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Pilates and Yoga: Good for the Body and Mind

By Debra Rodzinak

While many people understand the physical benefits of Pilates and yoga, the emotional benefits can be equally as beneficial.  The regular practice makes those partakers stronger, more flexible, and able to strengthen both physically and emotionally.  Known as “mind-body” fitness, Pilates and yoga emphasize both physical and mental strength and is a great complement to chiropractic care.

Health Benefits

The poses help to strengthen the body and increase flexibility.  The body learns these movements over time and the mind increases focus.  The practice of mind-body exercises reduces blood pressure, helps with weight loss and maintenance, eases stress, and improves sleep.  Even cholesterol has been studied, and in one three-month study was found to lower cholesterol more than 12 points on average.

Calories Burned

Surprisingly, almost 300 calories per hour can be burned in a regular yoga class.  This amount is increased with even more complex classes such as Bikram or power yoga.  The more complex the movement, the more overall calories burned.  However, if you are new to yoga, learning the basics to avoid injury is advised before moving on to a more advanced class.

Building Strength

There is no need for weightlifting because performing these types of mind-body exercises on a regular basis builds up strength.  Don’t stress about holding the poses perfectly or comparing yourself to a more advanced student.  In the beginning, learning the poses, building overall strength, and having correct form is more important than flexibility.  Flexibility comes with time.

Getting Started

If you have never been to a yoga or Pilates class, don’t be intimidated.  Make sure you pick a beginner’s class where each pose is discussed and the proper form is explained.  Most yoga or Pilates studios offer beginner classes.  Try out each practice before you settle on one.  Pilates, yoga, and even tai chi each have different elements that appeal to different people.

Dressing the Part

Don’t run out and buy every piece of yoga equipment or special gloves or socks before you are certain that you have found the right fit.  A comfortable pair of sweatpants and a shirt are usually all that is needed.  Don’t wear a shirt that is too loose though since you will be in different positions and the shirt may get in the way.  Plan on going barefoot too.  Sock will make you unstable and slip during crucial poses where stability is needed.      

Above all else, get out there and try.  The overall benefits to the body and mind are superior to many other forms of exercise, and it works well with chiropractic so that the spine helps provide optimal function and the other optional form. 

 

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