The popularity of yoga and pilates has increased of late and it continues to attract people of all ages looking for an exercise regime other than simply visiting the gym. Both yoga and pilates are low impact workouts, with so many variations available it is almost guaranteed that there is something to suit almost everyone’s needs. With yoga and pilates seemingly so similar what is the difference and how do you know which one is best for you? Whether yoga or pilates is best for you will depend on you and what you would like to achieve.
Similarities Between Yoga and Pilates
Both require very little equipment and can be done using only a mat. Some may choose to use simple props such as straps, cushions or blocks. There is no need to purchase loads of expensive equipment which makes it easy to practice in the comfort of your own home at work.
When it comes to breathing both focus on the proper use of the breath during exercise with an emphasis on diaphragmatic breathing which is simply breathing deep into the belly. They also both a form of mid-body exercise creating an awareness and a connection between the body and the mind
Yoga and Pilates work on toning and conditioning the muscles while using the body weight as a natural resistance tool. Both improve circulation, oxygenate the system and place focus on the movement and the present moment and less on the outcome.
While there are many similarities there are also some differences, these differences are what will determine which one is best for you.
Yoga vs Pilates
Both are great workout options with a slightly different approach. Yoga focusses more on increasing strength and flexibility while pilates focusses on relaxing and then strengthening the muscles. Pilates offers a much more intense workout than yoga.
Breathing is important in both disciplines; Yoga concentrates more on the breath before concentrating on strengthening or deepening the pose. With Pilates, each movement starts at the core and then extends through the limbs.
Most Pilates many of the exercises are practised while lying down, either while lying on the stomach, the back, or the side. There are a few movements that are done standing as well such as the standing series. The Pilates movements all engage the abdominal core to lift off the ground and lengthen the muscles. Pilates focusses on the precision of the movement first and then focusses on coordinating the breath with the movement.
Most Yoga poses are performed while standing relying on gravity to root to the earth. There are some poses that are done on the floor, such as the bow pose and seated forward bends. Yoga, while always mindful of proper alignment, focusses primarily on the breath and staying connected with the breath.
The breathing used in Yoga and Pilates also differ. Pilates uses mostly a controlled, slow diaphragmatic breath with only a few movements using a rapid breath. Yoga, on the other hand, uses a smooth heat-inducing breath or a more rapid breath for most of the asana poses.
The history of the two disciplines is also something that sets them apart from each other. Yoga originated in India over 5000 or more years ago. Even though it has evolved and developed over the years the basic principles remain unchanged. The main aim is still to not only focus on physical health but on spiritual and emotional health as well.
Pilates is a newer more modern practice which was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German man, in 1920. It originated and was developed to help soldiers that were wounded in World War I to strengthen and rehabilitate.
Which one is right for you?
If you are looking for a more intense workout then Pilates is a resistance exercise. It aims to increase flexibility, strength and gain body awareness without building bulky muscles
If a more therapeutic workout is what you are after then Yoga may be just what you are looking for. While Yoga also focuses on increasing flexibility and strength, the repetitive movements can be very relaxing and therapeutic. Yoga offers more variety and there are many types of yoga. Some yoga types involve meditation, it is this meditative yoga that attracts many people to give it a go. It is a great way to relax and unwind while still getting a workout.
Both Yoga and Pilates have their advantages and some may even combine the two. The variety that Yoga offers and the relaxation aspect of yoga are what makes it a popular option. With mum and baby yoga, yoga for beginners and yoga for everyone each class is unique and designed around each participant’s needs and there is a yoga type for everyone.