which gets you fitter?
People often ask ‘What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates and which is the most effective?’ Caroline Sandry gives you the lowdown on both.
Yoga is a way of life, an integrated system of discipline for the mind, body and spirit which has been practiced for thousands of years in India, andis as popular now as ever. To the ancient Yogi, the body was seen as a vehicle for the soul, and as such should be maintained in the best possible condition using a pure vegetarian diet, proper relaxation, breathing exercises, physical exercises, positive thinking and meditation. Whilst in our western society it might be challenging to take on the discipline required to be a Yogi in all areas ofour lives, we can still benefit hugely from the physical exercise or ‘Asanas’ that make up part of the Yoga practice.
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Non–competitiveness – working within your own limits without judgment Breath – paying attention to deep, abdominal breathing or variations Relaxation – beginning and ending the session with proper relaxation Focus – keeping the mind focused on the breath and posture.Balance – using counter-poses to balance the body
The asanas (a Sanskrit word meaning steady pose) are designed to promote a state of mental and physical health and work on the internal as well as the external body. The asanas promote flexibility, strength, relaxation and concentration by holding postures.
Patience – waiting for your body to becomecomfortable in the posture
Holding the postures for longer or repeating the same posture will develop strength and stamina as well as mental focus. Linking the postures together quickly can have a more aerobic effect.
TYPES OF YOGA
Astanga Yoga – a demanding form of Yoga where the postures are linked together in a flowing sequence. Goodfor building strength, stamina and CV fitness. I asked Yoga teacher Helen Heaslip to explain Astanga Yoga “Astanga Yoga follows a routine, which builds warmth in the body and works the body internally as well as externally. It has a wonderful detoxifying and cleansing effect. The twists at the end enhance this process, and the inversions come last draining all the fluids downwards before thefinal relaxation. The breath in Astanga is wonderful and can help people develop their lung capacity, and using the ‘Bandhas’ (muscular locks) as we breath also helps to develop core strength and awareness.” (contact Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org) Bikram Yoga – Hatha yoga in a special heated studio around 105 degrees. 26 postures and two breathing exercises. Physically and mentally challenging.Good for detoxification, weight loss, strength and stamina. Hatha Yoga – a gentle form of Yoga working through a sequence of asanas with some relaxation. The best place to start out in Yoga, as you will have the time and space to learn each posture and how to take the postures to the next level. Sivananda Yoga – Sivananda Yoga takes a traditional approach to Hatha Yoga and is based on the fivepoints of Yoga for radiant health and mental peace of its founder – Swami VishnuDevananda. The five points are proper exercise (the asanas), proper breathing, proper relaxation, diet, positive thinking and meditation. Who is it for? There is a type Yoga for everyone – all you have to do is decide what you would like from your class. Yoga can be very simple for the beginner or very challenging forthe experienced. I would recommend trying a couple of different classes before deciding which Yoga is for you. The kit – No special kit is needed for yoga, just loose, comfortable clothes. You may wish to use your own yoga mat. There are however many tempting clothes on offer for the practicing Yogi! Check out www.sweatybetty.com or www.yogamad.com The downside – Yoga can be difficult for stiff...