Pilates and Yoga often get categorised under the same definition, however there are distinctive differences between the two. The first being that Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago whilst Pilates began in the early 1900’s by an athlete named Joseph Pilates, a keen yoga enthusiast, to help with muscle strengthening and recovery of soldiers returning from war. Pilates grew in popularity over time, partly due to dancers who began practicing pilates as a way to strengthen their muscles and aid their training.
There are thousands of different routines that can be practised in yoga that it has now been divided up into numerous categories such as Hatha, Ashtanga and Iyengar, for example. Whilst pilates is slightly more structured in the sense it will often target a certain muscle group, whether being the core, legs or arms.
Mind and Body Connection
Yoga and Pilates both focus on the mind and body connection, but yoga more explores spirituality using breath as a relaxation method and a means to heal your body from illness. Sometimes certain yoga classes will include chanting or meditation to connect the breath with the body. Pilates focuses on wellbeing for the body and how it can help in everyday, functional life. It works on strengthening your muscles, improving posture, protecting the lower back in particular and healing pains in the physical body, which allows the individual to take back control over their mind and body.
Strength and Flexibility
Yoga works to improve the flexibility in joints and muscles, some yoga styles will be of a lower intensity to pilates classes. Yoga will help aid flexibility and strengthen the upper body and lower body through popular asanas such as sun salutations and downward dog. Both yoga and pilates will sculpt, tone and exercise the body, however, pilates is often the choice when someone is looking for an exercise to tone their tummy as it focuses on this area.
Pilates is more focused simply on the 5 main core muscle groups, mainly the transverse abdominus – the ‘corset’ muscle. It will often be prescribed to aid in fixing lower back pain as it works on strengthening the muscles which protect the lower back area. Yoga, is also beneficial to strengthening the body, but is more focused on stretching all muscle groups, often holding asanas for a few minutes at a time. However, it is not always the more beneficial regime for lower back pain. Asanas such as upward dog or cobra could actually worsen the symptoms of the back pain. Favourable moves should be child’s pose, downward dog or corpse pose. Taking a Pilates class to rebuild the strength of the lower back muscles is particularly recommended to regain muscle strength, ready for a yoga class.
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