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Pilates and yoga have become hugely popular fitness programmes. Yoga is all about the unification of mind, body and spirit and tries to align the body using the body’s own weight for resistance. Pilates works the whole body focussing on core stabilization. Many people don’t choose one or the other but actually follow both systems. They get the stretch from yoga and the breathing techniques of pilates. Both techniques do actually work very well together!
Pilates and yoga programmes are often carried out in commercial gyms with professional qualified instructors. But many people like to practice at home and therefore may need to purchase their own equipment. Here we help to guide you through what you will need to practice safely at home. One of the advantages of these programmes is that, apart for the floor to put your mat down, you don’t require a huge amount of space to work out at home.
The first piece of key equipment is a mat. Even if your gym supplies them you might, for hygiene reasons, like to buy your own. A good mat will also help your technique, balance and coordination. First of all don’t get confused between the two. Pilates mats need to be thicker than yoga mats. Because much of yoga is performed standing up yoga mats ate thinner so that you can feel the floor with your feet. Yoga mats also tend to be sticker so that you don’t start slipping. You will get a huge array of different yoga mats from super non slip mats which provide a stable non slip surface to natural rubber mats which are biodegradable and ecologically sound.
When buying a pilates mat do check out the thickness, it really is very important for your comfort and safety. It really should be at least ½ an inch thick. It should also be firm, if it is too soft it won’t give you enough support. Also, this may sound silly, but check that the mat is long enough for you and you will fit comfortably on it.You will see a lot of fold up mats on the market. They can be very useful as they are then easily transportable. Also check out folding pilates mats which are more expensive but tend to offer really good quality.
Pilates ball or sometimes called Swiss ball can be a great accessory for your pilates workouts. They come in different sizes and are usually anti slip so offer excellent grip. Look for ones that also say they are burst resistant and do check the load resistance. They will help you develop strength and endurance. You can perform basic extensions with the ball, the plank to push up on the ball, pike on the ball and bride on the ball, amongst many others. Some balls are called stability balls which do similar things to the Swiss ball. It’s all about building strength, balance and coordination and activating key muscles.
When Joseph Pilates established the practice of pilates in the 1910’s the pilates ring was one of the first bits of accessories that he used. These are smooth metal rings with cushions at the sides, usually 13-14 inches in diameter and about 1kg in weight. They provide resistant training. So by squeezing the circle between your hands or legs you will develop strength and muscle tone. A relatively cheap piece of equipment that brings great results.
Then there is the amazing BOSU balance trainer and also the BOSU ball. Both will help you in all aspects of yoga and pilates. The BOSU can either be used on the dome or the platform side. It’s a great piece of kit for really developing your core stability and balance. This one piece works on agility, stabilization and strength.