Pilates vs Yoga, people often ask me which is better for the body, for me there is not really an answer to this question. It would be like asking me if I would prefer to eat strawberry cheesecake or mandarin cheesecake. I like cheesecake so to be I honest I would probably want to eat both. Yes, I do believe that you can have your cake and eat it. Like Cheesecake, Pilates and Yoga share a very similar base, but they do have different toppings. Which one is best for you really just depends on what you like best and what results you are looking for.

Today, however, I am going to serve you a slice of both Pilates and yoga so that you can decide which you prefer for yourself.

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Pilates is an exercise which unified the mind and body on the path to wellness
Pilates is a kind of resistance training method that unifies body and mind. Photo Source: Unsplash

History Of Pilates

Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates 100 years ago to create a new form of exercise which unified the mind and body on the path to wellness and rejuvenation. While in a First World War camp in the UK, Pilates developed his idea and launched it in New York once the war was over. It took off straight away with the dance community and then spread countrywide with the help of the first Pilates students. Pilates is a kind of resistance training method that unifies body and mind.

History Of Yoga

Yoga was developed in India 5,000 years ago, of course, it was so long ago that it is unclear who exactly invented it or developed the idea. Yoga was brought to the west by yoga masters in the late 1800s and gained immediate popularity.

Unlike Pilates, Yoga is a not just an exercise it is a lifestyle and when translated it literally means to unite. There are 4 paths of yoga which are as follows.

  • Karma yoga is the action of selfless service; and should be practised by cooking for, cleaning for or serving another person in some way.
  • Bhakti yoga is the action of devotion to god and should be practised in the form of prayer or chanting
  • Raja Yoga or Royal yoga is the action of asanas, pranayama and meditation
  • Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge and can be practised through study.

What Are The Principles Of Yoga And Pilates?

Yogic Principles To Life

In line with Patanjali 8 limbs of yoga, there are 10 yogic principles, 5 internal principles (Niyamas) and 5 external Principles (Yamas).

Niyama in Sanskrit can be translated as Observance. The five internal practices of Niyama support the observance of self-discipline, inner-strength and deal with our inner consciousness.

The Five Internal Practices Are Known As;

  1. Saucha (Purity) – is the cleanliness of thought, mind and body. It is believed that through the purity of body and mind, the mind will automatically begin the move away from the physical world and draw closer to the enlightenment.
  2. Santosha (Contentment) – is the opportunity to seek joy and serenity in life while uplifting others. Living in constant gratitude for your health, your friends and your belongings will bring you closer to enlightenment.
  3. Tapas (Training the senses / Strength of Character) – is the practice of giving something up such as fasting, or cherished possessions or time for example. It is thought that this will create a transformation within the mind.
  4. Svadhyaya (Self-Study) – is the practice of study the sutras or texts to widen your knowledge. This will enlighten the mind.
  5. Ishvarapranidhana (Surrender to God) - is the practice of devotion through daily worship and meditation. It is thought that this can clear the channels to god.

Yamas in Sanskrit can be translated as a moral discipline. The five practices of the Yamas are based on morality, proper conduct and self-restraint.

The 5 restraints listed within Yamas are as follows:

  1. Ahimsa is the restraint of non-injury or violence; this involves not injuring another by action, word, thought or deed.
  1. Satya is the restraint of truthfulness; this involves being truthful in your words and actions and not misleading someone including keeping promises.
  2. Brahmacharya is the restraint of sexual purity; this involves controlling the lust, celibacy and divine conduct.
  3. Asteya is the restraint of non-theft; this involves not stealing, getting into dent of lusting things which are not yours
  4. Aparigraha is the restraint of greedlessness; involves the limit of accumulating possessions, greed, the acceptance of gifts and bribes etc.

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The Essential Pilates Principles

Joseph Pilates invented Pilates to follow a set of principles, these principles are the foundation of Pilates, and when used together in your practise they support you to achieve all of the benefits that Pilates has to offer.

  1. Control: This is the primary theory for Pilates; the premise is that is you can control the movements of your muscles and your body as a whole it will lead to a better quality of workout. This controlled approach requires you to use your inner energy wisely and ensure that any energy that you use is delivering the maximum benefits.
  2. Breath: In Pilates, your breath is the rhythm of your practise. It is the pulse of all movement that you make when in a Pilates training session. Filling the body with oxygen while preparing to make each movement fills each pose with energy. It enriches your limbs and gives you the opportunity to extend your range of motion to your maximum potential.
  3. Concentration: Pilates demands all of your attention, it should not practised mindlessly while focusing on other things. If you do that, then this is not Pilates at all, to practise correctly you must give yourself your full attention. This is a form of mindfulness and is another key to support the connection between your body and mind.
  4. Flow: All movements in Pilates are graceful, you glide from one pose to the other giving your body a kind of unity of movement. The poses are seamless, and all movement within the session is a part of the practise which allows you to conserve energy and make every movement count.
  5. Centering: The energy for Pilates comes from the centre of the body, the core. In Pilates, this is often called the powerhouse and is the area between your navel and spine and pubic bone. Pilates makes this area the central focus and the point from which all movement flows.
  6. Precision: Precisely aligned movement is significant in Pilates. Each posture must be precise to gain the maximum benefit from your practise. Placing your muscles in the right place is not enough you must also be aware of where your limbs are in relation to each other. Precision help with muscle memory and helps to prevent injury.

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Pilates or Yoga which one is better?
Pilates and Yoga share a very similar base. Photo Source: Unsplash

What To Do Before A Class: Yoga Vs Pilates

Advice Specifically For A Pilates Exercise Class.

  • Wear form hugging comfortable clothes

 Advice Specifically For A Yoga Asana Class.

  • Wear loose and comfortable fitting clothes

Similarities: Advice Before Starting A Holistic Workout Class.

    • Practice on an empty stomach
    • A non-slip Pilates mat or yoga mat should be used to practise
    • Students should not compete and listen to their own bodies throughout the practise
    • The student must be mindful
    • The student must inform the teacher of any pre-existing medical conditions and perhaps seek medical advice before attending.
    • Pain is not a part of practise so postures should not be strained

    What Are The Main Styles Of Yoga Vs Pilates

    • The Main Styles Of Yoga

    There are numerous forms of yoga, but the most well known is Hatha yoga which originated from the path of Raja yoga and is the primary school of yoga practiced in the west. In Sanskrit Hatha is broken into 2 words; ‘Ha’ which means Sun and ‘that’ which means moon, the yoga of the sun and moon. Many other styles of yoga have been formed from hatha yoga.

    • The Main Styles Of Pilates

    Pilates also has many forms and styles which have developed since its creation. It has 2 main forms Mat Pilates and Equipment-based Pilates. It also has 2 main styles Classical Pilates and contemporary Pilates. Within both methods, there are many forms of Pilates such as Stott Pilates, Polestar Pilates, Clinical Pilates, Reformer Pilates etc.

    The Benefits Of Pilates Vs Yoga

    The benefits of Pilates and yoga asanas are quite similar, they both work with the breath, increase flexibility, increase strength and body awareness. The costs of Pilates classes and Yoga classes start at a fairly low rate.

    Some Of The Benefits Of Pilates

    The benefits of practising Pilates are that you will be able to improve your core strength which will encourage great posture, better spinal alignment, strength within your joints and balanced wellness overall. It is a total body workout meaning that all of your body develops and improves together.  It supports lean muscles, weight loss, improved energy and increased strength.

    Some Of The Benefits Of Yoga Postures (Asanas)

    The benefits of asana practise are that all of the systems of the body (internal and external) can be moved towards well-being. This happens through stimulation, massage, flexibility, awareness and increased circulation. The systems of the body Improved with yoga asana include the muscles, joints, internal organs, skin, brain, nervous system, blood, heart and lungs. In addition to this, the asanas can remove fat, tension and stress from the body which protects from the onset of disease. The asanas promote a healthy well-functioning body and mind.

    Pilates demands all of your attention
    Pilates adds a form of mindfulness to the posture and is another key to support the connection between your body and mind. Photo Source: Unsplash

    The Difference Between Pilates And Yoga

    Personally, I think that the main difference between Yoga and Pilates is that yoga is a lifestyle system and Pilates is an exercise system. Pilates was inspired in part by yoga so naturally there will be some similarities.

    Pilates focuses on the relaxing and strengthening the muscular body and gives you the benefit of a toned and lean form with strong muscles. It can often use some different kinds of equipment also. Great for people who want to tone their body, especially the abs.

    Yoga heavily focuses on the mind, body and spirit and uses much more stretching to improve the flexibility of joints. The main aim of yoga is uniting the body and mind to find peace and harmony. You need no equipment to practise yoga only a yoga mat.  You can also lose weight with yoga, but it is not generally the primary focus. Great for people who are looking for more flexibility, spirituality and stress reduction.

    While Pilates is excellent for toning, it also aids flexibility, and while yoga is excellent for the flexibility, it also tones your body. They really are very interchangeable, and many of the benefits of yoga and Pilates are shared. It just comes down to a personal choice about what you prefer. Why bother to choose? Just practise both and enjoy the fantastic benefits that they will both deliver.

Now check out yoga classes near me so you can sample both Pilates and Yoga!

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