Pilates vs Yoga: Unveiling the Differences and Benefits
Not sure which to choose, Pilates or Yoga? Whilst there may be many similarities between pilates and yoga, it is important to understand their fundamental differences allowing you to choose the practice that's best suited for you!
The Origin of Pilates & Yoga
First lets touch on the history of both practices to give us a well rounded view.
Pilates, created by Joseph Pilates in the 1900s, combines elements of yoga, martial arts, gymnastics and anatomy. It was first developed to help rehabilitate injured soldiers during World War 1. It focuses on strength, flexibility and the relationship between the mind and the body. Pilates uses a range of unique apparatus and machines that further enhance the practice. An example of one of the machines is the reformer. Other Pilates machines, like the Cadillac, Wunda Chair, and Ladder Barrel, offer more workout variations.
On the other hand, yoga, with its routes in ancient India, is about uniting body, mind and spirit. The word "yoga" translates to "unite" in Sanskrit. Yoga is based on the principles of posture, breath control, meditation, and a variety of ethical principles. This 5,000-year-old discipline promotes physical strength, mental clarity, and spiritual awareness.
The Key Similarities between Pilates and Yoga
Whilst Pilates and Yoga offer unique methods and benefits, they do share several key similarities.
Both are Low-Impact
Improve Flexibility and Strength
Improve Breath Control
Focus on Core Strength
Promotion of Balance and Posture
The common goal of promoting overall wellbeing through mindful movement is evident in both practices.
The Key Differences between Pilates and Yoga
Despite there being a variety of similarities there are also important differences between the two.
Origins and History: Pilates was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates for physical conditioning and rehabilitation, whereas yoga is an ancient practice from India, over 5,000 years old, initially aimed at spiritual enlightenment.
Primary Focus: Pilates primarily focuses on strengthening the body, particularly the core, and improving posture. Yoga, while it also promotes physical strength and flexibility, places an equal, if not higher emphasis on meditation and spiritual well-being.
Use of Equipment: Pilates often uses specialized equipment like the reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair, to support or challenge the body in different ways. Traditional yoga, on the other hand, typically requires just a mat, although props like blocks, straps, and bolsters can be used to support or deepen certain poses.
Structure of Sessions: A Pilates session is usually more structured, focusing on a sequence of movements performed for a certain number of repetitions. Yoga sessions can vary greatly depending on the style, from flowing sequences (as in Vinyasa yoga) to more static holds (as in Hatha yoga), and there's often a focus on individual exploration and flexibility of practice.
Breathing Techniques: Pilates involves lateral breathing (inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth while engaging the core), whereas yoga includes a variety of breathing techniques, most commonly ujjayi breath (a deep breath in and out through the nose, with a slight constriction in the back of the throat).
Philosophical and Spiritual Aspects: Yoga has a significant spiritual component, often incorporating elements of philosophy, mantras, chakras, and meditation, aiming to unify mind, body, and spirit. Pilates is generally more physical and lacks this spiritual aspect.
Flow of Movements: Pilates exercises are typically performed with a flow that involves a count or rhythm, while yoga has a more diverse range of flows and holds, often held for several breaths.
The Benefits of Pilates vs The Benefits of Yoga
Pilates helps to build core strength, improve posture, and gain muscle tone. Pilates workouts focus on precise movements and use specialized equipment to provide resistance, which can enhance physical strength and alignment. These workouts can also be easily customized to your fitness level and needs.
The benefits of yoga stretch beyond just physical fitness. Other benefits include stress reduction, spiritual growth, and overall mental well-being. Yoga offers a comprehensive approach that combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. It encourages deep relaxation and mindfulness.
So what is best for me? Pilates or Yoga?
In essence, the choice between Pilates and Yoga depends on your personal goals.
If you are looking for a more physical workout and posture improvement then Pilates is for you. Whereas if you are looking for a more holistic practice that balances the mind, body and spirit then yoga is your answer!
Remember they are not mutually exclusive. Many people incorporate both Pilates and Yoga into their routine so they can reap the benefits of both. The combination of both practices gives a well rounded, holistic fitness routine that improves both your physical and mental wellbeing.