This question is often asked by those who are thinking of studying Yoga or Pilates for the first time, or those who are just curious, as to what these two forms of exercise are. So just what are the Yoga and Pilates benefits, when you make a decision which discipline that you would like to follow.
There is however, nothing to stop you following both, working them alongside each other, or doing some exercises from one, then the other to suit your preferences.
Some people, will do mainly Yoga, with one or two Pilates sessions added in once or twice a week, others will reverse the process.
It really depends on what you want to get out of the two disciplines.
What are the differences between Yoga and Pilates?
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago, and has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways.
Pilates places particular emphasis on core strength, aiming to strengthen the body evenly, improving general fitness and well-being, also improving your posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility
Both disciplines can use a mat. Whilst it is usual to use one for Pilates, a mat when doing Yoga exercises is more comfortable than just using the floor.
If, however you require your body to be strengthened and toned, then Pilates would be your choice. However, whilst both Yoga and Pilates can help you in building more strength, Yoga does not place as much emphasis on building strength and toning as Pilates does.
If, however you wish to do exercises to help you relax, then Yoga would seem more preferable than Pilates.
The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing.
To confuse the issue, there are a number of different types or forms of Yoga, with differing poses and structures, these include:
Hatha Yoga – a basic form of Yoga, the classes are slow moving, requiring you to hold your breath for just a few breaths.
Vinyasa Yoga – this would suit those that like artistic movement, as this flows linking both breath and movement, in a way that reminds you of dance movements.
Other forms of Yoga include, Hot Yoga, Yin Yoga, Lyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga and Kundalini Yoga to name but a few.
For the beginner there are a number of gentle exercises which you can start with, that are slow as well gentle.
Whilst some Yoga exercises can be done on a mat, Pilates exercises are always done on a mat. If, however you are undecided about Pilates and wish to try out some of the exercises first, you could always use a rug.
If, however you find that you are comfortable with the exercises you can then buy a mat. A ball is also used in some of the routines.
However, Pilates can be done with no equipment whatsoever. It just depends on how deep you wish to go, just a few core exercises getting a flatter tummy, or the whole hog to impress your partner.
The Health Benefits
Both Yoga and Pilates Benefits, do have some similarities with regard to improving your health.
Are there any health benefits to Pilates? Those who practise regular Pilates exercise believe that it can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility.
Classed as a muscle strengthening activity, this can help you to maintain a healthy weight.
For those who wish to lose weight using Pilates, these exercises should be combined with a healthy diet and activities such as walking and swimming.
Pilates can improve your general fitness and well-being, it is also believed to relieve stress and tension.
Yoga helps you to relax in a recognised way by improving your physical and mental health.
Research has shown that not only do regular sessions of Yoga help stimulate your immune system, it can also help with conditions such as…..
- Lower Back Pain
- Blood Pressure
- Chronic Fatigue
- Heart Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- And a number of other related illnesses.
Those who practice Yoga believe it enables you to get a better night’s sleep, improves your concentration and focus, reduces your stress levels, boosts your self-estem and respect and improves your feel good factor
Pilates has something to offer people of all ages, levels of ability and fitness. It does not matter whether you are a beginner or an elite athlete.
Age, level of fitness and ability are no barrier to Pilates.
Yoga is a more gentle form of exercise, which apart from a mat does not require any other form of equipment. But some teachers do use a varied array of extra kit.
Some forms of Yoga are more physical demanding and power related these can get you very hot and sweaty.
Yoga is now commonplace in leisure centres, health clubs, schools, hospitals and surgeries.
With all forms of exercise if you do have any doubts about your health then do seek medical advice first.
Both Yoga and Pilates benefits, will help you to achieve, a healthier you, enabling you to feel more relaxed and generally enjoying that feel good factor.
Practising both will enable you to get the right balance of benefits.
Whichever you choice, or both if you like, enjoy the experience and well-being, that either or both will bring.
Before you begin any form of exercise it is advisable to do some form of warm up exercises first.
As was said earlier if you are in any doubt about the state of your health,
PLEASE, DO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FIRST.
Which ever activity you choose, enjoy it, be healthy and happy.