When most people think of Yoga or Pilates, they think of people lying around, relaxing and doing deep breathing with the odd stretch thrown in. I have to admit (and not so long ago at that!) I kinda thought this too whenever I heard my Mum say “I’m off to Yoga”. But during my final year of college I decided to take it up – much to her excitement!
So many people take up fitness classes because they want to lose some weight and tone up their bodies (you know it’s true, ladies haha) and they don’t see classes like Yoga or Pilates as a viable way to achieve their weight loss goals. I too thought the same and I, like that, saw it as a lazy kind of exercise. Many of my college friends who swore by Kettlebells and Spinning also saw it that way but they were so surprised after seeing my results after just a few weeks of me taking regular classes of Yoga and Pilates: I had not only started to tone up but I was also losing weight – and I didn’t come out of the classes drenched in sweat either, which was an additional bonus.
The perception in many people’s minds of slower and calmer workout classes like Yoga and Pilates is that they are great for your mind but not so much for your body.
The reason I actually initially took it up was because of this very way of thinking and I thought it would clear my mind and relax me through the stressful year I knew I was going to have ahead in my final year of college. But not only did I leave every class feeling incredibly chilled, my body also felt amazing. My muscles felt like they had done a slow yet effective workout. Anyone who has ever tried out a high intensity workout class like Kettlebells, Spinning and Circuits know they usually leave sweating like a pig [sorry, but it’s true!]; they are almost always out of breath and most are barely able to walk the next day (wait, maybe that was just me!).
I personally always hated the feeling where classes just seem to drag on with every swing of the Kettlebell or lift off the Spinning Bike and where I’d constantly be looking at the clock – and all for what – just to burn a few calories? I often asked shouldn’t getting fit be fun?
Yoga opened my eyes to the fact that you don’t have to sweat buckets and get out of breath to tone your body and become fitter.
A few months into practicing Yoga on a weekly basis, I then thought I’d give Pilates a go as well. Initially I had had the same beliefs about Pilates, as I did about Yoga, though I’d heard that it was meant to be more difficult. But since starting Pilates it too surprised me and taught me that you don’t need to do high intensity exercises to wake up the next day in pain and just because you do slow movements and stretches doesn’t mean your body and muscles aren’t getting a great workout.
In my personal experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The list of benefits of practicing Yoga and Pilates is endless
- Increased flexibility and muscle strength
- Betters your bone health
- Boost your immune system
- Lowers blood sugar
- Helps you sleep deeper
- Helps you clear your mind
- Prevents digestive problems
- Increases core strength
- Stability and peripheral mobility
- Improves balance, coordination and circulation
Plus so much more!
Furthermore both Yoga and Pilates are highly tailored for every person because there are so many different types to choose from (Power Pilates, Yogalates, Elderly Pilates, Power Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Hot Yoga, and even Laughing Yoga) allowing anyone and everywhere to practice and see at least some of these benefits. The countless advantages of practicing either Yoga or Pilates, perceived as “easy” or “laidback” workouts, proves that appearances are often misleading. Another bonus is that the only equipment needed is a yoga mat, and yourself of course.
At the end of the day, I’m not saying don’t do Kettlebells, Spinning or any other form of exercise isn’t good for you – they all are – but I just feel it’s really important that you find what suits you best and that you have fun doing it! It’s whatever suits your personality, your body and what you get the most enjoyment out of – and that truly depends on each person.
This is clearly reflected when the discussion arose here in the MediStori office – Olive herself loves [and is addicted to!] Zumba; Áine enjoys high intensity workouts like circuits, while I’m obsessed with Yoga and Pilates [I think you’ve gathered this by now!]. The benefits of exercise to improve health, wellbeing and mindfulness of employees in the workplace has been showcased across the globe from very small to very large organisations – most recently NHS CEO Simon Stevens announced major drive to improve the health and wellbeing of 1.3m health service staff by “establishing and promoting a local physical activity ‘offer’ to staff, such as running yoga classes, Zumba classes, or competitive sports teams.”
So as my final word, I personally would like to ask you to open your mind, and why not give a Yoga or Pilate’s class or go, or even any other exercise class that you think you could enjoy?
Sure why not – what’s the worst that could happen?
It might even surprise you and you could learn to love it, just like I did.
Thanks a million for reading,