Yoga vs Pilates

What’s The Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

 guest article by Jonathan Stewart

Yoga vs Pilates? What to do? It appears as if you can’t turn on the TV or read a magazine without celebrities and fitness experts alike extolling the health benefits of both. It can be hard to choose between them, so hopefully this article will make things a bit clearer.

A Changing Attitude towards Health & Fitness

Traditional exercises focus on strengthening the body and increasing endurance. Running, cycling, lifting weights – all these exercises can help you get slimmer, look better, increase muscle strength and raise your stamina. But these exercises leave out some very crucial aspects of all-round health, namely: posture, flexibility, and above all, mental health.

Yoga and Pilates both aim to address these gaping holes in traditional exercise regimens. Both yoga and Pilates – often considered softer exercise forms as compared to hard-core track running or weight lifting – emphasize complete health – the body, as well as the mind (yoga, especially so).

Yoga vs Pilates

Yoga is an ancient exercise form practiced and refined over centuries. It originated among the holy men – called yogis – of India who sought to seek a union of the body and mind through certain definite exercises and postures.

Yoga was first exported to the West in the late 19th century, but it was picked up by the mainstream only in the 1970s. Today, there is hardly a town in America that does not have at least one yoga center, such has been its popularity.

yoga and pilatesPilates, of course, doesn’t share yoga’s ancient history. It was devised by a German physical-culturist, Joseph Pilates (see photo), in the early 20th century to treat soldiers returning from the First World War. Using a unique system of exercises and machines, Joseph Pilates sought to strengthen the body without compromising on flexibility.

Pilates remained something of an obscure science until 1980, when the first modern book on Pilates was published. Since then, it has surged in popularity and has been adopted by athletes, fitness trainers, and celebrities alike, due to it’s effectiveness.

Differences Between Yoga and Pilates

The idea central to yoga is the free movement of energy. Yoga is not about merely the body or the mind; it is about the spirit, a channeling of positive energy throughout the body. Yoga is steeped in the science of the spirit, and has a strong meditative component.

Through various exercises, breathing techniques and postures, yoga aims to merge the body and mind – a harmonic union that will put you at complete ease. Practice an hour of yoga every day, and you will find yourself exuding a calm, positive energy.

Pilates, on the other hand, is more about the physical. It was designed to rehabilitate World War I veterans through resistance training and specific body movements, and has remained a largely physical science since.

In practice, Pilates resembles weight training with many of its exercises incorporating pulleys and cables. While some newer forms of Pilates may have scrapped resistance based exercises in favor of free, callisthenic-style body movements, Pilates still remains rooted in the body and barely touches upon the mental or spiritual aspect of well-being.

This is the very difference between yoga and Pilates: yoga is aimed more at all-round well-being, a holistic science that aims to make you as healthy as you can be – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Pilates, on the other hand, is more about the body, about reaching you true physical potential.

Thus, when you are confronted with the question: “yoga vs Pilates?”, you should first clarify your own goals – what do you want to achieve with your exercise regimen? Do you just want to get in shape and lose weight? Or do you want to adopt a more holistic approach to health? There are many differences between yoga and Pilates, and choosing between them will come down to personal preferences.

In fact, it doesn’t even have to come down to a singular choice between yoga and Pilates. You can easily pursue both and gain from your experience in each disciple.That way you can gain the best of both worlds!

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