As someone who tries to exercise regularly, especially since I’ve been working from home, I’ve been researching different ways of working out. As I’ve mentioned earlier over HERE, I have tried both Freeletics and Insanity exercise programs to keep in shape. These are both fairly intensive workouts but how about something a bit more laid back? Therefore I have done a fair bit of research into the health benefits of stretching, mainly between yoga and Pilates. So what is the difference between them – should I exercise yoga or exercise Pilates?
So What is Pilates?
Pilates was “invented” by German Joseph Pilates in the early part of the 20th Century. He believed that mental and physical health were closely connected. It was originally started to assist in the rehabilitation of World War 1 soldiers. You can read about the origins of Pilates and his history over HERE. It consists of controlled movement concentrating on proper breathing, developing a strong core and improving balance and coordination.
Originally called Contrology Pilates is based on muscle control, slow controlled movements of the body to tone and strengthen. The movements in Pilates begin from the centre and move out towards the limbs.
Joseph originally created more than 500 exercises for his Pilates system, of which 34 were mat exercises. There is a range of specialist equipment once you get started and for mat exercises these range from magic circles, hand weights, stretch bands, gym balls and foam rollers. The apparatus exercises uses equipment designed by Joseph himself and includes the interestingly named items such as The Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Spine Corrector and Ladder Barrel (do any of these sound like torture equipment or is it just me?). These days there are all types some of which, like body weight Pilates, which require no equipment and is a good place to start. There is nothing worse than having to buy a lot of equipment to get started with something only to discover that you don’t enjoy it!
Pilates is suitable for people of all abilities and levels of fitness. Unfortunately, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that Pilates is beneficial but those who do partake claim that it help reduce back pain and even assist in weight loss.
As it is a muscle strengthening activity then there will be positive benefits whatever the scientific research. Being low impact then the benefits may need to be combined with other forms of exercise or a diet program to see real results however it can’t be discounted.
So How do I get started?
There are worse places to start than this website HERE which will introduce body weight Pilates to you and give you programs to follow. With over 20 years of fitness and health coaching experience, Sylvia Favela knows a thing or two about exercising and she will guide you through your Pilates journey.
What is the Difference Between Pilates and Yoga Then?
Both yoga and Pilates work on the assumption that there is a link between physical and mental health. They both concentrate on developing balance, posture, flexibility and breathing.
Pilates, as we’ve seen, concentrates on slow flowing movement exercises, whereas yoga tends to concentrate on positioning into static poses and emphasizes relaxation and meditation. Yoga also tends to not require any equipment whereas the original Pilates utilised the equipment Pilates developed for his exercises.
So What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient type of exercise focusing on strength, flexibility and breathing. Originating in India about 5,000 years ago it has certainly been around for much longer than Pilates (there must be a reason for its practices still being around today, no?). Although it has latterly become a form of exercise it was originally practiced in order to attain the goal of “pure awareness” – a way of controlling both the body and mind. There is a vast amount of history and information across HERE.
Yoga these days usually includes the floor exercises consisting of poses as well as some meditation. There are several types of yoga including:
Bikram Yoga – or “hot” yoga which is popular – performed in hot rooms.
Hatha Yoga – teaches physical postures and is usually the first introduction to yoga that people have.
Kripalu Yoga – teaches introspection accepting and learning from the body. These classes would begin with breathing exercises and stretches followed by different poses and then finish off with some relaxation.
Yin Yoga – meditative practice which allows the tension to be released in key joints including the ankles, knees, hips, the back, neck and shoulders.
Yoga, like Pilates should be a low impact form of exercise and as long as a trained instructor is followed should not pose any health risks. Anyone, of course, with any preexisting health conditions should approach any type of new exercise with caution and it wouldn’t go amiss having a word with your regular doctor if you were in any way concerned about starting out. Obviously, some more advanced poses should be avoided until you have become proficient.
How Do I Get started With Yoga?
Take a look aver at this website HERE where you can create your own online yoga lessons customised to your own requirements.
So What’s the Best One to Choose?
So this is the question, which one is best for you to do? That, of course is up to you, but what I would say is to consider the following factors in coming to your conclusion…………..
What are Your Goals? Are you looking to tone up your body as both yoga and Pilates are good for this. If you are recovering from a sports related injury then Pilates is a tried method for reducing physical pain and recovering from injury.
Are You Interested in The Mental Health Side of Things? Yoga will be the obvious choice here as it has a lot of beneficial effects on mental health – it will help with stress and will definitely help with getting in touch with yourself.
At the end of the day, it will come down to personal preference – the only way to discover which one is right for you is to try them both out and see. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.
For those of us who are working from home then it makes sense to go for the equipment free options to begin with until you are confident that your choice is right for you. If your interested I have started with some Yoga lessons as I like the idea of the spiritual aspects to it as well as the physical benefits. It is particularly important as we navigate through this global pandemic to try to limit stress levels so I’m hoping it helps out on that front.
I hope you have found my article useful in giving a bit of an introduction to both Yoga and Pilates. I would love to hear from you if you have recently started one or other of these exercises or if you have been practicing one for years and would recommend it. As ever – I would love to hear from you – let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as quick as I can.