One thought on “What’s the difference between yoga and pilates?

  1. The first thing to know is that there is a great deal of variety in yoga asana (posture) practices offered. Intensity can range from an “Astanga” style class, which will exhaust and challenge a fit athlete all the way to “Restorative” or “Nidra” style class which is about relaxation and restoration and which will involve almost no physical exertion. However, it is important to know something that is often lost in the way yoga is taught in the west. It is primarily meant to be about what is going on with your mind. The original intention behind yoga is to connect the practitioner to their clear, aware, enlightened nature of mind. Unfortunately, as taught in the west, yoga sometimes devolves into mere calisthenics and stretching. The more vigorous forms of yoga will develop strength, endurance, and flexibility in every muscle and connective tissue in your body. Working with a skilled and well trained instructor will greatly reduce the chance of injury. The restorative forms of yoga can have you feeling as though you’ve had a full night’s sleep after 90 minutes of practice. Practices of meditation to develop mental acuity and clarity may also be taught.

    Pilates, having been originally developed and taught by one person, Joseph Pilates, has much less variety (until you start getting into using the various machines that are included in the more specialized and advanced studios). There ARE variants out there with people certified by this or that school, but in general, the common class performed on a mat on the floor will be very similar no matter where you take it. It is a practice also designed to emphasize the mind and body connection and focuses on precise control during various movements, most of which are designed to strengthen and activate core muscles. Benefits as I’ve experienced them include a lot of strength gain in the core muscles leading to better posture, a stronger sense of fitness and grace, and greater flexibility. Additionally, its worth noting that I’ve never come close to injuring myself performing Pilates exercises, although I have not practiced really advanced classes.

    Some other differences – a yoga asana practice will typically range from 60-90 minutes. A Pilates class will typically be 30-60 minutes. Yoga may have a great deal of variety in terms of lighting, room temperature, etc. Pilates is pretty straightforward. Both practices typically utilize a mat of some sort and each has unique props used to enhance the practice.

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