The word ‘yoga’ comes from Sanskrit and means ‘union'. It utilizes a series of Indian disciplines and its objective is to drive us towards self-awareness by eliminating possible physical or mental distractions.
Yoga provides new states of consciousness which lead to greater knowledge of oneself, giving life a newer, more harmonic perspective. It aims to unite the mind, the body, and the spirit.
Yoga fans include Miranda Kerr, who recently gave a free yoga class for Earth Hour, and Geri Halliwell who brought out her own DVD with Katy Appleton.
Its practice is divided into eight branches or moral principles. Each one has a specific name, along with its corresponding ethical principles and disciplines.
A yoga lesson is based on a series of exercises that adopt a posture, each one related to one of the five elements: earth; water; fire; air; and ether, which relate to the cosmos. Ether means "light, airy, spiritual". Usually in yogic realms it's referred to as "consciousness".
Breathing technique is key. Movements are alternated with the repetition of certain sounds that have the capacity to alter our energy points and states of consciousness.
Yoga produces benefits for people of all ages: it improves elasticity and flexibility through stretching exercises; increases muscle strength; reduces stress and provides energy, vitality and a general sensation of wellbeing.
The Pilates method was developed in New York by Joseph Pilates during the 1920s as a rehabilitation program.
Pippa Middleton has declared herself a devotee. Others include Kate Winslet and Jennifer Aniston. Pilates is a complete corporal discipline in which the body is treated as a whole, putting all muscles to work, which requires full concentration, requiring unity and cooperation between the body and mind.
It is based on instructor-supervised exercises that are slow and controlled to achieve maximum precision through few repetitions. These exercises can either be done on a simple mat or carried out with specific machines. Breathing, concentration, control and alignment are the method’s other basic principles.
Pilates tones and firms your muscles, and aims to increase control, strength and flexibility without harming the back and joints.
This method is good for those who haven´t practised any sports or done any physical activity but are looking to start. Pilates is also aimed at athletes on the other end of the spectrum who are searching to achieve their highest physical performance, such as top sportsmen and women and stage artists such as ballet dancers or circus players.