Big Bear Lake and the Art of Relaxation

Savasana yoga pose
Just relax…this is going to be a great article.

Most people are coming up for the action Big Bear Lake offers. Skiing, snowboarding, running, hiking, exploring, dining, and late night entertainment all are major attractions that draw people to the area.  Sometimes the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, or any other city our visitors are from is enough activity. Those people are coming up for peace and quiet; mirror-flat lakes, breathtaking views of the mountains and walking through the Village to do a little shopping. Another way to relax in the mountains, or anywhere really, is through a relaxing routine of yoga or Pilates.

Yoga and Pilates are both lower intensity workouts that develop both flexibility and strength in its practitioners. Yoga focuses on flexibility and mental stability while working your entire body. You get a full body workout with nothing but a mat and the weight of your body. Pilates starts with the core (abs, chest, and back) and works its way out through the rest of the body. Both offer unique breathing techniques as well; yoga for mental calmness and stress relief, Pilates to fuel the muscles during the workout.

Yoga pose
This is some advanced yoga in the great outdoors.

Yoga has multiple styles to practice, all of which have a different focus. You can start with gentler classes in hatha and restorative yoga, or find a more intense challenge through vinyasa (or flow) and hot yoga classes. There is no equipment you need to purchase to do yoga. Some props, like yoga blocks, can be used to help with the more strenuous poses. The breathing used in yoga is to help calm the mind and becomes part of the flow of the movement from pose to pose. Yoga poses are usually balanced so each muscle group is worked in opposing pairs. The movements also help loosen up the muscles and connective tissue, increasing flexibility in the back, shoulders, hamstrings, and hips. You will gain muscle tone as you perform the movements, but not bulk. It is also a great stress reliever. The slow movements dampen the body’s stress response, allowing for a calmer mental attitude and better sleep at night.

Pilates focus, as creator Joseph Pilates intended, it to build strong core muscles. It starts at the spine and abs and works from there. You do not need equipment, but there is equipment available to intensify the workouts. Breathing for Pilates is sharp and fast, trying to keep oxygen flowing into the muscles that are being worked. There is not a flow to Pilates, but all muscle groups are worked in turn to make sure that the core is being taken strengthened. Pilates is also a little higher intensity, so you will feel a greater burn in the areas you are working. Pilates is not high intensity, so the muscle that is developed is lean muscle. This will make your body look longer and leaner as a result. With the focus in each exercise on precise movement, your posture will improve as well.

Pilates can be done with equipment...or without.
Pilates can be done with equipment…or without.

Along with working up a little sweat, there are many other benefits to both workouts. The body overall gets stronger, helping your body prevent minor aches and pains that come with everyday life. Doctors and other fitness experts have found that even small amounts of exercise have health benefits like increased energy and better brain function. Better posture, a benefit of both programs, also improves breathing and relieves tension in the back.

Toward the end of this month, there is going to be festivals celebrating both of these festivals. The Big Bear Pilates Festival, taking place at the Big Bear Chateau August 22 – 24, will have classes for all ranges of practitioners, from novices to experts. There will also be nightly entertainment for all who attend. The 2014 Big Bear Yoga Festival will be happening on the same weekend, and will have a wealth of information on all things yoga. Energy balancing, teaching techniques and flow are just a few of the conversation topics and workshops you’ll be able to experience. There will also be activities outside the workshops for you to experience.

Space for each of the events is limited. Purchasing your tickets before the mad, last minute rush is not going to be a calm experience. While you are buying your tickets, put in a reservation with your friends here at Big Bear Frontier! Then teach us some of the techniques you learned. We are guessing doing yoga on our section of the beach would be very relaxing.

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