Articles from January 2008

Pilates exercise program

Pilates was developed by a man named Joseph H. Pilates.  Pilates had asthma as a child and spent a great deal of time struggling with illness and frailty, which inspired him to develop the exercise routines now names for him.  Originally, Pilates called the form of exercise “contrology” because of the connection he felt existed between the mind and the body.

Pilates exercises are designed to improve the strength of the body’s core, that is, the muscles of the abdomen and torso, and were designed with the idea that the healthier the body’s core is, the less likely it will be to suffer from ailments like the asthma Pilates himself suffered from as a child.

The practice of pilates contributes to your health in several ways.  Not only does it improve your physical well-being by increasing your flexibility, giving you stronger muscles, and helping you slim down, but it also improves your mental well-being.  Starting a Pilates exercise program is simple: all you need to do pilates is your body and a mat. It has been a very popular exercise among gymnasts and dancers that has only moved into the mainstream in the last two decades.

Pilates 300x200 Pilates exercise program
Pilates exercises condition the body to improve flexibility and strength.  The exercises work the body’s core muscles allowing for better posture and a decreased risk of major injury.  Because Joseph Pilates believed the mental and physical health are closely related, the exercises are designed to incorporate concentration, control, and breathing.

Because of its popularity, it is easy to find beginner courses or even home videos that will guide you through the basic exercises.  Be sure you choose an instructor who has been adequately trained.  Pilates, if done incorrectly, can cause injury to your body.  Make sure you wear comfortable clothing that allows you to remain modest while moving into positions you may have never thought possible.  Move slowly and deliberately, and don’t worry if you don’t know how to do the exercises the first time you try.

If you experience any kind of pain or discomfort, stop.  Pilates can be used as a strengthening program in partnership with an aerobic exercise to give you all-around better health benefits.  It is something you can do alone in your living room if you aren’t the type to go to a health club.  Even a small amount of Pilates exercise can offer a great deal of benefit to your body.

Yoga

Yoga is a form of exercise that benefits your body, mind, and soul.  Its combination of muscle-focused strengthening exercises, breathing, and relaxation techniques have been proven to reduce tension and stress and help individuals who practice it be healthier mentally and physically.

Yoga has been proven to provide reliefe for arthritis, asthma, pain, high blood pressure, and depression.  It can ease the symptoms of diabetes, heart disease, and even migraines and other chronic headaches.  Yoga has even been shown to have positive results for those suffering from multiple sclerosis and other neural conditions.  Yoga also has the added benefit of improving self-esteem, concentration, and the immune system.

Yoga was developed in the country of India.  It is as much a spiritual practice as it is an exercise, and preaches love, compassion, and tolerance in addition to calming the soul, body, and mind. It was  originally designed in order for the followers to have a deeply spiritual experience.  Whether you are seeking the spiritual experience or not yoga can provide you with a path to healthier living, because no matter what else yoga is, it helps you feel better in both your body and your mind.
To do yoga, you either need to go to a yoga studio or class or buy an instructional yoga video.  For the woman who is more reserved, because of the nature of some of the positions involved, trying it first with a video inside your own home might be advisable.  Whether you go to a studio or practice yoga from home, it is best to invest in an exercise mat, which can be attained at nearly any store that has a small fitness department or sports section.

The most wonderful thing about yoga is that even if you have very little time – 15 minutes every morning, or 30 minutes at the end of each week – you will still notice the benefits of practicing yoga.  The physical motions of yoga will improve the function of your body; the breathing exercises of yoga will help you remove the stress from your life; the clearing of your mind will help you concentrate and stay more sharply focused.  These benefits are experienced even once you have completed your yoga practice.

Adding yoga to your fitness plan is a great place to start for those who are feeling the pressure of the world. What you may discover is that the more you practice yoga, the more you want to practice yoga.  You’ll find it easier to relax, you’ll notice improved flexibility; you may even begin to notice a new calm about you that stays with you.

For the over 40 woman, I would strongly recommend that you include yoga in your fitness program.  As you know, as women get older they start to lose muscle mass and also bone density.  The practice of yoga is a great way to combat these occurrences especially for women who don’t feel capable of dealing with the more stressful forms of exercise. Idealy yoga should be seen as an addition to your fitness routine rather than as a substitute of any other forms of exercise.

Try not to be intimidated by the mental picture you may have developed of yoga.  Often times we see yogi practitioners who are able to coax their bodies into impossible positions. We find this intimidating as we think we could never be able to do that. Well my resposne to that is, you are not expected to be able to do that, least right away.  like anything else, start with small steps and you will eventually be surprised at what you will be able to achieve. The key is to Start.