Monday, October 13, 2008

A History of Yoga and Pilates

Yoga and pilates may seem to be one in the same to a lot of Americans. However, there are some basic differences.

To achieve maximum balance, coordination, flexibility, body sculpting and strength, it is recommended that you add at least one yoga and pilates class to your weekly regimen. While you won't achieve the weight loss or endurance that cardio workouts provide, you will gather other important skills to help your performance in other activities. Yoga focuses more on breathing, relaxation and spirituality, whereas pilates will give you more of an athletic strength training.

Clear differences between yoga and pilates include some of the following: First, yoga is an ancient Indian practice that dates back approximately 5,000 years, whereas pilates is an adaptation of yoga dating back eighty years to a German athlete, Joseph Pilate. Secondly, in addition to physical activity, yoga is an entire holistic program that encompasses diet, meditation, breathing techniques, religious edict and a moral code; Pilates is simply a form of exercise and body sculpting technique. Thirdly, yoga aims to unite mind and body, as well as cleanse the body of toxins, while pilates is fashioned to strengthen, define and improve posture. Additionally, in yoga, you are taught to inhale and exhale through the nose, whereas pilates employs the traditional athletic mode of breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth while performing an action. Lastly, yoga can generally be done with just a mat (although sometimes props are used), while instructors ensure everyone's in proper form; pilates, on the other hand, has specific machinery designed to assist practitioners.

Athletes and dancers often engage in "pilates for sports" classes, either in large groups or one-on-one with an instructor. However, one needn't attend a class to get started with pilates -- in fact, there are many videos (Eleonora Goya, Dian Ramirez, Leslie Sansone, Kathy Smith, Denise Austin, Karen Voight, The Method yoga, MTV, Prevention, etc). Of course, you won't get quite the same workout without the elaborate weight systems, but it could be a good launching point for people who are curious but not quite ready to commit to a gym or studio. Some of the most popular yoga videos include: "Yoga Zone," "Living Yoga - AM/PM," "Basic Yoga Workout For Dummies," "Total Yoga: The Flow Series," "Yoga: Mind & Body with Ali Macgraw," "Crunch Yoga Mama: Prenatal Yoga," "Yoga Practice For Strength," "Ashtanga Yoga with Richard Freeman," "The Power of Hatha Yoga" and "Kundalini Yoga: With Grace and Strength." For yoga practitioners seeking spiritual teaching as well, classes and yoga center training are best. Choosing between yoga and pilates classes or videos is all just a matter of preference.

It may surprise you to learn that Yoga dates back to 3300-1700 B.C.E. and has long been a practice of Buddhists, Hindus and other Eastern religions. But what should not be surprising the tremendous benefits that this form of exercise and meditation can bring to your life. Working professionals, students, home-makers and the retired alike are finding how wonderful they feel after participating. The sense of calm that prevails as well as the satisfaction of muscles well worked all make Yoga the perfect blend of philosophy, religion and exercise. Even if you do not practice the spiritual aspects of this ancient practice, you can still benefit. Click here to see more: Basic Yoga and at Yoga Accessories also at Hatha Yoga Techniques