YOGA vs. PILATES
Which One's Right for You?
Yoga and Pilates are often thrown into the same category. True, they are similar practices, but they have some major differences. The first thing to keep in mind is that there are many different forms of yoga and Pilates, which makes determining the distinctions between them a tough assignment. But let’s give it a try by exploring some of the differences.
DIFFERENCE NO. 1: ORIGIN
The practice of yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has evolved over the centuries and cultures into many different types of yoga.
Pilates is a much younger practice, beginning in the mid-20th century by an athlete named Joseph Pilates. He created the exercises as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening.
DIFFERENCE NO. 2: MIND, BODY & SPIRIT
Both yoga and Pilates bring an understanding that the mind and body are connected. However, yoga adds an additional element to the mix—the spirit. Exploring spirituality is a huge part of yoga practice, especially through meditation. While Pilates focuses on creating an understanding that the mind and body are connected and how this can help in everyday life, yoga focuses on the mind/body/spirit connection.
DIFFERENCE NO. 3: THE CLASS
Each class you walk into will be different, so it’s tough to pinpoint specific distinctions, but this is one of the most frequently asked questions, so here goes…
Many yoga classes are flexible in routine. Postures, sequences and variations can be combined into tens of thousands of routines to create a class. So it will be up to the style of yoga you practice and the teacher guiding you to decide what’s on the agenda. At Art & Soul there are beginner classes for newbies as well as people with limitations who want a gentle class, or Yoga for EveryBODY that is designed to include all levels of fitness.
Pilates classes are a little more structured. Because of this, you will more likely know what to expect when you walk into the door of a Pilates class than in a yoga class. The Pilates sequences are easy to learn with the clear cueing from the teacher. In Art & Soul Pilates Reformer class, the routine is flexible for different students abilities and strengths.
DIFFERENCE NO. 4: THE WORKOUT
In both practices, you will gain strength and flexibility. Pilates classes offer a total body workout but focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the core. The exercises done at Art & Soul Pilates classes always involve a wide variety of movements to gain core and spine strength. The classes and one-on-one sessions use machines called a reformer to gain strength, but have the support of resistance springs and weights.
In a yoga class, you will work out every muscle in your body equally. Each posture is accompanied by a counter-posture to assure you create balance in your body. While core-strength is definitely an important element in yoga, it is more of a piece of yoga, rather than the entire focus. At Art & Soul the focus of yoga is to bring balance in mind, body & spirit.
WHICH PRACTICE IS FOR YOU?
If you are certain you want your practice to be spiritual and are looking to manage your stress, yoga may be the better option for you. If your priority is to focus on your back and core, Pilates may be a better fit.
If you don't know where to start, try them both. If you are leaning towards one or the other, try them both anyway. That’s the only way to really know which practice you will enjoy and benefit from most.
Faye Rose, CYT, CPT, is the Founder and Owner of Art & Soul Yoga & Pilates, established in 2001. She is certified in Yoga, IMX Pilates, and Yoga for Parkinson’s, Yoga for M.S., Prenatal Yoga, Mommy & Baby Yoga, and Yoga for Fibromyalgia, Kripalu Danskinetics, and Therapeutic Yoga.