The Benefits of Yoga & Pilates


Both Yoga and Pilates are transformational, focused methods of movement that facilitate positive change in both the body and mind. They involve a series of different exercises that often use your own body weight to help improve your balance, co-ordination, flexibility and muscle strength. Improving muscle strength can help keep your bones healthy, and help you to improve your posture – reducing your risk of things like back pain.

Activities like Yoga and Pilates are low impact, and can also be adapted to suit your individual ability and needs. If you need to, you can choose your exercises specifically to offload weight from certain joints.

Here’s an insight into the similarities and differences between them:

Similarities:

•   Both are considered mind-body forms of exercise, intended to cultivate greater awareness and connection between the body and the mind.

•   Both tend to focus on the “journey” of moving, rather than the end goal, which can be anything from a stronger, well-toned body to peace of mind.

•   Both encourage you to focus on the present moment and the movement itself rather than the outcome.

•   Both mat-based programs tone and condition the muscles using body weight as a natural resistance tool. Pilates, however, does have the option to incorporate machines or “apparatus” to perform exercises.

•   Both need little more than a sticky mat to be performed. Yoga also incorporates simple props used to enhance comfort and form (such as blocks, cushions and straps). Some Pilates mat exercises use props that can either increase the challenge (by adding resistance) or aid in form, such as the magic circle (a resistance ring), inflated balls, or resistance bands.

•   Both improve circulation and highly oxygenate the system.

Differences:

•   Yoga concentrates mostly on increasing strength and flexibility of the spine and limbs; Pilates focuses on building abdominal strength first, and then symmetrical musculature as well as overall flexibility.

•   In Pilates, every movement emanates from the center (core) and extending through the limbs. In yoga, it is the concentration on the breath, first, then focusing on deepening a pose.

•   In yoga, the primary goal (aside from proper alignment in the poses), is to stay connected to the breath; in Pilates, the first order of business is the precision of movement, and then, the coordination of that movement with the breath.

•   The breathing patterns are different in both. In yoga, for the bulk of the asana practice, the breath is either ujjayi, a smooth, heat-inducing breath that sounds like the ocean, or kapalabhati, a rapid breath that creates greater internal heat. In Pilates, the breath for most exercises is a slow, controlled, diaphragmatic breath, but a few exercises use a rapid, staccato-like breath (similar to kapalabhati breathing in yoga).

•   In Pilates, most of the exercises are performed lying down, either prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), or side-lying. These movements aim to defy gravity the entire time, engaging the abdominal center in order to lift up from the ground to lengthen muscles. In yoga, most of the poses are done standing, and work with gravity by rooting down into the earth in order to lengthen the body away from the floor (with the exception of arm balances and inversions where one tries to defy gravity). Note that in yoga, there are a number of poses done on the floor as well, such as seated forward bends, twists, bow pose, and plow, and in Pilates, there is also standing series, such as the sculpting series or exercises that integrate the magic circle prop.

 

Benefits of both Yoga and Pilates:

•   Reduce stress levels

•   Improve your fitness

•   Ease your joints

•   Lose weight

•   Improve your sleep

 

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