Yoga and Pilates are both very popular in North America. For a beginner, deciding which practice to start with can be difficult and asking questions can sometimes be a little bit intimidating, especially if you don’t know what kinds of questions to ask. Here’s a short crash course on Yoga and Pilates to help arm you with enough information and confidence to go into a studio and discuss your goals and options.
What is Yoga?
Yoga originated in India around the fifth and sixth centuries BCE. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice. The physical postures in a yoga workout can help make the spine supple, alleviate health problems, and can even reduce stress. Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise, it has a meditative and spiritual core.
What is Pilates?
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It is considered “the art of controlled movements,” and can help improve flexibility, develop endurance and build strength. Pilates puts emphasis on breath, alignment and developing a strong core to improve coordination and balance. Joseph Pilates paired his method with a variety of equipment that he referred to as “apparatus.”
Yoga vs. Pilates
Pilates and yoga workouts can both offer stress-relief, flexibility, strength, control, and endurance. The biggest difference between the two is the emphasis on the spiritual component in classes. Pilates classes don’t offer an obvious spiritual experience, while yoga is centred around meditation and spirituality.
Yoga focuses on flexibility and broad muscle groups. It offers balance, endurance, strength, spirituality, and physical movement. Yoga classes range from gentle and relaxing too demanding and sweaty.
Pilates classes focus on strength, muscle toning, body control, and flexibility, with the main emphasis being core strength. Pilates is a disciplined practice that needs to be done on a regular basis to provide benefit.
Which one is right for you?
This is a very personal decision, and your preference for one or the other can depend on many factors such your current state of mind, physical needs and the instructor.
Luckily there is no need to choose between yoga or Pilates, as many studios offer both types of classes for their members. Many people practice both yoga and Pilates to get just the right balance of benefits.