Pilates and Yoga: The perfect pair
As a studio that offers both Pilates and yoga, we are often asked about the differences and similarities between the two practices. While both exercises have distinct techniques and approaches, they can also compliment each other in potent and beautiful ways. Here, we explore the two practices and how you can benefit from incorporating both into your fitness and wellbeing regime.
Pilates is a practice of precision that largely focuses on the core (you know it!). Developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, the exercises work to strengthen your core and improve your posture. You’ve probably noticed that the movements of Pilates are meticulous and controlled. This precision is what differentiates Pilates from most other styles of exercise that aren’t usually as targeted. Pilates focuses specifically on the deep abdominal muscles that support your spine and promote healthy posture. While yoga can also focus on core and back strength, not every class is dedicated to targeting these areas specifically.
Yoga has been around the block a few more times than its younger friend, Pilates.
Originating in India thousands of years ago, yoga was traditionally centred around mindfulness and meditation. The physical postures were practised to support the body in sitting for long periods of time. However, as yoga has evolved over the years it has developed into different styles and variations – with many of the modern practices focusing on physical strength, flexibility, and fitness. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that modern day yoga has been greatly influenced by physical exercises like Pilates and gymnastics. At its core though, yoga is a holistic practice that combines physical postures (asanas), breath work (pranayama), and meditation, and has its roots in very ancient traditions. For this reason, yoga has a philosophical element that isn’t included in Pilates. That’s not a good or a bad thing – there’s room for both. Sometimes you feel like delving into your psyche or relaxing deeply, other times you just feel like a workout.
Both yoga and Pilates are beautiful practices that invite mindfulness of movement. They encourage you to be fully present with your body, helping to develop concentration and body awareness. This makes them both wonderful tools for managing stress and anxiety, and improving mental health.
Practised together, yoga and Pilates can be hugely complimentary. By improving your core strength and posture, Pilates can allow you to find better alignment in your yoga practice. On the other hand, a regular yoga practice that involves stretching and lengthening the muscles can help counteract the muscle-shortening effects of Pilates. In addition, yoga’s extra emphasis on mindfulness can help develop awareness, which can enhance the mind-body connection that Pilates encourages.
Incorporating both yoga and Pilates into your life can help you to achieve a well-rounded and balanced fitness and wellbeing routine. While similar in many ways, their differences can be highly complementary – helping you to reap the greatest benefits from these two magical medicinal movements.