Both Pilates and yoga are fantastic ways to tone up and stretch your body. However, there are also major differences between Pilates and yoga in regards to origin, practice and health benefits. Below I’ve summarised each activity and why it might be perfect for you.
Focus: Yoga brings an unique wholesome view of the body during exercise, encapsulating the mind and spirit. It centers on grounding the body through poses that increase stability, balance and flexibility. Within Pilates the focus is more is on conditioning, rehabilitation and strengthening.
Both yoga and Pilates practice being mindful during exercise. The exercises are performed in time with the breath to relieve tension and promote clarity. However, yoga adds a more emotional attachment to physical activity by sometimes including meditation at the beginning or end of the practice.
Furthermore, yoga can provide an incentive to be dedicated to the practice. There are a variety of challenging poses that can take months to master. The sense of achievement after tackling a tough position can assist in maintaining motivational levels.
Classes: In both yoga and Pilates there are numerous classes you can take. In yoga they can vary from Ashtanga and Bikram, which focus on different elements of yoga. There are a wide range of postures, poses and sequences that are utilised to create a full body workout and mental awareness.
On the contrary, Pilates classes can be a little more structured. It’s most likely that you will know in advance the body area targeted in a class, such as glutes or shoulders. Yet, classes can also be tailored around individual needs, such as rehabilitation and mobility or balance.
Health Benefits: For the average fitness level, yoga and Pilates will not suffice as a cardio workout. The aerobic capacity needed to perform the poses and exercise in both practices is minimal, instead focusing on strength, flexibility and balance.
These fitness components are often overlooked in fitness regimes and as such, both yoga and Pilates are great additions to a healthy lifestyle. The exercises often target small stability muscles that rarely get mobilized in daily life (or during cardio and weight training). These muscles are vital for minimizing injuries and increasing balance.
Moreover, yoga can provide a sense of mental well being and peace. It has been shown to reduce the amount of cortisol in the body, in turn reducing stress and anxiety. This is due to the connection between the mind, body and spirit being strengthened.
Whilst yoga boasts mental well being, Pilates is possibly better at conditioning the body. Instead of traditional sit ups, Pilates focuses on holistic moves that target the whole abdominal plate. Additionally, Pilates promotes better posture and alignment of the spine through strengthening back exercises.
Overall, yoga and Pilates both provide a bountiful of health benefits. Every person is unique and as such should choose a practice that suits their needs. The activities are in no way exclusive with many people, including myself, performing both practices weekly.
Let me know what your favourite workout is 🙂