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Yoga and Pilates...
and Weight Loss?

By Natasha Vani, MSc., ATCP

In the past decade, yoga and pilates have become the hottest topics in the fitness world. Countless options are available, from videos and DVDs for at-home practice, to one-on-one training sessions and group classes offered at almost all health and fitness clubs.

Just who practices yoga?
Just about everyone in Hollywood! Jennifer Aniston, Danny Glover, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tina Turner and Rod Stewart are all reported to use yoga. And let’s not forget Madonna—her album, Ray of Light, actually includes a chant of a common yoga practice. The San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Indians even use yoga and pilates as an integral part of their training.

With yoga and pilates being used by some of the fittest actors and athletes, can we not conclude that they are an effective form of exercise?

As with everything else in life, yoga and pilates are effective if you use them for what they are intended for. While they do provide many health benefits (as you will soon read), many people wrongly believe they play a strong role in weight loss.

Here is a list of the definite benefits of yoga and pilates. If you wish to improve any of the following factors, then I do suggest taking part in a regular (three to four days/week) routine of either yoga or pilates:

Psychological benefits:

  • Increased mental control
  • Improved attention and concentration
  • Improved mood
  • Decrease in depression
  • Reduction in stress
  • Increased energy level
  • Decreased tension in the body
  • Increase in self acceptance and well-being

Physiological benefits:

  • Increased balance and flexibility
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Improved posture
  • Increased endurance
  • Improved mobility
  • Better breathing efficiency
  • High-quality sleep
  • Decreased lower back pain
  • Decreased imbalance between opposing muscle groups
  • Lessened risk of injury
  • Relieves tension and lowers blood pressure


It is important to have realistic expectations about what yoga and pilates can and cannot do for you. Take our quiz to learn more about the benefits of yoga and pilates.

Answer True or False for each of these statements.

1. A single yoga or pilates session is an excellent way to burn calories.
True          False

2. A single yoga or pilates session is an excellent way to build muscle.
True          False

3. If I am considerably overweight, I may find some of the movements and/or positions difficult to get into or to hold.
True          False

4. To benefit from either of the arts you need to perform the techniques properly. This may take months of daily training.
True          False

5. If I am inactive and I want to lose about 5 lbs, introducing yoga and/or pilates will help me reach my goal.
True          False

6. If I am currently active and I replace my existing exercise program with only yoga or pilates, I will continue to succeed at the same rate.
True          False

7. If I do not want to lose weight but I do want to reshape my body, yoga and/or pilates is an excellent method.
True          False

8. A weekly routine of either will help me maintain my weight.
True          False

9. A few sessions a month will complement an existing weight loss program.
True          False


Last words of advice:
Always make sure your goals can be reached by your actions!

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