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Yoga and Pilates: How do these activites benefit your health?

Published: January 22, 2016

Exercise can help improve your balance
Exercise can help improve your balance

Over the last few decades yoga and Pilates have become well established as popular forms of physical activity. Studios specific to either yoga or Pilates have sprung up throughout western countries.

In addition, established fitness centres and community recreational centres include various yoga and Pilates formats in their physical activity and exercise schedules.
There is a wealth of research which has identified many health benefits associated with participating in physical activities which promote cardiovascular exercise, muscle strengthening and endurance training, and flexibility training.
Although both yoga and Pilates have been popular as health related physical activities for the best part of a century there has been limited research which confirms many of the health benefits thought to be associated with the practice of these two activities.
Pilates
The Pilates method, described as a system of controlled movements, was developed by Joseph Pilates almost 100 years ago and is now practised by millions of people worldwide. The method was originally developed to enhance human mind and body function.
Regular Pilates practice is thought to improve control, strength, endurance and flexibility. A focus on alignment, coordination, balance and breathing is key to correct Pilates practice which can be performed at various levels depending on the goals and limitations of the participant.
Historically, Pilates has its origins in the German physical culture of the nineteenth century and employs the use of specialised equipment such as the “Reformer” designed to promote correct body alignment, stretching and strengthening. Mat work is designed to promote core strength although core muscles are integrated into every movement.
Contemporary Pilates is underpinned by six principles: concentration, control, centre, flow, precision and breathing.
It has been suggested that regular practice of Pilates may provide health benefits such as reduction of low back pain, provide benefits for heart failure patients and may reduce falls in older women.
Yoga
Originating in India many centuries ago, yoga is an overarching term which traditionally describes practices that combine spiritual, meditative and physical components. There is no single yoga...