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Controversy In Texas! Yoga Or Pilates?

Aug 17, 2007
Yoga or Pilates. Pilates or Yoga. You've seen the late night/early morning infomercials for both. Bookstores in Dallas, Houston and throughout Texas have the latest books on these two activities. Exercise and health magazines devote a growing number of articles to both. Even the rich and famous have made their choices and divided into camps. So what's the big deal about Pilates and Yoga? Is one better than the other? What's different? What's the same? Which one makes the better dessert topping? Pilates or Yoga -- which one should you choose?

Yoga is a technique that claims to unite the mind, body and spirit. Yoga teachers, or Yogis, hold the belief that the mind and the body are one. And if you're given the right tools and taken to the right environment, you can find harmony and heal yourself. That's also why Yoga is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body's posture, alignment and patterns of movement.

The practice of yoga makes the body more flexible and can help relax you even in the middle of panic stricken surroundings. This is one of the biggest reasons why people start practicing Yoga -- to feel more fit, more energetic, be happier and more peaceful. Yoga movements are performed, mostly, in a group setting on a special Yoga mat with the aid of a Yogi. The practice utilizes the body's own weight for resistance. A great deal of focus is concentrated on flowing from one posture to the other. There are numerous Yoga styles and they differ on what they emphasize. No style is really better than another. The style you choose and use is a matter of personal preference or a matter of need.

For example, Vinyasa Yoga makes use of modified Yoga poses designed to meet the needs of an individual as well as to enhance healing, flexibility and strength of joints. These poses also tend to promote the feeling of well being and strength. Other Yoga practices may include meditation, reflection, study and other classic elements, but the focus of this type of Yoga practice is on coordinating breath and movement.

Pilates, on the other hand, seeks a lot of the same goals, also through a series of controlled movements. The big difference is that the Pilates technique not only has a full complement of mat work, but it also incorporates work on Pilates-specific machines. The focus of Pilates exercises is to strengthen your abdominal muscles, improve posture, stabilize and lengthen the spine, improve balance and overall strength. Pilates gives you a longer, leaner body.

And unlike many other training programs, Pilates works the whole body, emphasizing control, precision and concentration for both the mind and the body. The movements are not performed rapidly nor are they excessively repetitive. Instead, the focus is on quality, not quantity. The abdominal muscles, lower back and buttocks serve as the center of all movement, allowing the rest of the body to move freely. This focus on core stabilization makes one stronger from the inside out.

The low-impact nature of Pilates makes it ideal for Texans' injury prevention and rehabilitation. Its six principles: concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow and precision train the body to move efficiently, with minimal impact. The balance between strength and flexibility creates a healthy, vigorous and symmetrical workout for all muscle groups, resulting in a leaner, more balanced and stronger body.

Now that you know a little about both techniques, you should take your research one step further to discover which of these two fitness techniques is right for you. Try them separately or do them in conjunction with one another. You'll be surprised that both techniques can complement each other.

You can get the stretch from Yoga and keep it with Pilates. Strengthen your abdominals on the former and watch your poses improve. Join the breathing techniques of Pilates and meditative aspect of Yoga into your daily routine. Now watch the stress of your everyday life dissolve. Both techniques are established and, with the help of an experienced instructor and yogi, you might reach your fitness goals.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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