The Pilates Yoga Connection
These days there is a lot of emphasis on building and maintaining a fitness regimen Fitness however, should be more than a trend. It should be a way of life. There are so many choices available out in the world today. Some of them include Yoga and Pilates. So which one would you choose?
Yoga, a lifestyle that stresses on the union of the mind, body and inner being has been around for more that a thousand years. An ancient practice that originates from India, it spread to the West mostly in the 60’s with the advent of the flower power and of course the Beatles. It is an exercise that calms the mind and brings balance to the individual not just through a series of poses but through breathing and meditation. In essence it helps to create an environment of peace and a core of calm within the individual.
Pilates on the other hand is a relatively younger form of exercise that was developed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates. A combination of Yoga, Zen and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens, it blends the best of east and western philosophies. He used this method to help rehabilitate the injured from the First World War. It focuses on six areas – centering (balance), concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. Once mastered, it carries over into other aspects of the practitioner’s life.
Both forms require that the participant have breath awareness. It is only the technique that differs. With Yoga, breathing starts from the belly with inhalation and exhalation done through the nose. There are however multiple breathing exercises in Yoga that varies from the timing of the breath as well as the strengthening of breath through each nostril. In Pilates, one inhales through the nose and exhales through the mouth. Concentration is very important for, in both philosophies, the mind drives the body.
When practicing yoga, one move from one pose or movement into another. Each pose is held for a period of time and then released to the next. Each movement of the exercise, while enabling the whole body to become more balanced and strengthened, is ultimately aimed at the mind. The goal is to achieve a state of holistic balance. In other words it strengthens the muscle groups and creates a harmonious mental and physical balance.
With pilates however, one goes through a series of slow repetitions or sets per movement before going on to the next one. In fact, in this form the individual is constantly moving. The focus of the exercise is mainly on strengthening and stabilizing the muscles. It helps to lengthen the spine, increases definition and encourages proper posture.
In traditional yoga, all exercise were done on the floor or what is now referred to as mat exercises. Pilates on the other hand, uses a combination of mat and machine exercises. The machine exercises help the practitioner develop the proper forms for the mat exercises. What is important to remember is that both forms are gentle and effective with the proper instruction.
Both forms require proper technique. To perform the movements incorrectly could lead to injury or just make the routines ineffective. Both have rehabilitative benefits for those who have suffered injuries. Pilates has about 27 yoga poses instilled into its routine. If you’re not ready for a total commitment to a yoga lifestyle but are looking for a way in between, Pilates is a good way to start. But even so, both art forms are complementary to each other.
Yoga and Pilates share the same basic techniques to develop, tone and strengthen the core muscles. In both forms, the practitioner uses his own resistance to build power in the movements. While yoga provides flexibility and stillness, Pilates gives stability and enhance the stillness. Pilates can also help prepare the body for the more difficult yoga poses and has as aesthetic body sculpting effect (which is why it is popular to dancers). Yoga can add a more spiritual dimension to the exercises. The plus point of these exercises is that it can be practiced together. Choose to do both if you will. It will add variety to your exercise routine.
Today we have access to books, videos, and instructional DVDs that demonstrate the movements and explain the breathing rhythms. You could just have fun doing both. The benefit of both is that it can be done at home. It is also a very good way to have a family activity. There are also multiple gyms that offer classes in both disciplines. Either way it would be good idea for one to take formal classes to familiarize oneself with the movements before starting this at home.