Hello. My name is Sabrina, and I am a Pilates addict.
For the better part of two years I have enjoyed my weekly Pilates sessions with the Reformer and fit-ball. My yogi friends have never understood the appeal it holds for me, nor I for their love of Yoga. So what is it that makes these two practices so fundamentally different?
From core principles to form and even health benefits, there are as many similarities as there are differences. Let’s break it down, shall we.
Pilates focus is physical, with conditioning exercises that help create long, lean muscles for an overall body workout. There are 6 abdominally intensive principles that are as follows:
- Breathe – Coordinate your exercises with your breathing.
- Centering – Strengthen your abs, lower back, pelvis and glutes; otherwise known as the Powerhouse or Core.
- Concentration – Focus your attention on each particular move.
- Control – Each movement requires total muscle control for maximum success.
- Flow – Use graceful, fluid movements when doing each exercise.
- Precision – Precise movements ensure each action has a purpose.
Yoga, on the other hand is a more spiritual practice. Based on ancient Indian culture and their beliefs of unity between mind, body and spirit, yoga is more than just a workout; it is a lifestyle. Using a series of stretches the goal is to clear away the negative and find alignment with your best possible self.
Pilates is a versatile workout. Instead of just using a mat, you can utilize a machine called the Reformer or a fit-ball if you like.
The Reformer is a resistance machine made of pulleys and springs that help build up your strength. Using a Fit-ball is similar, insofar as you use the ball to help build strength by utilizing your body’s natural weight resistance. In general, the principle form of Pilates is based on calisthenics, regardless of whether or not you add in the extras.
Pilates is a heavy abdominal workout that utilizes the Powerhouse (or core) for every movement. The end result is enhanced agility and postural endurance.
Yoga comes in many different forms as well. From the 26 postures of Bikram hot Yoga to slow, restorative movements of Lyengar or more aerobic styles like Vinyasa, there is a style for every yogi. Though the styles differ, the formula remains the same. Good posturing enhances the body’s overall performance as the breathing oxygenates and rids your body of toxins. Simultaneous mediation leaves you feeling peaceful, calm and relaxed.
As an avid Pilates-goer, one of the things I love so much about this practice is how low-impact it is. I suffer from weak hips and lower back pain so I have always had to be wary of what types of activities I partook in. Pilates has been a great form of injury prevention and rehabilitation for me. Building my core has helped align my core and back, manage and reduce muscle pain and enhanced my respiration. This practice is perfect (and safe) for any fitness level or age.
Pilates is a more physical activity but Yoga is also spiritual. That being said, the relaxed breathing of yoga increases lung capacity and floods the body with so much oxygen it helps detoxify you. Yogic breathing alone can help manage respiratory issues, like asthma, balance hormones and bring your muscles, organs and lymphatic system to a more organic state.
On top of the aforementioned goodness, yoga also speeds up your metabolism and enhances weight loss. Joint tension can be relieved, digestion improved and even thyroid stimulation can be achieved. Who knew finding your inner-peace could be so physically rewarding!
Yoga? Pilates? Which is right for you?
Going back to my original question; with so many benefits for each, which practice is right for you? There is no wrong answer. As you can see, it all depends on what you are looking to get out of your practice.
If inner peace and fitness float your boat then yoga is more likely for you. If spirituality is not your thing, you will probably enjoy Pilates more. Either way, you are bound to enjoy a dynamic workout that will leave you looking great and feeling amazing!