Stress Awareness Month

Pilates vs Yoga?

If I had a pound every time someone asked me that very question…….

Pilates vs Yoga

How old are they?

Pilates has been around since the 1920’s, devised by Joseph Pilates as a rehab sequence of exercises designed especially for the soldiers.

The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old.

Posture and Alignment

Both practices have posture and alignment as a main focus, however, at a Pilates class you will align your body and then move through this alignment, very rarely do we hold a pose or position. In yoga styles like vinyasa and sun salutations do move continuously with the breath but others the posture maybe held for longer such as yin, which could be up to about 4-5 minutes.

Rehabilitation

Pilates is used more for physical rehab, say after an injury or operation and can certainly strengthen and lengthen the body. Yoga is used more for mental and emotional rehab, it focuses more on the board muscles groups and there is more emphasis on balance and meditation.

Breathing

Again both practices use the breath. Yoga focuses on breathing within the poses in a meditative way, whereas in pilates the breath is used to help you move through the exercises to ensure the deep core muscles are recruited.

Equipment

Yoga uses small pieces of equipment, such as traps and blocks to help adapt certain postures.

Pilates however, uses small equipment to intensify the movements and give vital feedback to the user on which of the core muscles are more contracted than others. There are also large pieces of equipment called, reformers, cadillacs, barrels and arcs which can further enhance your Pilates experience.

Mind and Body

Both practices work towards connecting the mind to the body. Pilates is more just mind and body awareness, whereas Yoga adds in the spiritual side also.

Strength and Flexibility

Yoga is well known for it’s ability to get your body into postures you didn’t think it could get into, and therefore gives you strength through length. Pilates also gives you strength, but more through movements from building core strength and aligning the limbs correctly in order to make your whole body stronger. Through these movements you will also gain flexibility.

Pilates has become increasingly popular, indeed GP’s and Physios are now recommending it to patients. Yoga is also being mentioned by doctors as a great way to lower your stress levels and calm your nervous system.

In summary, both practices have similar benefits, similar goals and outcomes. I personally believe you should have a go at both. Both give you a chance to go on a mini personal journey of your mind and body. Every session you will find out more about your joints, muscles, mindset, emotions, limiting beliefs and endurance levels. They are both fantastic ways to explore yourself,

with no judgement,

no comparison to others,

just you,

your body and mind for 60 minutes of bliss.

I highly recommend both Pilates and Yoga, I am now a Yin Yoga teacher and you will be sure to know that all my classes are centered around making you feel, stronger, calmer, less stiff and will walk out of the class feeling you can move freer and with more ease.

 

Just starting your fitness journey? Try this…

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Designed for the woman seeking gentle yet effective ways to nurture her body, these short, under 15-minute videos are your gateway to a more flexible, pain-free existence. Whether you’re grappling with joint issues or simply longing to kickstart your wellness journey, these sessions are your perfect starting point.

Imagine waking up each day feeling more limber, with the weight of pain lifting from your shoulders. Picture yourself moving through life with renewed ease, enjoying activities you once thought were out of reach. With “Forever Agile,” this dream becomes your reality.

As you commit to these daily videos, you’ll unlock a world of benefits. Feel the tension melt away as your flexibility blossoms, paving the way for a life of greater mobility and freedom. Experience the joy of restful sleep, as your body finds newfound comfort and relaxation. Notice the subtle shifts as you become more attuned to your muscles, feeling them awaken and strengthen with each gentle movement.

“Forever Agile” isn’t just a series of exercises; it’s a journey toward a brighter, more vibrant you. Join us and discover the power of daily movement to transform your life. Embrace flexibility. Embrace mobility. Embrace the endless possibilities of “Forever Agile.”

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Why walking is as good as jogging for the 50+ Woman?

Many of my ladies, including me, have joint issues which will no longer allow them to jog or run for their fitness.  I used to run the Race for Life 5km charity race for years and regularly attended park run, but now I have osteoarthritis in both knees this form of exercise is not longer available to me.  So, now I just walk, around 10,000 steps a day.  Here are 6 reasons why that is as good, or maybe even better than running.

Read more

Sore Back? Try these….

Reasons I have Fallen in LOVE with Yin Yoga

Oh, Yin Yoga, where do I even begin? After nearly three decades of being a die-hard Yang exercise instructor, I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve fallen head over heels for Yin Yoga. It’s like discovering a hidden gem in the world of fitness, and I’m here to spill the beans on why I’ve made this delightful switch.

First and foremost, Yin Yoga is like a warm, cozy hug for your body and mind. After years of pushing myself and my clients to the limit with high-intensity workouts, I’ve come to appreciate the gentle embrace that Yin offers. It’s the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives.

One of the things I absolutely adore about Yin Yoga is its unhurried pace. In my Yang days, I was all about chasing the clock, trying to cram as much exercise into as little time as possible. But with Yin, it’s all about slowing down. Each pose is held for several minutes, allowing you to sink into it, both physically and mentally. It’s a beautiful practice of patience and mindfulness, and it’s a refreshing change from the usual rush.

Speaking of mindfulness, Yin Yoga has this incredible ability to bring you into the present moment. In my high-energy classes, it was easy to get lost in the music and the adrenaline rush, but Yin forces you to pay attention to your breath, your body, and the sensations you’re experiencing. It’s like a mini meditation session with added physical benefits.

Now, let’s talk about flexibility. Yin Yoga is the secret weapon when it comes to unlocking those tight, stubborn muscles and joints. Unlike Yang exercises, where you’re constantly moving and potentially straining your muscles, Yin lets you ease into poses and hold them for extended periods. This gradual approach allows your body to release tension slowly and safely, helping you become more flexible over time.

Oh, and did I mention the blissful release of tension in Yin Yoga? You know that feeling when you’ve been holding onto stress in your body, and then suddenly, it melts away? That’s exactly what Yin does. It’s like giving your muscles a deep, loving massage. I’ve seen clients who struggled with chronic pain find relief through regular Yin practice, and it’s genuinely heart warming.

One of the most surprising things about Yin Yoga is how it has improved my sleep. After years of intense workouts, I often found it difficult to wind down at night. But since embracing Yin, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my sleep quality. The relaxation and stretching seem to prepare my body for a peaceful night’s rest, and I wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle the day.

Another fantastic benefit of Yin Yoga is the way it nurtures your connective tissues. In the world of Yang exercises, we often focus on strengthening muscles, but we tend to neglect the connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. Yin gives them the love and attention they deserve, helping to prevent injuries and promote joint health.

Yin Yoga is also incredibly accessible. You don’t need fancy equipment or a high level of fitness to start. That’s why it makes it perfect for the Menopausal women.  All you need is a mat, some comfy clothes, and a willingness to slow down. It’s a practice that can be tailored to suit all ages and fitness levels, making it a wonderful option for people who might have previously felt excluded from the fitness world.

Now, let’s talk about the mental and emotional benefits of Yin. As a Yang instructor, I was all about pushing boundaries and reaching goals, which is fantastic in its own right. But sometimes, we all need a break from that pressure. Yin offers a safe space for self-acceptance and self-care. It’s okay to just be where you are, in the moment, without judgment or comparison.

Yin Yoga has also deepened my understanding of the mind-body connection. It’s incredible how emotions can manifest in physical tension, and Yin provides an avenue for releasing those emotional knots. The sense of release and freedom that comes with it is genuinely cathartic.

But perhaps one of the most unexpected joys of Yin Yoga has been the sense of community it fosters. In my Yang days, it was all about competition and achievement. In Yin classes, there’s this beautiful sense of camaraderie. We support each other through the gentle poses, share our experiences, and offer words of encouragement. It’s like a little family on the mat.

Now, I won’t lie, there were moments of doubt when I made the switch from Yang to Yin. I wondered if I was betraying my fitness roots, but I quickly realized that it’s not about one being better than the other. It’s about balance. Yin and Yang complement each other perfectly, just like day and night.

So, here I am, a Yang instructor turned Yin enthusiast, and I couldn’t be happier. Yin Yoga has brought a sense of peace, balance, and joy into my life that I never expected. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the most profound changes happen when you’re willing to slow down, breathe, and let go. Yin has taught me to embrace the yin and yang within myself, and I hope it can do the same for you.

Namaste!

How do muscles work?

Muscles are fascinating biological structures responsible for the movement of our bodies. They work through a complex process involving the interaction between muscle fibers, nerve impulses, and energy production.

I’m gonna start with 5 fun facts about muscles:

  • 600 Muscles in the body.
  • Muscles are 40% of the body weight.
  • Largest Muscle – Gluteus Maximus (buttocks).
  • Smallest Muscle – Tensor Tympani (inner ear).
  • Strongest Muscle is in the jaw.

Now let’s break down the basics of how muscles work:

  1. Muscle Structure: Muscles are composed of individual muscle cells called muscle fibers. These fibers are grouped together into bundles called fascicles, and multiple fascicles form a whole muscle. Muscles are connected to bones via tendons, and when they contract, they pull on the tendons, causing movement at the joints.
  2. Muscle Contraction: Muscle contraction is the process by which muscles shorten or generate tension. It occurs when the muscle fibers contract and the sarcomeres within them shorten. Sarcomeres are the basic units of muscle contraction and are composed of two main proteins: actin and myosin. When the muscle receives a signal from the nervous system, calcium ions are released, enabling the interaction between actin and myosin.
  3. Sliding Filament Theory: The sliding filament theory is the fundamental principle explaining muscle contraction. During contraction, myosin (thick filaments) and actin (thin filaments) slide past each other, causing the sarcomeres to shorten. The myosin heads attach to the actin filaments and pull them towards the center of the sarcomere, shortening the overall length of the muscle fiber.
  4. Nerve Control: Muscle contraction is initiated by nerve impulses sent from the brain or spinal cord. When the brain decides to move a particular muscle, it sends an electrical signal through motor neurons. These neurons release a chemical neurotransmitter called acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, which bridges the gap between the motor neuron and the muscle fiber. Acetylcholine binds to receptors on the muscle cell membrane, initiating the release of calcium ions and triggering the sliding filament process.
  5. Energy Production: Muscle contractions require energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is produced through various metabolic processes, primarily using oxygen (aerobic metabolism) or in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic metabolism). During low-intensity activities, the muscles rely on aerobic metabolism, while high-intensity activities depend on anaerobic metabolism, producing lactic acid as a byproduct.
  6. Muscle Relaxation: After the nerve signal ceases, the calcium ions are pumped back into the sarcoplasmic reticulum (a storage structure within muscle fibers), and the actin and myosin filaments separate, allowing the muscle to relax and return to its original length.

Overall, the coordinated action of thousands of muscle fibers within a muscle allows us to perform a wide range of movements, from simple tasks like typing on a keyboard to more complex activities like running or lifting heavy objects.

After menopause, there are several hormonal changes that can affect various aspects of the body, including muscles. The primary hormonal change during menopause is the decrease in oestrogen production by the ovaries. This decline in oestrogen can lead to various effects on muscles and overall musculoskeletal health. Here are some of the ways muscles change after menopause:

  1. Muscle Mass and Strength: oestrogen plays a role in maintaining muscle mass and strength in women. After menopause, the decrease in oestrogen levels can contribute to a gradual decline in muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a natural part of aging, but it may occur more rapidly after menopause due to hormonal changes. As a result, women may experience a decrease in muscle strength and overall physical performance.
  2. Muscle Fatigue: Some women may notice increased muscle fatigue or reduced exercise tolerance after menopause. This could be related to hormonal changes impacting the muscle’s ability to generate energy efficiently. The decline in oestrogen may affect energy metabolism in the muscles, leading to quicker fatigue during physical activities.
  3. Bone-Muscle Interaction: Oestrogen also plays a crucial role in bone health, and after menopause, the decline in oestrogen levels can lead to a reduction in bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Bones and muscles have a synergistic relationship, and changes in bone density can affect muscle function. Weaker bones may lead to a decrease in muscle support, stability, and overall function.
  4. Connective Tissues: oestrogen also influences the connective tissues in the body, such as tendons and ligaments, which are essential for maintaining joint health and stability. The hormonal changes during menopause can affect these tissues, potentially increasing the risk of injuries or joint-related issues.
  5. Body Composition: Due to the changes in muscle mass and bone density, women may experience shifts in body composition after menopause. They may notice an increase in body fat and a decrease in lean muscle mass, which can have implications for overall health and metabolic function.

It’s important to note that individual experiences can vary widely. Not all women will experience the same extent of muscle changes after menopause, and lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, and overall physical activity, can significantly influence muscle health during this stage of life.

Engaging in regular strength training exercises and maintaining a balanced diet with sufficient protein intake can help mitigate muscle loss and support overall musculoskeletal health after menopause. If you’re concerned about muscle changes or overall health during menopause, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and recommendations.

How can I make my Bones Stronger After Menopause?

Maintaining strong bones post-menopause is important to prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures. Here are some strategies to help you improve bone strength:
  1. Calcium-rich diet: Ensure an adequate intake of calcium, which is essential for bone health. Good sources include dairy products, leafy green vegetables (such as kale and broccoli), tofu, almonds, and sardines. Aim for around 1,200-1,500 mg of calcium per day.
  2. Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is crucial for bone health. Spend some time outdoors to get natural sunlight, as it is a great source of vitamin D. Additionally, include foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), egg yolks, and fortified products (milk, cereals) in your diet. Consult your doctor about vitamin D supplements if necessary.
  3. Strength training exercises: Engage in weight-bearing exercises regularly, as they help build bone density and strength. Weight-bearing exercises include activities like walking, jogging, dancing, stair climbing, and weightlifting. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  4. Resistance training: Incorporate resistance or weight training exercises into your routine. This includes lifting weights, using resistance bands, or performing bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges. These exercises stimulate bone growth and enhance muscle strength, which indirectly supports bone health.
  5. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to bone loss. If you smoke, consider quitting, and limit alcohol to moderate levels (up to one drink per day for women).
  6. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): Discuss with your doctor the possibility of hormone replacement therapy, which may help reduce bone loss and fracture risk. HRT is a treatment that involves replacing the hormones no longer produced after menopause, such as oestrogen.
  7. Regular check-ups: Visit your healthcare provider regularly to monitor your bone health and discuss any concerns. They may recommend a bone density test (DEXA scan) to assess your bone density and identify any potential issues.

Remember, it’s always important to consult with your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet, exercise routine, or considering hormone replacement therapy. They can provide personalised advice based on your specific needs and medical history.

At our next Well-Being Day on 21st September, we will focus on bone density, all the exercise sessions, lunch and talks will be based around this important Post Menopause Health Consideration.