From improved physical health to enhanced mental simulation, the benefits of exercising are endless. But when it comes to working out, most people think of lifting heavy dumbbells in gyms. Gym memberships are undoubtedly popular, as, in 2019, 62.5 million people in the US visited the gym for more than 100 days.
That said, gyms and weight training aren’t for everyone. Not everyone wants to undergo intense training sessions and push their body to extreme limits.
If you’re one of them, we’ve picked two fun yet effective alternatives to gym training – Yoga and Pilates. Here’s a quick guide to how Yoga and Pilates can benefit different people and age groups.
For Weight Loss
Yoga and calorie burning go hand-in-hand. While yoga isn’t traditionally an aerobic exercise, various yoga types and asanas can facilitate weight loss. Some common examples of such yoga styles are power yoga, vinyasa, and Ashtanga. A medical study published on Sage Journals also confirmed the effectiveness of yoga in weight loss.
Pilates is equally effective for weight loss. You can burn 176-254 calories in a 50-minute pilates season, depending on your weight and proficiency level. While both Yoga and Pilates can help with weight loss, consuming a low-calorie diet is crucial.
For Back Pain
Both Yoga and Pilates can help ease back pain, which provides them with a major edge over intense weight training. A study conducted in 2015 concluded that Pilates could be effective for chronic lower back pain management and injury habilitation. Some pilates exercises for managing back pain are:
- Pelvic tilt
- Chest lift
- Supine spinal twist
- Hip flexor stretch
Similarly, yoga can help you deal with back pain. Besides treating the affected muscles and joints in your body, yoga also helps alleviate the stress associated with it. Hence, practicing yoga in back pain can reduce the pain and make you more relaxed. The best yoga poses for back pain are:
- Cat cow
- Downward facing dog
- Extended triangle
- Sphinx pose
- Cobra pose
Exercising for seniors has remained a complex topic. While numerous seniors indulge in weight training, doing so without a professional instructor can do more harm than good. You certainly don’t want a fractured leg at the age of 73, do you?
Yoga and Pilates are safer options for seniors who want to exercise and stay fit but don’t want to lift heavy weights. Furthermore, both Yoga and Pilates can address common problems people face in old age, such as back pain, joint pain, and mobility issues.
The best yoga poses for seniors are:
- Trikonasana (triangle pose)
- Badhakonasana (butterfly pose)
- Marjariasana (cat-stretch pose)
- Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
- Pawanmuktasana (wind relieving pose)
For seniors who are interested in Pilates, here are the best exercises.
- Single Straight Leg Stretch
- Kneeling Rear Leg Raise
- Bent-Arm Plank
- Bird Dog
The benefits of Yoga and Pilates aren’t limited to senior citizens and people who don’t want to hit the gym. While athletes have an affinity towards weight training, Yoga and Pilates can have substantial benefits for your body.
A study conducted in 2016 on 26 male college athletes found that 14 athletes who did yoga at least twice a week experienced greater balance and flexibility than those who didn’t do yoga. Additionally, practicing yoga develops mindfulness, which can help you stay more focused and positively impact your performance.
The best yoga poses for athletes are:
- Downward-facing dog
- Cobra pose
- Legs-up-the-wall pose
Pilates can also be very effective for athletes. It can reduce the risk of injuries, improves mobility and range of motion, promotes efficient breathing, and speeds recovery time. Popular athletes, including Andy Murray, Missy Franklin, and Antonio Brown, have all cited Pilates as critical to their success.
The best pilate exercises for athletes are:
- Side leg lifts
- Side bends
For Pregnant Ladies
The last thing you want to do during pregnancy is hit the jogging track or gym. But that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Pregnancy is a beautiful time, but it can come with many bodily issues, such as pains and aches.
Yoga is an effective and safe exercise for pregnant ladies. It can provide relief from pain and also prepare your body for labor and delivery. The best yoga poses for pregnant ladies are:
- Cow/cat pose
- Balancing table pose
- Downward facing dog
- Goddess pose
- Bound angle pose
Pilates can also be a good exercise option during pregnancy, but ensure that you don’t stretch too much or over-exert your body. Also, avoid doing Pilate exercises that involve lying on your back after the 16th week of pregnancy. If done correctly, Pilates can help strengthen gluteal muscles, improve balance, and reduce strain.
The best Pilate exercises for pregnant women are:
- Pelvic floor muscle exercise
- Pelvic tilts
- Deep tummy strengthening
- Cat stretch
- Upper back stretch
The increasing dominance of social media and Netflix in the lives of teenagers has pushed them towards hitting the gym and lifting weights. Experts suggest that growing teens shouldn’t lift weights, as it can stress the joints and ligaments.
Yoga and Pilates are excellent alternatives to weight training for teens. As discussed, yoga improves body strength, flexibility, and posture. In addition, it enhances hormone regulation and concentration. Teenage is a period of turbulence, which can cause stress, confusion, and anxiety. Yoga promotes mindfulness, thereby eliminating these challenges.
The best yoga poses for teens are:
- Adho mukha shvanasana (downward-facing dog)
- Vrikasana (tree pose)
- Virabhadrasana II (warrior II)
- Baddhakonasana (bound angle pose)
While yoga is great for mindfulness, Pilates is excellent for posture and balance management. Incorrect posture at an early age can lead to chronic conditions like scoliosis. Regularly performing Pilates exercises can help you maintain an ideal posture.
The best Pilates exercises for teens are:
- The hundred
- Single leg stretch
- Tick tock side bend
Yoga and Pilates aren’t a replacement for intense aerobic workouts like jogging, calisthenics, and weight training. But if you don’t prefer these workouts or can’t do them for some reason, both Yoga and Pilates can be excellent alternatives.