Pilates Vs Yoga: Which is Right For Me?

Both pilates and yoga are two incredibly popular low impact exercises/activities that have taken the world by storm. Although both of these activities are done on an exercise mat, that is exactly where their similarities both start and end. Contrary to popular belief, yoga and pilates are actually two very different exercises that offer their own unique set of benefits. If you are considering signing up for either a beginner‘s Pilates or yoga class and aren’t exactly sure about which one to choose, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we have a look at the key differences between pilates and yoga in order to help you make the most informed decision for your mind and body, so read on to find out more!

Pilates 101

Pilates is a common form of low impact exercise that was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. During its humble beginnings, pilates was mainly used as a form of rehabilitation for wounded soldiers. As it grew in popularity, the craze quickly spread around the globe and eventually evolved into the pilates that we are so familiar with today. 

Pilates focuses on small movements that utilise the stabilising muscles of the back and core. Similar to Yoga, there is also a strong emphasis on controlled breathing that helps to initiate the contraction of your core muscles. 

Benefits Of Pilates

There are plenty of benefits that you can reap from pilates, some of which include:

  1. Strong Muscles

Because Pilates focuses on small movements and building up your core strength, you will be able to build toned muscles that help to improve your functional fitness as you move through life. A 2015 study found that Pilates helped strengthen the abdominal muscles, upper body and lower body muscles in postmenopausal women, while another 2015 study found that just 2 sessions a week over a few months showed improvements in overall strength and quality of life in older individuals. 

  1. Improved Posture

In a world where so many of us spend up to 12 hours a day slouched over desks, posture is something that we need to start taking more seriously. Pilates movement fundamentals create a fantastic foundation for building up your core strength which in turn helps you form better posture. This improved posture also has a great effect on those who may suffer from back pain and can help to alleviate discomfort with the help of proper spinal alignment. 

  1. Weight Loss

Although pilates isn’t as effective for weight loss as cardiovascular exercises such as running, it can still facilitate and complement weight loss through building muscle tone. As you probably already know, adding muscle to your frame is a great way to boost your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. Paired with a healthy diet and lifestyle, pilates can indeed help you lose those unwanted pounds permanently. 

Yoga 101

Although Yoga’s exact origins aren’t known, many believe that it started over 5,000 years ago in northern India. Although Yoga has deep roots in Buddhism, Hinduism and Shamanism, it has become incredibly popular and mainstream in the last few decades. No matter where you travel to in the world, chances are there are at least a few yoga studios in your vicinity that feature a variety of yoga styles, including Bikram Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga, among many others. 

In its bare essence, yoga is a practice that involves a variety of stretches, poses and deep breathing and concentration that aims to improve strength, flexibility and balance. The slow movements and deep breathing that are an essential part of yoga also help to increase blood flow and warm up muscles.  

Benefits of Yoga

There is no doubt that yoga offers a variety of mental and physical benefits for people of all ages. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Pain Relief

Yoga is known to be incredibly helpful for people who suffer from chronic or acute aches and pains. The basic stretches involved in yoga help improve mobility in people with lower back pain and can also help ease the discomfort of tender or swollen joints in those who suffer from arthritis. The meditative effect of yoga has also been known to help with pain management.

  1. Better Sleep

Research shows that practising yoga as part of a consistent bedtime routine has an incredibly relaxing effect on the body and helps to promote better quality sleep. 

  1. Improved Heart Health

Another major benefit of practising yoga is its effects on your overall cardiovascular health. Regular yoga practice may reduce overall stress levels and body-wide inflammation, contributing to improved cardiovascular health. Several factors that contribute to heart diseases such as excess weight and high blood pressure can also be addressed or alleviated through yoga.

Yoga VS Pilates: Which Is Right For Me? 

As you can see, both yoga and Pilates offer a wide variety of mental and physical benefits for people of all ages. Generally speaking, although yoga poses/stretches are easily modified for beginners, they still require an individual to have substantial flexibility and mobility of the joints, especially the hips, spine and wrists. Thus, if you’re someone who suffers from severe physical limitations or pain, you may find it challenging to follow along in more advanced classes. However, if mobility is not an issue, yoga may be a fantastic addition to your exercise routine. 

Pilates on the other hand can be a great exercise for the elderly or anyone who suffers from chronic pain or mobility issues. It is also a fantastic option for those recovering from an injury due to its low-impact exercises and subtle movements. 

The most important thing to remember is that you should always consult with your doctor before embarking on any new exercise routine. This is especially important if you suffer from back or neck pain, or have respiratory problems. You may also want to think about taking private one-on-one lessons before jumping into a class or following an online workout video as incorrect form or pushing yourself too hard may cause serious injury.

Final Thoughts

Depending on your level of physical health, either or of these exercise options may be best suited to your lifestyle and goals. At the end of the day, you know yourself best and regardless of whether you choose yoga or pilates, you can be ensured that you will reap a bounty of mental and physical benefits that are sure to transform your life