Pilates and Yoga: Are They Good Exercise?
How downward dog and tai chi in the park can help mind and body alike.
Yoga for Strength Building
Similar to aerobics classes or weight-lifting workouts, the intensity level within each discipline varies by style and instructor. But the specific practice you choose is less important than simply engaging in it, Chen says. "Doing these mind/body exercises consistently will build up strength," he says. "Don't worry about making mistakes or getting all of the movements right. In the beginning, just being there and doing it is enough."
No longer a beginner, Rudiger says her dedication to yoga does more than deliver an intense mind/body workout. It also gives her bragging rights.
"My brother is a marathon runner and he might be able to outrun me, but I'm more flexible and have better core strength," she says. "I bring that up whenever someone says yoga is just a stretching class."
Getting Started with Mind/Body Exercise
Interested in trying this kind of exercise but not sure how to get started? Chen has some suggestions:
Make the call. Before going to exercise classes for the first time, call the studio. "The instructor should know how much experience you have before you start a class," he says. If you need help picking a class that suits your skill level, ask whether the studio offers a specific style of yoga, Pilates, or tai chi most suited to a beginner.
Try before you buy. Although they are all mind/body exercises, Pilates, yoga, and tai chi are very different practices -- and there are a number of styles within each. Chen suggests test-driving classes and instructors until you find a good fit.
Wear to go. Prepare to go barefoot during your session. Taking off your shoes helps you feel grounded, an important part of the mind/body philosophy. It's also important to wear comfortable clothes -- but nothing too baggy. Oversized T-shirts will ride up during inverted (upside-down) poses.