocates in keeping our health, our bodies, mind and spirit in check.
Lastly, my Oncologist highly recommended Yoga during my recovery from my two stem cell transplants in 2011. Working with my yoga instructor as well as my oncologist I learned that with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer with no cure); I needed to take my continued health into my own hands. That led to multiple certifications in fitness/yoga/Pilates and then to opening my own studio; followed by giving back to the cancer community to help others achieve their goals as they fight the fight against cancer.
YB: What can participants expect during a PiYo class?
GM: Except a cardio workout, coupled with breath work, and the stretching, toning and sculpting of each muscle group as they flush the joints, lymph nodes and thyroid. If done properly, they can expect to not only tone and sculpt their bodies, clear their minds, increase bone density and muscle mass, but also boost their immune system while simultaneously expanding their lungs, lowering high blood pressure and help liver/kidneys detox as they massage their internal organs with each twist, but most importantly they will feel better about themselves, as they raise their self-image.
If you wish to learn more about Viva Ki or participate in classes you can visit the studio at:
Viva-Ki Yoga Studio
403 S. Arlington Heights Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Or visit their website at www.vivakiyoga.com