Saturday 1 March 2014

Yoga v's Pilates


This is something that we get asked alot, both Yoga and Pilates usually get put together into the same category and there are many similarities, but there are also some major differences.

Both Pilates and Yoga are standalone exercise programs that don't really fit into any of the normal moulds for exercise, both emphasis the mind/body connection and help lower stress levels. Everyone should include some practice of this sort into their lives, and it's just a matter of trying them out to find out which one is best for you.  (Within Yoga and Pilates there are also different forms depending on which teacher you get - so if you're trying to decide between the two, it might be best to try a few different teachers to get the right match for you).

1. Origins

Yoga is based upon ancient beliefs originating in India, it can be found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.  It has evolved over many years into several different branches - Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga to name but a few.

Pilates was developed in the 1920's by Joseph Pilates an athlete who took elements of dance, yoga, gymnastic, boxing and martial arts training, to develop his system of exercise into a full body program that emphasises proper alignment, good technique and correct breathing.

2. Mind/Body/Spirit 

Both programs emphasis the mind/body connection, but yoga adds the extra element of spirit through meditation.  Pilates is based more on anatomical correctness (sometimes it will feel like an anatomy lesson), focus and concentration are achieved through correct engagement of the required muscle.

3. Movement

Both Pilates and Yoga focus upon correct movement whilst maintaining alignment. In Pilates you will find that you are moving the muscles more to increase the load;  whereas in Yoga through the postures, you will find that you get yourself in position and then hold it there thus creating an isometric contraction.  Both programs focus upon flexibility and spine strengthening.  Pilates is more about core engagement and correct technique, the focus is on quality and not quantity.

4. Breathing Techniques

Breathing is an important part of both practices (and life!!).  Breathing in Yoga is taken on a deeply spirtual level - especially in  flow based classes (such as Ashtanga), where breath is matched to movements and postures.  In Pilates a special breathing technique is employed called 'Thoracic Breathing' which basically means keeping the core engaged and taking the breath further down into the bottom of the lungs, 'exhale on effort' is used to ensure that muscles and breath are combined.

5. Calories burned

Neither programs will get the heart rate up sufficiently high enough or long enough to gain cardio benefits - so that is why it is important to include some cardio exercise into your program, but you will build up strength and therefore muscle (which in itself burns more calories).  A beginners yoga class will burn about 145 calories per hour, whereas a power yoga class will burn about 250 calories.  A beginners pilates class will burn about 175 calories per hour, where an advanced class will burn between 250-350 calories.

They both work! - Both of the methods are time tested, and have stood this test of time because they work.  Both have benefits for posture, strength and muscle toning, and both will increase your flexibility.  Just find the one right for you - or as they are both designed as different programs why not combine them - as they can be complimentary.

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