Creating The Ideal Conditions for Yoga and Pilates
If you’ve even done yoga or Pilates in a draughty, noisy, or too brightly lit studio then you’ll know that creating the right atmosphere for relaxation is vital. Whether you’re an instructor or a student, there are a few aspects to consider to promote the most comfortable yoga or Pilates session possible.
Last year research revealed that different types of lighting used during an exercise class can help trigger different emotions in people exercising. Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming at Crunch gyms, the company behind the story explained, “Because of the theatrical nature of group fitness classes, lighting is key to differentiate programming.” Intense workouts such as spinning benefit from energy boosting yellow or orange lighting, for example.
Ideally, the best lighting for a class focused on relaxation is natural light but if this isn’t possible (as is often the case in winter) then dimmed lighting or soft blue lighting is most suitable. Where possible avoid the glare of strong fluorescent lights which are fine for high energy classes but can make it difficult to relax in slower paced classes.
In yoga and Pilates classes there is no ‘industry standard’ for heating the room but it’s advisable to minimise drafts and turn the air con off, particularly during floor work and relaxation. The exception to this is Bikram Yoga (also known as hot yoga) where the room is heated to around 40⁰C with a humidity of 40%, with a view to improving blood flow and oxygen distribution throughout the body.
Most yoga and Pilates classes will provide non-slip mats and some provide yoga blocks as well. If you’re practising yoga at home then you could use a cushion or even a book to sit on instead of a block. During the relaxation section of the class it’s a good idea to have a blanket to hand and a bolster is also useful for certain yoga moves.
Time of day
The time of day you practise yoga or Pilates is really down to personal preference and your lifestyle commitments. Ideally, try to practise yoga first thing in a morning before breakfast or in the early evening, around sunset. As Pilates doesn’t focus as much on meditation and relaxation then any time of day is suitable for practise, just avoid last thing before bed in case your Pilates practise leaves you feeling too energised. With both forms of exercise, avoid practising on a full stomach and try to wait at least two hours after eating before exercising.
If you’re new to yoga or Pilates then make sure you speak to a specialist instructor to find out which practise is best for you and for expert advice on the exercises.
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