Get Fit with Yoga and Pilates

yoga classby Diane Quinn

Does your New Year’s resolution involve losing weight or improving your health? Then get fit with yoga and Pilates exercise for better flexibility, balance and strength.

Take Yoga Classes

Yoga has many benefits beyond fitness, and proper yoga techniques can be harder than they appear. If you haven’t done any type of exercise for a long time, think about joining a yoga studio to get started, or take advantage of classes offered at your local YMCA. Many of the positions that target specific areas of the body can be difficult at first, and you can injure yourself until you learn correct yoga techniques under the guidance of a professional. However, if you simply want to expand your fitness routine, buy a good yoga DVD and get to work on your own.

Yoga Poses and Body Parts

Consider the well-known yoga “cat pose.” This position has abdominal benefits, while at the same time, it gives your spine and belly organs a gentle massage. To focus on your rear end, use the “cobra pose.” It firms the butt, opens the chest and adds flexibility to the spine.

Join a Pilates Studio

Getting fit with Pilates involves a system of stretching and strengthening exercises specifically designed to develop your body’s core and improve flexibility, spinal posture and movement. Because Pilates also incorporates equipment, consider joining a Pilates studio or other wellness center to get you off on the right foot. However, if the idea of working out in a group setting is daunting, rent or buy a Pilates DVD first to determine if the system is right for you.

How Pilates Works

Pilates requires specific exercises be done in sequence and is designed to engage the mind and body through a series of controlled movements. Called “dynamic tension” by founder Joseph Pilates, this workout exercises muscle against muscle with the intent that movements flow together simultaneously. A popular and challenging abdominal, spine and buttocks mat workout is called the “series of five.” This series includes single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double straight leg lower/lift and the crisscross.

 

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  1. I've always been told that yoga is great cross-training. It seems like a great way to complement my running routine AND de-stress!

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