At some point in our lives we’ve all heard, “try yoga, it’s so good for you” or “try pilates, it’s great for your core and back”. But what does yoga and pilates actually do for us? Isn’t it all just noisy breathing and trying to contort your body into weird and wonderful poses? Not quite. Read on to discover why getting your ‘Zen’ on could be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Whether you’re an athlete, body builder, runner or a busy parent with two small kids on the go, flexibility plays a huge part in helping and protecting your body. If you try a yoga class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes on your first attempt but if you persevere, you will gradually notice your body loosening up and poses that seemed impossible will soon become more and more realistic. Increasing our flexibility will allow the body to balance itself out and relieve pressure from the places that have developed imbalances.
Builds muscle strength
Muscles do more than look good. Having more muscle mass prevents injuries and can prevent arthritis and back pain. You may think that the quickest way to build muscle mass is to lift some heavy weights in the gym. While this is true, weight training alone will build mass but hinder flexibility. Find the right balance between weight training and flexibility training and you’ll be well on your way to sculpting a strong physique with fewer injuries.
Increases bone density
Although yoga and pilates do not use weights, they do require you to use your own body weight to hold some of the challenging poses. For example, ‘Downward dog’ and ‘Upward dog’ require a lot of arm strength to hold the body up as well as shoulder stabilisation. Not only will your upper body strength increase but so will your bone health and joint mobility.
Increases Range of Motion
If you have tight shoulders, this could directly affect the range of motion in your chest which could hinder you when trying to increase strength in your chest. Increasing your flexibility in the shoulders will allow a greater range of movement in the chest allowing you to train both equally therefore creating an overall balanced physique.
Improves your breathing
Yoga can help you breathe more effectively than ever before. As the intensity increases in your class, you are often encouraged to breathe slower. This allows you to use more of your lung capacity meaning you can get as much, if not more, oxygen in one breath than if you had done four small quick breaths. This is a great practice to help you improve your breathing not only for everyday life but also for your cardio and weight training. Plus more efficient breathing helps to lower blood pressure.
Aids active recovery
Active recovery is where you should refrain from doing your usual workout routine to allow your body to rest and recuperate, but you still want to remain active. Yoga / pilates is perfect for this. You may find them both quite challenging in their own way but they do not require your body to have long recovery periods (we are not saying you won’t ache the first couple of times you do the class though!)
So now you know the ins and outs why not try a class and let us know how you get on? We offer yoga, pilates and Les Mills Body Balance (this consists of yoga, pilates and Tai Chi).
For more information on the classes we offer visit http://newforest.gov.uk/healthandleisure/ or call 023 8028 5531.
Luke Beavis - Fitness Instructor