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Yoga Or Pilates

Yoga Or Pilates



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Published by Caroline Sandry
yoga or pilates? which is better for what? Caroline Sandry checks this out..
yoga or pilates? which is better for what? Caroline Sandry checks this out..

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Published by: Caroline Sandry on May 27, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Yoga is a way of life, an integrated system of discipline for the mind, body and spiritwhich has been practiced for thousands of years in India, and is as popular now as ever.To the ancient Yogi, the body was seenas a vehicle for the soul, and as suchshould be maintained in the best possiblecondition using a pure vegetarian diet,proper relaxation, breathing exercises,physical exercises, positive thinking andmeditation. Whilst in our western society itmight be challenging to take on thediscipline required to be a Yogi in all areasof our lives, we can still benefit hugelyfrom the physical exercise or ‘Asanas’ thatmake up part of the Yoga practice.
The principles
Patience –
waiting for your body tobecome comfortable in the posture
Non–competitiveness –
workingwithin your own limits without judgment
Breath –
paying attention to deep,abdominal breathing or variations
Relaxation –
beginning and endingthe session with proper relaxation
Focus –
keeping the mind focused onthe breath and posture.
Balance –
using counter-poses tobalance the body
The exercises
The asanas (a Sanskrit word meaningsteady pose) are designed to promote astate of mental and physical health andwork on the internal as well as theexternal body. The asanas promoteflexibility, strength, relaxation andconcentration by holding postures.
People often ask ‘What is the difference betweenYoga and Pilates and which is the most effective?’
Caroline Sandry
gives you the lowdown on both.
which gets you fitter?
Holding the postures for longer orrepeating the same posture will developstrength and stamina as well as mentalfocus. Linking the postures togetherquickly can have a more aerobic effect.
Astanga Yoga –
a demanding form of Yoga where the postures are linkedtogether in a flowing sequence. Goodfor building strength, stamina and CVfitness. I asked Yoga teacher HelenHeaslip to explain Astanga Yoga“Astanga Yoga follows a routine, whichbuilds warmth in the body and worksthe body internally as well as externally.It has a wonderful detoxifying andcleansing effect. The twists at the endenhance this process, and the inversionscome last draining all the fluidsdownwards before the final relaxation.The breath in Astanga is wonderful andcan help people develop their lungcapacity, and using the ‘Bandhas’(muscular locks) as we breath also helpsto develop core strength andawareness.” (contact Helen at
Bikram Yoga –
Hatha yoga in aspecial heated studio around 105degrees. 26 postures and twobreathing exercises. Physically andmentally challenging. Good fordetoxification, weight loss, strengthand stamina.
Hatha Yoga –
a gentle form of Yogaworking through a sequence of asanaswith some relaxation. The best placeto start out in Yoga, as you will havethe time and space to learn eachposture and how to take the posturesto the next level.
Sivananda Yoga –
Sivananda Yogatakes a traditional approach to HathaYoga and is based on the five points of Yoga for radiant health and mentalpeace of its founder – Swami Vishnu-Devananda. The five points are properexercise (the asanas), proper breathing,proper relaxation, diet, positivethinking and meditation.
Who is it for?
There is a type Yogafor everyone – all you have to do isdecide what you would like from yourclass. Yoga can be very simple for thebeginner or very challenging for theexperienced. I would recommendtrying a couple of different classesbefore deciding which Yoga is for you.
The kit –
No special kit is needed foryoga, just loose, comfortable clothes.You may wish to use your own yogamat. There are however many temptingclothes on offer for the practicing Yogi!Check out
The downside –
Yoga can be difficultfor stiff western bodies and minds! If youare new to Yoga, try to remember that itis non-competitive and avoid looking atthe super-bendy class members andcomparing yourself to them!
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880,and was a frail and sickly young man. Hebecame passionate about the body andphysical exercise in his efforts to improve hisphysique. During the First World War, Pilateshappened to be in England and was internedbecause of his nationality. Whilst confined, hedevised a system of exercise to maintain andimprove his and his fellow internee’s healthand used pulley systems on the beds – muchlike the Pilates Reformer you may see inmodern studios today. After the war, Pilatesworked with dancers in Germany, beforeheading to America where he opened his firststudio. Here, he attracted some of the bestballet dancers and as his reputation grew,actors, sportspeople and the rich and famousbecame devotees, drawn to the exercisesystem which gave strength and tone to thebody without bulk, and which promoted asense of calm and balance.Today, Pilates still attracts the rich andfamous, and has a well deservedreputation for making the body beautiful,with many celebrities crediting Pilates fortheir slim physiques.
The Principles
The principles of Pilates are:
Concentration –
Key to connectingmind and body
Relaxation –
working without unduetension
Coordination –
being aware of whatyour body is actually doing
Breathing –
deep thoracic (rib)breathing
Centering –
initiating movementsfrom the ‘powerhouse’ or centre
Flowing movements –
movementsshould be graceful and fluid
Control –
each movement isperformed in a slow controlled manner
Precision –
each movement has apurpose
Pilates matwork class –
Traditional and adapted Pilatesexercises adapted for the mat. Classeseither for beginners, intermediate oradvanced, and should have amaximum of 12 participants. Great forbalancing the body, improvingflexibility, body awareness and forgentle toning. I spoke to Body Controlteacher Alison Strophair – “BodyControl Pilates is specifically designedto meet the needs of each individual.Exercises are broken down so thatthey can be tailored to every client. Itis extremely safe for those who wish torehabilitate injuries or to alleviate paincaused by poor posture or muscleimbalances. On the other hand thetraditional mat repertoire isextremely challenging and exciting forthe Pilates enthusiast. Mat classes areboth relaxing and stimulating whilstprivate sessions can incorporate theuse of larger equipment to give adeeper and faster understanding of thePilates Principles. You will alwaysleave a session feeling energised andinvigorated with a far greaterawareness of your body and thedesire to keep it happy!” (contactAlison at -
). Bodycontrol and Stott Pilates are among themost reputable Pilates schools, socheck their websites for teachers inyour area.
Pilates studio equipment class –
Most studios offer small group classeswith several pieces of equipment.There might be one or two teachersfor a group of 4 or 5 participants.Large studio equipment might includethe Reformer – a type of sliding bedwith pulleys and springs, The Cadillacor Trapeze Table – similar to a fourposter bed with push/pull bars andresistance, Wall Springs for arm, legand abdominal exercises againstresistance. If you have space at home,
Sample Hatha or Sivasanayoga class – 90 minutes
Sivasana –
relaxation pose 5 mins
Pranayama –
breathing exercises
Sun salutation series –
6 sets – movingsequence warms up whole body
Headstand or dolphin –
inversion,works shoulders
Shoulderstand –
inversion,open upper spine
Plough –
as above
Bridge –
Fish –
counter-pose for bridge
Forward bend –
stretch entire back of body
Incline plane –
counter-pose for above
Cobra – backbend series –
upper spine
Locust –
Bow –
complete back bend
Spine twist –
stretches spine and hips
Crow –
balance pose strengthens arms
Triangle series –
open hips, tone legsand stretches entire body
Sivasana –
Final relaxation up to 10 mins
I would recommendtrying a couple ofdifferent classesbefore decidingwhich Yoga is for you

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