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Pilates and yoga are often tarred with the same brush, but there are some major differences between the two. For starters, one has roots that stem back to ancient India, while the other was developed by a German anatomist in the 1900s. One is very spiritual, while the other is more physical; though both offer a multitude of health benefits, from stress relief to strength and flexibility.
If you’re new to yoga and Pilates, or you’re simply after more information to decide which is right for you, keep reading. Let’s take a look at what they are, the types and benefits.
Yoga is believed to have originated in Northern India over 5,000 years ago and was designed so people could connect with the universe. It was founded on experiential practice, and it acknowledges the multidimensionality of the individual, at the same time focusing on the nature and workings of the mind.
Yoga was first introduced to the West by Indian monks in the late 1890s and by the 1970s, modern yoga had become widely recognised around the world.
With yoga, the body, breath, and mind are viewed as being part of our personality and it aims to bring a deeper sense of inner serenity and mental clarity to those who practice. It focuses on postures and movement, awareness of breath, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, concentration and meditation. For many, it is a way of life that balances us – inside and out. There are many different types, which we’ll discuss soon, but they are all essentially built around personal and spiritual growth and development.
What to expect
There is no “typical” yoga session – it depends on the style of yoga, the tradition, the teacher and the institution. In general, though, you can expect:
There are many different types of yoga, with some based more on breathing and mind-work, while others are focused on physical movement and stretching. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the main types:
Research into yoga's health benefits has been increasing steadily in recent years and it has been found that yoga can benefit a range of mental and physical ailments for people of all ages.
Benefits to the body include:
Benefits to the mind include:
If you want to practice yoga, you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. Basic equipment includes:
You also want to make sure you have comfortable activewear apparel and if you’re not sure which activewear is best, start with women’s leggings or activewear shorts, a sports bra and a shirt. Although most yoga is done barefoot, you might want activewear joggers as well – giving you grip for harder positions.
Pilates is believed by many to be very similar to yoga, but when you look closely, the similarities are limited. Unlike yoga, Pilates wasn’t actually introduced until the 1900s. Joseph Pilates was a German physical trainer who introduced Pilates as a method of rehabilitation for athletes and dancers who had been wounded in the First World War.
It is based on a number of principles, including the use of the abdominal and low back muscles, flowing movement patterns, and a steady and controlled breathing rhythm. It emphasises muscular tone and focuses on strengthening your core – which connects every muscle in your body and is all about control – staying in control of your core through various movements.
What to expect
Pilates is suited to people of all fitness levels and will generally see you on a mat or using what’s known as a “reformer” to perform small movements that have a big impact, helping to tone your body, create more flexibility and improving your balance.
As mentioned, there are two forms of Pilates:
In both types, weights, bands and other equipment can help increase resistance. Mat Pilates is generally a tougher workout.
Like yoga, Pilates has many health benefits, the main one being that is helps to strengthen your muscles by isolating them and relaxing them. Other benefits include:
The equipment you may need for Pilates includes:
Again, you also want to make sure you have the right women’s activewear sets and women’s leggings for comfortable sessions. Your activewear pants could be activewear 7/8 leggings or activewear 3/4 tights; you might want activewear plus size clothes that fit comfortably and are made with breathable materials; or simply shop for a full range of activewear for women based on a style you love.
There’s no right or wrong answer – it simply depends on what you want to get out of your session. Yoga is ideal for improving your mind-body connection, for relaxing and de-stressing, and enhancing your flexibility. Pilates focuses on core strength and stability, is low impact, but still challenging. You can do either, or better still, you can choose to do both for huge benefits physically and mentally.