Yoga and Pilates are two very popular forms of exercise today, and for good reason. Each has wonderful benefits, including many for the expectant mother. Both originated long ago and have since been adapted into many different forms, such as yogalaties and power yoga, to name a few. Yoga, started in India more than 5000 years ago and springing from a Sanskrit word meaning "union," has many forms but generally centers around techniques for breathing (pranayama), postures (asanas), flexibility, and meditation (such as the techique called dhyana). It can be very spiritual, linking the mind, body, and spirit. Other popular types seen today in videos and in gyms include:
- Hatha: Involves basic introductory yoga poses, usually gentle and slow-paced.
- Vinyasa: A version that uses more aggressive stretching, with focus on sun salutations and connecting breathing to movement.
- Ashtanga: Fast-paced and more intense (sometimes referred to as "power yoga"), this form focuses on constant movement from one pose to the next in a specific order.
- Bikram: Also referred to as "hot yoga," this form is intended to be practiced in an environment where the temperature is 95-100 degrees, to promote intense sweating that will loosen tight muscles and facilitate cleansing of the body. (Please note that this form is NOT recommended during pregnancy.)
Pilates was first practiced in the early 1900's by Joseph Pilates, who as a young boy suffered from rickets, asthma, and rheumatic fever. He developed a system of exercise to help recover from his illness, emphasizing moves that would strengthen and elongate muscles without adding bulk.