The Secret to Building a Strong Core with Yoga and Pilates

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Lieber Bala, vielen herzlichen Dank für Deinen wundervollen Gast-Artikel zum Thema Core-Training mit Yoga und Pilates.
Bala unterrichtet Hatha und Ashtanga Yoga, Pranayama und Meditation in Indien.

By Bala

Are you looking for something to do from home to improve your core strength and tone your waistline? Look no further than yoga or Pilates. Whether you are a busy professional or a stay at home mom, practicing either yoga or Pilates to build your core will increase your abdominal strength for your everyday life. Today, we will look at how yoga and Pilates can strengthen your midsection, and some differences between them.

Yoga

Yoga is an ancient system with its roots in India. The most popular form today is Hatha Yoga, which includes postures, breath-work, and meditation. The physical practice of Hatha Yoga is designed to balance the body through alternating movements of forward bending, back bending, side bending, and more that often includes standing and seated positions. Many of the postures emphasise stretching and flexibility first and foremost.

Core work in yoga begins with the breath. One of the main concepts in yoga is called Uddyana Bandha. A bandha is an energetic lock inside the body. This one happens to be right at your navel center. In this technique, you suck the belly inward and upward after an exhalation. It can be held during meditation or even during the stretching poses, so that your abs are always active.

The core is just one part of the whole in yoga. There are certain postures and even different styles of Hatha Yoga where abdominal work is more of the focus. These styles are called Vinyasa, Power Flow, or Ashtanga. During these types of yoga, the uddyana bandha can be engaged during various poses and sequences, such as Sun Salutations. Sun Salutations are the basis for many Vinyasa methods, as they strengthen the entire body (including the core) in between other poses that may focus on specific areas.

In a yoga practice, the core can be activated the entire time to promote good alignment. Specific postures that promote core strength include twisting and planks, while more advanced poses such as inversions and arm balances require the core to be strong in order to hold the weight of the body in complicated positions.

Pilates

Pilates is a more contemporary system that was invented by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s to rehabilitate hospital patients affected by World War 1 in Europe. Originally called Contrology, its primary focus is on the abdominals and breath utilising various specialty apparatus as well as mat work, which can be done in the comfort of your own house. Most of the Pilates mat exercises are performed seated or lying down.

The term “Powerhouse” in Pilates refers to the centre of the body including the abdominals, low back muscles, pelvic floor, and hip muscles. These muscles are utilised to stabilise your centre and are emphasised during every exercise. The Pilates system is a progressive sequence with many modifications and variations for every exercise. Beginners will learn how to use the Powerhouse and as you advance, various challenges are added to the exercises to continue strengthening your core.

The exercises in Pilates have specific techniques that are used throughout the workout. The breath-work begins with the concept of the “abdominal scoop”, which is a constant drawing inward of the belly as you inhale and exhale. This is commonly referred to as “naval to spine”. Additionally, many exercises emphasize spinal articulation, which is an action of rolling through the spine by activating the abdominals in seated and reclined positions. While Pilates is more calisthenics than yoga, it still creates a lean physique, which is why it is often so popular with dancers.

Quality Over Quantity

With all of that said, Pilates is not about doing 100 crunches! It is a method that emphasises the quality of movement over the quantity- and this is the corrective effort that it requires. Pilates is about more than just getting the ‘6 pack’ ab look- it works even deeper abdominal muscles to correct imbalances in the centre of the body.

Get Started

Both yoga and Pilates are mind-body fitness modalities using different kinds of abdominal techniques, emphasising the breath, proper alignment, concentration, and flowing movement. If you are interested in stretching and meditation while still working your core, yoga may be a good fit for you. However, if you want every single exercise to focus on your abs and help correct any back issues, Pilates may be the answer.

Either way, they both tone the midsection and all you need is a mat to get started! We recommend practicing either modality at least 3 times per week to see results.

Having a strong core is important for injury treatment and prevention in the centre of your body. Whether you are picking up after children all day, or sitting at a desk- don’t let your core go! It’s time to get stronger today through yoga or Pilates.

Love & Peace
Bala

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