Yoga and Pilates are both fantastic home workouts. Not only will they help you to relax and recharge, but they have a whole host of other benefits too. These include helping you become more flexible and helping with your breathing, but also helping to improve your lifestyle as a whole. The yogic lifestyle especially includes cleansing, detoxification and a clean diet, all of which bring about indirect benefits such as weight loss. There are also mental health benefits, as well as physical benefits.
There’s also the fact that both Yoga and Pilates are really easy to do at home. All you need is a small amount of space, a Yoga mat, some comfy clothes and your favourite Everyone Active instructor on the telly to take you through the moves. That’s it! You’re ready to go.
What are The Health and Fitness Benefits of Yoga and Pilates?
Both Yoga and Pilates bring with them a huge range of benefits, in terms of fitness, as well as mental and physical health.
The benefits are broad and often not obvious, as much of it is about how the yogic lifestyle prevents issues further down the line. This lifestyle includes cleansing, detoxification, breath control and a clean diet (such as minimising or avoiding processed food). The obvious benefits are cardio styles that help weight management and the isometric styles will develop strength all over your body.
Many also experience indirect weight loss, which improves mobility and reduces the feeling of tiredness and helps you feel more energetic. The increased flexibility with yoga improves athletic performance and the addition of regular breathing exercises and meditation promotes positive mental well-being.
Start with loose clothing and a Yoga mat, as well as a willingness to try new things. Yoga is very much about tuning into the sensations inside the body. Some people are not comfortable with this and are frightened by the new experiences. This is why an open mind is probably the most important thing you should begin any Yoga session with.
Pilates, meanwhile, is much more strength-focused. It’s fantastic for improving your core strength and stability and while it may not be the primary focus of the workout, if you’re after a more toned stomach adding Pilates into your workout routine is a really good idea.
This is part of what is attracting more and more people into giving Pilates a try – both at home and in our centres. But this only just scratches the surface of what Pilates can offer you, however. As well that stronger, more toned core, it will increase your whole-body strength, while, your co-ordination, blood circulation and sporting endurance will all improve too. It’s also fantastic if you’re undergoing rehabilitation after an injury. You’ll also notice improved balance and co-ordination as well.
Mental Health Benefits
The benefits aren’t just physical, however. Indeed, Pilates has been proven to have a significant positive impact on your mental health. It’ll help decrease stress levels and help you recharge and relax after a hard day at work or at home with the kids. There’s also strong evidence that regular Pilates sessions will help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise such as this reduces the amount of the stress hormones like cortisol in your body and increases the amount of endorphins – or ‘feel-good’ chemicals – your body produces.
These are just a few of the myriad reasons why you should add both Yoga and Pilates makes an excellent addition to your weekly workout.
What Different Styles of Yoga and Pilates can I try?
As with many different forms of exercise, there are a variety of different styles of both Yoga and Pilates. They all use the same basic ideas as the foundation, but some different versions have developed since their inception.
This could include anything from differing the focus of the exercises, changing the environment in which the session is done (such as hot Yoga) and even adding in some props or extra equipment.
Different Styles of Yoga
Yoga is a broad subject matter, spanning across every aspect of human existence to promote individual and social health and well-being. The breadth of Yoga practices resulted in many combinations, as each generation of teachers discovered and developed in a myriad of directions hence the ‘styles’. Some draw on the selected philosophical and spiritual elements. Meanwhile, others are heavily influenced by anatomy and movement from western therapeutic approaches. For example, Joseph Pilates included research of eastern mind-body practices and developed Pilates. The Pilates method now influences Yoga, hence a cycle of research development is evident.
Hatha Yoga focuses on the correct alignment of each of the joint areas for maximum stability, so that a pose can be held. The isometric aspect strengthens and tones the muscles and joint tissue, it also activates the lymphatic system therefore it has a detoxifying effect on the vascular system. Hatha yoga often uses portable personal props, such as a yoga mat or belt, to strengthen the poses.
Iyengar Yoga still holds a strong identity from its original form, which uses props, fixtures, specially designed therapy furniture, bolsters and blankets, these can often be found in purpose designed studios. The purpose props gently and repeatedly coerce the body into optimal alignment. The emphasis is on precise alignment in the pose, holding the position and building on strength and flexibility. It also has a therapeutic nature. People with exceptional strength sometimes practice Iyengar yoga to overcome stubborn muscular problems and misalignments.
Ashtanga Yoga is a repetitive practice of a carefully constructed series of poses to develop strength, flexibility and agility. It does not consider props, instead intense daily practice is prescribed. The assumption is that the body will excel with enough dedicated practice and through the will of the mind, it is seen as a demanding routine with athletic qualities.
Viniyoga is a personalised approach to yoga. It can be seen as similar to personal training, as it’s tailor-made to suit the individual’s needs, with regards to their age, gender, physical form, mental health and occupation. Its main objective is to assistant individuals to build on their practice and maximise on their potential. Viniyoga is a traditional approach developed by Desikacher, in the style of his father, Krishnamacharya, and includes chanting, pranayama and meditation. This equips the individual to manage and live with any personal challenges they may be facing, such as living with debilitating health conditions.
Vinyasa Yoga (Flow Yoga)
In Vinyasa Yoga, the practitioner goes through a series of poses, carefully flowing from one into another, the flow has a meditative effect, but it is also part of an energetic and graceful cardio routine.
Different Styles of Pilates
Over time, traditional Pilates styles have been adapted to fit in with the demands of modern life. This has given rise to a number of slightly different versions, taught by specialists either in centre, or in a digital format for use at home. They generally concentrate on counteracting the imbalances and postural problems that many people’s stressful, sedentary lifestyle can cause.
The most common version is STOTT Pilates. If you’re doing a session at home or attending a class in-centre, it’s most likely to be one of these. It’s based on the principles of biomechanics. While more traditional exercises may focus on strengthening the core and keeping a stretched back, this method incorporates latest discoveries in exercise science. It concentrates on keeping the natural curve of the spine and a neutral pelvic position. This, in turn, will help you achieve a stronger core. It may, however, feel uncomfortable keeping the natural spine position for those who have suffered spinal injuries.
Initially, apparatus or props were not part of Pilates, but they are now quite common. This includes equipment such as the Reformer, the Cadillac and a variety of barrels and special chairs. From the other side, Pilates Props makes use of rings, Therabands, Swiss ball or mini balls and can take place on a mat.
It is important to try a variety of different styles of Pilates to find the method that suits you the most.
There are six Pilates methods for you to try and master. They each have an impact on how successful your Pilates sessions will be. Get these basics right and you’ll feel the full benefits of your home Pilates sessions!
Pilates was initially known as ‘Contrology’ as it is imperative that each movement of the body is carried out with complete control. To achieve perfect control, you need to be fully aware of the movements of your neuro-muscular junctions.
This element looks at the importance of the connection and cooperation between the body and the mind. When taking the starting position in each exercise, careful focus must be applied onto which muscles will be used and how they will be aligned.
The centre of power production in Pilates derives from what’s known as The Powerhouse, in other words the core of the body, which is sometimes mistaken as only the abdominal muscles. It is, however, much more than that, encompassing the abdominal, lower back muscles, pelvic floor, glutes and muscles around the hips. Generally, Pilates movements are sourced from the centre.
Breathing is known as the first and last human function, we constantly breathe in and out; so we often assume we don’t need instructions to perform this activity correctly. Joseph Pilates insisted it was vital to “learn to breathe properly”, he envisioned the lungs as a bellows and we should use them to circulate air powerfully around the body.
You can only ensure you derive the maximum benefits from the classes if you make sure each movement is carried out precisely and in perfect alignment. Missing even what appears to be a tiny detail implies a deviation of the essential meaning of the exercise.
Each Pilates motion should be smooth, balanced and graceful. Emphasis must always be placed on harmony of motion, rather than speed. There is no specific end to each exercise and the transition between them is fluid, keeping the body in constant motion.