Yoga or Pilates: Which One is Better for You?
Yoga and Pilates are often considered similar forms of exercise. Both are slow, measured and involve a series of positions or poses, so it’s unsurprising that they’re both often considered to offer the same health benefits. However, when you examine each in depth, it’s easy to see where the differences lie, and also how different the benefits are on your body.
Here’s a helpful guide to help you understand both forms of exercise and make an informed choice about which one is better for you.
Yoga – An Ancient Practice
Unlike Pilates, yoga is an ancient form of exercise, dating back thousands of years. It’s believed that it was first developed in India, and since then, it has become one of the world’s most popular forms of physical activity.
There are two main components of yoga; the postures and breathing. The postures vary in complexity, which makes it ideal for even beginners with limited flexibility to try, and the breathing aspect is closely linked with meditation, which offers considerable benefits for mental wellbeing.
Yoga mainly helps with the following:
1) Developing flexibility. The yoga postures require a level of flexibility, some more challenging than others. If you practice yoga regularly, you’ll notice that your flexibility improves over time; which offers considerable benefits in terms of relieving stiffness in the joints.
2) Improving balance. By developing strength and flexibility in the muscles, many people enjoy better balance after practicing yoga, which helps to reduce the risk of having a fall. Indeed, a study conducted at Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Centre and Indiana University found that yoga can help patients improve their balance after suffering a stroke.
3) Building strength. Although yoga doesn’t count towards your recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity, as outlined by the NHS, it does count as one of your strengthening activities. However, although you’re likely to develop strength when doing yoga, it’s not the prime focus of the activity; which is more centred on developing mental wellbeing than physical ability.
Pilates – Core Strength
Pilates was developed by a man called Joseph Pilates, who was influenced by a variety of western forms of exercise, including boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling and gymnastics. Less reliant on poses than yoga, Pilates involves a succession of movements, designed to develop core strength and improve general fitness.
Pilates is focused on helping with:
1) Whole body strength. Pilates focuses on developing strength in all the muscles of the body, which can help improve balance and general levels of fitness. It’s also more likely that you’ll notice your body slimming and toning up through Pilates than you will through yoga.
2) Back pain. As Pilates is all about developing strength in the core, it helps to strengthen muscles supporting the back, which can reduce pain in the area.
3) Flatten the tummy. If you’re self-conscious about your stomach area, Pilates is a highly recommended activity, as it focuses largely on the muscles in the abdominal region. This can also help to improve posture.
Which is Right for You?
Whether yoga or Pilates is the right choice for you very much depends on what results you’re looking for. Yoga is focused on promoting mental wellbeing as well as physical fitness, whereas Pilates is far more centred on developing strength in the body.
If you’re still unsure which one is best for you, it’s advisable to sample one or two classes of both, to see which one you prefer! Although yoga and Pilates are generally suitable for most people, if you have an existing health condition, you may want to consult with your GP before commencing either activity.