The Combined Power of Yoga and Pilates
Two of the most common words thrown out there today when it comes to fitness- Yoga and Pilates. But what is all the buzz about? Why are they so popular? and most asked… What’s the difference between these two?
Lets start with Yoga. As we’ve seen previously on this site (Read: Energize Your Body & Soul with these Different Types of Yoga, Yoga: A Spiritual Quest for Enlightenment) Yoga is not purely physical activity. In fact it aims at uniting the mind, the body and the spirit through a philosophical and spiritual focus. The physical aspect of yoga, i.e the poses, stretches and postures are only one of the 8 parts of yoga. While this is the most focused on aspect of Yoga in the west, it only touches the surface of the ancient philosophy of yoga which is complete lifestyle and not a mere exercise routine. Meditation plays a very important role in Yoga (Read: The Importance of Meditation in Yoga and Our Lives). At the same time however, Yoga can also be interpreted or adapted as a fitness routine as you will see in Power Yoga: The Physically Intensive and Exercise Driven Modern Yoga. While there are yoga props used in some types of yoga like Iyengar Yoga, you can practice it with only a yoga mat.
Pilates on the other hand is purely physical. It focuses on strengthening the entire body, increasing muscle control, improving flexibility and coordination through exercises centered around the abdominal muscles, lower back and buttocks referred to as ‘The Powerhouse’. Pilates teaches six principles – concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow and precision. This trains the body to move efficiently with minimal impact on the body. Some Pilates exercises are done on just a mat, however, specialized equipment is used in Pilates such as the Reformer, which utilizes pulleys, springs and weight resistance to build strength. The principle behind pilates is to strengthen the core powerhouse (abdomin, lower back and behind) and allowing the rest of the body to move freely, which is why all its exercises abdominal intensive. If the center is strong, it enhances everything from posture to agility.
So Which Is Better?
This question is subjective to what an individual is looking for. Yoga meets the needs of a person looking for a low-impact, body toning fitness exercise that improves balance and flexibility along with, the tranquility, relaxation and balance of mind, body and spirit. Yoga will definitely help you stay fit, be more energetic, happier and peaceful in your overall life.
If you’re looking for a dynamic workout sans the spirituality, then Pilates is just the thing for you. With core focus on strengthening muscles, improving posture, stabilizing and lengthening the spine, Pilates is an overall vigorous workout and fitness routine.
However to get the best of both world’s you can always combine the two and practice them in conjunction of each other. Get the stretch from yoga, the strength from pilates, that’ll improve your yoga postures. Breathing techniques from yoga, to help in a pilates sessions and the relaxing tranquility from yoga meditation. Who said you can’t have it all!