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What is the Difference Between Pilates vs Yoga?


The battle between Pilates practitioners and self-proclaimed Yogis wages on and on, but, did you know you don’t have to pick a between pilates vs yoga? While yogis seem to love the focused efforts of mind body and spirit, Pilates aficionados like the no-nonsense focus of an intense physical  

But the truth is that there are more ways that yoga and Pilates are the exact same thing. As a matter of fact, those that really come out on top are those that combine these complementary practices to create a perfectly balanced routine of physical activity.   

But this still raises the question:  

What’s the difference between Yoga vs Pilates?  

While both of these exercise forms are very low impact and are even performed on a similar mat, the similarities end there. Yoga works by moving the practitioner through a variety of positions, called Asanas, and using the body’s own weight as resistance. The focus of yoga is to improve balance, flexibility and the connection of mind and body.  

As you work through the various different poses, your yoga instructor will guide you through the breathing exercises as well. The important thing will be synchronizing your breathing and the motions you perform. As the class progresses you will use various pillows, blocks and straps that will allow you to improve your capacity and soon achieve the capacity to perform more and more challenging postures you may not have thought possible.  

This can be done in a specially heated studio or even in the great outdoors. There is often a component of meditation applied as a supplement to the practice as well.  

Pilates is a method of exercise that was conceptualized by Joseph Pilates and it involves a series of precise exercises that include breath control that is similar to what you will see in yoga but not the same. Pilates focuses on intense core strength and improved stability. Pilates is typically performed on a mat but can also be performed on a machine called a reformer, tower or Cadillac. This machine features a variety of pulleys, springs and bars to create the needed resistance. In Pilates you will hear a variety of terms like pendulum, scissors or teaser.  

Pilates is the faster paced exercise of the two and lacks the same focus on mindfulness you will see in Yoga.  

Benefits of Pilates 

There are a wide range of benefits from this effective form of physical activity but here are a few of the most important and notable benefits.  The hundreds and teasers you will see in Pilates are especially beneficial in creating those powerful core muscles that provide considerable stability and better posture that has endless application in and out of the studio.  

Considering it all began in a hospital setting; it is no surprise that Pilates is a great way to recover from a variety of physical injuries. While they are fast paced, a Pilates class will go slow enough for even the most novice practitioner to fully understand the exercise and progress at their own pace.   

Pilates also includes many active and passive stretching exercises, and this can lead to better flexibility and mobility. Furthermore, because this is an especially low-impact exercise it works to keep the joints well protected and healthy.  

What is Yoga 

Yoga is the term often used to describe the physical exercise which is a component of a much larger culture of individual consciousness. The entire gamut of Yoga culture is more than can be placed in this short writ or even entire volumes on the subject. But basically, it seeks to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of the practitioners.  

Yoga has many forms and can greatly improve flexibility and strength but it can also be used to relax and destress the mind and body. Many people join yoga culture because of the mind-body connection which has spiritual applications.  

Depending on what you hope to accomplish you can choose from any type of yoga. For example, Hatha yoga is especially beneficial to relaxing a tired mind and body. Kundalini yoga has special benefits for resisting the pull of addiction. Ashtanga yoga is one of the better options for building a strong and balanced body.  

Benefits of yoga  

As you can see yoga has a wide range of benefits to improving the mind and body and this is what keeps practitioners coming back for more challenges, experiences and training in this multifaceted study.   

The deep stretching found in yoga is great for keeping the body supple and fluid and can even help improve the quality of sleep.  

Yoga’s benefits go far beyond simple physical improvement and can improve mental health and create a deeper understanding of one’s emotional profile. Research has shown that through regular yoga practice many people have addressed anxieties, depressions and even increased immune functions.  

Yoga has great implications for improving health as well. Research has shown that yoga can increase the body’s capacity to fight asthma and other physical health conditions.  

So, Which one is better for me, Pilates or yoga?  

The best option for you will depend on the type of results you hope to achieve from your practice. If you are looking for a physical exercise that will improve your core strength and possibly play a supplementary role in your regular athletic development, Pilates may be the best option for you. If you are looking for a low-impact exercise routine to condition the body after a stint of inactivity or a recovery period, Pilates can also be very beneficial.  

If you are looking to improve your physical capacity, but also looking for a variety of benefits that can be applied in real-world situations, Yoga can be a great support. Yoga allows the mind and body to reduce the stress faced in day-to-day life. Of course, yoga is also highly athletic and you can find plenty of options that take a more secular approach to the sport and focus primarily on developing physical conditions.  

Furthermore, if you are looking to improve your flexibility and relaxation as well as enhance that vital mind-body connection that has so much application in the real world. Yoga is a good option for you. Those that suffer from high-stress, poor sleep quality and even addictions, yoga has also proved highly effective.  

Yoga Therapy at Kids Work  

If you are interested in giving yoga a try, we invite you to practice our virtual or in-person classes with Dr. Stephanie Foster, PHD, OTR/L RYT200.  You’ll find excellent help and support to improve self-regulation, flexibility, breathing and enjoy a custom yoga plan.

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