Yoga or Pilates?

For many people , Yoga and Pilates look very similar – there are no power or cardio loads, exercises are performed slowly and consciously , with calm music. Pilates and yoga are wellness systems that include exercises to develop flexibility, endurance, and concentration. Regular exercises tidy up the body, allow you to find harmony with yourself. In this, both areas of fitness are similar.

But, having examined   these   practice closely, we  can find a lot of differences between them

    What is yoga?

     Yoga is the ancient Indian system of human self-development, which originated long before our era. This is a spiritual tradition, experience and wisdom of many generations that millions of people around the world have followed to this day.

Translated from Sanskrit, yoga means “union, communication, harmony.” Those. the unity of the physical and mental state of a person, the harmony of health and spiritual beauty. The purpose of classes is to achieve and maintain this unity.

It is impossible to imagine yoga without performing various asanas (static postures) that help improve the body. But physical practice is only part of the philosophy of yoga, one of the tools for working on consciousness. It also includes:

  • rules of personal and social behavior;
  • breathing exercises;
  • meditation
  • singing mantras;
  • body cleansing;
  • concentration of attention;
  • desire for complete control over the senses.

Therefore, yoga is a way of life aimed at achieving a balance of physical and psychological health, and not just a set of static exercises that develop flexibility and endurance.

What is pilates?

   Pilates is a system of healing the body, based on the dynamic performance of exercises that are performed in a specific technique and sequence. Their goal is to develop flexibility, improve the condition of joints and spine, posture and coordination of movements.

Pilates, unlike yoga, is a young trend in fitness. The German trainer Joseph Pilates developed gymnastic exercises for the rehabilitation of patients suffering from diseases of the musculature system at the beginning of the 20th century.

6 fundamental differences between Pilates and Yoga.

  • Yoga is the oldest system of self-development, philosophy, lifestyle. Pilates is a relatively young wellness system for the body, one of the types of fitness.
  • Pilates training is aimed at creating a healthy body, practicing yoga – at achieving harmony of the body, spirit and mind.
  • Many exercises and asanas are similar, but have a significant difference in technique. If in classical yoga you need to enter a pose and fix it for a long time (static load), then in Pilates the main thing is movement. All exercises are dynamic, repeated several times. Important consistent articulation of the spine and body muscles when entering and exiting the position.
  • Pilates breathing control helps to concentrate on doing the exercise and working muscles. Ancient practice provides breathing, as one of the steps to self-improvement (pranayama).
  • In Pilates, the muscles of the back and cortex are mainly worked out, in yoga – all muscle groups.
  • In classical hatha yoga additional equipment is not used. In Pilates classes  fitball, rings, rollers are actively used.

In my opinion, you should try both this practice and chose which is most suitable for you. However, if  you want to get a little more than just a beautiful and healthy body, then you may want choose yoga. After all, ancient practice is also aimed at working with the mind, includes methods of spiritual development and self-improvement. Practice will show what is right for you.

Meditation.Self Journey

For me yoga was always about physical practice. I have never done meditation at home and was skipping that “boring part of yoga” in yoga classes. But after some time, part of me has developed feeling that I maybe missing something. So when I signed up for Tirisula yoga teacher training course, one of my goal was to concentrate on  spiritual part of yoga. And that’s what I have learned so far.

Meditation is an integral part of yoga practice. Yoga helps to improve and develop physically. But spiritual development is no less important for a person. The goal pursued by meditation is self-knowledge of oneself, achieving clarity of mind, the ability to relax, the desire for complete inner harmony.

In medicine there is a concept such as “chronic fatigue syndrome” – a disease of modern man.By doing meditation, you can learn to concentrate and relax, control your emotions and mind. Meditation helps to strengthen health, get rid of existing diseases, prolongs life.

The best part –  you can do it yourself, in any convenient place. In yoga centers, classes are led by experienced teachers who will help you understand and master the basics of meditation.If there is no time and opportunity to visit specialized centers, you can master meditation yourself. After a hard working day, it’s good to take 15-20 minutes. relaxation in a homely atmosphere.

As in any practice, there are certain rules in meditation. Here are a few points for conducting an independent practice:

  •     Choose a place for relaxation, where nothing will distract from immersion in yourself. Although, it should be noted that neither advanced noise nor extraneous sounds interfere with advanced practices.
  •    Take a comfortable position.
  •   Try to relax as much as possible each muscle of the body, mentally observing relaxation.
  •    Concentrate on breathing. Monitor inhalation and exhalation – the exhalation should be longer.
  •    Try to turn off your mind. Throw all thoughts out of my head. This will help focus on something specific – on breathing, on relaxation.
  •   Try to withstand a certain time. 10 minutes is enough for a start.
  •     To leave meditation smoothly, without rushing, trying to feel new sensations and maintain a state of calmness.

After trying my best and practice it regularly every day for some time , I came to understanding that : Meditation is not as difficult as it may seem. But the benefits of this practice are undeniable. And very good when it becomes a habit.

Yoga and menstruation: should I or shouldn’t?

Is it possible to do yoga with menstruation?What to do if you decide to actively start learning yoga? Does every month have to lose a week of precious time? Not at all. Moreover, yoga during menstruation is not only not harmful, but also beneficial. Of course, subject to some precautions and the right choice of asanas.

There are top poses, which should be avoided while you on your ‘’special days’’

Sarvangasana. Should be  excluded from yoga during menstruation. All inverted poses are equally harmful during this period. They delay bleeding. As a result, excess fluid is not excreted from the body, and can cause the formation of fibromas, cysts, and even malignant tumors. Also prohibited: halasana, shirshasana, adho mukha vrishkasana;

Navasana. During menstruation, you should not  do any asanas engage your core muscle . And this is almost all power poses. So, first of all, exclude exercises on the abdominal muscles and balances on the hands. During such asanas, bleeding and pain may intensify. Also prohibited: bakasana, lolasana, mayurasana;

Kapotasana. Yoga during menstruation should not include strong deflections of the   back. This creates excessive tension in the abdomen. Also prohibited: ardha chakrasana, ushtrasana;

Yoga Nidrasana. During such yoga classes, you should exclude extreme twisting and squeezing the abdomen. Also prohibited: eka pada shirshasana, jathara parivritanasana;

Mula Bandha. Do not do yoga, which will include unnatural bandha and pranayama. For example, excessively intense breathing of a bhastrika or uddiyana bandha can disrupt the natural course of processes in the pelvic organs. Also forbidden: kapalabhati, maha mudra.

Top asanas that are safe during  menstruation

Baddha Konasan .This asana relieves the pain and stress that accompany the days of menstruation. Even if you do not dare to do yoga these days, you can simply practice this pose separately. You can also practice: padmasana, sukhasana;

Ardha Chandrasana. This pose helps control the discharge if it is excessive. Pain in the back is also reduced. It is also possible to practice: utthita hasta padangustahasana, vriksasana;

Dundasana. Yoga offers simple forward stretches to relax the brain and calm the discomfort in the lower abdomen. You can also practice: jana shirshasana, marichiasana;

Shoshankasana. Relaxing postures help with excessive irritability and in the event that heaviness in the chest bothers you. You can also practice: shavanasa, adho mukha sukhasana;

The breath of ujaya. Calm pranayama in a simple pose or shavasana will help to relax the body. Full yogic breathing is safe during your period too.

However, we should keep in mind that there are no two identical women.  Someone waits the onset of new cycle with horror, and someone has almost no symptoms and can continue with the usual daily routine. So as the conclusion, remember to  be sensitive, listen to your body, and it will answer all your questions.

6 Master Yogi Quotes to Inspire Your Practice

In one of our lectures in the YTT 200, we were asked what our favorite quote was. There are hundreds of quotes by famous people to choose from, but when someone asks you point blank and out of the blue which quote you live by, the answer may not come easily. Picking a quote – the quote – that should define what you stand for prompts you to reflect at the very least, or make you feel vulnerable at the most.

But throughout our lectures in the program, our teachers have showered us with insight and wisdom – a few we can barely pronounce but all we can truly apply in our lives.

For this post, I’ve put together six (6) of the key insights from our Master Yogis that I think are worthy of being enclosed in quotation marks:

1. “Do what your body wants you to do, not what your mind wants you to do.” The decision should happen on its own. The body is instinctive and has a natural ability to achieve physical homeostasis. The body is able to discern what is good or bad for it and we have to be in tune with what the body needs and what it rejects, rather than allowing the mind to dictate what the body wants and needs. For example, our body only becomes hungry when we need added nourishment. Craving for unhealthy food is a psychological announcement that is formed in the mind.

2. “There is comfort in consistency.” Maintaining a daily Yoga practice is difficult for most people because you need time, discipline and persistence. But we can push through the discomfort until we are able to ride smoothly through the consistency of a daily routine, which stabilizes your mood and provides you a reservoir of energy to push yourself to do more in other aspects of a Yogic life. So, having at least five regular poses that you do daily can be a big help to regulate your mood, establish consistency, and strengthen your connection with each asana.

3. “Establish a pattern of completion. Whatever you do, finish it; don’t leave it hanging.” Completing something no matter how challenging and no matter your mood relates to the previous insight. However, this one is more on reaching your destination no matter the hurdles and distractions. I think this also links to our habit of complaining and sour-graping. When we complain and have bouts of sour grapes, we place ourselves in a state of constant pain jealousy. We build the hurdles ourselves. We also steal ourselves away from what we need to do (relates to asteya, meaning non-stealing). Without completion, there is no consistency. Without consistency, there can be no relief, growth and vitality.

4. “Find a connection with pose; don’t be a slave to it. Being a slave to something is a form of suffering.” Our masters keep saying that we must enjoy the pose. It can be difficult to hear this, especially when you are struggling to hit the right spot for a certain asana. For example, you might still have a wobbly headstand or you can’t bind in Marichyasana C and D. The frustration can get to you and ruin your mood. But if you can control and manage your mood in relation to a pose, or to any another subject/object, you do not suffer. You can let go anytime. Only then can you be a master of your own mind.

5. “Where there is desire, there is also fear.” The fear can come from thinking that we are unable to achieve the desire or that we are capable but are unworthy of attaining it. The fear could also come from knowing that once we achieve our desire, we would have to move on to another desire, challenge, dream, and, basically, any object that becomes the destination of our life – and changing this destination might require us to redefine who we are and what we represent, which can be confusing and taxing. But Yoga is less about achieving desires and more being recognizing our desires and our human tendency to fall prey to these desires and suffer in the process. As we get older, it also becomes apparent that as individuals, we have basic desires that evolve and mature. However, these desires are basically the same ones that have driven us all our lives. And if we don’t recognize the fear we attached with out basic, individual desire, the fear will also evolve and mature, bringing us further from achieving our desires.

6. “A weakness is a strength, but at the time you labeled it as a ‘weakness’ was actually an inappropriate application of a strength.” Someone’s weakness could be another person’s strength. We can also take this lesson to mean that our abilities and limitations have a proper application; we just need to be able to discern opportunities to apply them in different situations. In addition, we also learned from the YTT 200 that appearing weak and imperfect could be a strength in a Yoga instructor. Students, especially beginners, feel intimated by a muscular and perfectly shaped teacher who does elaborate poses. Instead of listening and trying, all they can take away is how far the gap is between where they stand and how far the teacher has gone. In this scenario, both the student and the teacher fail.

These are just six of the many powerful lessons I picked up from our Yoga teacher training. Certainly, there will be more as we approach the end of our training program, and as we go off into our individual Yogi journeys. But these six quotes are a good starting point to define our ongoing practice and bring us closer to the quote that would define and direct us.

Guidelines for Lesson Planning (Beginners)

Looking for a beginner yoga lesson planning inspiration?
Read below tips to stay inspired when developing lesson plans for beginners!

 

I was exploring for many ways to create a lesson plan for beginners as part of my assignment … How do i spark interest in those who’ve never tried yoga?

There are some pointers to consider when creating lesson plans for beginners, especially for beginners who’ve never tried yoga before. Below could be some tips to capture the hearts of students:

 

Venue

Yes! Venue can influence how a person feels when he is in class. An outdoor space can potentially boost the energy level of students as compared to an indoor studio. For morning classes, students may be more motivated to attend classes conducted in an outdoor setting (in a garden/park) with a gentle flow because of the serenity and the fresh air. For afternoon classes, students may prefer an indoor setting with a more energetic flow.

Anatomical Focus

Wondering what does it mean by anatomical focus? Depending on the style of the class, anatomical focus help the students to be more aware and conscious during practice. For such therapeutic classes (i.e. hip-opening / back-bending), hamstrings, etc.), students will be able to improve flexibility for the intended area of focus. Additionally, identifying focus areas can help teachers to sequence and select the yoga poses to be taught during the lesson!

Adjustments

Beginners will definitely need the help and support of the teacher through adjustments. Correcting their postures allow them to feel the muscles they have to contract/relax during the various poses. For longer term benefits (i.e. minimize injuries), teachers should focus on fundamental alignments when teaching the beginners.

Accessories

For beginners, accessories such as straps and blocks should be available during practice. Otherwise, teachers may want to consider modifying to a less ‘demanding’ pose if blocks might not be available for the student to garner additional support. Students can also use towels as a substitute for straps.

 

Beside the above tips, having the passion to teach will naturally enhance the vibes of the class.
Beginners will be attracted to the class’ energy and feel good after the practice!

Relax, practice and be yourself.

Overcoming the Fear of Inversions

Here’s to everyone who is trying to overcome their fear of inversions.

It’s perfectly normal to fear inversions. Even seasoned practitioners still feel the fear sometimes. When i first started practicing inversions, I was afraid of the judgement around me. I was afraid of possible injuries and i was afraid that i might not be able to practice again.

So … first thing, PRACTICE SAFELY.

 

How to practice safely?
There are many ways to practice inversions safely. Below are some of the ways attempted by myself:

  • Practice together with a friend and support each other
  • Lay cushions (or similar) around you
  • Practice against a wall and away from the wall (so that you don’t create a dependency on a wall for inversions)
  • Practice the techniques of inverting in a swimming pool

 

How to conquer the fear?
Below are the secrets to conquering the fear of inversions, now read carefully and remember them… 

 

1. Take Small Steps 
It’s all about stability achieved in a step-by-step basis. Never rush for an inversion, the chances of falling over could be much higher! For headstands, start slowly with bent knees and build up the core and balance. Keep calm and balance.

 

2. Mental Preparation
Yes! Preparing yourself mentally before you proceed to practice inversions can be helpful. Kind and courageous words to yourself before engaging in any inversion practice makes the entire process a more positive one. Try saying to yourself, ‘Today, I am going to focus and focus and focus… 
Then, i am going to lift off my feet with my strong core and shoulders and stay balanced for 5 seconds. I can do this!”

 

3. Plan to Fall
Having a plan to fall keeps yourself prepared for the fall (it happens, no running away from this). Everyone falls during the learning journey… who doesn’t? Common ways for falling out of inversions are back bends or cartwheels (use arms to support). Never ever land hard on your spine! Practice falling to gain the confidence for inversions. Yes… start learning how to fall.

 

4. Review and Improve
There are always room for improvements! Try to take videos of yourself during practice, so that you can identify the areas for improvements later. Up till now, I still take videos of myself when i practice inversions. This is to look at my own alignment and to ensure that I’ve engaged the muscles that i need to engage (i.e. core, tucked in hips, keeping my back straight, etc.).  This method works effectively and it allows me to be more aware of my own movement during inversions. It gives me a visual of how i would look like, and for my mind to focus on engaging the correct muscles. Try it!

 

Lastly, be patient and keep practicing. Practice makes perfect.

Do you have these “strange” habits after yoga for a long time?

Yogis have had “odd habits” that are quite difficult to be understand by those who are not practice yoga.

Check the following list to see if you have managed to get rid of the yoga rookie’s hat.

  • You always want to invite your friend to join you when you do yoga.
  • Your wardrobe completely full of yoga attires.
  • Everything else has to make way for yoga practice.
  • You will chat to anyone about yoga even it’s the first time you meet each other.
  • Choose a hotel with a yoga room when you are on vacation.
  • You feel you cannot bear a cheap yoga mat any more.
  • No longer try the diet way to lose weight.
  • Stop pose your selfie but your yoga pose instead.
  • You have a new vision after you practice yoga.
  • Keep your mind fresh to look yoga all the time.

Practice … Practice … Practice more … then cheerful!

Why always start Asanas from right side?

It was puzzled me quite a long time every time when I practise the yoga, and now, I would like to share my findings. It views from prana, traditional, and scientific aspects.

  1. Prana

Prana is energy in your body, which is through the whole body, centralized spine area, and it visualized as two snakes enwind the spine, below picturesque described how the prana likes

These two snakes known as left vein and right vein, and spine in the middle is known as mid-vein, the balance in the Yin and Yang is called HATHA in Sanskrit.  “HA” represents the Sun or Yang prana, “THA” represents the Moon or Yin prana, so “HATHA” is balance of Yin and Yang, and it one of the purpose of yoga.

2. Traditional

It is traditional in India, to give a gift with right hand when you walk to a new house, take your first step with your right foot.

It’s respective and inheritance from the prophets.

3. Scientific

When we twisting, always start from right side, because the organs, especially digestive system, is clockwise movement, twist from right side can helps digesta move from transverse colon to descending colon and finally discharge out.

When we move out from savasana, turn first to right side, as the heart is on the left side, and then to the right side to distribute the blood evenly through gravity.

When we move the right side, the left brain is active, which governs the rational part. That is to say, our practice starts from reason, and then move to the right brain, which is emotional, creative, quiet and meditative. It’s easy to remember that it’s just a tradition, well no matter which side start with, remember to do it on both sides, to balance the body and mind.

Learning from Teaching Yoga

When I started to teaching Yoga with some of my neighbours, I felt that it is easier to be a student than teacher.

  1. Confidence – when I teach the first Yoga class, I keep ask myself, am I ready to teach others? It was super nervous to speak in front of the student and my mind were empty. I can’t give clear instruction and smooth sequences.
  2. Planning – the level of student are mixed for every class, so I have to plan for each level of student.
  3. Communicate – Student can feel how you feel, a good teacher can communicate with student via Yoga poses teaching.
  4. Until today, I still have 5 classes balance for assignment, I know I am improving, not only the way I teach, but also the experiences i gained.

Yoga in my life

When I want to learn Yoga, I did not expected how it will impact my life. As a student for 2-3 years, I did not face any challenge feeling during Yoga class.

As beginner, I was so envy that other classmate can do the perfect poses so easily. I cant do it even after 1 year practice.  I cant figure out what is the reason. But after teacher training class, i understand the weakness of my body, and learned how to improve and straighten my body.

Every daily practice, sometimes, i will skip the Yoga practice, and I will feel guilty and have to continue after 1-2 days rest.

I will keep practice Yoga and continue to teach Yoga in my life. Not matter is self-practice or in a studio, Yoga has become a part of my life.