If you feel a little creaky and movement seems less fluid it might be worth taking up yoga or Pilates.
But there’s the dilemma: which one should you choose?
Pilates and Yoga both have their advocates but there are some amazing similarities. However, yoga is considered more philosophical whereas Pilates might be classified as being more workout orientated. Pilates is a newer form whereas yoga is steeped in tradition and spirituality.
In case you are contemplating taking up either of these forms of exercise we thought it might be worth listing the similarities.
We have mentioned the differences in a previous article so that you can make the right decision on which one to focus on.
But before you start do take into consideration what Joseph Pilates said. It’s a great motivator:
We can all change how we move, how we age and how we feel. So maybe it’s time to take the decision to exercise and choose between yoga and Pilates. Our handy guide will help you make your choice.
1. Gets You Moving
We all know exercise is good for us but it’s hard to get started.
But here’s a fact: did you know that if you exercise you cut the risk of chronic disease by 40%! That’s a stat worth bearing in mind.
Both Pilates and yoga are low impact exercises that will allow you to get started. But don’t underestimate either.
The will both give you a thorough workout but without the stress on bones. Basically you are able to access the benefits of getting moving without suffering the potential strain of an activity such as jogging or a racquet sport.
Yoga and Pilates are not to be dismissed under any circumstances. Do remember professional sports people incorporate either system in their exercise regime.
This is because you can use your own body weight without needing anything additional. Ex-Manchester United player Ryan Giggs for example is a massive advocate of yoga and so is tennis star Andy Murray.
But Pilates also has its own celebrity super fans: Madonna, Jennifer Anniston, Hugh Grant, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese and Gwyneth Paltrow are just a few. If these forms of exercise are good for them you can bet it’s good for you too.
2. Be Flexible
If tying your shoelaces, cutting your toenails or bending down to pick something up from the floor is a chore then the two exercises will both increase your overall flexibility.
Do not underestimate the power of being flexible. If movements are restricted they can actually contribute to more trips and falls.
Who wants to live to old age when it’s hard to lift your arms above your head or when walking downstairs is a nightmare?
We need to look after our ability to undertake basic daily chores as they promote independence, no matter what age we are. Both Pilates and yoga will help in this respect.
Yoga is particularly effective for spinal stretching and maintaining good circulation through the spinal chord. Strengthening your body’s core should be something we all aim for.
If we don’t look after the core muscles that protect our spine then we may well start to feel the effects of osteoporosis and general back problems. This is ironic because we are obsessed with our body shape but rarely think about our skeletons.
Obviously with age bone density is lost.
So what can be done?
Yoga will help to gently stretch and twist to help this. It may even help you gain bone density in the long term. The key is less emphasis on cardiovascular workouts.
But don’t be fooled, it’s no walk in the park but Pilates and Yoga are both eminently do-able.
Many people commence both exercise systems in their middle years knowing that they can manage but push themselves as they improve.
Pilates is a complete system of exercises. The aim of it is also to build body core strength. When you begin to balance, stretch and breath effectively the differences can be profound.
3. Keep Your Mind Sharp
We all laugh off ‘senior moments’ when we get to the top of the stairs but have no idea why. We also have difficulty recalling the most obvious name, place, film or book title.
Sometimes we think we are having problems remembering things but it can actually be about stress. Yoga and Pilates allows everyone the precious space to be in the moment and relive feelings of stress.
This in itself can improve your mind.
They also promote better overall health, we always find that when we feel better we function more effectively in every single way. Also, taking quiet time out for yourself through a weekly or daily yoga practice can help relieve stress, and keep you centered and energized.
If you concentrate on maintaining Pilates positions and breathing correctly this can have a very positive impact on stress relief and the overall health benefits of the exercises are significant.
4. Exercise After Injury or Immobility
You can begin yoga or Pilates after an injury, immobility or generally not having moved significantly for years. If you want to improve your general fitness and well-being, then both systems will help enormously.
Anything that can improve balance or general flexibility of co-ordination is a great way to keep ageing at bay.
5. Keep Breathing
Breathing is important to both Yoga and Pilates. What is termed the Yogic breath makes every participant think about their breathing.
Being mindful of this unconscious act can have profound consequences. It can detoxify the body and make a difference to how the lymphatic system, organs and muscles function.
It is considered good to alleviate asthma too. Pilates will also help to correct respiratory problems and increase circulation. Muscle pain and arthritis can also be managed more effectively.
6. Do It Anywhere
You don’t need a massive space or expensive equipment to take up yoga or Pilates. The basic tools you need are a willingness to begin, a mat and some loose fitting clothes.
You can join a class, buy a DVD, find a personal teacher or try a Pilates holiday to start off your efforts.
On the other hand you might want to take yourself away for a Pilates holiday where you can learn all the techniques in the sunshine next to a swimming pool.
It’s a great idea to make a commitment and make either exercises as part of your routine.
It’s worthwhile especially if we are destined to live longer lives. If that really is the case, it’s imperative we ensure that we live, creative, independent and mobile ones for as long as we are able.
After all, if we treat our bodies with respect we will feel better and have the added benefit of more energy. When our bodies are more flexible our minds soon follow.