Why I Finally Started Pilates, and How It Can Help You

I joke with my business partner Megan Brown, a Pilates expert, that “everything we do is yoga.” What I mean is that yoga, especially Vinyasa, which is the kind of yoga I practice, is free form, flowing, and creative, so you can do a “Pilates” movement in a yoga class and easily call it yoga.

The reverse is difficult to do, because Pilates is more precise than yoga. In the past, I perceived Pilates as overly restrictive. Now, I yearn for “restriction” in all the right places! Flexibility has always come easily for me, which is why I was drawn to yoga, but around the time I turned forty I began to experience joint pain due to a lack of stability in my joints.

I notice time and again that when choosing a fitness modality, people are often drawn to what comes most naturally to them, rather than to what they need.

This was the case for me, too. Finally, after ten years of owning a Pilates and yoga studio, I started taking Pilates classes…this year. If you, like me, have been resisting Pilates, jump into the rabbit hole with me and keep reading. There’s so much to discover.

When it comes to Pilates, I feel like Alice in Wonderland. I am curious and amazed at what I am experiencing. Pilates has strengthened my yoga practice and my overall health for the following reasons:


My pelvic floor and deep core muscles are stronger


I have more body awareness, specifically around my core musculature


My posture has improved


My joints are more stable


I have less back, neck and shoulder pain


I feel stronger, more fit, and toned


I have more energy and stamina


The crazy thing about Pilates is that the better you get at it, the harder it is. That must be why it’s so hard for me! LOL!

I reached out to some Mind the Mat members about why they do Pilates and how it makes them feel:



If you are interested in Pilates, check out Mind the Mat’s signature Hawt Pilates program in our Hot Studio in Del Ray, Alexandria. It is kick butt and so much fun. We are in process of building another Hot Studio in Clarendon as an addition to our current studio space there, so we can bring this signature program to Arlington.

We also have Pilates classes that aren’t heated, as well as Prenatal Pilates, Mommy & Me Post-Pregnancy Pilates, and special Pilates workshops such as:


Primal Pilates

December 15 from 1-3pm with Glory Billman.


Butts & Guts 4

January 5 from 4-5pm with Dr. Megan Brown, PT.


New to Pilates?


Try Pilates Fundamentals

January 6, 4-530p with Caroline Deitch.


Yoga and Pilates compliment each other beautifully.
These workshops below combine them both!


Barefoot Bootcamp

December 8 from 1-230p with Lara Hudson


Barre Burn + Yoga Bliss

December 9, 11:00am-12:30pm with Natalie Berkeley, RN, BSN


Active Recovery for Athletes

December 15, 3:30-5:00pm with Caroline Deitch


Would you like to give the gift of health this holiday to someone you love? Purchase a gift certificate in any amount you would like right online.


  • The latest from Sara
co-owner, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500 | Mind the Mat
Sara VanderGoot, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500, is Co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates and Yoga and Director of Mind the Mat Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program. Sara is an experienced Registered Yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She studied Interdisciplinary Yoga with Don and Amba Stapleton in Nosara, Costa Rica and at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Sara is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Sara has been practicing massage therapy, including specialties Prenatal Massage, Postpartum Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Thai Yoga Massage, in Del Ray, Alexandria for over 15 years and a yoga instructor for 7 years. At Mind the Mat she specializes in Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Core Yoga, Mommy and Me Core Yoga, Partners Yoga, and Hot Flow Yoga. Sara frequently acts as a birth companion for many of her clients, doing massage and yoga during labor and delivery to facilitate comfort during both medicated and unmedicated births. Before becoming a massage therapist and yoga instructor, she was a lawyer in the Washington D.C. area and found that the healing practices of massage and yoga brought a balance to her life that she had been searching for.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.


2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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