Monthly Archives: August 2014

Pilates or Yoga? What is Best For Me?

I know Yoga has always been popular but let me tell you that Pilates is fast becoming a trend that even celebrities are so into it. Both gentle exercise forms offer great benefits but if you are confused as to which of them is best for you, it depends on what you want to achieve.

Allow me to shed some light on their distinction because while they both help you build strength and give you flexibility, they differ physically and philosophically.


  • It is the movement of energy through the body. You feel more of life the more energy you let freely flow within.
  • It is a controlled strengthening and stretching of the body that makes the body become yoga-pants-created-on-the-eighth-daystrong yet supple.
  • Worry, nervousness, stress and other physical tension may obstruct that flow of energy and may negatively affect some body parts.

As an old Eastern form of meditation, the physical postures along with proper breathing are the calming effects of yoga. As you learn to control breathing and hold challenging poses at the same time, yoga enables you to become aware of your overall physical being and attain inner and outer balance.


  • It is predominantly about physical conditioning that is unique in its ways.
  • The movements originated from what is often overlooked when exercising – the core muscles around the spine and those deep within the abdomen. Beginners of this exercise form are trained to isolate these muscles so that they are effectively taken on.
  • It is highly effective in improving body awareness and posture while promoting polished, fluid movements.
  • It allows muscle development without the pronounced bulk.

Joseph Pilates is the father of this form of exercise. He developed it as a means to help injured WWII soldiers recover. Because of its nature, explicit Pilates exercise tools such as mats are required. Compared to yoga, Pilates is more like weight training because it strengthens and develops lean muscles minus the bulkiness.

I can tell you that both exercises come with many benefits but then again, it depends on your goal to know which is best for you. If you want to tone your muscles to improve the way you look and carry yourself, then Pilates it is. If what you seek is rejuvenation of both mind and body, my recommendation for you is yoga.

There is no right or wrong choice because how the exercises affect you may also be affected by the kind of conditioning your body needs. The best thing to do is to try variation so that you get to experience and feel what it is that will work for you best.

Choosing the Perfect Yoga Workout

I love yoga workout videos because of the improvement in flexibility, balance and strength that it gives me. My mind is more relaxed as my body tension is released. But is yoga for everybody? With so many options to choose from, there is always the ideal yoga workout each one.

For beginners, the following gentle workouts are perfect for you:

Hatha – when this practice started, it involved more physical exercises than breathing. More I-dont-have-all-day2basic styles and poses are now incorporated but still meant for beginners.

Iyengar – perfect for those who are just starting but are okay with doing slow-paced poses that include more details. Sometimes, props like blocks, bolster pillows or belts are used to ensure that poses are perfectly aligned.

Kripalu – this is about moving slow that you would hardly perspire. It is a gentle exercise that promotes deeper awareness of the mind and body.

Viniyoga – each pose you make on this one is affected by how you breathe hence the focus on breathing for this style. As the breathing moves within the body, beginners may find it positively affecting their flexibility and body responsiveness. It is also good for those who are recovering from an injury as it is very relaxing.

Sivananda – the poses (a total of 13) involved in this style is something I highly recommend for those who want to improve their physical aptitudes. You simply lie down to pause between poses.

6bd4e429e9f9cd7edffd18a693b48c34Once you become more skillful in doing the poses, I would say give the following a try because challenging as they may seem, I find them helpful in many ways.

Ashtanga – special breathing technique has to be mastered in this one because it involves a series of poses done non-stop.

Bikram – this is one of my highly recommended styles where a sequence of 26 poses is executed in a room that has a temperature higher than 100 degrees. I would not suggest it though to those with medical conditions that may be aggravated by the warmth.

Power – because of the upper-body benefits I derive from this style which offers the most athletic forms, I enjoy this one so much. It also allows greater flexibility and balance.

Kundalini – for a total yoga experience, this is probably the one. Spiritual and philosophical in nature, you will have to master not only yoga postures here but breathing techniques as well as you meditate and chant.

If you are a beginner, consider your age, lifestyle and what you intend to achieve why you want to try yoga. If it’s fitness you are after or maybe recovering from an injury or you need some stress-relieving exercises or other specific goal, let the instructor know. As I have mentioned above, there is always one form that will perfectly fit.

The Best 4-Minute Workout Using the Tabata Method

Why am I so excited about the Tabata practice? Who wouldn’t be, I dare ask? Yes, it can be ridiculously difficult but the high-intensity interval training technique is more effective than you can possibly think it can be.

The workout is very short. I can liken it to circuit training and CrossFit exercises combined. It is357d3ef5fb8bbc179065c41293df07df about giving it an absolute “GO!” for 20 seconds followed by a 10-second rest. The process is repeated 8 times to complete the 4-minute power workout. It can…

  • Boost your aerobic and anaerobic power
  • Help you burn more fat faster
  • Increase your maximal aerobic capacity
  • Enhance your resting metabolic rate

Our body’s ability to convert food into energy involves 2 anaerobic and 1 aerobic metabolic systems. To give all three systems equal intensity, I will share with you some training that will help crank things higher using the Tabata method.

72413a0a73070d0eab8e61b0929301d9025459206333ba6e68d0cb4f9f218bfcPower Workout
– allow 20 seconds of intense movements on one exercise, rest 10 seconds then go to the next exercise. Do and finish 4 different actions. Start with jump squats, for instance, followed by lunges, pull-ups and push-ups doing 2 intervals in each one. Keep up with the intensity during the whole process.

Blast on the Cardio – sprint with all your might at the speed meant to beat your own record for 20 seconds then rest for 10, repeating the whole process 8 times.

Resistance machine – you can try going the fastest you can on machines like stationary bike, rowing machine or elliptical doing the same process for the same number of seconds – 20 seconds to go as fast as you can followed by a 10-second pause for a total of 8 rounds.

Tabata sit-ups – lie on your back with your knees out. The soles of your feet should be flat so that as you reach for them, more ab muscles are engaged, holding the position for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds then repeat up to 8 rounds.

Concision is what Tabata is all about but let me tell you that if you do it right, you are sure to get the best results. If you think a 4-minute workout will never leave you in a pool of sweat, try applying the Tabata method. The 4-minute fat burner works on many kinds of exercise, saving many people a lot of time with maximum benefit.  For other great online workout videos, go to:  Workouts On Demand.

What is HIIT Exercise Training?

Have you heard of HIIT?  Which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Other than bodyweight training, I discovered it to be the latest buzz in the fitness industry and it is causing quite a stir. I don’t find that surprising because there is a good reason behind the excitement over it.

What is HIIT exercise really?

It is a method in training, a kind of exercise where you give rigorous effort to short but intense the best way to burn fat interval trainingbursts of exercise. Recovery periods are short, at times active. The idea is to attain faster fat burning in less time while keeping an increased heart rate.

What makes it work? 

The body requires more oxygen when doing high-intensity trainings and doing HIIT can cause a lack of oxygen and is strongly sought by the body during rest period or what is known as EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. It is an effective after burn resulting from intense workout. Compared to regular exercise, it burns more fat and calories.

What are the benefits you can get from HIIT exercise?

  • Because of the nature of the exercise resulting in increased need for oxygen, it boosts metabolism in the process. Fat continues to burn up until the next 48 hours courtesy of the combined high intensity and interval exercise.
  • When there are just too many duties and errands to run, I find this workout great because Want-to-get-there-have-to-go-thereit is quick and convenient. It doesn’t matter where I am – whether the gym, the laundry area as I do my laundry or just about anywhere where I can spend even as little as half an hour!
  • Because the program practically requires that I use only my own weight yet result in increased calorie burn, I don’t worry if there are no gym equipments to grab. It gives the same result where building muscles is concerned, not to mention the fat loss.

I am aware that not everyone has an hour or more for exercise but please! Don’t let a busy schedule stop you from becoming fit. If you seek weight loss, want to tone muscles or improve your endurance but don’t have the luxury of time, try HIITing it. It is a program designed to give you results in less time employing different HIIT routines. What makes it all the more a better option is that you can do it right in the comfort of your own home.  And there are many exercise videos that follow this format.  For great interval training exercise videos, go to: -

Do I Stretch Before or After My Workout?

Let me assure you that it is not about to stretch or not to stretch because certainly, stretching is important. When to do it is what matters – before or after a workout? Trust me when I say it should be done after your workout. Here’s why:

  • A review made by the New York Times suggested that stretching does not prevent injuries. On the contrary, pre-exercise stretching is found to be unnecessary and may even negatively affect one’s strength and speed.
  • A university conducted a review of over a hundred fit people who stretched prior to working out showed a reduction in muscle strength by almost 6% that they lifted weight 8% less than those who didn’t pre-exercise stretch.
  • Muscle, when overstretched prior to working out, works with less power especially if your training involves lifting weights.

Stretching became a stubborn pre-workout routine because many have mistaken it as or may stretching-doghave associated it with warming up. It is believed to help avoid physical damages but no study actually supports this claim and I have never practiced doing it as part of my pre-workout preparation. What I do instead is that I focus on warming my body up than doing some stretching.

  • Working out can cause muscles to swell with lactic acid. This could result to tenderness and exhaustion but this may be reduced by an after workout stretch.
  • Stretching allows muscles to become warm which means better blood circulation.
  • Muscles recover better and faster from a rigorous exercise when stretched.
  • An after workout stretching reduces muscle soreness which is often a reason why some skip the next session.

How your mind and body benefit from exercising is enhanced better by a post-workout stretch. It allows the mind to stay in tune with the body, helping it deal with aches and pains. When the mind and body are in tune with each other especially after an exercise, not only does the body benefit, so does the psychological state because the mind and body connection makes you feel relaxed. I find it a great stress-reliever too!

Some facts about stretching:

  1. Stretching, along with some flexibility training, allows joints wider range of motion. This is helpful in doing daily activities and in improving balance and posture.
  2. Stretching, when done properly, can also help prevent falls and other age-related injuries.
  3. It poses some risks of decreasing muscle strength hence not recommended before doing weight-bearing actions.
  4. It is known to be an effective post-workout cooling down technique.

How about spending a few minutes today to stretch?  Below is a free stretching workout video –  Enjoy!