Yoga, Pilates - Stay Healthy and Flexible
Modern yoga practice often includes traditional elements inherited from Hinduism, such as moral and ethical principles, postures designed to keep the body fit, spiritual philosophy, instruction by a guru, chanting of mantras (sacred syllables), quietening the breath, and stilling the mind through meditation. These elements are sometimes adapted to meet the needs of non-Hindu practitioners.
Proponents of yoga see daily practice as beneficial in itself, leading to improved health, emotional well-being, mental clarity, and joy in living. (Some skeptics question these claims.) Yoga adepts progress toward the experience of samadhi, an advanced state of meditation where there is absorption in inner ecstasy.
The goals of yoga are expressed differently in different traditions. In theistic Hinduism, yoga may be seen as a set of practices intended to bring people closer to God - to help them achieve union with God. In Buddhism, which does not postulate a creator-type God, yoga may help people deepen their wisdom, compassion, and insight. In Western nations, where there is a strong emphasis on individualism, yoga practice may be an extension of the search for meaning in self, and integration of the different aspects of being. The terms Self-Realization and God-Realization are used interchangeably in Hindu yoga, with the underlying belief that the true nature of self, revealed through the practice of yoga, is of the same nature as God.
The Pilates Method is a physical fitness system that was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Joseph Pilates called the method The Art of Contrology, which refers to the way the method encourages the use of the mind to control the muscles. It is an exercise program that focuses on the core postural muscles that help keep the body balanced and are essential to providing support for the spine. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of neutral alignment of the spine and strengthening the deep postural muscles that support this alignment, which are important to help alleviate and prevent back pain.
During World War I, Joseph Pilates, being of German nationality, was interned in England, where he trained police officers beginning in 1912. A trained nurse in his native Germany, he was investigating ways that he could rehabilitate bed-ridden victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Thus he created a series of movements that could be practiced within the confines of this controlled environment. The Pilates Reformer (a piece of Pilates equipment) is based on an old hospital bed.
Instead of performing many repetitions of each exercise, Pilates preferred fewer, more precise movements, requiring control and form. He designed more than 500 specific exercises. The most frequent form, called "matwork," involves a series of calisthenic motions performed without weight or apparatus on a padded mat. He believed that mental health and physical health were essential to one another. Pilates created what is claimed to be a method of total body conditioning that emphasizes proper alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowing movement (the Pilates Principles) that results in increased flexibility, strength, muscle tone, body awareness, energy, and improved mental concentration. Joseph Pilates also designed five major pieces of unique exercise equipment that he claimed should be used for best results. Although the two components are often taught separately now, the method was always meant to combine both matwork and equipment exercises. A recent development is gravity Pilates. In all forms, the "powerhouse" (abdomen, lower back, and buttocks) is supported and strengthened, enabling the rest of the body to move freely. Portions of this text have been reprinted under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License