It is easy to get caught up in your jam-packed, hectic schedules. Between work, kids and household responsibilities, there is often little time left to take care of yourself. Finding a good way to exercise both your body and mind is important to not only maintain fitness, but maintain sanity as well. Pilates and yoga are excellent ways to bring yourself back into balance, as they help improve your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing.
Pilates began as a way to help injured athletes safely return to exercise. It helps to restore balance through lengthening and stretching the major muscle groups in the body. This type of exercise can be used to improve flexibility, balance and body awareness. Yoga works similarly to improve these areas, but focuses on three main elements: exercise, breathing and meditation. Both forms of exercise can help grow muscular and postural strength.
Yoga is actually an Indian philosophy that started thousands of years ago as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment. There is a wide range of practices, but each one utilizes structured poses in combination with the awareness of one’s breathing. The exercises are designed to increase your body’s efficiency by stimulating the endocrine system of your body, which regulates mood, among other things. By linking these movements with breathing, yoga makes exercise focused and purposeful. Concentrating on both the postures and your breaths is a form of meditation.
Research has proven yoga to be a way to relieve stress while giving an individual gentle exercise. The movements can help improve blood circulation, stretching muscles to relieve tension. This can lead to reducing anxiety and increasing feelings of calmness. Easing muscle tension can also reduce joint pain and improve flexibility. Lastly, yoga can make for a happy body, as holding muscles for a short period of time can improve cardiovascular fitness. Regular yoga practice may even help normalize blood pressure.
Pilates is partially inspired by yoga, similarly requiring concentration and focus. Pilates also uses gentle movements and postures to both stretch and strengthen muscles. One key difference between the two is that yoga is a series of static positions, and Pilates is based on doing exercises and movements while you are already in a difficult position. Holding your posture largely uses your abdominal muscles, and the quality of the posture is often more important than how many repetitions you can do.
The health benefits of Pilates include increased strength and tone, especially in your core muscles, which include your abdominals, hips and buttocks. Other benefits of the exercise include the rehabilitation or prevention of injuries through correcting muscle imbalances. Improving balance can also improve overall physical coordination. Like yoga, Pilates can also utilize deep breathing, which can lead to improved concentration and relaxation.
While getting exercise is a key step in improving physical health, not all exercises can address your mental wellbeing. Through combining gentle exercises with powerful concentration, both disciplines work to improve your body and your mind. Regular practice of either can result in better stress management and improved muscle tone. Individuals can greatly benefit from practicing Pilates and yoga through creating a happy body and a tranquil mind.