Yoga and Pilates
Pilates and yoga have become hugely popular in recent years and it seems almost
impossible to go to any gym or fitness centre without being offered
membership to a programme of either. Endorsed and praised by celebrities
the world over, yoga and pilates have become a stalwart in fitness,
health and exercise. Some of the reasons for the popularity of these
forms of exercise is that they are both extremely gentle, suitable for
all age groups and fitness levels and boast an array of health and
bodily benefits that range from relaxation and stress reduction, to
muscle toning and posture correction. Yoga and pilates have actually
been around for centuries and have always been practised in Asian
countries but it took celebrity fads to bring them in the mainstream
What are they?
Both pilates and yoga
basically involve a series of movements, postures and poses which are
each held for a particular amount of time. The movements can range from
basic breathing exercise to quite complex and diverse poses which
beginners would likely find almost impossible. Most poses have a
specific name which is descriptor of what the person looks like while
dpoing them, such as downward-facing dog, warrior and the plank
position. Breathing techniques are a huge part of each form and it is
crucial to master correct breathing in order to get the most from each
exercise. Typically, there are various levels of yoga and pilates
ranging from beginner to very advanced. As each level is progressed to,
movements and poses become more challenging and complex. Additionally,
there are several variations within each such as Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga
Yoga and Power Yoga. While these variations differ to an extent, they
all basically involve the same thing.
The advantages of regular yoga or pilates sessions are numerous and diverse.
The body benefits in several ways – the movements stretch and tone the
muscles; flexibility is greatly enhanced; bone density can be improved;
circulation is enhanced; breathing can be optimized and posture can be
corrected as many poses involve correct spine alignment and stretching.
Of course, calorie burning is also a result as many poses can be quite
strenuous. As well as these physical advantages, many champions of yoga
and pilates state that the peace of mind that comes from the exercise is
just as beneficial as anything else, if not even more so. The overall
aim is to combine the mind and body in a way that reduces stress and
centres the individual so that they find a state of inner peace which
can be referred back to when the person desires.