Many swear by the health and fitness benefits of mind body soul (MBS) exercises, while the non-followers often peg them simply as a form of meditation. While there are plenty of ‘quiet time’ features in these workouts, there’s a lot more to them than deep breathing. Here’s the low-down on what each routine offers, so you can find the best fit for your lifestyle.
What is it? Loosely translated as a workout that unites the mind, body and soul, the many moves in yoga are led by breathing techniques in sync with poses that awaken and stimulate your muscles. While yoga can look like a series of simple stretches, the positions practised do more than just test your flexibility; they challenge the way your body moves so that with each new session, your muscles rebuild their resistance threshold – making you leaner, fitter, more agile and relaxed over time.
Choosing your style: There are several types of yoga practices to choose from: they vary from sessions in a heated room (Bikram), relaxation methods and meditation (Hatha), or complex gymnastic-style movements (Ashtanga).
What is it? Pilates incorporates a series of exercises from moderate to intermediate, that work strongly with the mind and centre exclusively on the core – a great workout for the abdominal region and the body’s core stability. All of this centres on the action of breathing to maintain a strong core in order to perform the exercises with precision — giving you a mix of cardio and strength training per session. The result is that muscles become more defined and the body sees an overall toning and new level of definition. The mind is also more at ease as it has been exercised just as much as the body.
Choosing your style: For the majority of Pilates movements all you require is a mat and plenty of abdominal control. There are also equipment-based versions of this workout, and they could include anything from dumbbells, to resistance bands and the Pilates Reformer machine — a bed-like contraption featuring a series of springs, wheels and straps to aid particular movements against set resistance levels.
What is it? A workout that was and remains a combat practice for many, tai chi just like the other MBS exercises may appear gentle and graceful but each stance performed has power and force rolling forth. Unlike the other activities that often move within personal spaces, tai chi gets you to move out of them with control. There’s also no pause button in tai chi as all the movements and positions keep evolving so you’re constantly on the go — burning calories and keeping a healthy mind and body as you align the two with each routine.
Choosing your style: The common theme among many tai chi styles are slow strokes but there are variations involved, and they range across balance-boosting (Yang) and fast, hard-hitting (Chen) versions to the intensely slow, and almost undetectable moves seen in Wu.
After picking any of these workouts, the next step is getting you ready for classes. Just like other sports, dressing the part is essential; take your pick from soft stretchy apparel like the Nike training capris or loose tops as shown with this Timberland t-shirt so that you can be twisting and bending in style and comfort.
To browse our yoga, Pilates and tai chi products, head to our interactive Sun and Sand Sports Store at The Dubai Mall store for more apparel and gear, including mats and rollers.