These days, Yoga and Pilates are the “it” thing to do. It seems as if you can’t open a magazine, turn on a television, or read a newspaper without some mention of Yoga or Pilates. It seems anyone who is anyone is doing one or both of these things. Are these the newest fad exercise? Certainly not! Both techniques have been in practice for a long time, and have been time tested and proven. Both of these things are good for you, but the two are often confused. They are different, in many ways.
Yoga is geared towards uniting the mind, body, and spirit. The basic idea is that the mind and body are one, and if given the right tools and environment, the body can find harmony, and heal itself. For this reason, Yoga is considered therapeutic, helping you become more aware of your body, in particular its posture, and alignment. Yoga can help make the body more flexible, and help you relax even when you are under lots of stress. This is the reason that many people are practicing Yoga, to reduce their daily stress placed on them by the fast paced world. Yoga can help the body feel more fit, energetic, happy, and peaceful. There are many styles of Yoga, but no style is better than another, it is a matter of personal preference or need. Yoga is very good for whole body health and well being.
Pilates seeks to achieve the same goals, also through a series of controlled movements, but the main difference is that Pilates uses not only mat work, but also machines. These exercises are geared towards strengthening the abdominal muscles, improve posture, and to stabilize and lengthen the spine, improving balance and strength. Pilates is aimed at giving you a longer, leaner line, much like that of a dancer. Pilates works the whole body, with an emphasis on control, and on both mind and body, focusing on quality over quantity. Slow, controlled movements are the key element here, rather than quick, high impact movements of a traditional workout. The abdomen, lower back, and buttocks are the center of all movement, and thus they are the focus of Pilates. Pilates is low impact, and therefore good for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Pilates is quite good, if not ideal, for body sculpting.
If you still cannot decide between the two, try doing both! Yoga and Pilates are wonderful when used together! The basic natures of these two techniques make them complement each other very nicely. You can integrate the breathing techniques of Yoga into Pilates, and the stabilization techniques of Pilates into Yoga…the possibilities are endless. The two techniques work well together for those who want a whole body health and wellness routine as well as body sculpting.
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