Pilates vs. Yoga? Let’s compare and contrast.
Pilates and Yoga are both disciplines that focus on holistic body movement: starting from the breath, then concentrating on alignment and finally reaching to the end fibres in the muscle chain for an exercise/pose. Both practices help increase muscle strength and endurance. Neither advertises as an aerobic or cardio-vascular workout. A session in either should leave you feeling refreshed and energised without a sense of physical exhaustion*.
Yoga has an ancient religious origin and is thousands of years old. It has many branches and philosophies and different Yogi gurus concentrate on different aspects of the breathe etc.. In Yoga you are generally asked to clear and calm your mind and meditation may be part of the class. You will hold poses (named after animals or nature) and sequence them together for a more energetic flow- these can be modified. You will be working on or from the floor and you determine your own range of movement according to your comfort or experience.
Pilates is a modern exercise practise devised in the mid 1900s and evolved by physiotherapists. It has central tenets, revolving around posture and optimal body alignment and a unified approach to breathing. In Pilates you are generally asked to engage your mind and concentrate acutely on what your body is doing and how each muscle group (and fascial line) is moving. You will be constantly moving through concentric and eccentric muscle contractions and you will work through an ever-changing repertoire with many available modifications according to your medical health. In equipment classes, you can be working on machines in a seated, kneeling or lying down position and springs and pulleys will help you reach your optimal movement range.
I controversially titled this post Pilates vs. Yoga but I actually believe that we should all practice both. Learn how to control and correct your body through Pilates and then apply your body to a wide range of movements and release your mind with Yoga.
(Disclaimer: Lucy is not a yoga teacher but has practised yoga around the world, including studies in India. She has taught yoga segments and sun salutations in her capacity as a Body Balance class instructor.)
*The exceptions to this are:
Jumpboard Pilates- I run these sessions Tabata style, i.e. as HIIT classes. They definitely leave you out of breath.
Bikram or Hot Yoga- ideally practiced in a room heated to 40 °C so not particularly refreshing…but still fun.