7 Surprising Benefits of Yoga and Pilates


benefits of yogaIt’s more than just exercise. Sure, both yoga and Pilates are extremely popular in terms of fitness, but each boasts a slew of benefits that extend far beyond the physical. Some apply to one of the practices, while some benefits are linked to both styles of stretch; below are just seven of them.

1. Yoga: It Strengthens Your Immune System

Surprisingly, yoga has more than physical effects on the body: studies show that the practice can change you at the cellular level, too. More specifically, yoga improves your circulation, respiration, and organ function, which, in turn, boosts your body’s immune system.

2. Pilates: It Prevents Future Injuries

Pilates practice engages the entire body, not just a single set of muscles for a specific number of sets. This ensures that you’re never over-working one area while another is left underworked. And, with all of your muscles equally engaged and strengthened, there’s less of a chance that you’ll injure yourself later.

3. Yoga: It Helps You Sleep

Yoga is well-known for its ability to help practitioners relax and de-stress. But the deep breathing, deep stretches, and meditative segments do more than rid bodies of anxiety: they help you sleep. That’s because you learn how to manage and minimize your stress through yoga. This, in turn, helps you push stressful thoughts from your mind when you lay down at night to rest.

4. Pilates: It Improves Other Workouts That You Do

Some people choose one workout style to focus on, while others take part in a range of activities. For those in the latter group, Pilates is a good one to add into the mix because it makes you more effective in all realms of sport and exercise. This is because the repetitive, body weight-based movements carve long, lean muscles across your entire body — dancers, gymnasts and other athletes who cannot bulk up but need strength often perform Pilates for this reason.

5. Yoga: It Soothes Migraines

Experts aren’t sure what really causes them, but they believe that migraines come from a combination of mental stress and physical misalignment. You can avoid a throbbing head by practicing yoga, though. It’s clear that yoga fights stress, but the deep stretches also help you straighten your shoulders, spine and neck, three areas that may potentially cause a splitting headache when out of whack.

6. Yoga and Pilates: They Engage Your Mind and Mend Your Spirits

Other physical activities, such as tai chi, are known for their ability to engage your mind; yoga and Pilates, however, are just as effective at doing so. This is because both practices require that you connect your thoughts, breaths and actions into a single, fluid movement — this clearly requires a little bit of brainpower. Furthermore, Pilates and yoga both leave you feeling clear-headed, which can improve your mood more effectively than a run-of-the-mill workout.

7. Yoga and Pilates: They Make You Want to Be Better

Time on the yoga or Pilates mat allows you to focus on your body and how it feels, and this, according to experts, can make you want to feel better all of the time. This may be why so many practitioners are able to ditch unhealthy habits, such as poor dietary choices, reliance on caffeine or alcohol abuse. Both practices facilitate a stronger sense of bodily awareness, which helps you to focus instead on how good you feel afterwards, which, in turn, helps you say no to things that might do you damage.

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