When you want to lose weight or your doctor tells you to exercise, you probably tend to focus on the fitness programs that build strength, boost endurance and melt fat for a more slimming appearance. These fitness programs probably incorporate weight lifting and aerobic activity to increase cardiovascular stamina and burn calories.
However, there is another element to exercise that complements the higher impact weightlifting and aerobic activity. This added element focuses on relieving tension in the body, increasing flexibility and coordination and improving posture and sculpting the body.
This added element can be filled in your fitness regiment by yoga or Pilates. Both are great stress relievers and are low-impact.
Yoga has thousand year old roots and filled with New Age, Asian mystique while Pilates is a relatively new invention from the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, a fitness trainer. The problem in this 21st century is that some people cannot differentiate between the two fitness disciplines or they cannot decide between the two.
Both yoga and Pilates are very similar in certain aspects. They both incorporate exercises which build flexibility, strength and stamina. However, it is the mindset that is different, sort of different philosophies that come into play. Yoga is obviously an Eastern fitness regime while Pilates is definitely Western.
The main idea of yoga is the ability to interpret or feel the energy fields running through your body. The freer the energy is, the more likely you are to feel and appear energetic and healthy. If you are tense and hold stress in your body, this hinders energy flow and your muscles stiffen up and tighten.
Yoga’s goal is maintaining a sinuous body through special movements and stretching. Yoga is also holistic, with a foundation of meditation. While the poses your put your body in requires physicality, it is your mind that really must be engaged. The overall of yoga is creating a sense of peace, composure and balance in life.
Pilates is grounded in the western world and focuses primarily on the physical condition of the body. Joseph Pilates founded this exercise movement as a way to provide physical rehabilitation for injured soldiers from the war. He created a variety of machines with bars, cables, trolleys and more that put the body in various unusual positions. The goal Pilates was shooting for and succeeded with was using the core muscles to strengthen the body as well as create better flexibility and coordination through controlled, low impact movement.
Pilates created a workout regiment that was so effective; it became a staple in ballet and other genre dancers’ repertoire. They found the exercises in Pilates created more supple bodies that produced graceful, fluid movements. The Pilates you see today has a few elements in common with weight lifting in that both use movements against a resistant force.
The bottom line is that while both yoga and Pilates produce similar physical results in regards to flexibility and coordination of movement, your decision will be based on whether you want to focus on the physical or spiritual. Pilates brings you totally in tune with yourself on a physical plane while yoga uses the physical to bring you to a higher emotional and spiritual plane. The choices is yours – both are great for the body!
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