The Similarities and Differences of Pilates and Yoga

You can barely turn on the TV nowadays without hearing about Pilates or Yoga. When you take up a magazine, you are bound to find articles about these two exercise methods and it seems like everyone is doing either one or the other. What is all of the excitement about? Why are these techniques so special? What are the differences and similarities between Pilates and Yoga?

Yoga aims to unite the body, mind, and spirit. The person who aspires to do Yoga views that the body and mind are one. They believe that if the body is given the right tools and is taken to the proper environment then the body can find harmony and will be able to heal itself. Yoga is considered to be therapeutic. You will have a heightened awareness of your body’s alignment, posture, and patterns of movement. Yoga tends to make your body more flexible and it will help you to relax even if you are in the middle of a stress stricken environment. Therefore, one of the most important reasons as to why people start practicing Yoga is that they want to feel more energetic, be more happy, feel more fit and be at peace.

One performs Yoga mainly in a group setting on a special Yoga mat with the help of a Yoga instructor. You use your body’s own weight for resistance. You must also focus a great deal of your attention to the flow from one posture into that of another. Yoga styles are varied and there is not one style that is considered to be better than another. These styles also vary in their emphasis, and the style you choose is a matter of personal preference.

Pilates also seeks to reach many of the same goals as does Yoga by way of a series of movements that are very controlled. The major difference between Pilates and Yoga is that while doing Pilates exercises not only makes use of a mat, but it also incorporates work on different Pilates machines. The main thrust of the Pilates exercises is to improve posture, strengthen the abdominal muscles, improve balance, lengthen and stabilize the spine and improve overall strength. Pilates will tend to give you a leaner, longer, dancer-like line.

A Whole Body Workout

Unlike a variety of other training programs, Pilates makes an effort to work the whole body and places its emphasis on precision, control, and concentration in both the body as well as the mind. There is no attempt made at doing many repetitions at a time in a rapid, haphazard fashion. Instead, the focus is placed on quality and not the amount of reps you do. The “powerhouse” that consists of the lower back, abdominal muscles and the buttocks are at the center of all movement and this allows the rest of your body to move fluidly and freely. When one focuses on core stabilization, it makes the student stronger from the inside out.

This is critical for the advancement of the Pilates student. Pilates is low impact by nature and, therefore, it is ideal for the prevention of injury and for rehabilitation. Pilates has six guiding principles – concentration, centering, flow, control, breathing and precision. These principles train the body to move more efficiently while placing minimal impact on the body. With Pilates, there is a definite balance between flexibility and strength that creates a vigorous, symmetrical and health workout for all of the different muscle groups, which will result in a more balanced, leaner, and stronger body.