An age old argument. The clash of the titans. There can only be one winner (not really, but it sounds dramatic). Let the battle begin!
People very often group yoga and Pilates together as being the same type of exercise, and in some ways, they wouldn’t be wrong in doing so. They both place quite a lot of emphasis on mat based bodyweight exercises, carried out in a class environment. They both promise improvements in flexibility, strength and relaxation. They both claim to be suitable for people from all walks of life and of all ability levels.
So having cleared absolutely nothing up, it might seem that they are indeed the same things but with different names. As we will discuss, however, they have a few key differences that make them entirely different from one another.
Whilst both Pilates and yoga focus on helping your mind become healthier as well as your body, they approach this in different ways. Yoga takes a much more spiritual approach to relaxation and overall well- being, whilst Pilates emphasises strengthening the connection between your mind and body, and on understanding and controlling the influence that they can have on each other.
In terms of the body, whilst they do both help to improve strength and flexibility, as a rule of thumb yoga is much more flexibility based, whilst Pilates is more orientated towards using strengthening work to help stabilise the joints throughout your body.
And the Winner is…
No one! But also everyone, sort of. If you want nothing to get in your way of achieving a sense of spirituality and of achieving more flexibility, then we won’t stop you from running off and signing up to your local yoga class. But if you’re more interested in developing better control over your mind, body, and therefore your everyday movements, then we’d strongly recommend trying out Pilates.
Furthermore, because of its ability to help strengthen joints and therefore reduce pain levels and prevent injuries, as physios we tend to prescribe Pilates exercises to our patients much more often than we do yoga exercises. As mentioned though, everyone’s a winner in the outcome of this fight. There are two great forms of exercise that really are suitable for anyone and everyone, that both help improve the health of the body and the mind. You can’t really go wrong with either one, but if you do have any worries or concerns, please do consult a trained professional before starting out a new exercise hobby.
To conclude, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do both yoga and Pilates, to combine the positive effects of the two methods of exercise. There’s also no reason why you shouldn’t give them both a go to see which you prefer, before choosing which one to stick with. Either way, you’ll be choosing to dedicate a set amount of your time per week to performing exercise, which will always be more beneficial for your mind and body than sitting watching TV or staying behind late at work.