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Pilates and Yoga

There are lots of websites about the historical origins of Pilates and Yoga. 

In short, Yoga has been around for centuries as a spiritual practice, which also aligns and strengthens the body, while making it more flexible.  Pilates is a system of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates, born in Germany in 1880.  He studied Yoga and Zen, as well as anatomy, and developed a system of exercises to strengthen the body's core muscles.

Why practice Yoga or Pilates? 

It feels great to have strong muscles.  It feels great to be more flexible.  After a month of Yoga practice and Pilates exercises, the experience of walking is completely different.  You will feel more stable, faster, more fluid.  You won't get bulky muscles with these practices, but you will be very strong, and you will feel more at home in your body.

Here's more info on Pilates.

www.theheartofpilates.com is a good place to go to get a Pilates workout video.  Their approach is down-to-earth and accessible to anyone.  They're a local studio in the Los Angeles area who have just started making videos and running a special about Pilates on PBS, featuring K.J. Luker, the owner of the studio.

If you haven't heard of Pilates, here's some background on it.  In 1914, Joseph Pilates was a German boxer and performer living in England. When WWI began, he was placed under forced internment in England along with many other German nationals.

While in intenrnment, Pilates taught fellow prisoners the concepts and exercises developed over 20 years of disciplined study and apprenticeship in yoga, Zen, and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens. This became the basis for the Joseph Pilates fitness regimen.

At the same time, Pilates began developing the system of  exercises known today as matwork. He named this regimen "Contrology."  

A few years later, Pilates was transferred to another camp where he became a caretaker to the many internees suffering from disease and physical injury. Here, he began developing equipment to help him rehabilitate his "patients," taking springs from the beds and using them to create spring resistance and therapeutic “movement” for the bedridden. Modern Pilates equipment today isn't much different than it was then. Spring tension, straps for securing the hands or feet,  back, neck, and shoulder supports  are as important now in the machines as they were then.

Here's more info about Yoga.

www.poweryoga.com has the best Yoga videos and audio materials.  I learned Yoga in their Santa Monica studio, and I have many of their audio and video workouts.  Brian Kest runs the Santa Monica Power Yoga Center.  He's a good guy, and he has developed a great Power Yoga workout.  Some forms of Yoga have breaks between the poses, but Power Yoga moves you from pose to pose with no breaks.  It's a great workout that reaches almost every muscle in your body and makes you feel great at the end.  

You're going to be in your body for a long time.  You should take care of it.  It's funny to see people upgrade the RAM in their computers, bolt performance-enhancing parts on their vehicles, remodel their bathrooms and kitchens, and never hot-rod or remodel their bodies. 

The best advice I can give to someone getting started is to do what your body can handle, and respect your limitations at the beginning.  You'll get stronger and more flexible over time, not in one day.  Also remember to breathe deeply the entire time.  Sometimes when concentrating on what you are doing, you may forget about breathing, which is the most important thing.  Check out the 2 sites I mentioned above if you want to get started.

You don't have to choose between Pilates and Yoga.  I do both.  Depending on how I'm feeling on a particular day, I'll pick the one that makes the most sense.