This 20-Minute Pilates-Yoga Fusion Workout Fires Up Your Core and Busts Stress

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Stretch and strengthen your core with Pilates and yoga.
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Pilates and yoga are two of the best core-strengthening workouts you can do that also improve flexibility and work up a sweat at a low intensity. While you can include both separately in your fitness routine, you're even better off combining them for a power duo that maximizes your results.

"Even when you aren't targeting your core directly during movement, you need to keep it engaged to stabilize your entire body," says Elise Joan, Beachbody trainer and creator of Barre Blend. "The result is a stronger core overall and, over time, an increasingly defined set of abs."

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.

For instance, the "C curve" is an active and frequent position that's part of several moves during Pilates and yoga work, and it helps you tone your midsection and increase core strength, since you're required to constantly engage your abs throughout an exercise or pose.

Plus, the combination provides mental benefits too, quieting the mind and deepening the breath to help you stay present and calm, says Joan. In fact, a January 2017 review published in Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, found that yoga enhanced the quality of life and mental wellbeing of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here's a 20-minute workout from Joan that combines Pilates and yoga into one full-body strengthening workout — with a special emphasis on your abs.

Move 1: Quadruped With Gluteal Lifts

Move 1: Quadruped With Gluteal Lifts
Image Credit: Elise Joan/Beachbody
Reps 20
  1. Get on all fours and perform a few Cat-Cow stretches to warm up. On the exhale, round your spine up toward the ceiling and tuck your chin toward your chest. On the inhale, arch your back and let your belly loosen and relax.
  2. Now center into a flat-back position.
  3. Extend your right leg straight back and your left arm straight forward.
  4. Keeping your core engaged, pulse your right leg behind you 20 times, raising and lowering it one inch.
  5. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees with your toes pointing up to the ceiling and pulse your foot up a few inches 20 times.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.

Move 2: Low C Curve

Move 2: Low C Curve
Image Credit: Elise Joan/Beachbody
Reps 40
  1. Sit on a mat with your knees bent, toes touching the mat (heels raised) and your hands lightly gripping your hamstrings.
  2. Slowly roll down one vertebra at a time until just your lower back touches the mat. Keep your head and shoulders raised.
  3. Do 40 tiny curls with your core, lifting and lowering your shoulders about one inch.

Move 3: Low C Curve Bicycles

Move 3: Low C Curve Bicycles
Image Credit: Elise Joan/Beachbody
Time (In Seconds) 2 Min
  1. Sit upright with your legs slightly bent in front of you. Think of it as someone punching you in the lower stomach. Let your spine round by scooping in your abdominals and working the core. Your whole spine should form a capital C.
  2. Slowly move your legs as if you were pedaling a bicycle, alternately twisting your torso to bring your right elbow to your left knee, then your left elbow to your right knee.
  3. Continue for 2 minutes.
  4. Rest for 1 minute and repeat.

Move 4: Low C Curve Scissors

Move 4: Low C Curve Scissors
Image Credit: Elise Joan/Beachbody
Time (In Seconds) 1 Min
  1. In the same C curve position as described above, straighten both legs off of the floor and begin to slowly scissor them. Lift your right leg back up as you lower your left leg down toward the ground. You will keep this movement going for the duration of the exercise.
  2. Continue for 1 minute.
  3. Rest for 1 minute and repeat.

Move 5: Standing Fold Over

Move 5: Standing Fold Over
Image Credit: Elise Joan/Beachbody
Reps 40
  1. Stand a few feet from the back of a chair and place your hands on it.
  2. Keeping your core engaged and back flat, shift your weight onto your left leg and raise your right leg straight behind you as you push your hips back and hinge forward as far as you comfortably can. Try to get your torso parallel to the floor.
  3. Do 40 small pulses (like a single-leg calf raise) with your left leg, bending your knee slightly as you lower and raise your body.
  4. Switch legs and repeat.

Move 6: Barre Blend Narrow V

Move 6: Barre Blend Narrow V
Image Credit: Elise Joan/Beachbody
Reps 10
  1. Standing tall with your feet turned out in a V-shape, lift your heels 2 inches (make sure they're touching).
  2. Keeping your heels raised, core engaged, chest up, back straight and knees aligned with your heels, bend your knees and lower yourself as far as you comfortably can before pressing back up to the starting position.
  3. Do 10 reps.
  4. Hold the bottom position and pulse up and down a few inches 40 times without rest.

Tip

It’s OK if your legs shake. That just means you're working hard and really challenging the muscles. So, let your legs shake and feel that lower-body burn.

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