Observed through the glass door of a studio yoga and Pilates look similar, yet both disciplines recruit different body parts, kinetic chains, and breathing patterns. When it comes to committing to one or the other, it is essential to understand how they can help you achieve different objectives. How do you choose between yoga and Pilates, and which one benefits your health and body the most?
Two practices, two different objectives
Yoga is an ancient practice dedicated to the connection of the body and mind with life. Doing yoga implies self-discovery and is sometimes practised as the preamble of meditation. There are many ways to reach awareness, and these are reflected in different types of yoga implying postures, breathing, and mantra chanting.
Pilates was founded by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. It is practised on a mat or a bed-like frame attached to pulleys, springs, handles, and straps. The resistance used on a reformer significantly increases the use of inner muscles, allowing the body to focus on movement in a slow and controlled manner.
Both yoga and Pilates have a light action on joints, therefore neither harm the body’s articular system. Because of their slow execution, they are usually not perceived as a workout. Don't be fooled by the minimalism of the movements! Done correctly, they target the smaller muscles (Pilates) and the right alignment (Yoga) and combined with effective breathing they are, in fact, quite challenging!
Choose Yoga if…
You are looking to appease the nervous system and reconnect with yourself in a deep and meaningful manner while working on improving your flexibility and non-weight bearing mobility. The poses, asanas, depending on the type of yoga can be held up to five minutes, allowing you to sink into deep muscle stretches. It is recommended to push the stretches to your body's ability and avoid mirroring the teacher's advanced level. The repetition of the poses time after time allows the body to loosen up while you become better at achieving the poses. Yoga is the perfect discipline to work on balance and posture.
Individuals who are troubled sleepers or suffering from chronic stress also benefit from learning how to breathe through the motions in a non-threatening environment.
Choose Pilates if…
The objective is to build your body with a tight core and use your muscles to their maximum potential. Pilates, especially when done on the reformer, is an excellent prehab and rehab programme. You typically learn how to acquire mobility (and stability) while using the resistance of the springs and other accessories. The movements are slow but deliberately intense to target smaller muscles often forgotten when attending a fitness class or lifting weights. Usually, when bigger muscles take over, the smaller ones are known as stabilisers in the glutes, upper back and legs cannot get involved, creating misalignments and injuries.
Pilates restores imbalances and produces a fully functional body fully toned and pain-free. Can you do both? Absolutely. Because both disciplines are so unique, they are in fact complementary. While focusing on flexibility, balance, and agility in yoga (amongst its many other benefits), you can acquire better joint mobility and muscle strength while doing Pilates.
The key is to understand that in order to see results they require a long-term commitment. In the long run, both participate in the well-being of both your body and mind.
Photo Credit: Nathan Cowley (Featured)