Pilates and yoga are both considered mind/body disciplines. Both exercises target strengthening the body while at the same time focusing on concentration and breathing. This combination can create powerful workouts and simultaneous meditation. While there are a few basic differences between the disciplines, the overall results from each can help make you a better person. If nothing else, the movements and poses in each exercise can help you tone and strengthen your body. Exercise in any format can increase endorphins and cause you to feel happy. Additionally, people who are satisfied with their overall fitness and the way they look tend to be happier. As sickness or injury can be a cause of stress, bodies that are operating properly are one less thing for their owners to worry about.
However, being a better person isn’t just about being fit or being happy. What it means to be a better person may vary in each individual. Both Pilates and yoga teach certain skills that can create or improve overall wellbeing. For example, both disciplines focus on breathing. While this may sound superficial, it is actually an incredible tool for teaching yourself a number of things.
Deep, focused breathing is a form of meditation. Taking an hour for a few days a week to meditate can go a long way toward managing stress. Studies show individuals who regularly practice yoga have less stress and feel less anxious. This could mean returning to work after a yoga class ready to tackle an inbox full of “urgent” emails with a positive attitude.
Additionally, instructors encourage participants to clear their minds during class. In fact, if you find yourself thinking about your job or your children, you are encouraged to clear your head and instead focus on your breathing. Teaching yourself to put worries aside is an effective way to prioritize and keep calm.
Lastly, a major benefit of focusing on your breath is that it forces you to live in the moment. The only thing you are supposed to think about is the air moving through your mouth into your lungs and then back out again. Many regular Pilates and yoga participants attest that their practice helps them learn to stay in the present. Even if they get caught up in the craziness of their day, a class can remind them to return to the present.
When you teach yourself to focus on the present, you learn to be more appreciative of what you have. Focusing on the “now” can help you avoid worrying over past guilt or future situations. Clear thinking enables you to concentrate on the things you do have and the things you can change. This can result in being more productive and more thankful for where you are in life.
If you are someone looking for a way to relieve stress, you may want to consider hitting the mat or the reformer. Both yoga and Pilates aim to help calm the mind through gentle, focused breathing and exercises. Participants are encouraged to live in the present and spend an hour thinking of nothing but their breathing and movements. Taking that hour a few times a week is proven to decrease stress levels. Practicing these disciplines can make you calmer, happier and appreciative – perhaps even a better person.