Yoga

May 12th, 2011 Posted in Yoga | No Comments »

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I’ve been doing yoga for the past couple of months.  After completing a beginner level yoga DVD at home, I enrolled in a local beginner’s workshop at a pilates & yoga studio which specializes in Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga.  My instructor is really great to work with too (kind, patient, generous with her time).  I just signed up for 1 session of Kripalu Yoga at another nearby studio.  So excited!  Can’t wait!  After this, I will probably decide to get a 10 class card.  The classes are affordable e.g. $17-$25 for 1.5 hours.

I have also wondered about the difference between Pilates and Yoga.  If you are wondering too, please read on (I’ve found a nice reference comparing both):

Pilates vs. Yoga: Which One is Right for You?

Depending on your fitness goals, you may choose to practice yoga or Pilates exclusively, or include them both in your workout regimen. While there are certainly differences between yoga and Pilates, they complement each other well and are both low impact workouts that can be practiced either in a class setting or in the comfort of your own home.

What is Pilates?
Derived from ancient yoga asanas, the Pilates exercise system was developed by Joseph Pilates over 80 years ago. Practiced for decades by dancers, Pilates has become very popular in recent years. Although Pilates works the entire body, the primary focus is on the core muscles (abs, lower back, and stabilizing muscles). Pilates exercise machines (such as the “Reformer”) can add a weight training element to the workout, with very precise and fluid movements, making it safer than most weight training.

But expensive Pilates machines are by no means required to get an effective workout. All you need is a yoga and Pilates mat (which is thicker than a standard yoga mat) and some basic resistance tools.

Why practice Pilates?
Pilates is very beneficial for strengthening muscles without shortening them or bulking up. In fact, dedicated Pilates practitioners are known for their long, lean look. Furthermore, the core strength you develop can be applied to many other activities to achieve “effort with ease” (a Pilates slogan). Pilates improves balance and overall strength, stabilizes and lengthens the spine, improves posture, and can help prevent injuries and aid in injury rehabilitation.

What is yoga?
While some people think of yoga simply as physical exercise, it is actually a complete, holistic system for overall health and well-being. Having been practiced for thousands of years, yoga includes everything from physical postures (asanas), personal hygiene, and a healthy diet to premeditation, breathing, and relaxation techniques. The most advanced forms of meditation and self-realization are also a part of yoga.

Why practice yoga exercises?
When it comes to achieving both physical and mental well-being, yoga exercises are by far the most effective and time-tested practices known to mankind. Yoga asanas effectively strengthen and tone the body, increase flexibility, improve balance, and relieve stress. However, the most significant benefits of yoga asanas come from their profound effects on the internal systems of the body.

By bending, stretching, twisting, and flexing in the various postures, you bathe your internal organs with oxygenated blood and prana, also known as “life force energy” or “chi.” Yoga asanas soothe and tone the nerves and regulate the endocrine system, which is responsible for the production of hormones—one of the keys to both physical and mental health. They also improve digestion and elimination, strengthen the respiratory system, and tone the reproductive organs.”

*Reference: Wai Lana