There are a lot of different exercise options for those out there looking to not only strengthen themselves but also improving flexibility as well as their mental health. Two of the main ones that many people look at are yoga and Pilates. For those that are new to these practices, yoga and Pilates may look the same. But the truth is, though there are some similarities, each of them has its own special focus.
Though both are mind and body disciplines, yoga focuses more on spirituality while Pilates works on improving your core strength. Along with this, yoga is also more focused on flexibility, whereas Pilates adds in balance and stability as well and helps improve your mobility.
That being said, there are benefits to each of them and to understand if yoga and Pilates are the same, you have to break them down into their core principles. So in this quick article, we're going to take a look at Pilates and yoga's benefits as well as the similarities and differences and some poses that might look pretty similar.
Pilates: Breakdown & Benefits
Pilates was originally started in the 1920s as a way to help WWI soldiers that were bedridden rehabilitate. It has moved a long way from the physical therapy aspect to a popular fitness class.
Pilates comes in two different categories - reformer or mat. Each of these is low impact and centers on enhancing the individual's core while building strength within the entire body.
Reformer classes use spring resistance through a machine, and mat classes are done primarily on a mat utilizing the body as the weight resistance tool.
When it comes to the benefits of this discipline there is a wide range of them, but here are some of the most impactful ones when it comes to your physical health:
- The focus on your core allows you to build your abdominal muscles. It also allows you to become aware of how the core affects the rest of your body movements and through the poses and positions in Pilates your core control is greatly improved.
- Because you're becoming more aware of your core muscles and learning how to engage them better, you'll see that you have a better posture. It's not uncommon for people that have utilized Pilates to notice that they sit and walk straighter after consistent practice.
- For those that have prior injuries, Pilates is a great way to begin rehabilitation. Seeing as how that's the root of the practice in general, those that utilize Pilates find that their injuries are rehabilitated better and faster.
- There are a lot of different types of stretching done in Pilates which helps with your flexibility as well as your overall mobility. You will find that your joints are safer from injury because of the strengthening exercises within this low-impact workout.
Yoga: Breakdown & Benefits
Yoga in comparison to Pilates is quite a bit older. As most people know, yoga is a practice from India that has been used for centuries to help realign the energies of an individual's body and bring them into balance with those of the world surrounding them. Over the past couple of decades, though, yoga has moved its way into the western world, where new forms of yoga have been cultivated.
All yoga has the core principles of movement mixed with deep breathing. The difference between each yoga has to do with how much of the spirituality they are focused on as opposed to the physical benefits.
Just like Pilates, yoga has a plethora of benefits that one can take advantage of. But the ones that top the list are:
- There is very deep stretching that goes on during the transitions and poses used in yoga no matter the style you are doing. Because of this, you will see improved flexibility which will help in a wide range of other areas of your life.
- The improved circulation due to the movements within yoga has a profound effect on a ton of different health issues and one of those includes sleep. Most of the time, with consistent yoga practice, you will find that you have a better sleep pattern and better sleep when you are sleeping.
- Along with the physical movements in yoga, there is an in-depth focus on mindfulness and breathing. This aspect of yoga, though more pronounced in some disciplines than others, leads to improved mental and spiritual health. The increased blood circulation also is key in helping with mental health as more blood is circulated to the brain which helps it to work better.
- There are certain diseases that yoga can help treat. For instance, many studies show that those with asthma have seen improved health when it comes to the symptoms. Along with this, the movement mixed with improved breathing also has been shown to help individuals who are suffering from heart disease.
So, Are Yoga and Pilates the Same?
With some idea of the benefits and the overall concepts behind these two disciplines, we now know that yoga and Pilates are not the same. Though they may have similar core principles, there are plenty of differences as well.
So here is a look at both the similarities and differences so that you can get a good idea of which one might be the right option for you:
There are several similarities, but there are three main ones that are easy to point out. The first is that both yoga and Pilates (the mat discipline) require little to no equipment. Most of the time you'll find you need a mat and maybe one additional tool like a block or a Pilates ring.
Both disciplines focus on your breathing while you're doing the exercises laid out in their programs. Especially deep breathing from the diaphragm. This is so that you get the full breadth of your blood circulation and oxygen capability while doing exercises.
Though Pilates is not specifically a mentally focused discipline, it and yoga do focus on your mental health. By doing these exercises, many intend to reduce stress, and each of these can also be designed to meet certain fitness level requirements depending on the individual.
In the end, the biggest thing that keeps yoga and Pilates from being the same is the fact that Pilates focuses on building core strength. Yoga on the other hand, doesn't only hone in on one body part. It's more about breathing and the incorporation of that breathwork with movement.
Along with this, yoga tends to have cycles of breath that are combined with the holding of the poses within the practice. Pilates has you in constant motion until you get to the cool down section with the stretching exercises.
But maybe the most significant difference is that yoga has you internalizing and concentrating inward, whereas Pilates is completely all about the physical body.
Some Poses That Are The Same in Yoga and Pilates
Even though yoga and Pilates are not the same, there are still some poses that you might see utilized in each of the practices that look very similar. So with that said, it would be fun to take a look at some of the poses that are the same in yoga and Pilates:
Open Leg Balance - Boat
This pose or exercise is intended to build core strength. In yoga it's called the boat pose and in Pilates is called the open leg balance. Though not the same, the position of the legs together with the upper and lower torso are executed in the form of a-V and are very similar to each other.
Roll Over - Plow
This exercise is very similar, but there are some key differences just like with the previous one. In yoga, when doing the plow poses, you are instructed to carefully roll over onto your upper back to create a deep stretch. However, the roll-over that is used in Pilates is used as a flowing movement and is intended to help build abdominal control.
Swan - Cobra
It may sound strange that these two poses and movements are the same considering the vast difference between the two animals. But they are very similar. In yoga, the cobra position is often utilized alongside other positions as a transition. Pilates with this pose utilizes specific breathing patterns to help improve the process.
So are yoga and Pilates the same? Though they are both focused on breathwork and body, they are not the same. Yoga focuses inward and concentrates on a whole-body experience combined with spiritual and mental attunement. Whereas Pilates is focused on the physical body and breath work with a concentration on core strength. No matter which option you choose though, you will be moving in the right direction down your wellness path and getting closer to that happier and healthier you.