One of the questions I get asked a lot is: ‘Pilates, isn’t that some sort of Yoga?’. My answer is usually: ‘No, not really’ but it then requires more explaining. I guess when you are not doing either it may seem like two similar types of exercises. There are poses, there is breathing, stretching and potentially toning and there is usually a mat involved. But that is also where the comparisons end.
Let’s start with the goals. When you are looking for rehabilitation both methods offer different results. Pilates is known to help with reducing physical pain and recovering from injuries. Yoga is often used as part of a mental and emotional rehabilitation which can be linked with spirituality and meditation. Pilates will not add focus on the spirit like yoga does, however both are very much about aligning the body and mind. There is also more cardio involved in Pilates because exercises can be done on machines such as the Reformer. In Yoga there are no machines.
To sharpen the differences even more. Yoga started over 5,000 years ago in India. What we now know as Yoga is in fact part of a much larger philosophy and way of life. Pilates was invented in the early 20th century as a method ‘the Art of Contrology’ of body rehabilitation and strengthening.
Another big difference is how breath is being used. With Pilates, the breath helps you to move through the exercise and to provide the muscles with the energy they need to exercise effectively. In Yoga, the breathing exercises help you to achieve relaxation. Sending the breath to areas that may be tight or are holding stress can help to relax.
Stretching and holding static poses is a central theme in Yoga whereas Pilates is more dynamic with a flow of exercises. Both methods are very suitable for toning the abdominal muscles which we love. However, Pilates exercises are a lot more intense and results may be achieved much quicker than with Yoga. Through frequent Pilates exercises, a flatter and firmer stomach can be achieved.
Mind and body
Depending on what you want to achieve with your mind and body, you have to decide which exercise method works best for you. I know people who do both, switch from one to the other or stay true to just the one method. Pilates obviously ;)
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Marco Dingemans is a qualified Classical Pilates mat instructor