This question arises quite often especially for those who have never tried either practice. It can be confusing since yoga and Pilates seem very similar in the way that they are both focused on strength, flexibility and incorporating breath with each pose or exercise. So what is the difference between yoga and Pilates and which one should you practice? Here is the answer.
Yoga has become increasingly popular over recent years with more than twenty million practitioners in the United States alone. But did you know that the ancient practice has been around for thousands of years? The true meaning of the word yoga is “union”. To take that a step further, the intension of the practice is the union of the mind, body and spirit. This alignment within yourself through a commitment to yoga is taken with you long after walking away from your mat and becomes a part of your life.
Yoga, or asana; the Sanskrit word used interchangeably to describe the practice of physical postures or poses, is offered through different types. Each style of yoga is aimed at a specific goal whether that be to simply relax or work really hard to sweat out the toxins through a 90-minute Bikram “hot yoga” class. More recently, there are also numerous hybrid styles offered through the best yoga DVD’s for home practice.
Then there is Pilates. This practice is capitalized because it happens to be the name of the German athlete, Joseph Pilates, who created and founded it in the early 20th century. Pilates is similar to yoga but more specifically focuses on the center or core of the body. The discipline strengthens and tones through exercises that are often practiced on equipment but can also be accomplished at home on your yoga mat. Have you tried the best 10 minute Pilates DVD yet?
Pilates emphasizes correct form and is based on six principles, which are centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. Through the application of these principles and with continued practice, Pilates will improve your strength, flexibility, balance and posture just as yoga does. And with many variations to choose from, Pilates keeps your interest so you’ll never plateau or get bored.
Which one should you practice? You don’t have to choose one or the other. Actually, it would be in your best interest to practice both yoga and Pilates as they are interchangeable with one another. You might take something you learned through yoga to your Pilates practice. In addition, the more workout options available to you each day, the better chance you will continue to move your body and stay interested in exercise.
Read more from NY Yoga Writer Cristina Pierce here.