4 Benefits of Adding Yoga and Pilates to Your Workout Routine

Photo credit: Ms Sarah Welch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

So, you already have a workout routine that is working pretty well for you. You are getting in your cardio and your weight training, but you would like to focus more on full body flexibility, balance, and alleviate some posture issues. Or, maybe you need to find better ways to manage stress and increase your overall sense of well-being. One way to achieve these goals is to add yoga and Pilates to your workout routine. If you aren’t sure this will work for you, consider these benefits.

1. Leaner Muscle

If you are looking for the fastest path to long, lean muscles, then adding Pilates and yoga elements to your overall workout routine is a great choice. Both disciplines involve long periods of sustained stretching, which open up those muscle fibers and help your muscles achieve their maximum natural length, in addition to enhancing your strength, agility, range of motion, and flexibility.

2. Increased Flexibility

One of the obvious benefits of an effective yoga stretching routine is increased flexibility. Regular stretching can improve circulation, prevent injury, and increase range of motion in your ligaments and muscles. Poor posture is also a big problem for many people, which is usually caused by tight lower back muscles. The best approach is to combine both yoga and Pilates to correct those imbalances. Both disciplines are very effective for developing core strength, teaching proper alignment, improving posture awareness, and increasing range of motion.

3. Body Awareness

Body awareness is an integral part of yoga and Pilates. You learn how to be more mindful and aware of your body. You gain a better sense of the position of different body parts and how those parts work together, which is called proprioception. Touching your nose with your index fingers while closing your eyes is one example. Your mind knows where certain body parts are so you don’t always need your eyes to find them. For example, being able to walk in complete darkness without losing your balance. So, as you continue to develop this ability, your relationship with each individual body part and where they exist in space will be enhanced. Some additional benefits include better sleep, less stress and anxiety, and a greater sense of peace.

4. Meditation

Yoga and Pilates also brings in meditation to your daily workout and workout plan, which can help you maintain a state of calm and centered in times of stress. Practicing meditation on a daily basis can also help you work through problems and issues that you normally would not think of during your normal workout. Overall, this can be a huge benefit if you are overly stressed and concerned about your stress levels during your day.

By keeping these benefits in mind, you can begin to look through the large number of yoga and Pilates styles to find the ones that work best for you and your lifestyle. Remember, there are many styles like Barre that combine yoga and Pilates to maximize your time and effort.

 

 

Benefits of Yoga

Photo Credit: Yoga4Love Public Domain
Yoga is an excellent way to calm your mind, stretch your muscles and improve your level of fitness. Some people envision bodies contorted like pretzels when they think about yoga. Yoga is a great way to stretch all the muscles of your body, improve your range of motion and get a good non-aerobic workout. Stretching your muscles releases stored lactic acid from the muscle tissues that causes stiffness, soreness and tension in your muscles. There are different styles of yoga each designed for different outcomes. Power yoga, called ashtanga, is a vigorous style of exercise that will improve your muscle tone. Iyengar style yoga focuses on precise poses that improve strength and endurance. Standing positions can improve the strength in your legs and abdominal muscles as well as improve balance. 
Yoga helps improve your posture. Standing and sitting positions help to strengthen your core and your back muscles. Holding yoga poses strengthens the abdominal and back muscles. Stronger core muscles helps you to maintain good posture throughout the day whether you are sitting, standing or walking. The more you practice yoga poses, the more aware you become of your body and your posture. You are less likely to slump when sitting and to stand up straight because of increased body awareness.
Deep breathing exercises when doing yoga can improve your lung capacity. Deeper breathing increases the oxygen in your blood, which can improve your performance and endurance when doing more strenuous exercise. Deep breathing yoga exercises also helps you to relax by reducing the amount of adrenalin in your body. 

People who suffer from neck, spine, and shoulder injuries should not do yoga or any other stretching exercise without a doctor’s approval. Those who suffer from osteoporosis and pregnant women should also avoid yoga exercises. See your doctor before beginning a yoga program. Don’t try to do yoga on your own. Find a qualified yoga fitness instructor so that you learn the proper way to perform yoga poses and stretches. 

Social Fitness

Photo Credit: www.localfitness.com.au
Do you exercise alone at home or at the gym? Sometimes belonging to a group of like-minded people can be a great motivator. Friendly competitions or simply sharing time with others can make exercise more enjoyable, strengthen friendships and increase your social circle. How can you engage your current friends and find new friends through exercise? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Communities across the USA are starting walking groups. Join a local walking group to make new friends. Start your own walking group if you can’t find one in your area. Recruit current friends, family and co-workers. Encourage them to bring someone with them, too. Schedule walks when the most people can join in the fun and exercise. Choose start locations that are convenient to the majority of the group and have fun!
Take a dance class for the aerobic exercise and to make new friends. Dancing, like ballroom dancing or Salsa dancing, is a low-impact form of exercise that is effective and fun! You can probably find a dance class close to your home. You don’t have to have a dance partner to join a class. There are almost always partners ready to dance with you. Line dancing is a popular dance style and doesn’t require a partner. You’re sure to make new friends and get a good workout at a dance class. 
Most gyms offer group exercise opportunities, such as yoga, martial arts, Pilates and dance aerobics classes.  Join an exercise group at your local fitness center or gym to make friends and get fit at the same time. Those who need a more personal touch when it comes to exercise may consider a small-group exercise class offered by certified personal trainers. Personal trainers sometimes offer group training with 10 or fewer participants in the group. 

Benefits of Yoga

When some people think about yoga, they envision sitting crossed-legged, meditation and strange contorted positions. Yoga includes stretching and breathing techniques that help the practitioner to develop a balance between mind and body. Yoga exercises and positions help develop both joint flexibility and strength. You don’t have to be an expert in yoga or spend a month meditating in the wilderness to take advantage of the fitness benefits of yoga. Everyone can participate in yoga exercises and practice yoga breathing techniques as part of their daily exercise routine or as part of interval training for whole body fitness.
 Photo Credit: longtrekhome CC-BY-2.0
Deep breathing exercises can enhance your athletic performance, increase your lung capacity and improve endurance. Deep breathing saturates your blood and cells with extra vital oxygen you will need  to sustain you during a moderate or vigorous workout. Practicing yoga breathing exercises can train your body to breathe correctly to maximize your performance.
Yoga poses generally focus on the core and strengthening the core muscles. Yoga movements are slow and focused. Isometric contractions of the core abdominal muscles will help strengthen these muscles. A strong core is necessary for balance, posture, overall strength and endurance. In addition to better breathing technique and a stronger core, yoga can help increase your range of motion and joint flexibility. Flexibility and increased range of motion makes many other types of exercises easier and you will be less prone to injury from muscle strain. Yoga is also low-impact which makes it a good alternative form of exercise for those recovering from an injury, pregnant women and new mothers trying to get back into shape after having a baby. There are different styles of yoga, from slow, deliberate motions to a rapid succession of poses for a more aerobic workout. Adding 30 minutes of yoga to your weekly workout routine is a great way to cross-train by including stretching, core strengthening, balance and flexibility training.