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FEATURE

Yoga
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FEATURE

or Pilates

which gets you fitter?


■ Non–competitiveness – working
People often ask ‘What is the difference between within your own limits without
judgment
Yoga and Pilates and which is the most effective?’ ■ Breath – paying attention to deep,
abdominal breathing or variations
Caroline Sandry gives you the lowdown on both. ■ Relaxation – beginning and ending
the session with proper relaxation
■ Focus – keeping the mind focused on
the breath and posture.
Yoga physical exercises, positive thinking and ■ Balance – using counter-poses to
Background meditation. Whilst in our western society it balance the body
Yoga is a way of life, an integrated system of might be challenging to take on the
discipline for the mind, body and spirit discipline required to be a Yogi in all areas The exercises
which has been practiced for thousands of of our lives, we can still benefit hugely The asanas (a Sanskrit word meaning
years in India, and is as popular now as ever. from the physical exercise or ‘Asanas’ that steady pose) are designed to promote a
To the ancient Yogi, the body was seen make up part of the Yoga practice. state of mental and physical health and
as a vehicle for the soul, and as such work on the internal as well as the
should be maintained in the best possible The principles external body. The asanas promote
condition using a pure vegetarian diet, ■ Patience – waiting for your body to flexibility, strength, relaxation and
proper relaxation, breathing exercises, become comfortable in the posture concentration by holding postures.

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FEATURE

Holding the postures for longer or The Principles


repeating the same posture will develop I would recommend The principles of Pilates are:
strength and stamina as well as mental ■ Concentration – Key to connecting
focus. Linking the postures together
trying a couple of mind and body
quickly can have a more aerobic effect. different classes ■ Relaxation – working without undue
tension
TYPES OF YOGA before deciding ■ Coordination – being aware of what
■ Astanga Yoga – a demanding form of your body is actually doing
Yoga where the postures are linked which Yoga is for you ■ Breathing – deep thoracic (rib)
together in a flowing sequence. Good breathing
for building strength, stamina and CV ■ Centering – initiating movements
fitness. I asked Yoga teacher Helen Sample Hatha or Sivasana from the ‘powerhouse’ or centre
Heaslip to explain Astanga Yoga yoga class – 90 minutes ■ Flowing movements – movements
“Astanga Yoga follows a routine, which should be graceful and fluid
builds warmth in the body and works Sivasana – relaxation pose 5 mins ■ Control – each movement is
the body internally as well as externally. Pranayama – breathing exercises performed in a slow controlled manner
It has a wonderful detoxifying and Sun salutation series – 6 sets – moving ■ Precision – each movement has a
cleansing effect. The twists at the end sequence warms up whole body purpose
enhance this process, and the inversions Headstand or dolphin – inversion,
come last draining all the fluids works shoulders TYPES OF PILATES
downwards before the final relaxation. Shoulderstand – inversion, ■ Pilates matwork class –
The breath in Astanga is wonderful and open upper spine Traditional and adapted Pilates
can help people develop their lung Plough – as above exercises adapted for the mat. Classes
capacity, and using the ‘Bandhas’ Bridge – backbend either for beginners, intermediate or
(muscular locks) as we breath also helps Fish – counter-pose for bridge advanced, and should have a
to develop core strength and Forward bend – stretch entire back of body maximum of 12 participants. Great for
awareness.” (contact Helen at Incline plane – counter-pose for above balancing the body, improving
helenheaslip@btinternet.com) Cobra – backbend series – upper spine flexibility, body awareness and for
■ Bikram Yoga – Hatha yoga in a Locust – backbend gentle toning. I spoke to Body Control
special heated studio around 105 Bow – complete back bend teacher Alison Strophair – “Body
degrees. 26 postures and two Control Pilates is specifically designed
Spine twist – stretches spine and hips
breathing exercises. Physically and to meet the needs of each individual.
Crow – balance pose strengthens arms
mentally challenging. Good for Exercises are broken down so that
Triangle series – open hips, tone legs
detoxification, weight loss, strength they can be tailored to every client. It
and stretches entire body
and stamina. is extremely safe for those who wish to
■ Hatha Yoga – a gentle form of Yoga Sivasana – Final relaxation up to 10 mins rehabilitate injuries or to alleviate pain
working through a sequence of asanas caused by poor posture or muscle
with some relaxation. The best place is non-competitive and avoid looking at imbalances. On the other hand the
to start out in Yoga, as you will have the super-bendy class members and traditional mat repertoire is
the time and space to learn each comparing yourself to them! extremely challenging and exciting for
posture and how to take the postures the Pilates enthusiast. Mat classes are
to the next level. Pilates both relaxing and stimulating whilst
■ Sivananda Yoga – Sivananda Yoga Background private sessions can incorporate the
takes a traditional approach to Hatha Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880, use of larger equipment to give a
Yoga and is based on the five points of and was a frail and sickly young man. He deeper and faster understanding of the
Yoga for radiant health and mental became passionate about the body and Pilates Principles. You will always
peace of its founder – Swami Vishnu- physical exercise in his efforts to improve his leave a session feeling energised and
Devananda. The five points are proper physique. During the First World War, Pilates invigorated with a far greater
exercise (the asanas), proper breathing, happened to be in England and was interned awareness of your body and the
proper relaxation, diet, positive because of his nationality. Whilst confined, he desire to keep it happy!” (contact
thinking and meditation. devised a system of exercise to maintain and Alison at -
■ Who is it for? There is a type Yoga improve his and his fellow internee’s health alison4pilates@aol.co.uk). Body
for everyone – all you have to do is and used pulley systems on the beds – much control and Stott Pilates are among the
decide what you would like from your like the Pilates Reformer you may see in most reputable Pilates schools, so
class. Yoga can be very simple for the modern studios today. After the war, Pilates check their websites for teachers in
beginner or very challenging for the worked with dancers in Germany, before your area.
experienced. I would recommend heading to America where he opened his first ■ Pilates studio equipment class –
trying a couple of different classes studio. Here, he attracted some of the best Most studios offer small group classes
before deciding which Yoga is for you. ballet dancers and as his reputation grew, with several pieces of equipment.
■ The kit – No special kit is needed for actors, sportspeople and the rich and famous There might be one or two teachers
yoga, just loose, comfortable clothes. became devotees, drawn to the exercise for a group of 4 or 5 participants.
You may wish to use your own yoga system which gave strength and tone to the Large studio equipment might include
mat. There are however many tempting body without bulk, and which promoted a the Reformer – a type of sliding bed
clothes on offer for the practicing Yogi! sense of calm and balance. with pulleys and springs, The Cadillac
Check out www.sweatybetty.com Today, Pilates still attracts the rich and or Trapeze Table – similar to a four
or www.yogamad.com famous, and has a well deserved poster bed with push/pull bars and
■ The downside – Yoga can be difficult reputation for making the body beautiful, resistance, Wall Springs for arm, leg
for stiff western bodies and minds! If you with many celebrities crediting Pilates for and abdominal exercises against
are new to Yoga, try to remember that it their slim physiques. resistance. If you have space at home,

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newcomers may find this difficult or movement. You may prefer to take
Sample Pilates matwork tedious. You should always try to find your own mat, which should be
class – 60 minutes a class with a maximum of 12 padded – a Yoga mat is too thin for
Standing postural awareness participants, as a good teacher will some of the movements. Depending
need to be able to see each person upon your posture, you may need a
Shoulder warm up
clearly and have time to correct. rolled up towel for head support.
Neck warm up
■ The Kit – No special equipment is www.yogamad.com has some
Roll downs – stretches entire spine
needed. Just loose, comfortable great clothes and props for pilates
Cat stretch – spine stretch
clothing which does not restrict and yoga.
Supine shoulder warm-up – lying
shoulder movements Type of class duration benefits cals burnt
Upper body opener – side lying rotation
Shoulder bridge – mobilises spine, Astanga Yoga 120 mins upper body strength 430
tones bottom Increases flexibility
Abdominal curls – controlled crunches Detoxifying
The 100 – abdominal exercise – Toning
100 breaths A challenging class which made me sweat a little and did work the CV system as well as
Single leg stretch – abdominal exercise all muscles groups. A great workout for the arms and had muscle soreness for two days
Criss-cross – oblique twist after. I burnt 430 Calories in the two hours, and felt very tired but also energised.
Breast stroke – upper spine mobility, Bikram Yoga 90 mins Detoxifying 522
stability work Burns calories
Oblique roll back – spinal mobility, Increases flexibility
abdominal strength & stability Some toning effect
Side leg exercises – pelvic stability, A real challenge. My heart rate was quite high throughout the hour and a half class – due
leg & hip strengthening to the heat and holding the postures. I burnt 522 Calories, and felt great after the class –
Swimming – on all fours, stability, no muscle soreness and good energy, but I did have a cracking headache later that day. I
back strengthening would not recommend this if you are very unfit, new to yoga or adverse to heat!
Plank or leg pull front –
all over strength and stability Sivananda Yoga 90 mins relaxing
Hamstring stretch, hip flexor release Increases flexibility
and relaxation 5 mins. Some strengthening effect
The most calming of all the classes. The sun salutations series does have some cardio
effect but only for the first ten minutes or so. The class included breathing exercises and
a long relaxation, as well as a short prayer. Very calming and meditative – a great way to
Pilates is for de-stress or end the week.
anybody and Stott intermediate
pilates matwork 60 mins abdominal strength 112
everybody. It can be toning
adapted to suit the improves posture
can improve flexibility
complete beginner, Reasonably challenging throughout, with emphasis on core stability and abdominal work.
Some of the leg exercises are surprisingly challenging and my muscles did feel tired and
or to challenge an worked, although I felt no real effect on my heart rate. The addition of props (flex band and
fitness circle) meant I could add extra resistance.
Olympic athlete
Reformer workout 45 mins all over strength
(on aero performer) Balances body
you can get fantastic equipment Improves flexibility
for home use – check out A wonderful feeling – gliding back and forth. The machine seems to find your weak spots!
www.shop4pilates.com for their Great for lengthening whilst toning and the adjustable resistance means you can increase
Pilates performer. the challenge to your strength, or your stability. The addition of a cardio board on the
■ Who is it for? Pilates is for anybody reformer (like a rebounder) can give a great CV workout whilst toning legs, bum and core.
and everybody. It can be adapted to
suit the complete beginner, or to
challenge an Olympic athlete. Pilates SO – WHICH GETS YOU FITTER: YOGA OR PILATES?
can be tailored to rehab or sports If fitness and weight loss are your goals, then Bikram Yoga has to be the best place to start,
specific, toning or stretching and can closely followed by Astanga Yoga. If you are looking for strength, tone and condition then
be done with or without resistance. Pilates matwork or equipment classes are ideal. If you are looking to improve your mental
Pilates is particularly wonderful for pre fitness, then Sivananda Yoga and most Hatha and Astanga Yoga classes will certainly put
and post pregnancy, and can play a you on track. For flexibility Yoga definitely comes out on top, although Pilates will give
key role in recovery from childbirth some gains, and for a great CV and body conditioning workout – the Pilates reformer with
after the 6 week check period. the CV board will keep you challenged for years to come!
■ The downside – In a group
situation, you may find you are
USEFUL WEBSITES www.stott-pilates.co.uk
hindered by the most injured or unfit
www.sivananda.co.uk www.bodycontrol.co.uk
person in your group and that
www.bikramyoga.co.uk www.yogamad.com
progress is slow. There is a lot of
www.bwy.org.uk www.shop4pilates.com
attention to detail and breathing, and

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