My social worker is based out of Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach, CA; she checks in with me during my oncology appointments. She encouraged me to attend the free yoga and Pilates classes at Hoag. She felt that it would help manage my anxiety, calm my mind, and strengthen my body while enduring cancer treatments. I did not have any skills in yoga or Pilates, and my anxiety was hindering my daily life. The ongoing accelerated heart rate affected my ability to focus, drive, or sleep. I realized I needed to gain control of my body and mind. I thought if I learn yoga first it would help me learn Pilates; I realized that was not true. While yoga and Pilates appear similar to relax and strengthen the body, there’s a lot more to it than that. Yoga started 5000 years ago in India. It is a holistic way of life and a comprehensive system for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There are many forms of yoga, some are physically demanding while others are easy, relaxing, and meditative. Yoga helps to harmonize the body with the mind. Because my medication causes side effects of an onset-accelerated heartbeat, the relaxation techniques in yoga help me control breathing and lower my heart rate. Yoga calms the sympathetic nervous system, helping with stress, which controls hormone levels. In yoga, the breathing is used for relaxation. Yoga is great for toning and strengthening the body muscles, and its meditative environment improves the overall quality of life. Several yoga exercises are used with a mat. Since I was not a physically fit person I was extremely nervous at the idea of attending a yoga class; however I was pleasantly surprised to find that anyone can attend a yoga class; it can accommodate seniors, athletes, pregnant women, meditative, or even for physically unfit cancer patient like myself. All you need to attend a yoga class is clothing that wicks away sweat, mat, towel, water, and an open mind. Chanting Om is a tradition in a yoga class. It helps unite energy and bring sacredness to the practice.
Joseph Pilates invented Pilates in the 20th century as a method to reduce physical pain incurred from injury. It is a resistance exercise centered on mind-body awareness and stemming from the body’s core. The Pilates powerhouse is the abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks. There are six key principles of Pilates: centering, concentration, control, breathing, flow, and precision. The centering strengthens the Powerhouse”abdominal muscles, pelvis, buttocks and lower back. Concentration brings attention to each individual exercise. The control utilizes all muscles. Precision means each movement has a purpose. The Pilates exercises are coordinated with breathing and graceful flow. By focusing on the six principles the body can be stronger inside and out. Pilates has two types of classes: mat, where the body weight creates resistance, or a Reformer, where pulleys and springs create resistance. While the Pilates focus is on relaxing and toning the body for better posture breathing provides the muscle with energy. Since Pilate’s exercises are intense, the mat classes are a better option for beginners, and physical results are achieved in as quickly as five sessions. The studio classroom attire for Pilates is clothing that wicks away sweat, machines, and mats, which are thicker than a standard yoga mat. Participating in Pilate’s activity results in a longer leaner body.
Even though the fundamentals and methods are different, yoga and Pilates have similarities when it comes working the body, focusing on core strength, balance, and flexibility. Both provide an effective workout with positive physical and mental benefits. Pilates and yoga are flexible in allowing the exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginning to advance with Intensity increasing over time as the body adapts to the exercises. Pilates has many of the same goals in mind as yoga but the major difference between Pilates and Yoga is that in addition to mat work, there can be differentexercise machinesinvolved. Unlike yoga, Pilates does not add focus on the spirit its emphasis is on spinal and pelvic alignment stemming from the core. Yoga is mentally and emotionally restorative while Pilates is injury preventative and rehabilitative. If you’re seeking inner tranquility, calming the mind, and fitness, yoga is for you. If you want to condition the body and see toned results right away then Pilates is your workout.
Even though I couldn’t participate in all the yoga movements right away, stretching brought joint comfort and became imperative in my recovery. The yoga classes are relaxing, and therapeutic. It can be intimidating to start a new fitness habit; I had an awareness of my present fitness level, which helped me decide that yoga will benefit me the most.
I felt more at ease at yoga class than Pilates. I found the Pilates machines rather intimidating, and the average studio class attendee looked like an Olympic gymnast. I see the benefit both activities bring into my life, they both have their merits and can be used together to improve mental and physical wellbeing.
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