So you’re finally ready to take your fitness to a new level, but now you’re wondering: Pilates or yoga? Aren’t they basically the same thing? How do you choose? What IS the difference?
Both disciplines improve balance, flexibility, joint mobility, and posture. Both focus on breathing, stress relief, and spinal elongation; but what’s the best choice? Here’s a brief breakdown of the differences between Pilates and yoga so you can decide which system is right for you.
Pilates has six basic principles–centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flow—with the main objective of creating strength in the core, stability and elongation of the spine, symmetrical, balanced musculature, and overall flexibility. Most of the exercises are performed lying down on the stomach, back, or side with emphasis placed on length in opposition, meaning you are constantly striving to get not only stronger, but longer and leaner as well. Pilates has the added benefit (and distinct difference) of using not only a mat, but also specialized equipment such as the Pilates Reformer or Cadillac, rings, balls, resistance bands, foam rollers, and many other props to both assist in modifications or building blocks, and/or create more of a challenge for its participants.
Yoga is often considered the first mind/body exercise. With its origins spanning back to India pre- 3,000 B. C., yoga was created to connect the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness through physical movement. In short, it aims to improve physical, mental, and spiritual health all at once. These classes can be extremely therapeutic, and many involve some form of meditation. In addition to the more therapeutic side, yoga focuses on increasing strength, alignment, and flexibility of the spine and limbs. There are many types of yoga ranging in intention, physicality, and speed. You might find a Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga, or Bikram yoga to be more vigorous, while a Yin Yoga or Hatha to be more concentrated on breath or longer stretches. There are also more modern approaches like Buti, which incorporates popular music and dancing, or SUP Yoga, which takes your practice to the water.
Overall, the biggest difference between Pilates and yoga is the end goal. Pilates works from the center out, increasing body awareness and strength as it lengthens and tones. Yoga provides a meditative environment for you to improve your overall quality of life. It focuses on stress relief while improving your body.
But really, aren’t those both great things? And why do you have to choose at all? Why not try both?! Pilates and yoga each have tremendous merits, and, by adding them both to your daily or weekly routine, you will see incredible results! See you on the mat!