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Yoga and Pilates are often thrown into the same category. True, they are similar practices, but they have some major differences that many people don’t recognise.
Difference 1: The origin
The practice of yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has evolved over the centuries and cultures into many different types of yoga: Ashtanga, Kripalu, Bikram and Vineyasa, to name just a few. Pilates is a much younger practice, beginning in the mid-20th century by an athlete named Joseph Pilates. He created the exercises as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening.
Difference 2: Mind, Body and Spirit
Both yoga and Pilates bring an understanding that the mind and body are connected. However, yoga adds an additional element to the mix—the spirit. Exploring spirituality is a huge part of yoga practice, especially through meditation.
Difference 3: The Class
Many yoga classes are flexible in routine. Postures, sequences and variations can be combined into tens of thousands of routines to create a class. So it will be up to the style of yoga you practice and the teacher guiding you to decide what’s on the agenda. Pilates classes are a little more structured. Because of this, you will more likely know what to expect when you walk into the door of a Pilates class than in a yoga class.
Difference 4: The Workout
In both practices, you will gain strength and flexibility. Pilates classes offer a total body workout but focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the core. The exercises done in Pilates classes almost always involve regimented movements to gain core and spine strength. In a yoga class, you will work out every muscle in your body equally. Each posture is accompanied by a counter-posture to ensure you create balance in your body.
Difference 5: Breathing Techniques
Breathing and concentration techniques are important to both yoga and Pilates practices. However, yoga uses breath work on a very deep level. Often in yoga classes, there will be segments dedicated to breath work, called pranayama. In Pilates practices, you just inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
So how do you decide which one is for you? If you are certain you want your practice to be spiritual and are looking to manage your stress, yoga may be the better option for you. If your priority is to focus on your back and core, Pilates may be a better fit.
If you don’t know where to start, try them both and you will find one that you enjoy or benefit more from.