Yoga, Pilates and Your Health
Recently, I started taking Yoga and Pilates and have really enjoyed the added benefits that it has brought to my life. Initially, I looked into yoga classes to help improve my flexibility as well as to help me manage stress better in my life (because I tend to be high-strung at times). However, upon taking the first few classes, I realized that there is so much more to these practices. While I am still unable to touch my toes, my overall flexibility has greatly improved from what it used to be. I am more aware of my posture when I am standing or sitting, and doing Yoga has brought an entirely new awareness to my breathing.
There are many practitioners of Yoga who also believe that doing Yoga helps you to lose weight because it brings an increased awareness to your body, making you more in tune to your body, which then transfers over to being more conscious about what you are feeding your body. In today’s society, we are living in a world that is constantly moving, shifting and changing, and at times it seems like we can’t even set aside a moment for ourselves to stop, think and breathe. As much as our employers would like to believe that we are well-oiled machines, the truth is very different from the reality. In reality, people need to relax a little (‘Relax’ shouldn’t be mistaken for laziness here). We need to set aside time for our spiritual and mental development because after all, a more relaxed employee is an employee who puts out more quality work and who can think and react more quickly.
This also has numerous health benefits. One of the major places that people gain weight is in their core (or stomach area). According to various studies, your core area of your body is the absolute worst place that you can gain weight, and while Pilates doesn’t help you lose weight, it does help you tone up problem areas. My boyfriend, who used to be a personal trainer, once told me, “Even if you’re fat, underneath that fat are 6-pack abs.” and he’s right. Many people think that doing yoga or pilates alone will help them lose weight. And while it is true that doing either activity will help you burn a few calories, ultimately, you’ll need to couple a Pilates and/or Yoga regimen with one that involves eating healthier, smaller portions as well as some sort of cardiovascular exercise (i.e. running, walking, cycling, etc.).
It helps to tone areas of your legs, back and arms, but it mostly focuses on your core. Your core area of your body plays an extremely important role in maintaining your balance and vitality. From walking to running to cooking to cleaning to laughing, your core is involved. Could you imagine what you would feel like if you injured yourself in your stomach area? Think about how someone (maybe you) felt if they had ever been punched in the stomach. They are almost immediately and temporarily debilitated! Doing Pilates and Yoga helps to improve both your flexibility, balance and strength.